The Rules of Finish Carpentry

There is no better indicator that a project should be at a milestone than an old-fashioned season change. We’ve been spoiled here in Chicago this fall with 60 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine. While basking in the sunlight, we were putting up drywall at The Grant, finishing up City inspections at Wolcott, and attending Zoning meetings for the other project I’m not supposed to talk about. Feeling accomplished, we came on site last week at Wolcott on a particularly blustery day to a disheartening dilemma: the power is out.

Sebastian: “Ally, do you have that flashlight on your phone?”

Ally: “Yeah, here,” *holds out phone*

Sebastian: *wafts at Ally’s hat*

Ally: “I’m…lower…” *still holding out phone*

Long story short, we couldn’t get the power on and the drywall contractor had to be sent home. It was too dark to work without lights. It was 3:45pm. That night, temperatures dropped to the 30s which means that the furnace also needs to be powered for the crews. Okay Stark-sympathizers, winter is coming no longer – it is here.

Winter for us represents two words: Finish Carpentry. We have The Grant and Wolcott to finish up before the end of the year so that we can move on to the next adventures. As the final phase of the project, Finish Carpentry is a whole different ball game compared to the previous phases (Demo, Framing, and MEP). As the General Contractor (GC), during the other phases, I am the means and methods for completion based on the drawings and overall physics of construction – during Finish Carpentry, I am 75% dependent on the Owners to dictate the final product. If I cannot get specifics for each room, there is a strong likelihood that the project will be indefinitely delayed.

(Ally does construction! Putting together a wardrobe rack at The Grant for our client to hang his clothes on during painting)

So, if you are getting ready for Finish Carpentry, help your GC help you by doing the following:

1. Deliver Direct Material. If you are doing a gut rehab, you have likely been communicating at length with your GC about finishes and may even have been placing orders through your GC’s suppliers. Integro requires that all finish materials including tile, trim, casings, crown moulding, doors, cabinetry, vanities, shelving, spice racks, medicine cabinets, and door handles be on site the week after drywall is completed. Unlike the other phases of construction, a lot can be happening at once and the more the merrier as far as schedule is concerned.


2. Tile Design. A picture says a thousand words. Give your GC a picture    of your desired tile designs. I will usually tape these pictures on the walls and put the tile nearby.

3. Paint Colors. Your GC needs to know 3 items one week before painting starts: Brand, Paint Color #, and Finish. Give a detailed list, preferably on a floor plan to reference. If you are using a lot of colors, try putting a swatch or writing with a quarter on the respective walls for clarity.


4. Finishes. If you are having any custom finishes installed such as built-ins, know your specifications. What kind of lighting do you want – LED or incandescent? Do you want these stained or painted, what kind and color? Do you want any paneling, what kind? How do you want the doors to close? What kind of hardware do you want? Again, pictures say a thousand words.

(Custom medicine cabinets that Sebastian is building for The Grant)

5. The little stuff. Remember the little stuff: mirrors, toilet paper holders, closet rods, curtain rods, spice racks, drawer inserts, ironing board cabinets, closet lights – the list goes on. It’s no big deal to do this during Finish Carpentry. It’s much more difficult when you remember after your project is finished and your GC is beginning Demo on another project.


Once you’ve finished all of your specifications, sit back, relax and look forward to a near future with much less dust!

  • Whitney Parchman
    Posted at 05:18h, 14 December Reply

    Good Morning! So much to say! First of all, what is MEP? I feel I should know this one? Sebastian’s medicine cabinets look lovely (please tell him). Also, drywall is finishing up for us this week and I still can’t find tile I love for the bathrooms. Yikes! Your examples of the bathroom sketches are fantastic. I will be drawing some up today. I love your writing style too by the way! The words just leap off of the screen and into my brain. How about this crazy Chicago weather?
    xo Whitney

    • Integro Rehab
      Posted at 17:11h, 14 December Reply

      Good Evening! MEP is “Mechanical (HVAC), Electrical, and Plumbing” – basically, the guts. Where have you been looking for tile? Thanks for the compliments, Whitney🙂 I appreciate that. It eerily feels like spring right now…

      • Whitney Parchman
        Posted at 19:16h, 14 December Reply

        Thanks for the info. I have been to Tile Outlet, The Tile Shop and Century Tile. Do you have any more recommendations? Yes! Eerily like spring…

  • Whitney Parchman
    Posted at 17:20h, 14 December Reply

    P.S. Where can I get some graph paper with space for project info (the kind the sketches are on)?

    • Integro Rehab
      Posted at 17:11h, 14 December Reply

      It’s standard grid paper – you should be able to pick it up from any office supply store.

      • Whitney Parchman
        Posted at 19:17h, 14 December Reply

        Great, thanks! Hey, did you know that I reblogged your awesome post this morning? 😉 xo

  • Whitney Parchman
    Posted at 17:25h, 14 December Reply

    Reblogged this on OPRF Life and commented:
    Good Monday morning! I ran across this post from one of my favorite construction blogs and I’m sharing it with all of you. If you have a project under construction (hello friend) this one’s for you!
    Thanks for reading and have a Joyful Day! xo Whitney

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