It looks like A&E finally green lighted the announcement of a new Flip This House team for 2013. It’s our friend Chief Denney here in San Diego. Chief does really nice work, has a lot of integrity when it comes to renovating houses and furthermore is a graduate of New School of Architecture here in San Diego. What you guys are in store for this upcoming season on Flip This House from the San Diego team will be unlike any other season in the past so its a must see for house flipping fans. Sorry but there wont be any painting over rotten wood, shoddy lipstick rehabs, faked arguments with contractors or staged open house sales. I’m looking forward to the spotlight on the hot San Diego house flipping scene, and happy to see that it will involve someone ethical with good design sense and doing quality rehabs to show the nation how California does it! Tune into the new Flip This House season debuting July 20th on A&E.
Week 3 got us pretty close to being done with the rough framing on the Modern Bungalow. We have a lot of features and angles with this house, its not just a big box so its taking a little longer than originally planned but well worth it. You can see we got the trusses up and the roof is almost completely sheeted. I left the rafter tails open with no facia board to replicate the craftsman bungalow style. The barge rafter also has a nice detail to add some interest.
The trusses were a breeze and went up really fast, but things slowed down we moved to the conventional “stick” framing of the roof line for the master suite above the garage. There are 3 more big parallam beams up there that allow us some really fun and unique ceiling angles, I’ll save that one to show you in the walk through video.
Under the eaves I used 2×6 tongue and groove on the 18″ rafter tails. It’s a great detail that many guys skip because it adds extra cost but its the right way to do open rafter tails and really also mimics the craftsman style. There are going to be several prominent Modern elements also to the home design, so I thought it was important to have as many period details alongside them to balance the blend.
For the roof sheathing I used OSB with a Tech Shield radiant barrier on the under side. It cost about 2 bucks more per sheet but it will be another huge energy saving feature of the home and save money on electric bills. Keeping your attic cool, and well ventilated is key to saving energy as we learned while building in Texas. This product blocks 97% of the radiant heat from entering through your roof sheathing. Adding this radiant barrier will reduce attic temperatures by 30 degrees and result in a 17% savings in cooling costs. Before putting the roof on I have to get the nail spacing inspected by the City. You have to have a big ladder available but I don’t see this guy climbing up there its so high, it’ll be fun to see what he does.
My plumber got a great start too working alongside the framers, all the ABS waste lines and black iron pipe gas lines are done. Everything inside is real close and we even got the stairs finished. The electrician and HVAC sub contractors can also start once all rough framing is totally done. There’s a cool new construction project in Encinitas called The Leucadia Collection I want to check out, similar idea to what I’m doing. We might drive by this weekend and see if they’ve started framing or have a model home up.
Huge progress this week in only 4 and a half days of framing, the Modern Bungalow is starting to take shape now with the whole first floor and garage framed up. I haven’t seen anyone doing this in San Diego, my architect is doing these in Austin, Texas and this is the hottest new construction style for the old metro neighborhoods. The house will still have the classic lines of a bungalow but mashed with modern construction and design features. Everyone loves bungalows but this twist is going to give you the best of both worlds with contemporary style being the most popular right now in the home design world.
The underground plumbing, floor system and insulation inspection went a little better the second time on Monday, my regular inspector said everything looked good and he wouldn’t have made me change the sanitee fitting to pass. 3 more signatures on the card and we were able to get the 3/4″ T&G CDX subfloor down.
We put up the North living room wall first and then the front, or East kitchen wall. Notice the 10 foot ceilings downstairs and the 8 foot door heights. We also made all the windows a little taller and lined them up at the 8 foot door height as well. The doors and windows are as high as most peoples ceilings, it makes the house feel so much more expansive. My framers thought I was crazy and never even do 8 foot doors, normally its reserved for McMansions and is popular in Phoenix and Texas so its probably safe to say this is a first for South Park. The coolest thing ever is walking in the front door and looking straight back at the green canyon through the custom 9 foot wide by 8 foot high patio slider doors.
The highlight of the week was lifting up the 19′ balloon wall. Its the exterior wall on the driveway side of the house that reaches all the way to the roof trusses because there is a stairway in this location. You can see the 3 headers that follow the staircase up. It took 9 guys to lift the wall in place it was so heavy with my over sized material. For this house I’m using 2×6 framing for all exterior walls instead of standard 2×4. Besides being structurally superior, this will give me room for a greater insulation barrier for huge energy savings and provide better sound proofing from the nearby flight pattern. Some builders move spacing on wall studs out to 24″ when they go to 2×6 but I left them at 16″ on center. A friend of mine who works for a large National home builder called it a energy saving fortress.
In order to do the wide open modern floorplan, I used Parallam beams to span the 22 foot living room and then hung the joists off the beams. You can see us here lifting the largest beam up which measures 7″x14″x22′
Upstairs I used engineered I joists from Trus Joist. These TJI joists are the highest quality available and resist warping, twisting and shrinking to prevent bouncy or squeaky floors. Besides allowing greater spans from the engineering, one nice thing is you don’t have to crown the wood, they are all perfectly straight and will give a perfectly flat floor upstairs. I’ll fir down each joist so the 14″ beam wont show when we drywall the ceiling in the living room.
In the shear wall locations I’m also using CDX instead of OSB. You can see how large the house is looking here with just the first floor up. It’s going to dwarf the 2-story bungalow next door. Seeing this huge 2-car attached garage and wide driveway is also very atypical for the neighborhood, of course I did a 8′ high garage door to accommodate my truck. Notice also here how the 9′ high garage ceiling height is lower than the second floor, this is where steps lead down to the master suite from the secondary living space to provide a little more interest and privacy. I’m so happy with this cutting edge design, there’s going to be so many cool things going on when its complete to make this a real fun house to live in. We are ready to start the second floor framing this week, there are more cool design features that I cant wait to see take shape. I planned on 2 weeks for rough framing but it will probably stretch out a little longer with all the small pick up work to be done at the end.
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?
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.
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!
We just went through some major building plan revisions for the South Park Modern/Craftsman house that we are building this summer here in San Diego. I could have already had building permits and started construction but after sitting with the City and having to compromise I just wasn’t going to be happy with the end product, so I opted to go back to the drawing board and with the help of my great designer we came up with something we both felt is way better. There’s so much to learn on new construction and what the City of San Diego will and will not allow, I’m chalking this one up to builder school and moving on. It only takes 8 business days to get your plans routed through Developmental Services downtown, then they give you a list of changes for your plans, luckily they are now hiring more staff after years of cut backs and lay offs.
The newly revised design, now close to 1900 s.f., is larger than neighborhood standards. Downstairs the kitchen, living and dining rooms are linked to create an open and continuous public space where guests can roam freely and have easy access to bathroom facilities under the staircase and enjoy fluid movement between indoor and outdoor living spaces via the bi-folding rear patio doors. This new design also makes more room for outdoor living space with 13′ of yard before the cantilever deck on the canyon. Light and vertical space make any room feel larger so with the 10′ ceilings downstairs and abundance of morning and afternoon light, the space should feel very comfortable. The facade is a sophisticated blend of traditional Craftsman style with a Modern influence. The bubble framing for the staircase windows on the driveway side creates a fun and whimsical touch for this hip and eclectic neighborhood.
The 2-car garage is now over-sized and attached to the house with an adjoining mud room/utility room with full size connections and the HVAC closet. I pulled it 4′ off the side property line to give the City required side set back since its an attached garage now, detached garages can sit right on the property line in my area believe it or not. All private spaces are nicely separated upstairs with an open gallery at the top of the staircase, 2 secondary gracious sized bedrooms and shared hall bath. The large master suite above the garage has a bonus sitting area and secondary set of stacked washer/dryer connections and then steps down into the bedroom to allow higher vaulted bedroom ceilings. Our East-facing master retreat will get great morning light and has a walk-in closet and really cool master bath with dual vanities, water closet and a wet room feature which includes the stand-up shower and spa tub not separated by a divider wall, behind frame-less glass doors and with casement windows looking down into the canyon. The wet room design is really en vogue right now in bathroom design and works great in small spaces.
After just 3 days on the market I sold the MCM project. We strategically rushed to put the home in MLS on Thursday, knowing that it would generate enough attention before advertised Saturday and Sunday Open Houses. My real estate agent Jim Klinge of Klinge Realty did a phenomenal job at taking the photos and marketing. Each day we got way over 100 visitors through the Open House, mostly home buyers and agents but we had other investors and blog followers from both Bubbleinfo.com and my site stopping by to check out the project and meet us as well.
The project got rave reviews from everyone, we didn’t hear even one comment that it was over priced. People were really excited about our Mid-Century Modern renovation and we even had some modern house fans that came through after the project was promoted on the local site Modernsandiego.com. The original owners of the house also stopped by to see the transformation, not disappointed and very appreciative of our respect for the original design. I heard a lot of comments from home buyers saying they were so tired of seeing all the typical rehabs, same materials and predictable style. While the MCM thing is hot right now with the “in” crowd, the masses probably aren’t ready for it. By the end of the weekend we had received 3 offers, 2 of which went to highest and best and Monday afternoon we picked one. Its always hard to choose when the buyers are so nice, great young families and frustrated with finding a house in this crazy market.
Jim Klinge was so ethical that because he was representing one of the buyers, he had the other agent send their highest and best offer directly to me so he couldn’t advise his client what to write and automatically win the bidding war. How many agents do you know that would do that and be willing to lose the commission from the buying side? All in all, it was a great project and I am looking for more. If you have a house to sell We Buy Houses in San Diego give me a call or send an email here to this site. Especially if its a Mid Century Ranch house!
My Mid-Century Modern renovation is done and truly is out of this world! 2 days ahead of the construction schedule and it came out just as nice as my conceptual design. This extensive rehab took just over 11 weeks to complete and went as smooth as Astro butter. You can see I added the final modern features out front like the frosted front door and horizontal wood panel with the house numbers illuminated by the up/down cylinder sconce. A matching stainless steel mailbox and doorbell finished it off and tied everything together with the full-view Amarr garage door. Here are the after photos of our “1962 Leonard Drogin” Mid-Century Modern San Diego ranch house in all its glory. Hope you enjoyed the project, its now listed for sale MLS# 120016356 for $599,000 and ready for a new buyer to bring in some Eames chairs, put on some Sinatra and roll over the drink cart for some Martinis. Open House this weekend Saturday and Sunday from 12-3. 4841 Sparks Avenue San Diego, CA 92110. Buyers without agent representation call Green Button Homes LLC @ (619) 565-7475 for a showing.
My 1962 Leonard Drogin MCM is coming together.
Since my last blog post we totally transformed the outside of our Atomic Ranch House/Mid Century Modern project. I built a modern horizontal wood fence for the first time, it was way more labor intensive because the boards were all custom cut and had to be pre-drilled and screwed rather than using a nail gun. I used 1″x8″ cedar for the fence boards and 2″x2″ ledgers on my posts to secure them. I didn’t use pressure treated posts because I wanted to stain them to match the boards so the ends had to be treated before we set them. When I set the posts I also kept the span under 7 feet so the span wasn’t too long which would let the boards warp out. I sprayed a Behr semi-transparent fence stain in Natural color to seal the wood. Its looks great, kind of a modern style privacy screen rather than a fence and because the yard isn’t that big it provides privacy while still not making you feel boxed in. The fence is classy and sleek, the horizontal lines totally compliment the architecture I feel. After building the fence I had the stucco guy come back and do the retaining wall along the driveway to match the house as it was sticking out like a sore thumb after everything else looked so great.
Out front I had to terrace the yard a little because of the challenging hill we had to deal with. My favorite look with modern house design is the river rock combo with the Horse Tail plants. These are the reed type that I planted along the front of the garage and house. I added just one obligatory Queen Palm on an island to give a tad of privacy between the street and the front door. Here’s another sizzle feature, check out this cool satellite shower head I put in both bathrooms. The spacey design looks like it belongs in orbit with my other light fixtures and I felt totally goes well with the MCM design.
I’m down to this final punch list of items that actually fit on one page so we are getting there. I should be close to on track for a March 30 completion as we are in week 10 right now for this rehab. There are still more fun things I’m adding so stay tuned, a couple more weeks and you’ll see all the bells and whistles. See the final finished pictures here.
Ok I admit it, this is the fun part. Well, its actually all fun but once you get past walls and floors you get to put the small details that really bring your design together. I am proud to say that I haven’t bought any of the fixtures, plumbing or electrical, for our Mid-Century Modern renovation from the big box stores. With the exception of the tub and 2 Kohler toilets everything I researched and bought online. You can find great deals and usually get free shipping as well. At the end of the project I’ll do a list of where all the fixtures came from and how much they cost for future reference. You can see the brushed aluminum mid century hourglass shaped wall sconces in the kitchen, the 12″ white globe and of course the Sputnik pendant light. The kitchen cabinets are Abstrakt from Ikea, once the side panels and doors arrive these plain white boxes will transform into a futuristic flat panel high-gloss dark grey masterpiece. My new kitchen lay out is fabulous, it worked out to 24′ of linear counter top space plus a 7′ bar top and a stand up food pantry to boot. The sink wall itself is a 13′ straight shot of open counter.
Furthermore, the bedrooms received modern style brushed aluminum frosted glass closet doors. Not only do these tie into the frosted glass and aluminum outside but they are just plain cool. Accent lights inside the closet would have been keen but maybe we’ll do that on the next project. These doors were special order from Home Depot. I also got all the tile finished and set the Godmorgan high gloss grey floating vanities. On top I went with Kohler Vox square vessel sinks. I’ll do the Pure White Caesarstone counters that will contrast those dark cabinets well at the same time the kitchen counters get done.
One of the main features on my design to get the Mid-Century Modern look was this Amarr full view frosted glass and aluminum garage door. Cant you picture it softly lit up at night from inside the garage when you are having guests over? My electrician told me that it make the house look like a Ferrari should be parked in the garage. A very cool item for sure that I got a great hook up on from my neighbor who owns a garage door company. I also put a key pad outside so when you go bike riding or jogging you don’t have to bring your keys with you. You’ll notice that when we did the new stucco I added a 1″ wide horizontal aluminum channel that now ties in on the front of the garage.
The San Diego real estate market is hot right now. There’s virtually a shortage of good homes and all time low interest rates. You cant find a Mid Century Modern renovation anywhere like this for sale, so its safe to say I’m in a good position. Many home buyers will of course like the house but not even get the whole concept. The smaller, educated group who follow design trends and know how hot MCM is right now will certainly be willing to pay a premium for something like this already completely done. Stay tuned as we move into landscaping and more modern touches outside.