You’re The Boss

In any other state I could have been all the way up to the second floor framing this week but here in San Diego the City inspector wants to see your floor system framed up first, verify the hold downs and framing, then come back and inspect the underfloor plumbing lines, then come back again and inspect the insulation. You lose a day in between each inspection so this would have dragged out for a week. It really makes sense to do it this way because its easier to do the under house plumbing now, rather than crawling under the house later to do it but the reason the inspector wants it done in this order really just comes down to the fact that he’s not crawling under the house no matter what.

After framing up the floor system in a day I had my plumber come and set all the under floor ABS waste lines and fill them again with water to make sure there’s no leaks. Lastly the insulation got dropped in on nylon netting we strung between the floor joists. Its a real trick way to insulate the floor on a new construction raised foundation house. I’ve used wires in the past but the insulation always ends up falling down in some places. Once we pass then we just sheet over it. The threaded rod you see sticking up is for the Simpson HDU hold downs that secure 4X6 posts in the exterior walls all the way down into the concrete foundation footing. This is to securely hold the structure on the foundation in case of an earthquake and they are strategically placed in shear wall areas by the engineer on the plans.

Of course I had a better idea. I tried to speed things up by only calling once to have him come do all 3 inspections simultaneously. I had the insulation pulled back along the sides so he could see the framing, plumbing and hold downs thinking this would be fine, unfortunately he wasn’t really that excited about my idea. My regular inspector didn’t show up but rather a Senior Inspector who happens to be very thorough and whom I’ve dealt with before. He almost gave me the signature required in order for me to sheet the floor with CDX and start putting walls up, but he found one plumbing fitting that he said wasn’t correct so he’s coming back Monday after we change it and also wants me to pull more of the insulation back for a better look. Uggghhh. My plumber swears the fitting he used is allowed, its a Sanitee on its back for a 2″ vent pipe. The inspector wanted a sweep which is weird cause its only a vent, not a waste line. Who knows but I wasn’t going to argue with him, I told him he’s the boss but I kinda want to check the code book now though just out of curiosity.

The senior inspector asked who the general contractor was. Hesitantly, I told him I was an owner/builder. Seeming surprised he said it looked better than most jobs and kept congratulating me on doing such good work. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better because he could see it on my face that I was bummed not being able to start putting up the walls. He knew I was totally ready to go, as he was doing his inspection I received the first delivery of truss material for the second story. I should pass on Monday and we’ll be back in action. I’m a Chevy guy but how cool is this early Ford extra cab delivery truck from La Mesa Lumber?

More Concrete and Inspections

Just a little more concrete last week and now its time for framing. The first thing I did was have a third party inspector come and sign off on the construction of my block stem wall. He personally witnessed the mortar mixture and rebar placement inside. Then I called the City inspector also to sign off on it once it was completed. The reason for the extra stemwall is because the outside wall is the balloon wall and the inside wall supports the load from the upstairs floor joists. The stairs go up in between these two foundation walls and each has its own footing.

When the truck came to fill it up we also had to have the third party “special inspector” on site to take a sample of the mixture that came out of the truck. He packaged it into a small box that he’ll send to a lab for analysis. They test part of it at 7 days and the balance at 28 days for compression strength by putting it in a crushing machine. Inside the stem wall I used 2500 PSI grout mix. I only normally use big rock but this is the only place that its o.k. to use the pea gravel mix. I would never use it in a concrete footing , foundation or driveway.  The cost for the 2 trips from the special inspector and the lab test was about 500 bucks. I don’t know what would happen if the lab discovered I got a bad batch from the concrete company, probably make me tear down the wall and start over. I’d rather know now though before I move in that’s for sure!

Next I poured the garage floor. First I rented a compaction machine for the dirt, then put down plastic moisture barrier, topped it with 3-4 inches of manufactured sand and then my #4 rebar 18″ on center tied into the perimeter footing as the plans called for. Once the City came and inspected it we just backed the truck right up to it and poured 7 more yards of 3000 PSI 3/4″ concrete.  Once again you’ll see a lot of guys using pea gravel mix but its not nearly as good and tends to crack faster. The larger the rock size in concrete the better. I’m ready for framing now and getting material price quotes from Home Depot, Lowes and Dixieline. Hopefully we’ll be starting on the floor system by mid week if I can get a quick delivery, the framers are anxious and cant wait to get started. I’ll order my custom Milgard windows and exterior doors this week as week so they will arrive about the same time we are done with framing.

Fill ‘er Up

Friday was a great day, after all those weeks of digging, removing dirt, building forms and setting rebar we finally got to fill ‘er up. My South Park Modern Craftsman is finally coming out of the ground. It took a little more mud than I expected because of the 6 foot deep footing at the rear of the garage. 6 trucks delivered a total of 49.5 yards of 3000 PSI “big rock” concrete and we used a pump truck to get it into the forms. The whole process took about 4 hours and then the next day we ripped off all the wood forms and started stacking the CMU block. In any area where the stem wall was higher than 30″ I stepped down the forms so I could stack block.

When you use block for any portion, the City requires a special inspection by a third party inspector. He comes by periodically to check mortar mix, rebar placement and then finally the grout mix that you fill the walls with. Once we get all the block stacked and filled we’ll move right into pouring the garage floor, and then removing all the extra dirt and doing more minor grading to get ready for the framing material delivery which we’ll drop in the driveway location. Once we get ready I think its only going to only take 2 weeks to frame her up.

South Park Stamps!

This Monday, July 16, I finally got approval stamps on my plans. As you might remember I had a huge setback and changed the whole house design around and had to start over. In this go round, it only took 2 rounds of changes on the new plans. I paid an extra $1500 bucks for the expedite plan check which guarantee’s a 8 business day turn-around. Had I not coughed up this extra fee it would take a month to get through the structural department because they are so backed up. There were a lot of minor changes to the plans that the City asked for, these requests are called “cycle issues.”  Once you change your plans to reflect their instructions, then you go down and resubmit which means basically drop them off for another 8 business days. So I waited the first 8 days, changed them once and dropped them back off, waited another 8 business days and then we were so close that they allowed us to go “over the counter” which means that you make appointments with the structural, engineering and combined review departments and show that you’ve made the changes and they stamp them on the spot. Its pretty interesting and way different than a remodel or room addition.

Everyone has been asking about the crazy fees they gouge you for here in California. Its no secret the City is almost bankrupt but I know I did my part this week when we paid for the permit fee. Yes folks, its $3.20/sf Just for the School District impact fees. They figure you are adding more kids to the neighborhood I guess. I could have got a credit for the 880 s.f. old structure that was torn down but only if it was occupied 2 of the previous 3 years before demo and if the new development commences within 4 years from the demo date. Unfortunately my lot had a house that was torn down in 2005. Total permit fees with plan check and impact fees for this 1850 s.f. home were $24,956.00 or $13.48 /sf.  The City of San Diego put a value on this project of $237,747.00 to calculate their fees, not sure how they got this number but it comes to $128.51/s.f.  Maybe its the average that most people would pay to build it.  Permit fees would have been even higher had I not already had the water meter and sewer lateral so I guess I cant complain. I think these fees are a bit excessive, no wonder nobody is building new homes in California. They tacked on an extra $1,000 Recycling Deposit also, if I show them receipts from the landfill and prove that I recycled at least 50% of the construction mess, I get it back. FYI, The school impact fees also apply for any room addition over 499 s.f. in San Diego in case you are considering remodeling.

So you are probably wondering why I started working on the foundation before I had stamps, in theory you are not suppose to, but I felt confident enough after seeing the first request for changes that there were no gray areas with the City with regards to the footprint, setbacks or structural. After all, we only dug trenches and made forms but you’re really not suppose to start. I gained 3 weeks by taking the chance but was nervous the whole time someone would complain.

I had 2 inspections this week, the first was for the plumbing underground, this is the sewer lateral that brings 2 waste lines into the structure. You have to run the ABS through the footing, sleeve-ing and wrapping it.  The trenches were dug and I laid the waste lines in pea gravel.

The big inspection was the foundation footing inspection, I passed it today. The inspector verified that all rebar placement and sizing is per plans and that the important Simpson hold down hardware is the right size and in the right location. We used 4,040 linear feet of rebar for this foundation. Rebar and wood forming materials came to around $4,500.00. I’m all clear now for the first concrete pour for the footings and stem wall, I have 30+ yards of 3000 psi 3/4″ “big rock” coming tomorrow so we are officially off to the races!

Raised Foundations for Dummies

While the City of San Diego only requires footings for a 2 story house to be 18 inches deep, went close to 5 feet in some spots. You can see here that the bottom of all my trenches remain level with steps, so gravity doesn’t take our house down the canyon. The reason the footing trenches vary in depth is due to the distance to reach native soils. No lot is perfect, in our case with this house one main challenge besides having the rear 30% unusable due to the canyon is unstable fill that’s been there for years. The only alternative to digging all the way down to native soils would be to have the whole site compacted to 90%. I could have done a slab on grade at that point but at the end of the day I felt this way will be the most structurally sound. While these deep footings will eat up expensive concrete at $95/yard, a slab on grade foundation would still need deepened grade beams and since the lot slopes down towards the back, the foundation is 3 feet high and end up being about the same amount of concrete. Note the existing 4″ sewer lateral ready to go.

The excavator we rented made quick work of the foundation dig but after the soils engineer came and inspected our footing trenching, he requested us to go farther into the native soils. You can easily see here where the brown, silty cobble fill changes to a rock hard gold color at my spray paint line. This stuff is so hard to dig we used a jackhammer for 3 days to deepen the trenches to satisfy the soils engineer. He’ll now give me a certificate which I’ll hand to the City inspector when he comes to inspect the foundation forms and rebar placement. As previously mentioned, you could roll the dice and not have a soils test but if the City inspector feels there is fill he’ll make you take all the forms apart and get the report anyway. I want to build it right so in my mind this is the only way to do it.

The first step in forming a raised foundation is pulling some control lines from which you can set your exterior forms. We build them all with 2×4’s and OSB, setting the outside of the house footprint first and then starting with hanging the rebar inside. All rebar has to be 3″ away from dirt or forms. Finally after cleaning out and debris that might have fallen into the trenches you then set the inside form. After inspection we’ll pump concrete in from the top.

Once again the City only calls for (4) 1/2″ horizontal rebar inside the foundation with vertical bars 24″ on center.  For just a little extra cost I upped the ante to (6) horizontal 5/8″ bars with verticals 16″ on center. Raised foundation houses in California have this exterior stem wall. In the interior of the foot print the load is typically carried by4x6 treated sills that the floor joists rest on. These beams usually sit on posts and piers. My raised foundation design is far superior with one more stem wall running down the middle of the house like a spine. I’ll be using TJI floor joists which will span the whole width of the house without any posts and piers. We’ve fixed so many foundations on old pier and beam bungalows, with this method you’ll also have the convenience of a wide open crawl space to run mechanicals without any posts in the way. A little extra cost but by far a superior design for a raised foundation. Most of the neighbors have stopped by now, its the talk of the street that something is going up on “old man Fred’s” lot. I’ve been extremely respectful to everyone, even buying car washes for neighbors whose cars got dusted out by all the digging. I also rented a construction fence with privacy mesh so no one has to look at the mess all summer. We should be done with the forms mid week and then we’ll get started with the underground plumbing that needs to go in before we pour concrete. Stay tuned, once I get past the undergrounds and pumping this foundation it will get framed up real quick.

Digging It!

I have officially broke ground in South Park. This is not a big house but its really crazy to see it marked off on the lot and try and picture walking through it, it looks very small. First order of business was a light Bobcat grading of the lot and setting a Temporary Power Pole which has to first be inspected by the City and then hooked up by SDG&E. Did you know that all new single family construction in San Diego now require fire sprinklers?, doesn’t matter if you are right on the beach without a tree in sight. Not a big deal after all, I found a licensed sub contractor who will install everything at the rough-in stage for $2100. There is a 30′ height restriction in our zone but that doesn’t mean you can be 30′ high at the front of your house. If you draw an imaginary line at the 15′ front setback point and then go up 25′ and create a 45 degree angle back to the 30′ height, this is the envelope you cannot cross.  All bathrooms with a tub or shower also now have to have an exhaust fan with a humidistat, even if there is an opening window. CO2 detectors also now have to be upstairs as well as downstairs for current codes.

Since the house is going to be on a raised foundation, I rented a mini excavator for the day from my favorite place BJ’s and we dug all the footing trenches. I’ve never re-measured and re-squared anything in my life, its such an important step getting the house in the correct position on the lot. We had the property line markers to work from that my land surveyor installed, so we set up strings and then transferred the footing locations onto the ground. A few months back I had a soils test done, they found native soil under about 1-2 feet of fill. Although the footings for a 2 story house only have to be 18″ deep, we had to dig 2-3 feet in order to reach the rock hard native soil. The soils company will now come and re-inspect the trenches before we start on the forms and sign off that its correct. If I hadn’t done the soils testing the City could have, at their discretion, made us take apart the forms and dig the trenches deeper if they felt the soil conditions were questionable at the time of form inspection. This happened to a friend of mine last year. The soil in our area is very good, not expansive and rock hard so this house isn’t going anywhere. Additionally, I plan on using a little more rebar that the minimum building code calls for, just for piece of mind as well. After the soils inspection is the critical part of form-setting which has to be perfect in order to create the level foundation from which everything will rest. Once all the forms are set and rebar in place, then the City comes and inspects it for accuracy before concrete can be poured. Its so exciting to build our own home!

Hidden Surprises for Fathers Day

First and foremost, Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there! The coolest thing we did this week at The Painted Lady was to remove all of the 1970’s Sears metal siding, of course we recycled it to help save the planet. This is the third time I’ve done this on a historic house but I’ve never removed 2 different layers to get down to the original wood. It’s always a gamble because you never know of the condition underneath but its been my experience that the asbestos or vinyl that’s on top actually preserves and protects the old wood and I’ve always been surprised to see near perfect siding with minimal paint jobs buried underneath. The more the homes get painted over the years, the harder it is to prep so in this case when I found the original yellow paint job with nothing cracking or peeling I was excited.  As we removed it, I found tons more hidden architectural details that these Victorian houses are famous for so I had to tell myself it must have been a pretty good salesman in a polyester jacket who was able to convince the homeowner with his “never paint your house again” pitch years ago to cover all the character of their house up. These cool details in the trim on the house are going to put my paint job over the top.

We also finally got the foundation poured, it took 2 full trucks with almost 20 yards of concrete total, as well as a pumper rig to fill up the spaces we left open around the house in the forms. Once filled we removed the forms while it was still green and hand troweled the finish. Its harder to work with but I used the 1.5″ rock aggregate although most guys use the pea gravel mix. Since the stem wall is 3 feet high in some spots I wanted it to be as strong as possible. This house isn’t going anywhere now for another 100 years. The Historical Review Board also asked me to replace the visable portions of the old chimneys in order to keep the house period correct. The old ones were crumbling and dangerous and I deleted them from inside the house to maximize my floorspace and intended not to re stack the exterior, they weren’t fireplaces inside but only basically a brick flue for stove exhaust. I found some used bricks on Craigslist and had them re-stacked just from the roof line up, I had to knock this out before the roofers show up on Monday.

I finally met with some sub contractor drama this week from one of my subs, I knew everything was going too good to be true. It’s crazy, but unfortunately I cant share the story although it involves the FBI. Hopefully he’ll have his helper finish up next week so I can call for rough in inspection and be ready to insulate and drywall after the new roof goes on.

Painted Lady Week 6

Here’s a walk through to show the progress of The Painted Lady at week 6. After waiting 4 weeks for historical board approval we finally got the green light so we started calling for inspections. It was quite interesting to say the least, initially we failed both the foundation and framing because of a few small issues. The trench for the foundation was 2″ too shallow,  the plans I drew noted a 24″ deep trench which is overkill because a 2 story house only requires 18″ deep footings but I wanted to beef it up a little. I also upgraded the rebar size from the nominal 1/2″ as code requires to 5/8″ just do make it stronger. None of this mattered when the inspector showed up, he failed me anyway for lack of the 2″ to make it match what the plans called for. On the framing I was missing a few nails as the plans called for. I knew it wasn’t a big deal to make these few changes so it really didn’t bother me to fail. We fixed them quick and called the inspector back out 2 days later.

This is when I learned that nothing is going to just get signed off on that quick. When he arrived it took him all of about 10 minutes to measure the trench depth and check for the framing nails. He then proceeds to tell me that he can only pass me on the foundation but I’ll have to wait to pass on the framing. Really, didn’t you just look and see I made the corrections?  I’ve heard that they commonly show up and will only sign off on one or two things due to time restraints. The framing inspection includes about 4 categories; roof, floor, wall construction and sheer panels and could take up to 40 minutes in theory. Although he already verified everything was o.k. he only passed me on the roof portion “so I could stay busy and put my roof on.”  As you can imagine there’s not much new construction going on, so last year half of the inspectors got laid off so I don’t think morale is at its highest level.  With half of the staff now the inspectors are covering twice the territories so there’s not much time when they show up. When dealing with inspectors always tread lightly, give respect and remember not to rock the boat. The best rule is to close your mouth and just listen. This is exactly why most rehabbers look for the cosmetic flips or sneak by without permits.  Next week will be big, plumbing is now completely done, hvac done and electrical 75% done. Monday we are finally pouring the foundation after waiting forever for the City. Even with the slow downs I’m still pushing,  small set backs are just part of the business.

Several other cool things in TomTarrant.com land for this week;

1. There is a new contest at REIClub.com that I am nominated for. It’s another Best Real Estate Investing Blog shoot out. I’m up against some really popular sites so please go and cast your vote for me. Voting doesn’t begin until Monday, June 13 and goes through midnight on Friday June 17. This one is big, I could win a $250 Apple gift card which my wife would love. I need your help on this one guys, if you like the info I share here for you, please take a second and go vote for me!

http://www.reiclub.com/realestateblog/best-real-estate-investing-blogs-2011/

2. Joshua Dorkin over at Biggerpockets.com asked me to do an off the cuff Skype video interview for him where we’ll cover general real estate investing stuff and info about my house flipping business.  Make sure and go by his site next week and look for the interview. I’ll probably spill all the secrets you’ve been wanting to know.

http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/real-estate-interviews/

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!

Skinny legs, old yellow dress

So we finally got started this week on the huge foundation repair in which we are completely leveling the house and adding a new perimeter concrete stem wall. Before this huge stem wall can be formed and poured, we had to level the house and dig the 24″ trench around the sides. The house was only 2″ off at the most so the leveling was easy and we got the entire house within 1/4″ with a digital level going from one side to the other.  I hired a foundation guy who has worked for me in the past even though I had a cheaper bid from a new guy, I just felt it’s such an important part of the rehab and I didn’t want to go down that road with a new sub contractor, especially on my first project back in San Diego. The only downside was I had to wait for him to finish another job so it slowed me down a bit. I’m not sure that I would have wanted to be under this huge house with jacks on a Friday the 13th! The next step now will be to set all the wood forms for the stem wall and tie all the rebar inside per building code.

My sub contractor has been doing foundations for over 25 years so he’s got cool little tricks to make things easier for himself. I always enjoy learning these little tidbits from a true experienced professional in their field. As you can see here he’s got the outside of my house sitting on “sacrificial homemade screw jacks” we made out of 3/4″ galvanized pipe with 5/8″ all-thread inside and nuts and washers for the adjustments. Once everything is level he uses these jacks to hang the rebar on, and they’ll actually remain inside the new 8″ wide concrete stem wall permanently. Inside the trench they are sitting on small 8″ pier blocks, additionally he’ll hang the j-bolts from the new treated bottom plates so the house will be anchored to the new stem wall once its poured. It’s looks crazy to see this huge, heavy house sitting on these skinny legs but most of the weight is actually on the beams underneath a short distance away. Hopefully by the end of this week we’ll have the forms built and new foundation poured so we can get on to the framing.  After the framing I’ll do the roof, plumbing, hvac and electric. Everyone is ready to go for these trades so stay tuned as things shall move along a little faster soon. I pulled off some of the Sears metal siding that’s probably been on the house since the 70’s and as I guessed, the original 1909 ship lap wood was in perfect preserved condition with only one coat of faded yellow paint.  I’m pretty stoked as this could have gone either way with what I was going to find under there. On a side note, I had to rent a temporary construction fence this week to keep out the local kids who’ve evidently adopted the house as their local hang out at night. Every morning I’ve arrived to small surprises such as spilled ice cream, candy and even an egging. While nothings been stolen, construction sites are just not safe places to play so for the first time I’ve had to go on total lock down. This flimsy fence wouldn’t have kept me out 30 years ago but it gives me a little more piece of mind now knowing it’s not wide open.

Moonshine Jugs

I had a  productive week starting out by hanging all the OSB plywood on the room addition exterior, it really starts looking like a house once it has something on the framing. After the OSB I wrapped it with Tyvek, wow does Lowes like to advertise! Its amazing how many local rehabbers I see that dont use house wrapping on their additions. They’ll go straight over the OSB with the siding. For $88 bucks you cant go wrong and it really makes a difference on your electric bill and keeps the drafts out. The windows arrived Friday and I got most of them in along with the back door so now it all locks up again. As you can also see I had a retaining wall built this week from CMU block under the perimeter of the new addition. There was such a deep below grade cavity from my excavation that this was necessary for correct drainage and to prevent water intrusion under the house. I’ll backfill the sides now and we’ll be good to go. Another example of how we are doing things right, some guys would have thrown down some plywood and backfilled. The back porch is really neat, cant wait to see everything now with the historic waterfall style #117 siding on it to match the house.

The original owner of the house stopped by and said that their dad build it back in the 20’s. She’s going to give us all the info on the home and story behind it so we can pass it along to the new owner eventually. I am hoping she has some vintage photos of the front so when I go to rebuild the columns and porch area I can replicate it correctly. While I was under the house this week I found some old moonshine jugs, a 1927 Good Housekeeping magazine and a Texas automobile license plate from 1933. Since last weekend we’ve had 10 showings at Neighbor’s House and more offers as well. Spring buyers are out in full force. Cool stuff, stay tuned …

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!

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.

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.