Construction Update – South Park

Just over 4 months since I poured the foundation on our Modern Bungalow, we are making progress over in South Park, walk through with me and let me know what you think. The grey interior colors might appear a little soft but don’t let that fool you. Once I get the warmth from the hardwood floor refinishing, and my bold surprise cabinet choices, it will all work. I’m moving straight into tile now and concrete flat work outside. My electrician is trimming out and we just passed the meter inspection Friday so I can call SDG&E now to get the power moved from my temporary pole to the house. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for following!

Color Me Mod

The exterior paint got finished last weekend, here are some pics that show how it came out. Its vivid and bold, definitely not predictable colors from the Craftsman era but leaning more modern. The bronze aluminum windows also really give it a sort of commercial modern look and contrast well with the light trim. The stained overhangs and individually painted rafter tails are really a surprise detail not to be overlooked.

On the front porch, I went with a bronze standing seam metal roof, it ties into the  windows and the main roof color. I feel that I got a really good deal at 700 bucks and my sub contractor hand made it on site. The cedar porch posts and beam were also stained to match the eaves. The visible T&G under the porch is also stained to match the eaves, I’ll show this detail later with a better pic.

While the house was getting painted outside, I was inside trimming it out. I went with the Craftsman style 3-panel doors this time. Its the first time I’ve used them and they are pretty swell, especially the 8 foot high ones and the parlor doors on the bedroom closets. Even the water closet pocket doors are the same style. I used 8″ baseboards and 4″ door casings. There are only 2 bedrooms that will get carpet, you can see I left the baseboards up 1/2″ off the floor in those rooms.

Here is the order I do interiors in: 1. Hang Drywall 2. Install Hardwood floors 3. Trim out 4. Spray Ceilings 5. Spray trims 6. Paint walls 7. Tile 8. Install Millworks 9. Refinish Hardwoods 10. Carpet.  When painting ceilings and walls I love coming with a roller behind the sprayer, your coat comes out way nicer and the roller pushed the paint into the new drywall. I also use PVA drywall primer on the new drywall. Everything always gets 2 coats as well. There are other methods that work too, I’ve seen guys actually put the wall color on before trimming out the house and hanging doors. Then they come back and just paint the trim. For me I think it causes too much touch up later and the dust inside the house when you are cutting all the MDF trim gets everywhere.

You can see the guys spraying the ceiling and back rolling while still wet. I’m trying a lot of new things on this project with the interior paint colors and finishes and reversing lights and darks in a way most people don’t see. Its always more work to try new ideas but challenging and rewarding to keep progressing.

I am doing a fully custom millworks package (cabinets) for the whole house. Its on order and getting built, should arrive around the end of this month. After the interior paint we will move into the tile jobs inside and the concrete driveway, small retaining wall and flatwork outside.

Frame and Rough Inspection: Passed

I’m rockin’ and rollin’ baby! Monday I passed the huge, monumental Frame and Rough inspection. The inspector looks at how the whole house was framed, Simpson hardware installations, shear panel nailing and then electrical, plumbing, hvac duct work, ventilation and fire sprinklers. There are so many little things that he looks for, that its easy to fail but I’ve been through this so many times we’ve got it dialed now. He was very impressed with the quality of my work and how fast we built the house, we just passed the 2-month mark from when we got our permit stamps and poured the foundation. I had the insulation company ready to come in Tuesday morning so we didn’t lose any time.

I use Tracy at OJ Insulation out of Escondido, I would pay the same money just buying the insulation at Home Depot for what it costs to have them do it. Since I went 2×6 on my exterior walls I was able to upgrade the standard R 13 wall insulation to twice-as-thick R 19, this is going to be a huge energy saver. The guys hung all exterior walls, between floors, attic, HVAC closet and bathrooms for noise reduction, in a day so I could call in the insulation inspection. The insulation job ran about $1500 bucks for materials and labor. Here in San Diego the inspector wants to verify the insulation before you can hang drywall, we passed this second inspection on Wednesday this week and I had the drywall hangers ready to come in on Thursday.

I’m using the same drywall crew that did my big historic project last summer The Painted Lady. There are less expensive guys I know that were chomping at the bit to do it, but this crew specializes in smooth hand troweled texture and I want the best for this house. They do all the custom spec houses and million-dollar Coronado remodels. I didn’t want the skip trowel or birdseye finish that most guys do, it costs more to go smooth because you are basically doing 2 coats of mud on the whole house and using lights at night to make sure everything is flat. The drywall hangers are old guys, one guy is 62 and another is 71 years old. I didn’t have to ask how long they’ve been hanging drywall but the texture guys wont use anybody else because the better its hung, the easier it is to get perfect smooth walls. The extra time we spent “straight edging” the walls is paying off. We took an 8-foot level and went around the whole house planing down high wall studs and shimming low ones to prep for the drywall.

The next inspection I have next week is for drywall screw spacing before we can tape and float. At the same time the inspector will sign off on the exterior moisture barrier so we can start installing the Hardi Siding on the house. I used the best product out there, Tyvek Home Wrap. My siding delivery comes on Monday so we’ll be off to the races on the exterior siding while the drywall guys continue inside. This project is running like a machine, its all production work and as long as you have the materials ordered and ready, pass inspections in a timely manner and have sub-contractors lined up, its like running a factory, I should know from my old days from the snowboard factory. Thanks for following!

Cedar Crossroads

Right on track we are moving into the interior paint job on our Mid Century Modern renovation. Up top on the Cedar tongue and groove ceiling, I was at a crossroads this week with regards to what product I should use on it after all that work sandblasting it raw. Cedar is a soft wood with natural tannins in it, so any oil based poly or urethane would certainly make the wood darker which I didn’t want to do. There were many options such as linseed oil, wood wax, polyurethane, acrylic sealer, Danish oil, etc. Also some thick poly’s will yellow over time and darken the wood. I ended up using Satin Deft Acrylic Wood Finish from Home Depot. I sampled this product also in semi-gloss and gloss but it came out a little hazy for my liking. I couldn’t spray the Deft Finish and get enough penetration so it had to be applied thick with a roller and then back brushed in order to get into the open grains.

It came out really good, highlighting the natural color and grains and doesn’t look too plastic-like or shiny. The walls are also now in primer with Glidden PVA drywall primer. We are applying it with a 1/4″ nap roller and then sanding between coats in order to keep our smooth texture and not add roller stipple.  On the walls I’m going with Decorator White by Behr this time in flat for the whole house, except I’ll switch the sheen to satin in the kitchen and bathrooms.  With my wood ceilings and floors there’s no chance of the house looking too sterile with the white walls. Next up we’ll be spraying all the interior doors and trims with the color Sherwin Williams Snowbound in semi-gloss. The beams in the house now have the first coat of Behr Olive Leaf in satin on them as you can see. The dark green next to the natural reddish Cedar is really contrasting and looks dramatic and especially period correct.

My new stucco guy came this week to do all the patching around my aluminum windows and doors we put in as well as scratch and brown coat the front of the garage where we covered the existing paneling. After 2 days of showing up after 9 am by himself, he finally brought in a helper and they knocked it out. I look to hire sub contractors who are there at 7:30, bust ass all day like we do, and not drag it out. There are really 2 kinds of contractors out there, the hard working, taking care of business hungry guys and then the ones that seem to drag everything out and want to make small talk with you all day.

When he opened his air compressor line to bleed out the tank on my new driveway I almost lost it. You guys who have air compressors know that the air inside the tank is usually oily and rusty and will stain anything it drains out on. There is a job site etiquette that most guys follow but this guy clearly doesn’t see the big picture. When I called him out on it he mumbled something about it being a “flip” to one of my workers, as if that puts my job in a different category of service from him. Don’t get me wrong we have fun at work but I don’t think I’ll be using this guy again no matter how good the price or end product is. This year I am really concentrating at building the best team possible which will make my business run smoother for the future. It’s a continual battle, first you find sub contractors and then you start switching them out for better ones. Like anything else, the good sub contractors are always busy. The B grade ones will usually be the guys you find first.

Don’t forget to tune into my interview on Blog Talk Radio Monday night at 8 PM PST hosted by Jim The Realtor. You guys can actually call in to the show using the 1-800 number if you aren’t too shy or type me house flipping and design questions live. If you miss it we’ll have a podcast available after the show. Here’s a link to listen live tomorrow night:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jim-the-realtor/2012/02/14/tom-tarrant-on-btr-with-jim-the-realtor

Revisiting White Paint

 

 

 

 

Did you know Benjamin Moore has over 140 shades of white? Nothing is more classic than a white room and with big wide trims and good architectural details and there’s so much you can do using different shades of white to add texture.  In the design world, white interior paint has also been becoming all the rage and we’ve been noticing. After all the hard work trimming out the house, its always a pleasure to start painting inside. Our floors are covered so no worries there, I went back to the well for my old favorite interior trim color Snowbound by Sherwin Williams in a semi-gloss sheen. High-gloss is just too Brady Brunch in my opinion so I always use semi-gloss for trim inside. I sprayed all the interior doors, casings, closet shelving and baseboards with 2 coats after taping the glass up and switching out my chrome hinges with dummies. I keep a bucket of crappy hinges that I don’t mind painting and find it easier to switch them out instead of taping the new ones off. This way also my new chrome hinges stay as new. As you might notice I sprayed the semi-gloss right onto the drywall next to the doors and window trim with no cause for concern, my flat wall paint color will go right over that and you wont be able to see it. Also the hardwood floor refinishing will get any over-spray from the floors upstairs.

For the wall color I tried something new, it’s Cloud White by Benjamin Moore. I didn’t want to use the typical “flipper beige” and wanted to lean modern a bit without creating a full blown white box. I’ll run this color through the whole house to unify these big spaces and provide more flow. The first few pics downstairs you can see the color on the walls already, I’ve layered the space by stacking 3 whites together; Pure White in the ceiling tray, Cloud White on the walls and Snowbound on the trims. I thought that with the huge room size anything too pure white might look like a hospital so with the soft, cream hue that this wall color offers, it will go good with the hardwood floors and be very easy to live with. Cloud White seems to have a chameleon affect, in different rooms and at random times of the day, it picks up color around it, even sometimes almost looking a little pale yellow when the sun is coming in the front room. Since I used good PVA drywall primer I can get away with one coat on the wall paint. I’m rolling the walls carefully with a very small 1/4″ nap roller cover because I have a high-end smooth drywall texture. After all this work getting this hand-troweled luxury finish, the last thing I want to do is use a big nap and add stipple from the paint roller. The walls are looking amazing, probably the nicest finish I’ve ever done, I’m never going back to spray orange peel texture again. The staircase is almost all stripped down to the original wood now as well. Once I get done painting upstairs I’m ripping this paper off the floors and its on! That’s all I got for ya.

More Interior Paint Pics

The interior paint job is done now. Pedro J. want to see more pics, here ya go Pedro glad to oblige. Came out incredible. In other news, I made my tile guy rip out most of his work and start over. If I wanted an average job I could have done it myself. The part he did came out killer but he snuck off to another job and let his helper take over and I was busy painting and didn’t notice. Sneaky. You gotta watch these guys. When the tile gets done it’s Cabinets, counter tops, floor refinishing and then appliances.

Back Online!

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been a baaaaaaad blogger… but after moving we didn’t have internet service for over a week.  I’m back online now and back in action! Although I’ve been distracted with the personal house sale and move, we’ve still managed to keep the momentum up on the Target House. I’ve got the millwork package ordered and it’ll arrive by the end of this month so that prompted me to get right on the interior paint and tile so I’m ready when it shows up. After alot more prep inside we finally got everything primered and then I sprayed 2 coats of semi-gloss on all my new trims, no brush marks baby, first class all the way. For the walls I chose a medium warm grey for the whole house with the exception of the dining room which as you can see is red. The grey probably wouldn’t be too safe for most homes but with all the natural light I have coming in and the abundance of white trim it really doesn’t make it dark or feel small. The red for the dining room ties into the stained glass windows in the living room and we planned to pull that same red down onto the new tile for the fireplace hearth.

The kitchen cabinets will be white shaker style again that will pop good on the grey walls. I’ve chosen black granite counters that will contrast the cabinets as well and then we are going light on the hardwood floor stain. It’s going to look incredible, definitely the best renovation we’ve done to date. Also this week I had my mason come in and re-mortar the fireplace brick and firebox, now there will be no cracks and it’s back to good as new condition. Thankfully I got the A/C on just in time for all this inside final stuff, it’s sure nice to work in the coolness after what seemed like months of humid 100 degree heat. For the first time in my life I hired a pro to do my tile, this guy is really good and its nice to see it getting handled perfectly and without taking 2 weeks of my personal time to do it. I picked up $2500.00 worth of various sizes of white ceramic, mostly 3X5 subway tiles that we are putting in a brick pattern. For the hall bath I am using white ceramic hexagon floor tile with black dots and as you can see they’ve almost got the tub surround completed with the 6×6 and subway pattern combo. I opted not to do a decorative liner in this bath to keep it clean as we’ll have plenty of stuff going on with the floor pattern.

 In the gorgeous master bath I’m running subway all the way up inside and outside of the shower and the tub box as well. I’ve picked out a real neat liner for the shower that’s super clean and linear to go with all the sharp lines. No glass accent tiles in this home, we are moving on to newer materials now. Having an account at Dal Tile is key, they do they not sell retail to the public. Their stuff is a little expensive even at my contractor discount but they’ve got the best of the best with new materials to choose from. Picking materials like tile, fixtures, etc. at Home Depot or Lowe’s will make your rehab look like everyone else’s. Nothing worse than walking into someone’s project and recognizing all the fixtures and tile from a big box store!

The San Antonio real estate market is feeling some post tax credit blues as is most of the Nation, home sales were 25% down in July as compared to last year but 6% up for the year. Median and average prices were up in July due to the higher number of home sales above the 500k mark, which have previously been getting hammered. As I’ve been saying, we’ve definately pulled some demand forward so this Fall should be interesting. Stay tuned and thanks for coming back, it’s all hands back on deck now.

Paint, Cabinets and Granite

The “Neighbor’s House” is now painted inside minus some small touch ups. Additionally I got the cabinets in and countertops installed this week. I buy the pre-bullnosed granite slabs fabricated in China and with the help of a friend we put them in ourselves saving big money. It ends up costing me $12.00/s.f. for what everyone else charges $50/s.f. for. I intended to post a “how to install granite countertops” video for everyone but my memory card was full yesterday when we were installing so I had to settle for a few single images. Maybe next time I’ll get to film the install for everyone as it’s really not that hard to do. As you can see we also dropped in the farmhouse sink from Ikea. It’s easy to retrofit any 36” sink base cabinet to accept it, you just have to do some measuring and cutting. All the tile is done and the glass company came and measured for the frameless heavy glass door for the master shower. All that’s left now are some small projects before I can get the floors refinished after the holiday weekend. I’ll be going really dark again on the stain since the floors got such great reviews on our last project next door. The concrete guys are showing up weather permitting this week to start on the driveway. The house itself should be done soon but we still have the landscaping and light renovation of the rear guesthouse to do before the project is complete. Last week we bought another historic house for a big renovation, we close on it this Wednesday so at that time we’ll get over there and do a walk through video to show you what we have planned. Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!

Cabinets

Sink

Kitchen

In Living Color

Things finally started to dry out after all the rain we had, so I got the texture crew in last weekend and as luck would have it, pouring rain again all day. Geesh. It took 3 days for the texture to dry with 90% humidity. It finally dried and looks incredible so I proceeded with spraying a good primer coat and ceiling paint throughout. I was at Lowe’s buying the exterior primer and met this guy in the parking lot asking for work, I’ve had him helping me everyday to speed things up and he’s actually turning out to be a great helper. We spent 4 days just caulking, scraping and filling holes on the house in preparation for the paint job. The weather cooperated at weeks end so we made a huge impact with spraying the entire house in a day. We got 2 coats on the soffits and body of the house, accounting for 2 of the 6 colors planned. I still have all the time consuming trim brushwork to do, which is really going to be the important part of this color scheme. Our façade designer for this project Morgan Penix at DeWitt Architects really picked some unique colors, which I initially had a hard time grasping, but now I’m finally starting to see her vision and am loving how it’s looking. The dark rich columns with rust accents will make a bold statement against the soothing earth tones on the body of the house, all done in historically correct flavor.

Exterior

Arch

The 9th Annual Mahncke Park Home Tour was today so my wife and I had the chance to mingle with some neighbors and enjoy a diverse mix of 6 inspirational and eclectic residences. We saw some great gardens, tons of personality and very cool historic craftsman bungalows. Adorned with unique features, incorporated artwork, bright colors and highly personalized, these homes offered something we never get to do in our designs with resale in mind. We saw green painted hardwood floors, claw foot tubs, blooming esperanzas, purple staircases, garden borders made from Skyy Vodka bottles and mosaic tile galore. Three of these unique homes belong to artists and included studios, fun workshops and galleries. The tour was a great success and Mahncke Park proved again why it’s THE coolest and most hip place to live in San Antonio for the artistic urbanite.

Flower

Interestingly though all of the homes on the tour this year are currently for sale where in past years it was not allowed for any of the participating homeowners to use the tour to promote the sale of their homes. Is this a sign of the times or what? Seems even in our small niche neighborhood we are not immune to the higher inventory levels and general real estate market slow down that finally caught up with San Antonio last year. At any given time last summer in Mahncke Park there were only 2-3 homes for sale and now there are currently 10 on the market.

Paint and Two Offers

The interior paint came out really good and we’ve received 2 offers already and the house isn’t even done yet! Build it right and they will come. Instead of popping out different room colors like a clown house we ran Ralph Lauren Macaw through the entire house except for the baths. With all the floorplan changes and the room addition now it seems the house is reconnected with the color unity and it all flows well. My electrician also came this week and installed all the devices, switches and receptacles.

Paint Colors

The buyer’s agent I spoke about on the last update showed up Monday with her buyers in tow, a really cool young couple. I had told her my price was in the $300k range but wasn’t specific. They absolutely loved the house and have been looking since Feb and have seen almost 70 houses. They wrote an incredible offer the next day for $310k with only 2 pts for the agent so effectively a $313k offer. With the recent new comps I really think we can push it a bit higher and as good as the offer was, I really want to market the property correctly and see what we can get. There have been 2 recent sales (one was ours with Craftsman Bungalow) that have got $175/s.f. The new pending sale we are excited about will be close to $190/s.f. With our addition of the master suite the Hat Trick House will be around 1930 s.f. so even if we use the conservative $175 per square foot then that puts us at $337k. If they love it now just wait until the landscape is done and we stage it. The highest sale in our area was for $299k and only 1650 s.f., so it looks like we are headed to another record breaking sale.

Paint Colors

Wednesday night we received a call from Agent #2 whom we’ve done business with before. He has another buyer who has evidently already stopped by, spoken with me and seen our project. They offered a little less than 300k and wanted to finish it themselves so they can pick the colors and fixtures. We’ve got about 13k left to spend but we also have final payments to our subcontractors and open permits to finalize. Plus as we mentioned, half the fun is staging it and marketing it so we maximize the potential on the project.

Paint and Rain Don’t Mix

It’s been a crazy week jumping from one project to another and making offers on 2 other properties. We started to paint the exterior and got rained out on day 2 of a 3 day rain. We did however get 2 coats on the eaves painted with Benjamin Moore’s Monroe Bisque. Then we got 2 coats up on the body of Benjamin Moore Tate Olive before the rain started. We are doing a 4-color scheme here but the 2 additional colors are used sparingly on window screens and accents. If you are ever painting and it starts to rain STOP immediately because the paint will not dry! I still have a day or so left on the trim and columns but it looks like we are due for a sunny week. The green body color came out sweet.

New Paint

was simultaneously spraying the interior trims and doors with High Gloss White. This is tricky business because you can’t have any runs but need complete coverage. It’s very similar to painting a car (or in my case a beach cruiser frame with spray paint). Multiple thin coats is the trick. Halfway through the day the clouds rolled in and it started dumping so with the moisture in the air this paint just sat there wet and wanted to sag. We quickly got lights and heaters to speed up the drying, whew, close call. So we are ready now to put the color on the walls, which I’ll cut in with a brush and roll soon.

New Paint

New Paint

We still haven’t pulled the trigger on cabinets yet. An old friend that I reunited with on Facebook this week has a cabinet shop in Houston and can order from several manufacturers and have them delivered right to our job site. I am choosing white shaker style cabinets from Woodmont called Hearthstone. For the price that I would have gotten cheap Ikea cabinets I can have these better white maple ones. The cabinets might take 2 weeks to arrive so in the meantime I’ll tile the bathrooms. I finished all the hardibacker floors and shower walls since it was raining so I’m ready to tile now. We finally decided to go with 18” travertine on the floors but white subway tile for the tub surround and shower with glass tile accents we found online. There’s a great site called glasstilestore.com that offers free shipping on some items in case you want some glass tile for a backsplash or accents.

Hall Bath

Hall Bath

Gettin’ there

 

The interior is nearing completion. I finished the trim carpentry this week, hanging doors for the pantry and laundry & putting in the kitchen baseboards to match the existing ones. Inside the kitchen pantry I made some custom shelves as well. The baseboards are 1 x 8 pine with a shoe molding. All the original trims had to be sanded and primed with oil base, as they were originally oil-based paint. If you’ve ever tried to paint oil based trim in an old house with latex, you know how it will just peel right off. I like the Zinnser oil based primer product better than Kilz. It’s extremely difficult to work with, you have to slop it on, move fast smoothing it out and don’t go back over old work. All that’s left now are all the windows and casements which are extremely flaky, this is going to take a lot of prep work this week to smooth them out and get them in primer. I just passed the 8-week mark for this project, looks like about 1-2 more weeks and the inside will be done. I’m still on track with the budget however I’m expecting to go a little over on landscaping and the rear deck. I’m not too worried though as the neighborhood comps are showing that my original sales target price was conservative a bit so I’ll list now for $19,000 higher than initially planned.

Sage Green Kitchen!

We got the A/C roughed in this week, it has all new ducts and we relocated the furnace up into the attic. After a couple of tries we also nailed down the paint color for the kitchen. It’s a Benjamin Moore color called Spring Valley but we went to Home Depot and had them match it in Behr because we would never pay $50 for a gallon of paint. As we said before, we really want to do something different with this house since it’s a 1920s bungalow. By using green in the kitchen it gives it a more authentic 20’s feel and the color turned out exactly as we’d hoped. We went with the white cabinets that have some glass front doors and fluted lines. We got most of the upper cabinets hung on the wall and started on the lowers as you can see in the picture, it’s starting to look really cool. Keep in mind that we’re going to refinish the original long leaf pine floors in the kitchen. We’re thinking of using black granite on the countertops and stainless appliances. White appliances would probably look really good and more period-correct but most buyers today are still looking for stainless.

We’ve noticed a lot of return visitors to this site so thanks for checking it out.