Primed & Ready

After 5 days of prep on the Hat Trick House I finally got the outside in primer last weekend. Just in time before this week’s 4-day rainstorm hit. It looks great, can’t wait to see some color on it. My wife and I are considering an olive drab body color with cream trims and plum accents. The A/C is all roughed in now so we will be calling for inspection shortly. The plumbers are finally now working on roughing in the complete new system including water supply, waste and gas lines. There will be no trace of any old mechanical system in this house when we are done. Although the market has slowed way down this year we are happy to see 2 more houses go under contract this week within blocks of our house. Despite the troubling economy and all the bad press in the media, people still need houses to live in and this area we have been investing in is hot. Additionally, we are getting random potential buyers from the neighborhood stopping by asking when the house is going to be ready. The word is out that I am doing this rehab as we have developed quite a following in Mahncke Park, everyone loved our last remodel one block over, the Craftsman Bungalow.

Screens

Electrical Inspection: Passed

This week we had our electrical inspection for rough-in and passed. The inspector that came out was the same guy who did our last rehab house one block over and complimented us on the good work being done. I really felt guilty for taking out the original sashed, leaded glass windows after seeing all that white vinyl earlier this week. It had to be done though as they were in such bad shape and with tons of cracked panes. Additionally, with the room addition having new dual panes it just made sense on this house. To redeem myself with the historical gods I spent 2 days remaking wooden original replica hanging window screens. I designed them in such a way to minimize the appearance of the white vinyl. They came out sweet and will be an important accent feature of the exterior paint job coming up soon. I used 1×2 and 1×3 Poplar hardwood and pre-drilled, screwed and glued them. I also used the historically correct screen hangers still available from Stanley. After the screens are painted I’ll stretch the mesh behind the frames.

Screens

I also installed the pre-hung back door to the kitchen and went ahead and replaced the siding around it since I had extra left over. These pre-hung units are really easy to install, any DIY’er can tackle this project. Finally, I installed the French doors to the master bedroom so now the house locks up good at night.

New Back Door

Many of our regular visitors remember the wholesale deal we offered last summer called Bungalow 2. We sold it to another investor and he quickly rehabbed it with a full crew. He did a nice Ikea kitchen with granite and stainless and added a master bathroom on it as well. After being on the market only 44 days we saw that it just went under contract. Here’s how the house looks now after his rehab.

Bungalow 2 Rehab

The Old and the New

Front Siding

As you can see I have the whole house sanded down and the new windows are in. I did all 30 windows in 1 day by myself. It’s looking really good now and it’s easy to imagine how it looked in bare wood form circa 1925 with a possible Model-T parked out front. Looking in the near distance you can see the new 20-story luxury upscale condo building called The Broadway that’s being built just 2 blocks away. It’s the largest scale condo high-rise in San Antonio and the most expensive coming in at $500 per square foot. The San Antonio Riverwalk Extension will reach 2 blocks away from this high-rise and our property as well. This area of Broadway will become quite swanky in the next 3-5 years with the addition of this high-rise and more on the table. We are in good company with the builder, Mr. Red McCombs who is also betting on this area as being a good investment. Mr. McCombs is supposedly keeping the top floor for his private use while the 19th floor is comprised of two penthouses at 4 million each, one of which is already sold.

Electrical Wiring

The complete electrical is also now roughed in. All we have to do is set the meter loop next week and then we can call in for rough inspection. I hired and fired a plumber this week as well, after talking him down to the price we needed he dropped off his materials and disappeared for 4 days. He begged me to give him another chance and explained how badly he needed the work, I could only keep asking myself why wouldn’t he show up and do it then? If it’s this hard to get him over to do the rough-in then we could really be in a jamb when inspections started…better to clip this guy now. Of course we didn’t give him any money up front so we haven’t lost anything but time. The HVAC guys have started running all the ductwork for the new central A/C I’m adding. I’ve located the furnace and coil in the attic to save space. I am using a 4-ton, 14 seer Goodman system for this house. They recommend roughly 1 ton for every 500 s.f. of living space. Prices in San Antonio for a system like this with all new equipment, ducts, grilles, boxes and permits run about $5,000. Keep in mind this is a builder price; retail companies from the phone book would be quoting $8-10k easy.

New Siding

I got the siding on this week as well. I used the “historical replica” #117 siding for the whole master suite addition so it matches the existing house. I did the whole rear addition with 1 helper in a day, a big day though. It’s been pretty fun building this “new” addition in the “old” style. It reminds me of the restoration/modified builds they do on old muscle cars these days. All old and original looking but with today’s advanced technology.

Hat Trick All Framed Up

Walk through with me and check out my framing…this is how we roll.

Get 50% Off By Haggling With Your Subcontractors

New Addition Framing

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.

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.

Bobcat Doin’ Work

Bobcat

Recently we switched gears to the 430 s.f. room addition for the new master suite. It’s a pier and beam foundation and since my lot slopes up towards the rear, the first thing I had to do was to rent a Bobcat and grade down 18 inches. This will allow for the crawlspace to comply with the building code of having a minimum of 1 foot space between the earth and the bottom of your sill. With the Holidays quickly approaching it’s now time to take off work for a while and spend precious time wih family and loved ones. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Initial Walkthrough Hat Trick

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

Land Of Manana

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.

Ikea Kitchen Planner

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.

Kitchen Framing

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.

Patching Wood Floors

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.

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