General Contractor
Los Angeles Area
(213) 537 3796
m-f 9-6
Learn about Construction
From Nik Kingman

We'd like to teach you how to do work yourselves and how to have a successful home improvement experience. You'll find our collection of presentations below:

Dealing with Contractors

Hang Heavy Stuff on the Wall

Small Drywall Repair

Wall Mount Your TV

How to Deal with Different Types of Contractors
Back to Top

There are different types of contractors and designers out there so we’d like to help consumers to tell them apart. Also, we think it's best when people have clear information about who they deal with. This helps us at Nikina™ too, because we'd like to make it clear who we are and who we're not. Understanding is the basis of great relationships!

What is a General Contractor

Firstly, CSLB (the board who licenses “Contractors” in California) will have you know this term refers to someone they have licensed. What it refers to in a non-bureaucratic world is someone who both does their own work and hires others as part of a project that requires a variety of trades or at least familiarity enough to direct the work of others. A contractor may not necessarily do any of the actual work at all or may do the work entirely in-house.

Two Spectrums for a General Contractor:

  • 1. Does Work Entirely In-House
  • 2. Shifts Work to Third Parties (Skims from the top)

Work Performed In-House by a contractor has a couple key benefits for clients. First, the contractor will take more "ownership" of the work his team performs. It's his work, so he'll have more reason to take pride in it. Also, you naturally save money having one entity do more of the work - so find a contractor that does lots of different work in-house.

What is an Architect?

An architect is someone licensed by the AIA (American Institute of Architects). In terms of what this person can offer you, typically they are in the business of selling their drawings. Their drawings must be certified by a third party, a structural engineer.

An architect might be a builder, but they likely will refer you to a general contractor to do the building, and you as a client will end up dealing with 2 different entities and more chances for disagreements could arise.

Can only an architect design a house?

No. Anyone can design a house. By taking your design to an architect, they can double check your work, make proper drawings that the city will accept and get a stamp from an engineer.

Do I Need An Architect?

If you find a good builder with the kind of design ideas you are looking for, what do you need an architect for?

What does Frank Lloyd Wright, America's most famous home designer think of licensed architects? (He was NOT a licensed architect)

Builders vs Architects

Generally, there’s an advantage to having specialized tasks assigned to different people, but how can a person who is really serious about building not be interested in design? And how can someone sit at a desk and not want to be a part of the construction endeavor itself?

Designer Vs Decorator

Decorator is the necessary last step. Design is like the whole picture. And decoration is the little things in the picture that tie together the whole. Typically, the client themselves decorate their own house. Only in the very high end homes would a client trust the micro-tastes of a third party to place all the little trinkets here and there to make what looks like a finished home.

Some might consider a decorator to be the lowest in the design ladder, but ironically, it’s the highest. There is no such thing as a low-end interior decorator, except where there’s a small business outfit and someone becomes a default “decorator.”

What is an Interior Designer

An interior designer, in the state of California is someone who has a license from this company below. This is who will give you an Interior Design license in California. Their website is designed very poorly, and we don’t think Nikina™ will be getting licensed by this organization anytime soon.

Building a Portfolio as a Designer

The greatest writer in the world can write a book in prison on toilet paper. A great painter can produce artwork in his spare time and one day have it sell for millions, but an artist with residential homes as his canvas needs clients to live.

Ideas can be fun to draw on paper, or render on the computer and look vaguely realistic, but until the artist/builder needs tens or hundreds of thousands to even millions of dollars to create the things he has in mind - and this is great news for you!

The Dream Client / Designer

A "dream client" commissions the type of work that will elevate the artist's current offerings by becoming the best work the artist has yet achieved. If an artist can do no better than he already has, he's done nothing but become a machine.

A designer needs clients to be a designer, but even more complicated, a designer needs to find clients who share the same vision as him, because if the designer can't realize his ideas with practical examples by finding clients to help him build his portfolio, he is stuck in a rut.

A designer in this position is a lucky find for you as a consumer. This type of builder is as hungry for imaginative clients as the clients who are seeking a passionate designer and builder.

So when they find each other, something synergistic happens.

Back to Top of This Article
How to Hang Heavy Stuff on The Wall
Back to Top

Reading through this, you will safely be able to hang anything on your wall yourself, saving money in the long run (if you invest in a few tools.)

With the following tools you can perform this task and many others!

Drill Cordless Drill
Buy from
Stud Finder Stud Finder
Buy from
Drill Accessories Stud Finder
Buy from

There are 3 types of surfaces you will generally encounter when hanging and mounting:

Solid Wall (Concrete, Brick, etc)
Hollow Wall (Drywall without wood behind it)
Wood/Steel Framing (Screwing through drywall into framing)

Mounting on Solid Wall

This can potentially be an extremely strong connection limited only by the strength of the bolts/screws you use. Done properly, screwing into a solid wall will always be the strongest wall to attach to.

To mount on a solid wall like concrete or brick, you will need a plastic anchor:

  • 1. You drill a hole in advance, at least as deep enough as the anchor you will insert.
  • 2. There are two parts to an anchor, a part that will be inserted in the wall, and a bolt that will be screwed into the insert so that the insert in the wall exerts pressure in all directions as the bolt is turned into the wall.

Picture coming soon!
Installing on hollow walls is when we have no choice as far as being able to screw into framing beneath.

Residential houses are generally framed with wood every 16” (14.5” apart) so this may be too far apart for what you’re trying to do – there may not be wood exactly where you want to hang something.

NOTE: You can buy anchors that list they can support a given weight, some hollow –wall hardware say up to 80 LBS, but this may not apply if you have very old walls. Modern drywall, ½” thick with its plastic fibers and paper sheathing can support a lot more weight than old, degraded walls – use your common sense.

Wood Framing is what we always try to attach to, unless we’re hanging a picture that’s under 10 lbs.

The only trouble now is FINDING where the wood framing in your walls is. If you don’t mind investing in a $30 tool, the job is easy - it will tell you very accurately where the centers of each vertical member of wood is located.

Here's what the inside of your wall looks like:

Since this wood will be hidden inside the walls, you'll need a "Stud Finder":

A stud finder will beep either on the center of a stud or on the edge of a stud, depending on the model you purchase.

If you made any extra holes you need to fix in the course of your drilling and hanging, learn how to do drywall repair next.

Back to Top of This Article
How to Do Drywall Repair
Back to Top
You can repair basic drywall holes and even big ones yourself by the time you’re done reading this.
Don't forget your drywall knife!

$15 from

How Big is the Hole?

Small < 1” diameter
Medium 1 – 2 “ diameter
Large 2 – 6” diameter

Small You can buy a small container of premixed drywall mud, like the one pictured. If the hole is on the larger side, you will need several coats, as each coat will shrink a little. When the hole has been filled and the mud dries, sand with 100 grit sand paper and up to 220 grit if you have very fine walls. Begin with 100 grit and progress as needed.

Medium You will need a roll of mesh tape to fill a hole that’s a couple inches wide. Places the tape over the hole and apply one thin layer of mud, very thin just as a base structure. The mud will dry around the mesh tape and the tape will add a lot of strength. Apply a few more coats and feather lightly. The more coats and the wider you can feather out the drywall, the better. It’s an art. And this is why you may want to hire a professional if you want a high end finish.

Large When a hole gets up to 6” in diameter, there are precut squares of metal sheeting, with a mesh overlayed. The strength of the thin metal can span a large hole in your drywall.

ALTERNATIVELY: If you have a powered saw, and some strips of wood, (1/2” thick or more), you can cut a piece of wood that will fit into your hole, but longer than the diameter of the hole by a few inches, so that you can screw the wood through the hollow wall, giving a base that you can attach a piece of drywall.

Back to Top of This Article
How to Wall Mount a TV
Back to Top

To mount a tv yourself – you will need the following: a drill, a level, a pencil.

First, if you haven't read it already, read our article on How to Hang Heavy Stuff on the Wall for prerequisite information.

Do you already have a TV mount? First – go get one. At best buy, you will pay a whole lot. Best Buy and places like that have a really high profit margin on things like cables and mounting hardware – because you're probably going to get your tv and buy those other things on the spot without shopping around. Don't do this – shop online.

Choosing a TV mount: It's basically based on the size of your tv. Just get a mount is made for your tv size. It will come in (2) main parts – one part attaches to the back of the tv and the other part is screwed to the wall.

Steps to Mounting Your TV

Decide on the placement

This is called “desining by the seat of your pants.” Do this – sit in the prime seating spot for television viewing. Sit in an average/common sitting person and just look at the wall in a way that's comfortable. Don't tilt your kneck any more than feels natural. Now, you have found where the center of your TV will be placed.

Mark the top top edge where the tv will go on wall

Go mark the center point on the wall where you were looking in the seated position, measure the height of your tv and translate that into where the top of your tv will be based on the center point.

Mark on the wall where the top edge of the mounting hardware will go

There are 2 parts for the tv mount - one part attaches to the back of the tv, the other part attaches to the wall. With your TV lying on it's face and the mounting attachment screwed on the back, set in the other peice of the wall mounting hardware in such as way that replicates how the mounting attachments will connect when the tv is actually on the wall.

From this "dry-fit", you can measure from the top of the tv to top edge of the mounting hardware that will attach on the wall.

Back to Top of This Article