Real First Week MCM

This was the real first week inside our MCM renovation now that the concrete guys are out of the way. The first thing I did was to get my roofer started, it turned out to be a little larger job than anticipated, 3 layers of tear off instead of what I thought was only 2. I put a GAF lifetime roof on and used a lighter color, Birchwood this time. Its going to go well with my grey tones on the exterior. While the roof was getting done we also finally did the demo inside.

During the week I also did some minor framing changes as previously discussed. An opening between the kitchen and living room was the most dramatic but from a functional standpoint the bathroom changes were probably more important. Both bath doors got enlarged and moved over to accommodate larger vanities and I ended up vaulting the hall bath lid to give a larger feel. The wall between the hall bath and the utility room also got moved over 6 inches to make enough room for the tub with the new door opening location. I also changed all the rotten sub floors in the wet locations. All this is stuff that you’ll never see but its really more important than the nice stuff that covers it up. The electrician and plumber also got started roughing in the new mechanical upgrades, a new 200 amp service and the water heater relocation to the garage to make more room for the kitchen cabinetry.

Primarily, to get the ceilings ready for my new stain I had my sandblasting guy, who normally does exteriors for stucco prep, come and blast the tongue and groove cedar and exposed beams. They came out killer now as you can see. I’m still pretty sure I’m going to go with a transparent green stain but I’ll do a test area and see how it looks. Its so clean now even just a clear coat would be cool but it might look too “rustic mountain cabin” for my taste..

Over in South Park we had the big time survey done by Mike Curren for the site plan. This survey measures your lot by satellites down to the fraction of the inch and he marks the property lines. He also established the benchmark for grade for use on the building plan elevations. This way there is no question when we go to submit plans to the City. After playing with several floorplan options this week it became apparent we have to go 2-story to get the square footage I need as well as a garage. We also got the necessary Soils Report performed this week. I had to have a hole dug 2’x3′ and 4′ deep. Then we hired Soiltesters to come out and do the test. I was worried that because of the canyon location and slope of the lot that we could have had fill in some areas which would cause us to use deeper footings, but as it turns out the fill is only 18″ deep. The soil report will call for the new footing to be at least 12″ into native soils, which are the sandstone that is redish in appearance. You can see in the hole I dug where the soil changes color about 18″ down. This guy looks like a soil tester doesn’t he? We are still working on the floorplan, I’ll share the preliminary version as soon as we get close. Finally we get to build a house for ourselves! Thanks for following!

Hammer Time

Feels great to be back doing what I love, creating new spaces, and most of all home in San Diego. We spent all week doing demo on The Painted Lady, with 3 laborers I gutted just about the entire house, maybe only a half day left and we’ll be done. I filled nearly (3) 40-yard roll off dumpsters at $427.00 each. I was really worried that we weren’t going to be able to get the dumpsters into the back yard, having to put them on a public street is a pain in the butt as you have to have a permit. My only other choice was paying someone with a dump truck to drive the loads to the dump one by one. This would have been very time consuming and costly. The house is huge inside, I am really excited and can see the final product already. Next up on deck after the demo is done is the foundation work, then I’ll be ready to re-frame the back of the house and put the new roof on. So far it seems sub contractor prices are not that much higher than I was paying in Texas, although I still haven’t nailed down a good electrical or plumbing contractor. Here’s a walk through video so you can see this great floor plan.

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.

Nice Hidden Surprises

This first week of getting started on “The Neighbor’s House” has revealed some nice surprises. As we were doing the demo in the kitchen we noticed all this new Romex wire, turns out the whole house has already been rewired so this will save me some money. I will still rewire the kitchen and have to add some circuits for all the recessed lighting but having everything new already is a huge plus. I had my foundation guy over and we went underneath and discovered it really only needs some shimming to bring up a couple of corners an inch or so. The main thing is making sure the rear of the house is perfectly level before we do the addition so it lines up well. We also spent 2 days taking off all the fake brick and shingle siding. I had assumed the original siding would be wrecked and had budgeted to replace it but low and behold the original waterfall historic wood siding was in clean perfect condition underneath. It was like unwrapping a Christmas present, only one coat of paint on it and smooth as a baby’s butt. This is going to be a breeze to paint, no grinding years of peeling paint jobs.

 Chimney

Probably the most dramatic surprise is the original fireplace chimney design we found underneath the faux brick. It’s really cool and nothing like the other houses on the block. I had my stucco guy come redo it this weekend so it’s back to its historic original condition and is going to add a nice detail to how our new façade will eventually look with the new front porch; stoked. I also had the power company out this week to move the gas meter back 40’ for the room addition. We might be waiting 2 weeks for them to get around to it so that kinda sucks as I wanted to get working on the new piers for the addition but we can’t bring the bobcat back there until the gas meter is moved. We also can’t do the new roof until the room addition and front porch are framed up so I am stuck until we get that gas line capped off.

 Chimney

New Project, Hat Trick House

Hat Trick House Rehab

We started the rehab on our next project “The Hat Trick House” this past Tuesday. It’s one block over from the two bungalow houses we sold this summer. It took two days with 3 helpers to do all the demolition and we filled two 30-yard roll off dumpsters in the process. I ripped the kitchen and bath down to the studs and took off the paneling throughout the rest of the house. There was no drywall under the paneling so we have a lot to replace. The house also had vinyl siding that was installed over the original waterfall wood siding. I ripped all this off already as well to reveal the historically correct appearance. I got lucky as the condition of the wood underneath was o.k. I also cut down the loquat trees blocking the cool front porch; we have some great features here to show off with this old craftsman bungalow so you need to be able to see them. You can’t sell a house if you can’t see it, right?

Demo Kitchen

The house is originally a 2 bedroom, 1 bath with 1450 square feet. There is a bonus sunroom off the master but you can’t technically call it a bedroom since you have to access it through the master. I designed a completely new floor plan to bring this grand old lady current and get us top dollar on the resale. We are closing off one of the two front doors and will now be using the front bedroom as an entrance and study. I’ll open the wall between this room and the living room to give more space to the front of the house. I am also opening the wall between the kitchen and dining room and adding a hallway to access the sunroom in order to take it as a third bedroom. For the middle bath I am relocating the doorway around the corner so it’s not visible from the dining room since I am also opening the wall to the main hallway. There is an original room off the kitchen called the milk run, it is a narrow hallway used in the old days for the milkman to leave your milk and eggs inside your house without entering the kitchen. It’s common to find these interior hallways in older homes from the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s basically a waste of space and this area will be added to enlarge the kitchen. With the new huge kitchen size I’ve designed a laundry room on the back wall that will be 36 square feet. My wife and I also designed a 435 square feet master suite off the back of the house including new second bathroom with dual vanities, water closet and shower. The master bedroom will measure 13×15 feet and have French doors leading to a new deck in the backyard similar to the last house. A huge 60 s.f. walk in closet is also in my plans at the back of the new addition. I’ll be matching the original siding to the rest of the house, as this “waterfall” is still available and called #117 siding. We are entering uncharted waters here by adding square footage to a flip. Usually we only work with the existing footprint and maybe open some walls or raise ceilings at the most. This neighborhood is fetching around $150/s.f. and I can build the addition for around $50/s.f. so adding this master suite should pay off. We are having a lot of fun given the opportunity to design our own master suite addition. Here’s what my new floor plan design will look like after the complete reconfiguration and added master suite.

Addition Plans

Friday I got started with opening some of the walls for the floor plan changes. Since the ceilings are 9’ I am raising the headers up as far as possible to the top plate and adding arches.

Framing Arches

The Siding Experience

We had a good first week. Outside I trimmed up the landscaping so you can actually see the house now and also removed all the asbestos siding to expose the original waterfall siding. Inside we took care of all the demo which included a complete kitchen and bath gut as well as a makeshift rear addition that was on the back of the house. We filled up a dumpster and a half with all of that. Upon tearing out the kitchen cabinets we discovered what the horrible smell was that we had originally thought might be a dead rat in the wall…there were dead raccoons above the cabinets as well as in the attic. After the demo we tackled the foundation. Since there was a previous foundation job done on the house which included 45 concrete piers we only had to use steel shims to lift it 2″ max in some areas.

KitchenAll the framing also went really smoothly. As planned, we opened up the kitchen to the dining room and the dining room to the living room with two dramatic arches. Inside the kitchen we firred out a wall to accomodate a stacked washer & dryer as well as a food pantry. We also closed up the 2nd front door to the house and installed a pull-down attic ladder. Additionally, the electrical is now all roughed in including flat-screen, surround sound and cat-5 wiring throughout.