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Clairemont Project going Live!

We wrapped up the Clairemont house at 4164 Mount Hukee SD CA 92117 last week and its On the Market For Sale. MLS# 170026209. Here are some After pics so you can see the final product. I’m really happy with the way this one came out and glad we went the extra mile with design, material choices and landscaping.

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Indoor/Outdoor Living in Clairemont

We are deep into this project and really just now starting to put it back together. The front yard demo was massive, we hauled out 4 dumpsters of demo and then 2 days with the Bobcat to break out the multiple layers of old concrete patios and finally hauled it off in a dump truck. The front yard is finally back to a clean slate to work with.

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The master bathroom changes are all done and we are ready to patch the drywall back up. The shower is 7 feet wide with his and hers shower heads. It’s going to be really cool, just wait to see what tile we have picked out. You will notice that we have a Hot Mop Tar shower pan. None of the house flippers do this but I would never settle for anything less.


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I wanted to take advantage of the expansive canyon views so we sprung for a Folding Patio Door. There are several manufacturers of these such as La Cantina and Nanawall, but we opted for a local company right here in Oceanside called Panoramic Doors. It’s a 10 foot wide opening consisting of 3 movable panels that completely open up and lay to the side, providing a seamless indoor/outdoor transition for the awesome San Diego climate. The obvious choice would have been regular French doors that swing out, this is a just way nicer so I think it was a good investment into the house. The backyard is going to get a new patio, some Xeriscape and a gas fire pit. This will be a really good house for entertaining. Stay tuned, we should start patching it all back up soon and moving towards paint, kitchen and tile jobs next.


Bi Fold Patio Doors

Modern Garage Door and Countertops – South Park

We are winding things up in South Park on our Modern Bungalow. The modern garage door got installed this week, its an Amarr full view door in dark bronze with obscure glass. I didn’t want the glass to look white-ish like my last project so I didn’t get the frosted, the obscure lets more light in and overall was a way better choice for this project. The dark bronze aluminum ties in with the Milgard aluminum window color perfectly. The door looks massive because its 8 feet high so the glass panels are larger, way cooler than the 7 foot Amarr door we installed earlier this year on a house we flipped.

In the master bath wet room I finally dropped in the jacuzzi tub. You can see that the heavy glass frame-less doors are also installed, I tried something new this time and did saloon doors. You can leave them open when taking a bath and they lay on the walls out of the way. The opening is 4’0″ so each door is around 24″ Hey Honey, if I don’t come home from work one night you know where to find me.

Carpet got installed in the 2 secondary bedrooms. I went with a designer textured close loop Stainmaster with upgraded pad because we like carpet in kids rooms. The grey ties in well with interior finishes.

The big milestone we passed this week was the counter tops. The kitchen and both bathrooms are all Ceasarstone Arctic White with a square profile and eased edge. Ceasarstone is quartz so its a little trickier to work with when fabricating the edge detail. Not only is the pure white unforgiving but quartz in general has to be miter cut so you wont see the lamination on the bullnose. This is the first time I’ve gone this white, its so fresh, clean and looks very modern, contrasting my dark greyish blue base cabinet color well. The huge sink is a single bowl zero radius stainless steel. I ended up going with white 3×6 ceramic tile for the back splash (not shown) and installed it in a running bond pattern to keep it looking more contemporary and matching the upstairs bathroom.

The 3’x7′ kitchen island has a waterfall on one side. this is a new technique usually reserved for high end modern homes where the counter top actually wraps down the island and touches the floor. You can also see in this pic how the seams are miter cut. One neat feature (also not shown) is the microwave drawer in the island, more pics to come after I get appliances in.  We Buy Houses in San Diego, if you know anyone looking to sell please contact us as we are always searching for our next renovation project.

Modern Concrete and Floor Redeux

What a difference a week makes. Our new hardwood floor refinishing guys came in and did an incredible job on the Modern Bungalow in South Park. Instead of the usual rag on, rag off method for applying the stain, these guys used a lambs wool applicator and drug the stain across the floor. Of course we did not water pop the wood first this time!

The stain came out perfect the second time around, no spots or blotchy areas and this application method actually left more color on the wood. After the stain dried they did 3 coats of semi-gloss clear, buffing in between coats. I’m really happy with the results, this is how Golden Pecan on Red Oak should look, it gives a modern loft feel.

Here is the finished product on the floors, finally I am back on track now. The cabinet finishers are coming in next to stain the uppers to match and paint the bases, island and bathroom vanities.

The weather finally cooperated enough to get most of our hardscape in this week. I poured about 20 yards of flat work. The modern design I created will lend itself well to my overall theme, the driveway area was so large, so by cutting it up I brought the space more into scale. Stay tuned for the finishing stretch after the holidays & Merry Christmas!

Holiday Delays but Still Pushing

We are still making progress on the Modern Bungalow trying to wrap this house up, but with the holidays its been hard to keep up the pace. Since my last update inside we got the central air conditioning installed, hot water heater, red oak stair treads and risers, and all the electrical trim and fixtures. The fire sprinkler guy came back and trimmed out too, installing all the sprinkler heads and bell box. There’s nothing left inside except for the tile setting while I wait for another week for the cabinets to arrive and get installed. The countertop fabricator is on standby to come right in after the cabinets, then its only hardwood floor refinishing and carpet in the 2 bedrooms. Garage door is also on order. I could have had it wrapped inside by now if I would have ordered cabinets before the drywall went up.

The new tile contractor I hired is done now with mud floating all the walls and getting into tile setting with his wife. This is the second husband and wife team we’ve had on this job, my exterior painters’ wife also was a painter. These ladies know what they are doing too, they are not just sweeping up! Instead of Hardi backer we opted for the mud float method where you do moisture barrier paper, metal lathe and then float out the walls with spec mix. The City comes and inspects paper and lath before you can start floating the walls. It gives a perfectly flat and plumb surface but definitely more work, he spent 4 days floating the walls when I could have put up backerboard in a few hours. The tile I went with in the master is a modern 12 x 24 light grey designer porcelain and I stacked it square to give a more clean minimalist and contemporary look. In the hall bath I went with the 3×6 ceramic but also opted not do do a subway pattern so it will be more of a clean look with a period material, working well with our home design. Both bathrooms got great niches in the wall for soap and shampoo bottles.

I thought by now I would have been done with the house but things always drag out at then end, time is on my side with Christmas and New Years coming up now so we’ll move in after the holidays.

The San Diego real estate market is still very hot. No signs of slowing even through the typically slow Fall season. With only a little over 2 months inventory it is a sellers market again and we are seeing bidding wars and multiple offers in all price tiers. I don’t see things changing through 2013 because interest rates will stay low and there’s no more huge waves of foreclosures coming as all the adjustable loans have reset already. Banks will continue to trickle out a few REO’s here and there, but even short sale volume is dropping fast. House flippers in San Diego will have a tough time competing with large, well funded buy and hold groups investing for appreciation. Some flippers are moving up the price range and flipping million dollar homes where there is less competition. There’s a lot of investor and first time buyer activity and prices are being affected by it, October was up 13% from last year and in some areas have reached 2005 peak home price levels again.

Construction Update – South Park

Just over 4 months since I poured the foundation on our Modern Bungalow, we are making progress over in South Park, walk through with me and let me know what you think. The grey interior colors might appear a little soft but don’t let that fool you. Once I get the warmth from the hardwood floor refinishing, and my bold surprise cabinet choices, it will all work. I’m moving straight into tile now and concrete flat work outside. My electrician is trimming out and we just passed the meter inspection Friday so I can call SDG&E now to get the power moved from my temporary pole to the house. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for following!

Fire!

It seems most sub-contractors are having a busy summer. Building is definitely picking up by talking to everyone in the industry. Because of this, my regular electrician couldn’t get to my project right away so I brought in a new crew. These guys are new construction, not messin’ around, real-deal electricians. 5 guys showed up on Saturday and by Sunday at 4pm the whole house was 90% done including 200 amp service, riser, all 24 branch circuits, home runs, under cabinet lighting, multiple 3-way switching and 24 can lights. I went with LED recessed lighting for energy savings, having just used it on a customers kitchen remodel I was surprised that the light quality is far superior to the florescent cans we were using last year to conform to Title 24 requirements. For only 9 watts of power usage you get 65 watts of clean lighting, a huge savings on your electric bill. Just another green feature on this project.

We took the drywall delivery this week, too. I like to get it in the house and stacked in all the rooms ready to go before we close everything up outside. It would have been impossible to carry the 12′ sheets upstairs later so this is essentially planning ahead. I measured 160 12′ 1/2″ sheets of drywall for the house and 5/8″ for the garage and under the stairwell per City Code. Material cost was $2021.00 not including tape, mud and corner bead.

For more energy savings we always foam the doors and windows before drywall. Some guys still wont do this because they think it will warp the window frames, but its the only way to get a complete seal after the new construction windows go in. We learned this in the hot Texas climate. After it dries you just remove the excess that comes out and then you have a great energy seal. Per Building Code you also have to use the Fire Block foam on all the holes you drilled through the top plate for mechanicals. The inspector will look for this at my insulation inspection.

After the electrician was done I brought in my last and final mechanical sub-contractor, the Fire Sprinkler guy. Fire sprinklers on all San Diego residential new construction, and some addition/remodels in fact, has been mandatory since 2007 after we had the big Cedar and Witch Fires.

The supply lines come from a panel location near your water service. To handle the increased volume, water supply size is stepped up to 1 1/4″ to the house and 1″ at the cut off. The fire sprinkler lines are 1″ CVPC that is orange in color, its ran throughout the entire house keeping heads around 8 feet apart and away from A/C registers and lighting, and the calculations call for a certain number of sprinkler heads per room size. Per his City permitted design, my sub-contractor has 4 heads in the great room, 1 in each bedroom and bathroom, and even 1 in the walk-in closet, water heater closet and HVAC closet. The master bedroom got 2 heads.  The fire sprinkler heads will not be visible in the living areas and look like flush mounted white discs after trim out.

The fire sprinklers in the garage go by different calculations and are a bit different, visible sprinkler heads will be in place after drywall. The requirement is 1 head for every 150 s.f. of garage space.

This is the fire sprinkler riser that is located in a panel accessible from the outside of my house near the water service. It also feeds the bell box which gets mounted high on the house in an area where bedrooms can hear it easily. Once the system is pressurized with water the Fire Marshall will come inspect it and give me a card, which in turn I will give to the City Inspector at the Frame and Rough inspection this week. The cost for this complete fire sprinkler system installed, with design and permits was $2,200.00. I’m ready for this big monumental inspection this week, its all going to be downhill after we get to start insulating and hanging drywall, stay tuned!

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Here’s a Sneak Peek of the new build we are doing in South Park. Rough framing is now complete, roof on, Milgard aluminum windows in, plumbing done, HVAC almost complete, next up is electrical and fire sprinklers then I can call for the big “rough-in” City inspection.

Not Just a Big Box

Week 3 got us pretty close to being done with the rough framing on the Modern Bungalow. We have a lot of features and angles with this house, its not just a big box so its taking a little longer than originally planned but well worth it.  You can see we got the trusses up and the roof is almost completely sheeted. I left the rafter tails open with no facia board to replicate the craftsman bungalow style. The barge rafter also has a nice detail to add some interest.

The trusses were a breeze and went up really fast, but things slowed down we moved to the conventional “stick” framing of the roof line for the master suite above the garage. There are 3 more big parallam beams up there that allow us some really fun and unique ceiling angles, I’ll save that one to show you in the walk through video.

Under the eaves I used 2×6 tongue and groove on the 18″ rafter tails. It’s a great detail that many guys skip because it adds extra cost but its the right way to do open rafter tails and really also mimics the craftsman style. There are going to be several prominent Modern elements also to the home design, so I thought it was important to have as many period details alongside them to balance the blend.

For the roof sheathing I used OSB with a Tech Shield radiant barrier on the under side. It cost about 2 bucks more per sheet but it will be another huge energy saving feature of the home and save money on electric bills. Keeping your attic cool, and well ventilated is key to saving energy as we learned while building in Texas. This product blocks 97% of the radiant heat from entering through your roof sheathing.  Adding this radiant barrier will reduce attic temperatures by 30 degrees and result in a 17% savings in cooling costs. Before putting the roof on I have to get the nail spacing inspected by the City. You have to have a big ladder available but I don’t see this guy climbing up there its so high, it’ll be fun to see what he does.

My plumber got a great start too working alongside the framers, all the ABS waste lines and black iron pipe gas lines are done. Everything inside is real close and we even got the stairs finished. The electrician and HVAC sub contractors can also start once all rough framing is totally done. There’s a cool new construction project in Encinitas called The Leucadia Collection I want to check out, similar idea to what I’m doing. We might drive by this weekend and see if they’ve started framing or have a model home up.

Modern Bungalow Framing

Huge progress this week in only 4 and a half days of framing, the Modern Bungalow is starting to take shape now with the whole first floor and garage framed up. I haven’t seen anyone doing this in San Diego, my architect is doing these in Austin, Texas and this is the hottest new construction style for the old metro neighborhoods. The house will still have the classic lines of a bungalow but mashed with modern construction and design features. Everyone loves bungalows but this twist is going to give you the best of both worlds with contemporary style being the most popular right now in the home design world.

The underground plumbing, floor system and insulation inspection went a little better the second time on Monday, my regular inspector said everything looked good and he wouldn’t have made me change the sanitee fitting to pass. 3 more signatures on the card and we were able to get the 3/4″ T&G CDX subfloor down.

We put up the North living room wall first and then the front, or East kitchen wall. Notice the 10 foot ceilings downstairs and the 8 foot door heights. We also made all the windows a little taller and lined them up at the 8 foot door height as well. The doors and windows are as high as most peoples ceilings, it makes the house feel so much more expansive. My framers thought I was crazy and never even do 8 foot doors, normally its reserved for McMansions and is popular in Phoenix and Texas so its probably safe to say this is a first for South Park. The coolest thing ever is walking in the front door and looking straight back at the green canyon through the custom 9 foot wide by 8 foot high patio slider doors.

The highlight of the week was lifting up the 19′ balloon wall. Its the exterior wall on the driveway side of the house that reaches all the way to the roof trusses because there is a stairway in this location. You can see the 3 headers that follow the staircase up. It took 9 guys to lift the wall in place it was so heavy with my over sized material. For this house I’m using 2×6 framing for all exterior walls instead of standard 2×4. Besides being structurally superior, this will give me room for a greater insulation barrier for huge energy savings and provide better sound proofing from the nearby flight pattern. Some builders move spacing on wall studs out to 24″ when they go to 2×6 but I left them at 16″ on center. A friend of mine who works for a large National home builder called it a energy saving fortress.

In order to do the wide open modern floorplan, I used Parallam beams to span the 22 foot living room and then hung the joists off the beams. You can see us here lifting the largest beam up which measures 7″x14″x22′

Upstairs I used engineered I joists from Trus Joist. These TJI joists are the highest quality available and resist warping, twisting and shrinking to prevent bouncy or squeaky floors. Besides allowing greater spans from the engineering, one nice thing is you don’t have to crown the wood, they are all perfectly straight and will give a perfectly flat floor upstairs. I’ll fir down each joist so the 14″ beam wont show when we drywall the ceiling in the living room.

In the shear wall locations I’m also using CDX instead of OSB. You can see how large the house is looking here with just the first floor up. It’s going to dwarf the 2-story bungalow next door. Seeing this huge 2-car attached garage and wide driveway is also very atypical for the neighborhood, of course I did a 8′ high garage door to accommodate my truck.  Notice also here how the 9′ high garage ceiling height is lower than the second floor, this is where steps lead down to the master suite from the secondary living space to provide a little more interest and privacy. I’m so happy with this cutting edge design, there’s going to be so many cool things going on when its complete to make this a real fun house to live in. We are ready to start the second floor framing this week, there are more cool design features that I cant wait to see take shape. I planned on 2 weeks for rough framing but it will probably stretch out a little longer with all the small pick up work to be done at the end.

South Park Floorplans in 3D

Here’s my South Park floor plans modeled in 3D. Make sure and click on the pics to zoom in and take a look around, make yourself at home! This will be our new home; )

South Park in 3D

Here’s my South Park project modeled in 3Ds-Max with V-Ray. Refreshingly modern and comfortably traditional all at the same time. Exploded views of the upstairs and downstairs floor plans coming soon!

South Park Plan Revisions

We just went through some major building plan revisions for the South Park Modern/Craftsman house that we are building this summer here in San Diego. I could have already had building permits and started construction but after sitting with the City and having to compromise I just wasn’t going to be happy with the end product, so I opted to go back to the drawing board and with the help of my great designer we came up with something we both felt is way better. There’s so much to learn on new construction and what the City of San Diego will and will not allow, I’m chalking this one up to builder school and moving on. It only takes 8 business days to get your plans routed through Developmental Services downtown, then they give you a list of changes for your plans, luckily they are now hiring more staff after years of cut backs and lay offs.

The newly revised design, now close to 1900 s.f., is larger than neighborhood standards. Downstairs the kitchen, living and dining rooms are linked to create an open and continuous public space where guests can roam freely and have easy access to bathroom facilities under the staircase and enjoy fluid movement between indoor and outdoor living spaces via the bi-folding rear patio doors. This new design also makes more room for outdoor living space with 13′ of yard before the cantilever deck on the canyon. Light and vertical space make any room feel larger so with the 10′ ceilings downstairs and abundance of morning and afternoon light, the space should feel very comfortable. The facade is a sophisticated blend of traditional Craftsman style with a Modern influence. The bubble framing for the staircase windows on the driveway side creates a fun and whimsical touch for this hip and eclectic neighborhood.

The 2-car garage is now over-sized and attached to the house with an adjoining mud room/utility room with full size connections and the HVAC closet. I pulled it 4′ off the side property line to give the City required side set back since its an attached garage now, detached garages can sit right on the property line in my area believe it or not.  All private spaces are nicely separated upstairs with an open gallery at the top of the staircase, 2 secondary gracious sized bedrooms and shared hall bath. The large master suite above the garage has a bonus sitting area and secondary set of stacked washer/dryer connections and then steps down into the bedroom to allow higher vaulted bedroom ceilings.  Our East-facing master retreat will get great morning light and has a walk-in closet and really cool master bath with dual vanities, water closet and a wet room feature which includes the stand-up shower and spa tub not separated by a divider wall, behind frame-less glass doors and with casement windows looking down into the canyon. The wet room design is really en vogue right now in bathroom design and works great in small spaces.

MCM Out of This Galaxy

My Mid-Century Modern renovation is done and truly is out of this world! 2 days ahead of the construction schedule and it came out just as nice as my conceptual design. This extensive rehab took just over 11 weeks to complete and went as smooth as Astro butter. You can see I added the final modern features out front like the frosted front door and horizontal wood panel with the house numbers illuminated by the up/down cylinder sconce. A matching stainless steel mailbox and doorbell finished it off and tied everything together with the full-view Amarr garage door. Here are the after photos of our “1962 Leonard Drogin” Mid-Century Modern San Diego ranch house in all its glory. Hope you enjoyed the project, its now listed for sale MLS# 120016356 for $599,000 and ready for a new buyer to bring in some Eames chairs, put on some Sinatra and roll over the drink cart for some Martinis. Open House this weekend Saturday and Sunday from 12-3. 4841 Sparks Avenue San Diego, CA 92110. Buyers without agent representation call Green Button Homes LLC @ (619) 565-7475 for a showing.

Mid Century Modern Renovation

My 1962 Leonard Drogin MCM is coming together.

Since my last blog post we totally transformed the outside of our Atomic Ranch House/Mid Century Modern project. I built a modern horizontal wood fence for the first time, it was way more labor intensive because the boards were all custom cut and had to be pre-drilled and screwed rather than using a nail gun. I used 1″x8″ cedar for the fence boards and 2″x2″ ledgers on my posts to secure them. I didn’t use pressure treated posts because I wanted to stain them to match the boards so the ends had to be treated before we set them. When I set the posts I also kept the span under 7 feet so the span wasn’t too long which would let the boards warp out. I sprayed a Behr semi-transparent fence stain in Natural color to seal the wood. Its looks great, kind of a modern style privacy screen rather than a fence and because the yard isn’t that big it provides privacy while still not making you feel boxed in. The fence is classy and sleek, the horizontal lines totally compliment the architecture I feel. After building the fence I had the stucco guy come back and do the retaining wall along the driveway to match the house as it was sticking out like a sore thumb after everything else looked so great.

Out front I had to terrace the yard a little because of the challenging hill we had to deal with. My favorite look with modern house design is the river rock combo with the Horse Tail plants. These are the reed type that I planted along the front of the garage and house. I added just one obligatory Queen Palm on an island to give a tad of privacy between the street and the front door.  Here’s another sizzle feature, check out this cool satellite shower head I put in both bathrooms. The spacey design looks like it belongs in orbit with my other light fixtures and I felt totally goes well with the MCM design.

I’m down to this final punch list of items that actually fit on one page so we are getting there. I should be close to on track for a March 30 completion as we are in week 10 right now for this rehab. There are still more fun things I’m adding so stay tuned, a couple more weeks and you’ll see all the bells and whistles. See the final finished pictures here.