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Master Sweet Framing

I’m getting close to the stem wall pour, the guys worked on the forms all week. Inside the forms we hung 12″ j-bolts that will anchor the house to the foundation once it’s poured. Then we laid 4 rows of #5 rebar and secured it to the screw jacks with tie wire. Anywhere the stem wall is more than 24″ high we will hang vertical rebar 24″ on center as well. This is over and above local building codes but  worth the extra expense. All the load from the weight of a house is carried on the exterior walls and down to the footings, it’s totally different for me here doing this as in Texas when building a pier and beam room addition you don’t do this perimeter foundation. The plastic sheeting you see is to keep the concrete from blowing out the back once we pump it into the form cavity. All that’s left now is to set the outside forms, we’ll cut windows along the top of the outside so we can pump the concrete in.

I also got the new master suite all framed up, it’s 375 s.f. and includes 9′ ceilings, a big bathroom that fits dual vanities, soaker tub, stand up shower and water closet. There’s also a generous sized walk in closet and french doors off the back. While the framers were there I also had them raise the kitchen ceiling, move some closets around upstairs and add some really cool tray ceilings in the living room and dining room that I’ll use for my mechanicals and central heat ducting to get upstairs. We also added fire blocking to the entire house since I had all the walls open. I bumped up the room addition ceiling  joist size to 2×8 and the roof rafters to 2×10 just to ensure the inspector likes what he sees and I get off on the right foot with him. It’s coming out pretty trick, I’m excited about how easy it was to really modernize this 100-year-old floor plan and am confident it’s going to help sell the house. The prices I’m nailing down for mechanicals on this 2000 s.f. house so far are as follows: Complete electrical with new 200 amp service: $5300. Complete plumbing with copper supply, gas lines and all new ABS waste lines: $5000. Complete new central heat system with new furnace and ducting: $1800. New roof: $2000 labor.  These are killer prices and all from legal, licensed sub contractors, I couldn’t have done better in Texas. Thanks to everyone locally who has sent me referrals, after this huge project I’ll have a great team ready for any size project!

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  1. 13 Comment(s)

  2. By tj & the bear on May 23, 2011 | Reply

    Looks like she’s coming along beautifully. Looking forward to future updates!!!

  3. By Bilgefisher on May 23, 2011 | Reply


    Your furnace price is amazing. I didn’t think you could even buy for that price let alone the ducting and installation. Did you use a local seller or have another source?


  4. By Tom on May 23, 2011 | Reply

    It’s a 70,000 BTU Goodman furnace. Materials are $1000 and my subcontractors labor $880. Next lowest bid was $3800. Stoked

  5. By Jerry on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Tom,
    I’ve been following your blog for a little while now. I really like your design sense and attention to detail. Going through listings and other blogs I’ve noticed a lot of investors lack this and I raise my hat to you on this because it sets you apart from the others.

    I’m currently in the INland empire area and considering moving down to SD to start investing. I always loved the city And I want to move to a new location. What’s the market like down there? And at what ARV would u say the median house is?

  6. By Taber Chin on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    Just stumbled onto your website. I really enjoyed your website. Love your work. I really really love that color you used in The Hat Trick House’s dining room, rest of house. What exact color and paint code did you use? I want to paint my house that color 😛

  7. By Michael Guerrero on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    Hello Tom,

    Thank you for your blog, yo have a ton of useful info. I am in the process of closing on a H.C. Thorman built home and I am new to the refurb game. I am likey going to need to replace the electrical, HVAC and plumbing in the house. I was wondering if you would not mind sharing your San Antonio contractor contacts? Any help you can provide will be awesome.

  8. By Lauri L on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    Where did you purchase the river rock tile sheets and who was the better manufacturer you liked? Do you mind sharing? Seems like several tile stores here in Houston (Dal Tile, Master Tile) no longer carry the river rock sheets because they had problems with the company. I may have to purchase on line. Thanks!

  9. By Ginny on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve been following your adventures and rehabs for awhile, and really appreciate all the details and creativity!!
    A quick question: about what does the hourly rate work out to for handymen that do interior doors, cabinet installs, paint, texture, sheetrock fixits. I realize quotes are usually by jobs but I was given a quote for some work here in Sacramento that seems high, and I’m trying to figure out a comparison.

  10. By Rob on May 28, 2011 | Reply


    I’m glad to see that you are doing well in San Diego. This is Rob Dixson in San Antonio (The guy who does light remodeling and came by your projects with my dad). I am hungry for another project and was wondering what the best source is for REO properties in San Antonio. My friend told me about They charge $369 for a years subscription. Does that sound like the best way to get the REO list?

  11. By Murrey on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    I am working on a craftsman style house built in 1918. I could not help but notice the great job you do with the screen frames. Could you give me any ideas or instructions on how you accopmlish what you do?
    Thanks a bunch,

  12. By Kevin McPeek on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Tom! I know that you are busy with your newest project, but I had a quick question that I thought you would be the most qualified to answer. I am a brand new real estate sales agent in the Grand Rapids, MI area. I find real estate investing to be fascinating and would love to be an agent for RE investors. My question is how do I attract and find real estate investors as clients? Is there any low cost ways of doing such? Craig list? My office has numerous HUD listings. Also what should RE investors look for in an agent? Thank you so much for your time!

    P.S. I love following your blog and the projects that you tackle. Maybe my question could be a good blog post? Thanks!

  13. By Jennifer H. on May 28, 2011 | Reply


    We are in the process of remodeling our house ourselves and your website and youtube videos have been a great resource. I have super quick question for you. We are installing an Ikea double bowl farmhouse-esque sink in non-Ikea cabinets and were wondering if you used the metal support bars included with the sink in your installations. Our cabinets have plywood boxes (including a back) and have solid wood face frames. We can’t quite figure out if the purpose of the metal bars is to support the weight of the sink directly (and therefore are necessary for us too) or if their primary purpose is to keep Ikea cabinets square (and thereby un-necessary for us). Many thanks and keep up the good work!

  14. By Tom on May 28, 2011 | Reply

    @ Jennifer, those metal bars are to keep the flimsy Ikea cabinet from spreading out. The Farmhouse sink is pretty heavy but if you are using solid wood base cabinets you wont need those bars. The weight of the sink sits on the countertop.

    @ Taber Chin, That color is macaw by Ralph Lauren. Of course we had it matched in something less expensive. Great color.

    @ Lauri L, check out Lowe’s for the river rock tile in 12″ squares. We used to order online but now Lowe’s has it. The main thing to look for is make sure all rocks are the same height so it feels level on your feet.

    @ Jerry, median price in San Diego now is only 280k. Here’s a good site if you want to see recent history in graphs

    There’s a lot of investor activity in the mid 100k range. They are buying in low-mid 100’s and selling in low-mid 200’s. Cosmetic fixers, mostly bank owned foreclosures. Thanks for following and good luck up there in the IE.

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