We had a really wet and dreary week but I still managed to squeak in some good showings at The Neighbor’s House and get started on the interior reframing of Target House. I had initially wanted to jump straight into some work on the bobcat grading the backyard for the room addition but the weather just wasn’t on my side. It’s nice though to see the existing house all opened up and our floorplan changes really make the home modern and functional now. It was a big deal for me to commit to not having arches throughout this project as I’ve become really attached to them as most of you know, but with the prominent existing built-in having a square cased out opening, the arches would have clashed majorly. After framing up all the openings this week I am really feeling the square lines now, another good call from our architect, DeWitt. Our website is getting switched over to WordPress as we speak and will be a true blog and allow interaction with our visitors through RSS feeds, comments and also be way easier for me to do updates. With a full work week and toddler it was getting really hard to keep up with our web updates so now this should make our (my wife’s) lives much easier. Stay tuned for the new site and more updates!
We had a big week 3 on the Neighbors House project. Monday I passed inspection for my foundation so we ordered materials and went straight into framing the master suite room addition Wednesday. When laying out the floor joists I had the option to grab an extra 15 square feet by not cutting down my 16 footers and additionally we cantilevered the sills out and ended up with extra footage along the rear thus making our addition just over 700 s.f. instead of the planned 620. The framers kicked ass and got it done in a day and a half. I also had the stucco guy do the column bases for the front porch during the week. For the roof I went with my favorite 30-year composite shingle but since there were “Estate Grey” roofs on either side of this house (one being Hat Trick House) I had to choose another color, Driftwood. It’s really bizarre to flip two houses right next door to each other. Not only will I get to use my sales comp but also get the carryover curb appeal. My roofers showed up Friday and really got off to a slow start, it’s really disappointing to see someone intentionally dragging something out. Turns out the workers were being paid a day rate instead of a contract rate. After turning up the heat on my subcontractor he quickly changed their pay scale to per square pricing and they really started working, it was like I was looking at a different crew. These clock milkers had the nerve to ask me to buy lunch for them Saturday, I told them where they could go… to find the closest taco shop. The roof didn’t get finished due to the time lost so they’ll be back Monday to wrap it up. This week I’ll take care of the interior framing and arched openings and then its time to run the sub contractors through there for HVAC, electrical and plumbing to work towards the big milestone of passing rough-in inspections on all 3 of these trades.
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!
2.5 days and the whole master suite addition is all framed up and dried in. It came out sweet; I am really excited with the reconfigure of the floor plan on the Hat Trick House. I have the roofers coming tomorrow to put down a 30-year dimensional shingle in the color Estate Grey with ridge vents. My electrician is also getting started in the a.m. roughing everything in for the complete re-wire. I am also planning to call for framing inspection tomorrow as well so let’s hope for a pass, should be no problems as I went with 2×8 for ceiling joists and 2×6 for the roof. I had a bid yesterday for all new plumbing with permits including tying in the new room addition. This character had the nerve to bid $8,000. It’s really crazy now that construction has slowed down; some subs are actually raising their prices to make up for less work. I had him down to $3,500 by the time we got outside to the curb. I’m still getting bids and trying to hit $2,500 max.
When my wife and I first moved to San Antonio 2 years ago an insurance agent told us the city’s nickname was “Land Of Mañana.” We’ve found this to be totally true, it seems most workers are satisfied to poke along and only do what’s necessary to keep their family fed and stay semi-busy. Oh, I’ll just finish it tomorrow seems to be the consensus. Since the cost of living is low here there’s really no sense of urgency to get anything done. Although we do most of the rehab work ourselves there are still sub contractors who we depend on and recently we’ve had our pace slowed down a bit.
The foundation guys disappeared for a week after there was a water leak under the house and things got a little muddy. You can’t lift the house to level it if it’s muddy because the hydraulic jacks will sink on you. I had the meter off but it turns out it was faulty so some water was getting by even though it didn’t show it. I had SAWS come out for free and replace the water meter so we are all dry now and the guys finally got the house level and are almost done.
The design of the kitchen cabinet layout is complete thanks again to our Swedish friend’s website. Last time we wrote that we had some people email us and ask who our Swedish friend is…for all of you who don’t get that joke our friend is Ikea! Yuk yuk yuk. The design required us to remove the 3 existing kitchen windows and put one back in with a new location so it’s centered over where the sink will be.
I finished the entire interior framing this week so the new laundry room, hot water heater closet, refrigerator cubby, food pantry, hallways and relocated doorways are all complete. I also patched the wood floors with Red Oak in the areas where I opened up interior walls. Once the floors are refinished you won’t be able to see the patched areas.
We are ready to start on the master suite room addition this week. To prepare for the room addition I had to get a 60-foot pecan tree taken down and then grind the stump down. I got a great deal from some guys to take down the tree but once again they only seemed to want to work half days and spread out a one-day job to 4 days. Getting rock bottom prices from subs is a key to our success but sometimes it slows you down a bit. The room addition is 29 feet long so I also had CPS Energy come out and move the gas meter from the rear of the house 30 feet back in the yard. This only cost about $200, which I though was surprisingly cheap. They kind of have you over a barrel when it comes to moving their equipment so they could really charge what they want. CPS is really easy to work with here in SA. They even came out for free when we dropped the big tree and took down the power feed to the house to make it easier and safer.
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.
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.
This week I spent a lot of time sanding and mudding to get the drywall ready for texture. After taping the baseboards and door casings off yesterday I sprayed a light pattern of orange peel texture with my hopper on the entire interior of the house, walls and ceiling. We’re ready tomorrow to go in there and spray a good coat of primer on everything and then spray the ceilings only with flat white ceiling paint. I’ll use a brush and roller for all the rest of the interior walls a little later in the project.
I also put a lot of work into the bathroom this week. I started out by putting in a new plywood subfloor and a toilet ring. I also framed out a box for the new jetted tub. This tub requires a designated 110 circuit so we pulled a wire from under the house into the tub box. Code calls for a GFI protection but you don’t want to use a receptacle underneath the tub where the motor plugs in becuase if it trips you won’t be able to get in there to reset it. We’ll obtain our protection from a GFCI breaker on the panel instead. I had to go under the house to remove the old lead drum trap and change the system over to PVC with a P-trap.
After tying in the plumbing I mixed up 2 bags of mortar and dumped it into the tub box as a big blob. I then dropped in the tub and while doing so I pushed down gently and it squeezed the mortar bed out to a perfect thickness to fill the gap between the bottom of the tub and the subfloor. This is really important so when you’re standing in the tub and using it as a shower the bottom won’t flex and all the weight of the water and the person isn’t supported by the outer rim of the tub. This is the correct way to install a jetted tub as per the manufacturer’s instructions. I’ve seen other people use spray foam as a fill but it doesn’t provide as much support. I dropped in the tub unit and used hardibacker for the surround as well as the floor. For the walls in the bathroom I used blueboard tile backer since these aren’t in direct wet areas. Now the bathroom is completely ready for tile.
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.
All 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.