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 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.

South Park Modern Craftsman Plans

Here are the plans for the custom house we’re building for ourselves in South Park. It’s a Clean Modern Craftsman 2-story design, 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths with a detached 2 car garage at around 1900 s.f. For the bungalow feel we did nice 2×8 barge rafters at the gable ends with an a-typical edge detail and bold yet simple 4×4 brackets over 6″ corner trim. Porch columns front and rear will be 8×8 in smooth Cedar, just sealed. You can see the first floor is wide open and expansive with 10′ ceilings, the entry leads you into the dining area that opens right across to the kitchen. In the island kitchen we have a walk in pantry and a peninsula for casual eating. There is a powder room under the stairs and then the whole back of the house is the great room also off the kitchen for entertaining with direct access to the back yard complete with covered porch and decking on the canyon. Indoor utility room is also just inside the rear door.

All the bedrooms are upstairs, gracious closet spaces, full master suite with sit down spa tub as well as stand up shower. Dual vanities in both upstairs bathrooms. Normally we try and put the master suite downstairs but we dont mind stairs so it worked better putting all bedrooms up. I’m doing exposed galvanized metal roofing on the open porch framing and aluminum Milgard casement windows as well to give the urban mod feel. The back porch also provides a perfect breezeway to the detached 2 car garage. Check out the balloon framing in action on the side elevation/staircase windows, this is definitely some out of the box home design that’s going to make a huge impact in South Park. Estimated completion December 2012. Thanks Morgan for the help!

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!

The Descrescendo

The Neighbor’s House is basically done now minus some small touch ups but we’ve been plagued with more bad weather so it’s dragging on. You can see the before and after is really dramatic and I am really looking forward to getting it on the market. I got an automatic driveway gate installed last week as well and boy is it sweet! This week I passed all my final inspections so all that’s left now is to have the gas company come out and install the new meter. Since the line will be underground I foresee a little touch up in the backyard after they are done. We’ll hopefully be staging the house at the end of this week and getting started shooting pictures for our marketing. One neighbor mentioned they want the house for 350k but I think we are going to test the waters a little higher for a few months since we are heading into the best time of year to sell a house. After all, it is a 2 on 1 so if we can find the right buyer that needs the extra apartment in the back then they’ll pay a premium for this house. I’ve spent all my time this week remodeling the rear unit with a full new “basic” kitchen, drywall patching, texture and complete interior paint. It’s really been a decrescendo to go from the cool main house to this garage apartment rehab but its all gotta be good. We have a lot of value here with this rear unit and its presence will be why we get a higher price yet still than we got for the house next door.

  After

Last week our website was featured on Jim The Realtor’s blog, www.bubbleinfo.com. For those of you looking for a great housing market blog for San Diego, Jim Klinge’s is the best one out there. He brings you unbiased front line info on what’s happening in So Cal with no typical Realtor spin so we follow it religiously. He’s one of the top agents in S.D. and has also been featured on ABC Nightline and in the LA Times so getting a spotlight by him was really an honor. If you are looking for investment property in San Diego give him and his team a call.

We’ve been working closely with our architect also on plans for the Target House. We are doing some cool new things so I am really excited to get over there full time after our current house is on the market. There will be major floor plan changes since I gut the entire house and have that option. I am taking the front bedroom and opening up the space to add it onto the living room similar to what I did on Hat Trick. We’ve gone through several changes on the new addition but now I think I’ve got it nailed down as it includes all the things I wanted for our remodel: vaulted master suite with master bath, walk-in closet, food pantry, inside utility area, dual vanities, spa tub, shower, water closet and last but not least a double-sided fireplace between master bedroom and Jacuzzi tub! It’s going to be sick, can’t wait to frame this puppy up!

Target Plans

Initial Walkthrough Hat Trick

Scope of work…follow along baby! some crazy reconfigurin’ goin’ on ’round hur’

Arch Arch Baby

Open Floorplan Arches

Here’s how the new floorplan is playing out after our drastic changes. As you can see we’ve opened up 4 main walls with dramatic arches. It has really given the home a more functional layout and brings in a lot more light.

Under the House

We also got started on the foundation repair which is always 2nd on our list to do after demo. It was important on this project to get everything level before we even start the room addition and it needs to be lifted 3 inches in some areas. The house sits on 38 cedar posts, these posts are actually trunks of cedar trees which is common in this part of Texas. Each post is 5 feet tall, 3 feet of which is buried in the ground sitting on a concrete pad. Cedar is naturally resistent to termites, however, after 85 years and possible drainage problems the cedar gets rotten as you can see in the above photo. In order for us to level the house, we are replacing all 38 posts. We had 4 workers under the house digging the holes to pull out the rotten posts. How would you like to have to crawl under the house with only a damp dark 24 inches of clearance and dig 38 3-foot deep holes? These guys are rad.

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