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!

South Park Floorplans in 3D

Here’s my South Park floor plans modeled in 3D. Make sure and click on the pics to zoom in and take a look around, make yourself at home! This will be our new home; )

South Park in 3D

Here’s my South Park project modeled in 3Ds-Max with V-Ray. Refreshingly modern and comfortably traditional all at the same time. Exploded views of the upstairs and downstairs floor plans coming soon!

South Park Plan Revisions

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.

Mid-Century Modern Before/After Video

Here’s the full before and after slideshow of our Mid-Century Modern remodel, (6 minutes) Hope you enjoy!

MCM = SOLD

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!

El Cajon Craftsman

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MCM Out of This Galaxy

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.

Mid Century Modern Renovation

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.

The Sputnik Has Landed

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.

South Park Modern Craftsman Plans

Here are the plans for the custom house we’re building for ourselves in South Park. It’s a Clean Modern Craftsman 2-story design, 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths with a detached 2 car garage at around 1900 s.f. For the bungalow feel we did nice 2×8 barge rafters at the gable ends with an a-typical edge detail and bold yet simple 4×4 brackets over 6″ corner trim. Porch columns front and rear will be 8×8 in smooth Cedar, just sealed. You can see the first floor is wide open and expansive with 10′ ceilings, the entry leads you into the dining area that opens right across to the kitchen. In the island kitchen we have a walk in pantry and a peninsula for casual eating. There is a powder room under the stairs and then the whole back of the house is the great room also off the kitchen for entertaining with direct access to the back yard complete with covered porch and decking on the canyon. Indoor utility room is also just inside the rear door.

All the bedrooms are upstairs, gracious closet spaces, full master suite with sit down spa tub as well as stand up shower. Dual vanities in both upstairs bathrooms. Normally we try and put the master suite downstairs but we dont mind stairs so it worked better putting all bedrooms up. I’m doing exposed galvanized metal roofing on the open porch framing and aluminum Milgard casement windows as well to give the urban mod feel. The back porch also provides a perfect breezeway to the detached 2 car garage. Check out the balloon framing in action on the side elevation/staircase windows, this is definitely some out of the box home design that’s going to make a huge impact in South Park. Estimated completion December 2012. Thanks Morgan for the help!

Wet Paint

It was time to give the exterior of our MCM project some love this week to catch it up to the inside. We spent a day prepping the wood trim and then I sprayed it with primer and finally 2 shades of grey paint. Most of the house is stucco except for the t&g eaves and wood trim around the front windows and garage, its nice to see all of the old colors go away. I wanted to paint everything first before the stucco color coat so there would be no possibility of over spraying it and minimize taping stuff off. This house was in really good shape and with all the wood we replaced it really was a breeze to prep for paint.

The stucco guys came on Friday right behind us and color coated the whole house. I decided against the white stucco and want to stay with modern shades of grey so I picked Cloud Grey stucco color. After it dried, it ended up being a little too close to the rest of my trim colors so I think next week we’ll go back with a darker grey to accent the beams and rafter tails which will give me more dimension. Since we are painting ourselves its really no big deal to make changes on the fly, its sometimes really hard to get it right without putting colors up to see how they look together. I had big plans on getting the kitchen put together now then jumping outside and doing the fence while we waited for our countertops to get fabricated, but Ikea is having a 20% off sale that starts Friday so I’ll be saving $1,000 by waiting until Friday morning to buy the cabinets. It looks like now we’ll stay outside all week and do the fence, weather permitting. The garage door gets installed Tuesday and we’ll probably put the front door on right after that too, to get the full new frosted affect. My electrician is also coming back this week to put in all the fixtures and trim everything out. A little change in the order of doing things but as long as we keep busy knocking out big stuff we’ll get there soon.

Modern Glass Tile and Renewable Bamboo Floors

Finally some fun stuff is going in the house. To stay in the Mid Century Modern theme I did mosaic in the master shower, but an updated spin on what was there originally. Glass mosaic tile is really hot right now for MCM house design and there are fun new retro patterns available if you search. After looking around at my local tile stores nothing really fit the bill because I wanted this new trendy, spacey-looking random pattern.  You definitely wont see these materials in any other rehabs locally. I found this glass mosaic in LA for $5.99/sf so I drove up and bought everything this week. I’m using another new product for grout on the glass called Star Glass, its actually recycled crushed glass in a urethane base. It’s a flexible, non-cement, non-porous grout and wont ever fade or stain. It’s real expensive and was primarily reserved for commercial applications until recently discovered by interior designers. Its translucent and reflective and seems to disappear when applied to glass tiles instead of contrasting heavily like even a normal white grout would do. Using glass tile like this is great, what I don’t like anymore is seeing when just a glass mosaic 4″ strip is used as a shower or tub surround accent liner. Look at some of my older bathroom remodels if you don’t know what I’m referring to!

In the hall bath above I went with a frosted 3×6 glass tile but set it in a stacked pattern which looks more modern than subway pattern. I ran it all the way up to my new vaulted ceiling lid for a more expansive feel in what is really a modest bathroom size. I also laid a 12×24 charcoal grey porcelain tile for both bathroom floors which is very popular in modern bathroom design right now. This grey will go with anything and basically just disappear when the bathrooms are done and all the chrome hardware goes in. I set the floors butt-joint also to look cleaner and eliminate grout lines. The glass mosaic in the master also has grey in it so it tied in perfectly. The floating vanities you’ll see go in soon are also high gloss grey.

We also got started installing the hardwood floors. I wanted to go with Bamboo for this house for its durable nature and the fact that’s its 100% renewable and considered a Green building product by LEED standards. Bamboo is harvested every 5-6 years while normal trees in a forest take 40-60 years to mature. This product is also of the newer version of Bamboos that has been stranded and carbonized. You don’t see the old cheap style bamboo pattern and there is no wear layer, its the same material all the way through. I bought it at Simple Floors for $3.15 s.f. and decided on paying a sub contractor another $2/sf to install it to speed up my project. This Bamboo requires glue down installation because its so hard that you will bend nails trying to nail it. The color I found is as close to my cedar ceilings as possible, and I laid it the long way to match the tongue and groove ceiling direction.  The white walls are totally working now that I’ve obtained so much warmth and color from the surrounding natural materials.

BTR w/ JtR

For those of you guys who missed it, here’s my interview from tonight with Jim the Realtor on Blog Talk Radio. We ran a little over time, I think its about an hour and a half. Thanks to Jim and Richard for putting it together, and you guys who participated online and called in. Please share it or tweet it!

Listen to internet radio with Jim the Realtor on Blog Talk Radio

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