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!

Mid Century Modern Concrete

Well I wish I had some images of cool flat panel cabinets, modern fixtures, new hardwood floors, glass tile back-splashes and shiny new objects but first things first. Normally, I do the concrete flat work last but since its part of the structural scope of this job I wanted to get it out of the way so when I get inside and start patching I know nothing is going to move.

We removed the entire garage floor, driveway and even part of the City sidewalk due to the Pepper tree roots. Once the floor was out we fixed 6 cracks in the stem wall and then removed 6″ of soil to make room for the new thicker slab. First we laid down plastic sheeting for moisture and then 6″ of clean sand to prevent possible expanding soils to pop up the new floor later. Finally we doweled #4 rebar into the existing house foundation, stem wall and all perimeter concrete flat work securing it with epoxy. It took 25 yards of the best 2500 psi big rock concrete you can buy and 6 finishers but we completed the pour in one day.

The big exterior load bearing beam was also rotten from water damage. Looking around the neighborhood at the same floor plan houses, a lot of homeowners just added a post and cut the long beam off. I wanted to really retain the original look of the house so we rebuilt it as it was originally done. I’m probably the only one on the block that has it back correctly now. This beam was a 4″x12″x26′ and weighed 400 pounds. It only cost 200 bucks and was easy to replace once we broke the stucco and supported the roof with a temporary wall. Windows, exterior doors and garage door are all on special order. The new roof is coming next, believe it or not I haven’t even done demo yet inside, stay tuned we’ll eventually get to the shiny new objects!

Concrete Jungle

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What’s an urban restoration project like without adding just a tad more hardscape to blend in with the mass expanses of paved metropolitan living? There is always a danger of adding too much concrete and having your house look like a parking lot but I think I pulled it off and managed to give the new owners a place for 4 cars to park securely while also enhancing the landscaping design with the sweeping walkway around the side yard. After receiving multiple bids in the $5 – $7  per square foot range, I managed to pull off the 22 yard pour for just around $3.75/s.f.

There was a block wall that was cracked and leaning over out front so we formed and poured around it after some reinforcing with rebar. Once I crack off the forms we’ll give it a swipe with spec mix for a sanded stucco finish to match the foundation walls. I thought this was a good quick fix as opposed to demolishing everything and having someone stack a whole new block wall which technically would also have to be permitted with the City. Inside this week, we also stripped all the paint from the 100-year-old staircase after deciding it will look better in its natural redwood state rather than painting it with all the trims.

New Concrete & SA Slippage

Over at our historical renovation, The Target House, we took care of the new concrete driveway and garage foundation this week. My contractor is charging around $3.00/s.f. for a job like this including demo and haul off, we poured 2000 s.f.  The concrete was an important part of this project, the original 1923 driveway width was more suitable for a Model T rather than a soccer mom SUV. Additionally, since our lot is sloped and I excavated such a deep cavity under the room addition for the peir and beam foundation it was imperative to prevent any water from entering the crawl space so the new driveway & curb will divert all rain and roof run off down the driveway. You’ll also notice in the video we are rough sanding the hardwood floors even before we hang drywall. This is a little trick I learned in cases where there are bad stains and smells. Sanding the wood takes the finish off and opens the pores in the wood so it can breathe and dry out. We’ll start bleaching out any stains and then once we are ready to refinish the floors possible do a bit more patching in any areas that still need it. Since my plan on this house is to go light with the floors I wont be able to hide anything with the dark stain. The last thing I want to do is go all dark on my brand new wood floors just to try and hide 4-5 stains up front on the existing portion of the house. We passed framing inspection and the insulation is now hung. Once we pass insulation inspection Monday we’ll be free to finally hang the drywall so I’ve got a delivery for 180 12′ sheets on Monday.

The May San Antonio real estate market stats were released this week and although activity was up nearly 20% the median price dropped almost 4% from last year. I normally don’t put a lot of weight on median prices anyway but there were certainly more less-expensive homes selling due to the buyer bait program. The higher transactions were also obviously a result thereof. After 2 consecutive months of low foreclosure numbers, SA now jumped up by 34% for the July auction and is on track for a record high 2010 number. I think the market will be slowing as Summer settles in, let’s hope home prices don’t continue to slip.

Foundation Complete!

We had a buyer come back for a third time on the Neighbor’s House this week as well as tons of calls and another new showing. Nothing in writing yet so we are still patiently waiting.

I got alot done this week on the Target House, with another day rental on the Bobcat but this time with the 2 foot auger attachment I drilled the holes for the 28 piers. The City of SA wants to see them 2 feet deep with #4 rebar at the bottom of each hole. I found a new engineer that came out and inspected the footings before the concrete pour. My old guy tried to raise his prices from 400 to 600 bucks for the inspection but the new guy’s price is only 350 so I am happy. The City of SA doesn’t inspect foundations for room additions anymore themselves, it’s up to the builder to supply his or her own engineers cerificate to satisfy that portion of the building permit.

After the footings were finished Friday I placed all the piers on Saturday so now I am all ready for the framers to come in and knock this puppy out. I used 12″ sonitubes for the piers but the City only calls for 8″. For the small extra cost I just think it provides for a way better product with the larger diameter piers so I always upgrade. We hand mixed 48 bags on 4000 psi concrete and poured them to the top. I’ll lay the 4×6 treated sills (beams) across the top next week before the framers get started. Stay tuned, we’ll be showing you some cool videos of the whole framing process soon!

Wearing Out My Welcome

It was a crazy week now that we have two projects in progress. At “The Neighbor’s House” we are winding things up and are having the floors refinished while the concrete guys are pouring 1500 s.f. of driveway, 2 patios, an A/C pad and flatwork around the room addition. With all the mess over there I’ve now received disgruntled phone calls and threats of calling the cops about the workers having to stay so late finishing the concrete. I feel like an unwanted houseguest that comes and stays at your house for a week. At first everyone is glad to see me, has remodeling questions and loves what I’m doing for the area, but add 3-4 months of random work trucks parked in front of their houses, mud everywhere in the street and a constant mess and noise and all of a sudden it’s not so cool and the animosity starts to set in. Understandable though, I’m sure it’s annoying. It was really difficult to pour concrete this time because the cold weather delays drying time and the days are shorter now that it’s winter. They’ve had the forms and rebar down for almost 2 weeks and we keep getting days on end of misty cold rain. After finally having four trucks dump about 30 yards, the finishers ended up having to stay until midnight using lights…temps were in the low 40s and it wouldn’t dry fast enough to smooth. That was a particularly bad night for neighbors, I hate having to do that. On the inside, the floors are coming out great as the crew has gone through 3 sanding stages, wood filler and a fine screening to smooth them out. The stain goes on today so I am anxious to see the extra dark walnut stain we’ll custom mix. Can’t wait until they are done so I can install appliances and then it’s down to the final stretch of small punch list stuff and I can get off this street, its time to go!

Over at “The Target House” we broke ground with the demo this week with the help of some day laborers and tore out the entire house in one day gutting every room completely down to the wood and removing both the kitchen and bath. Additionally there was a dilapidated garage and apartment in the backyard that took 2 more days to take down by hand. I had planned to rent a Bobcat to knock it down but it ended up being cheaper to just pay the laborers to do it. Going through someone’s old personal stuff in a garage really lets you get to know them, weird. We found pictures of the house from Christmas 1991 in perfect condition, crazy how 20 years of deferred maintenance can take its toll. Now that the demo is done, the next step is I’ll have my foundation guy get started leveling the house. Our architect is currently working on plans; I have some great ideas for totally changing the floor plan around as well as adding about 1000 s.f. onto the back of the house. We’ll do a walkthrough soon and show you how we are changing things around for the renovation. Several of the other interested parties who didn’t get the house have stopped by this week seeing the demo underway and inquiring about our plans.

Week 2 Update Neighbors House

After completing the bulk of the demo last week my main goal has been towards getting the new roof on. I always start with the new roof first (and foundation if needed) on any major remodel so if there were any leaks previously it wont trash any new stuff going in. Before I can get the roof on this house, I have to add the porch and room addition so it’s been my main focus to get these taken care of first. I had to move the gas meter back 40 feet from the house but luckily the power company showed up Monday and obliged so I got started with no delay. The porch came out really good as it completely changed the look of our house. In this historic neighborhood everyone loves the big front porches and they are an important feature in order to maximize retail sales price. I mimicked the original house design with the 30” eaves and open rafter tails. There are about 10 different Craftsman style home models in our neighborhood but unfortunately this one doesn’t come with the traditional porch so we knew we had to add it. The rear addition is the major change of this house, it will be approximately 620 square feet and contain a utility room, master bedroom, master bath, hallway and walk in closet. Once again to obtain maximum retail sales price these are things that today’s buyer will expect. We will also be giving them a walk-in food pantry and double vanities in the bath, all popular amenities to consider when given the opportunity to remodel. I was fortunately able to design around the big pecan tree so after we are done I plan to do a cool deck around the tree with a circular bench and French doors leading from the master suite. We’ve gone through 6 dumpsters so far, 3 being filled with dirt from the excavation I had to do with the Bobcat for the addition. Monday I have an engineer inspecting my foundation and issuing a certificate, which the City of San Antonio requires for our permit and then we’ll be free to start framing. Do you want to learn exactly how someone pulled down $155,510 his first year Flipping Houses in a recession? Visit our friend’s blog and see. Congratulations bro!

5 Yards of Concrete & 200 lbs of Rebar Later

piers

I finished the 15 concrete piers today for the 435 s.f. master suite addition. There are 3 rows of 5 with 7 foot spacing. After the bobcat grading I dug 24” holes, 2 feet deep with an auger. At the bottom of the holes I placed #4 rebar in a tic tac toe pattern, 3 pcs each way. Then I filled the holes up 18” with 4000 psi concrete to make the footing. For the pier I placed 2 more pieces of rebar sticking straight up through 10” sonitubes. I left these 2 pieces of rebar a little high so the sill beams can lay inside them. Finally I filled the sonitubes with more concrete to complete the pier. I have to reflect for a minute on how easy this is in Texas vs. California which has all the earthquake codes and bureaucratic red tape. The City of San Antonio only requires an Engineer’s approval letter for the foundation inspection of my building permit, (which I pulled over the counter). He comes out twice, once to inspect the hole depth then secondly after the beams are sitting on the piers. Try pulling a permit in San Diego. Drop off your plans, wait for months and prepare to jump through some hoops! The framing will start on Monday. Stay tuned.