Dear Maintenance Men:

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Jerry L’Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez

Dear Maintenance Men:
Our rental has a non-standard size sliding glass door that we’d like to replace.   We’d like to get a whole new door and track.  How easy is that? We have siding on the house.  What should we expect in the way of wall damage or ability to get a larger standard door frame into the space?  I’m handy; is this a DIY job or should I have a professional complete the installation?

Dear David:
Replacing a sliding glass door and frame as a DIY job is not for the faint of heart!  It is not really that difficult as it is unwieldy and the doors are large and heavy.  You state the door is a non-standard size; this might be a good time to standardize your glass door.  Start by removing the door, bottom track and frame.  This will expose the rough opening in your door way.  Measure the rough opening for a standard sliding door of your choice.  It is sometimes easier to enlarge the rough opening to accommodate the new door.  The reason for a larger opening is because you will not need to find or install new outside siding or stucco nor patch the inside drywall.   “Rough opening” refers to the dimensions inside the trimmer studs and between the floor and the bottom header. This opening will be slightly larger than the patio doorframe. The extra space allows a little fudge room for squaring the frame with shims.  If you decide to have a contractor install the new sliding door, have the installer explain in detail what the job will entail, what the finish will look like and how long the job will take.  Make sure they are set up for dust control as a job like this can cause a considerable amount of dust during the construction if the opening is enlarged.

Dear Maintenance Men:
How can I add more storage to building’s standard type bathrooms?   The residents complain that they need to store their toilet paper in the hallway!   Please list a few suggestions on what to do?

Dear Robert:
It does seem bathrooms are sometimes designed as an afterthought.  Sink, toilet, bath and that is it.   A modern bathroom will take into consideration the need for storage, electrical devises, personal hygiene etc.  The first item that comes to mind is installing a bath sink cabinet.  An old style cabinet might only have a set of doors under the sink.  We find this is not adequate and a cabinet should have drawers along with access to under the sink.  The drawers can store hair dryers, and all manner of personal bath items.  A unique system we like utilizes the space between the studs in the wall. Cabinet doors or mirrors can be used to cover storage in the walls. The wall storage is perfect for toilet paper, rolled up towels, tooth brushes, and most other small items.   Install multiple towel racks on the back of the bathroom door for additional towel storage.  The space above the toilet can easily accommodate an overhead cabinet for larger items.  Reversing the swing of the bathroom door from inward to outward will greatly increase the usable room and make the bathroom appear larger. 

Dear Maintenance Men:

I’m planning to rehab all the upstairs bathrooms in my apartment building.  This is starting to be expensive and in order to save money, I am thinking of using heavy-duty shower curtains instead of the more expensive sliding shower doors.  What do you think of this idea?  


Dear Shelly:

We highly recommend that you try to save money elsewhere and install the sliding shower doors.  In the long run this will save you more money in the form of avoiding water damage to the flooring, walls, and in the ceilings of the unit below.  Not to mention possible rot of structural members and floor joists below the tub. Shower curtains invite water damage because it is so easy for water to escape onto the floors and beyond.  A little water can do a lot of damage. 

WE NEED Maintenance Questions!!!    If you would like to see your maintenance question in the “Dear Maintenance Men:” column, please send in your questions to: 

If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. at 714 956-8371  
Frank Alvarez is licensed contractor and the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 30 years. Frankie is President of the Apartment Association of Orange County and a lecturer, educational instructor and Chair of the Education Committee of the AAOC.  He is also Chairman of the Product Service Counsel.  Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 For more info please go to: 
Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker. He is currently a Director Emeritus and Past President of the Apartment Association of Orange County and past Chairman of the association’s Education Committee.  Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.