New Clairemont Project!

Walk through and check out the New Clairemont project we are starting. We are very excited to be back in one of our favorite neighborhoods! Stay tuned for more house flipping fun by Green Button Homes, San Diego’s #1 Cash As-Is Homebuyer.

What Inventory Problem?

I bought so many houses this summer I’m now losing track. There’s a real shortage in San Diego of fixer uppers on the market but since we’ve had our feelers out now for a few years and everybody knows we buy houses, we keep getting leads. This is the second off market property I picked up this year in my old stomping grounds Clairemont. This property has a tenant who hasn’t been keeping up with the rent and the owner just decided to cash out.We structured a win-win for both parties. The seller is happy because he gets cash next week without paying any realtor fees or closing costs and can move on and not worry about the problem tenant anymore,  I’m happy because we’ll have enough room to renovate the house and sell it for a profit. It needs a complete kitchen, new bathrooms, flooring, windows, paint in and out, the whole 9 yards. Have a problem rental house in San Diego you need to sell fast? CLICK HERE!

Carlsbad Design Update

Making some headway with the Carlsbad Lagoon project. I’m still dialing in materials and colors but we are making progress. The building site continues to be quite challenging so the house design has changed several times. It’s currently a 4,051 sf 4/3 including an attached 678 sf 2-car garage. The City of Carlsbad has some restrictive building height requirements for the Coastal zone. Flat roofs have a height restriction of 24′ and pitched roofs with minimum 3 and 12 pitch are allowed 32′ heights. Of course I originally wanted all flat roofs, but in order to get the second story and still have 11 foot ceilings on the first level, we had to go with a pitched roof up top because of the existing slope creates a big crawlspace under the front. The height is measured from the lowest, or most restrictive, between proposed and existing grade.

The materials used will be stucco, wood and metal, there is a great overhang that wraps 2 sides of the living room, which will have an underlit wood soffit. Generous use of windows on the front will bring in an ample amount of light while the 5′ overhang will filter the harshest mid day Southern exposure from direct light. The large living room is connected to the outdoor deck with fire feature via a set of aluminum La Cantina accordian doors.

You can see here how much civil engineering work has been done just to get the structure to work on the lot. The correct driveway orientation can be seen here. I’m real happy with how the grading plan worked out, the rear 1/3 of the house and half of the garage is cut into the hill and will be slab on grade while the front of the house will change to raised stem wall foundation. There is a new sidewalk, curb and gutter public improvement for the entire lot frontage, as well as a Bio Rentention system engineered into the landscape plan that filters all driveway and roof run off before hitting the public street. The retaining wall elevations worked out pretty nice with the lot topography and the civil engineer did a great job designing it to minimize grading. On the high side of the driveway its only 3 feet tall.  The driveway comes up pretty steep off the street at 20%, then levels off to 10% as you get up near the house. We left enough room at the top of the driveway to turn a car around so nobody has to back down onto the street. In total we have 220 cubic yards of cut, 900 CY of fill and about 700 CY of export so we should qualify for a minimum grading permit. The City basically wants to see your house design stuck into the hill and minimal impact to the rest of the lot.

We had a pretty favorable Biology report, the absence of California Gnat Catcher birds during the site survey by the biologist really alleviated one of my big concerns with the parcel. There is however Diegan Coastal Sage Scrub that is all over this hill and its on the endangered list. In order to remove some scrub brush (mitigate), you have 3 options;  dedicate the rest permanently with an open space easement that will eventually get recorded to the title, pay mitigation fees, or mitigate off site. To mitigate CSS it would cost roughly $30,000 per acre so this mitigating on site with the easement is a a great solution. Because we are only developing 25% of our 1.3 acre lot, dedicating the rest permanently will prevent future homeowners from developing the hill. It’s steep anyway so there’s really not much you could do with it so its not much of a downside in my opinion. The open space will provide a nice buffer between us and the neighbors and continue to be a valuable wildlife habitat. You’ll notice the blue dots where the biologist found the Orange-throated Whiptail lizard. While on the endangered list, its not as critical as the Gnat Catcher Bird would have been. The only stipulation is that we have to perform scrubbing and grading activities to the site in the breeding off season between February 15 and August 31. The whole project is being reviewed by the City now, if we get a favorable response we’ll move forward to the Coastal Development Permit then Grading Plan and construction plans with the structural engineer.

Carlsbad Plans

Here’s a glimpse at the front elevation of the modern Carlsbad new construction house we have in the works. It’s a 4/3 at roughly 4000 total square feet. I’m real happy with the design.. its got clean lines, big horizontal planes and heavy overhangs. More design detail to come as well as some 3D modeling so you can get a feel for the floorplan. The Carlsbad permitting process wont be a quick process, we are now only working towards Coastal Development Approval and then we get to submit the detailed house plans. Completion date in 2014.

Sell Your San Diego House

We are still busy Buying Houses here in San Diego and helping homeowners find solutions to their Real Estate problems. It’s been a busy Summer but we are still looking to buy more houses!

Last month we bought this Paradise Hills house directly from the sellers who were retired veterans and had got a couple months behind on their mortgage payments. They didn’t want to work with realtors because most of their equity would have been spent on the realtor commissions. Their lender Green Tree, wouldn’t cooperate with a loan modification and refinancing of their VA loan was out of the question because there were major repairs that needed to be made to the property, namely an empty swimming pool in the backyard which needed to be filled in.

After visiting the house we made them a cash offer and immediately contacted their lender for a payoff amount so the harassing phone calls stopped. To help the elderly sellers we even advanced some funds before the sale closed so they could rent a suitable house. They will walk away with over $25,000 cash in their pocket and be saved of having a foreclosure on their credit. We love helping people and make sure its a win-win for both parties.

I bought this house in Clairemont this month after the seller, who is the executor of a family trust, contacted me and wanted to liquidate the asset so the beneficiaries could cash out. The challenging issue with this deal was that the home needed extensive repairs so a lender would likely not lend on it.

We made the sellers a cash offer and agreed to take the house in its As-Is condition, we never request anyone to make repairs. We closed escrow 12 days later and the heirs to the estate received their portion of the proceeds.  Another win-win situation for both parties, no other homebuyer in town would let the seller stay in the house for a year after receiving their funds!

Another purchase this month was this house on Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley. It’s a huge 3200 sf custom but needs an extensive remodel. The house had great bones, but years of deferred maintenance. The sellers had been busy with their careers and didn’t have the time to make repairs or keep up with this huge house. They didn’t want to list it with a realtor and have to clean, pay to fix everything, and then hassle with all the showings so they called us.

Out of their equity they would have also paid $15,000 in Realtor fees which was a big portion of their equity they needed to put down on their new house. Here is how fast we work; after getting the call on a Friday, I visited the home Saturday morning and made an offer. By Monday we agreed on a sale price and opened escrow.  5 days later the deal closed and they got their check! The sellers had accumulated a lot of little stuff in the house that would have been time consuming and costly to haul out, so they were happy that we didn’t require them to haul it off or clean anything on the way out.

If you want to Sell a San Diego House Fast, give us a call and we will work around your specific situation to try and structure a deal that works for both parties. More information about the homebuying process and how we arrive at an offer price can be found at the following link: http://tomtarrant.com/we-buy-houses-san-diego/

Contact me by clicking here or simply call (619) 438-0234 for a hassle free, no-obligation offer for your unwanted real estate. Your privacy is our main concern and we don’t share your information with anyone.

Modern Bungalow Sold $765,000

The San Diego real estate market is on fire right now, home prices in my area are up 20% over last year and in nearby neighborhoods like North Park 92104 there is only 1 month of inventory at the current sales pace!  It’s putting a real damper on the local house flippers as they are having trouble finding properties to rehab. 3 guys I personally know are going to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Palm Springs to find projects.

Strategically, I put it on the market on a Tuesday to give everyone time to react before an MLS advertised double-open house weekend. The strategy worked out perfectly, by the open house we already had 3 offers to work with. In this market its common to have 10-15 offers within the first few days, but this is generally true for entry level houses or high demand markets in the suburbs. By leaving the house on the market a whole 8 days, I felt it gave adequate market exposure yet didn’t irritate any of the first buyers by waiting too long and playing the game.

We had a specialty product for a very special buyer, in an inner city neighborhood where median sold home prices are in the low 500’s. To illustrate the market appreciation this year, when I bought this vacant lot I calculated a house built there would have sold for $629,000 based on comps. Half way through the build there were 2 comps at $685,000. By the time I was done we had sales comps in the low 700’s for remodels, not new construction, so I put a value on the home of $750,000. Not having a back yard was a definite negative so I had to price this in. You know that the seller does not set the sales price, the market does. A house will sell for whatever a buyer is willing to pay. Furthermore, houses are not sold, they are bought, so listing agents don’t “sell” houses in my opinion.

I used value range pricing and listed the house at $749,000 – $799,000. The first offer came in at $710,000. The second at $749,000 and a third at $750,000. When the smoke cleared, and after everyone had a shot to go higher, we countered the strongest buyer of the 3 offers and they came up to $765,000, or $413.50/s.f.

Listing this house and getting it under contract was the easy part, getting SDG&E to install the gas meter so we could close would prove to be the hard part and took almost 8 weeks! Our wonderful buyer hung in there so we finally closed today, congratulations to the new owner and we hope you enjoy the home as much as we did building it.

Modern Garage Door and Countertops – South Park

We are winding things up in South Park on our Modern Bungalow. The modern garage door got installed this week, its an Amarr full view door in dark bronze with obscure glass. I didn’t want the glass to look white-ish like my last project so I didn’t get the frosted, the obscure lets more light in and overall was a way better choice for this project. The dark bronze aluminum ties in with the Milgard aluminum window color perfectly. The door looks massive because its 8 feet high so the glass panels are larger, way cooler than the 7 foot Amarr door we installed earlier this year on a house we flipped.

In the master bath wet room I finally dropped in the jacuzzi tub. You can see that the heavy glass frame-less doors are also installed, I tried something new this time and did saloon doors. You can leave them open when taking a bath and they lay on the walls out of the way. The opening is 4’0″ so each door is around 24″ Hey Honey, if I don’t come home from work one night you know where to find me.

Carpet got installed in the 2 secondary bedrooms. I went with a designer textured close loop Stainmaster with upgraded pad because we like carpet in kids rooms. The grey ties in well with interior finishes.

The big milestone we passed this week was the counter tops. The kitchen and both bathrooms are all Ceasarstone Arctic White with a square profile and eased edge. Ceasarstone is quartz so its a little trickier to work with when fabricating the edge detail. Not only is the pure white unforgiving but quartz in general has to be miter cut so you wont see the lamination on the bullnose. This is the first time I’ve gone this white, its so fresh, clean and looks very modern, contrasting my dark greyish blue base cabinet color well. The huge sink is a single bowl zero radius stainless steel. I ended up going with white 3×6 ceramic tile for the back splash (not shown) and installed it in a running bond pattern to keep it looking more contemporary and matching the upstairs bathroom.

The 3’x7′ kitchen island has a waterfall on one side. this is a new technique usually reserved for high end modern homes where the counter top actually wraps down the island and touches the floor. You can also see in this pic how the seams are miter cut. One neat feature (also not shown) is the microwave drawer in the island, more pics to come after I get appliances in.  We Buy Houses in San Diego, if you know anyone looking to sell please contact us as we are always searching for our next renovation project.

Ready For Paint

My South Park Modern Bungalow new build is finally ready for paint, take one last look because the next time you see her she’ll have 3 shades of green, grey rafter tails and cedar stained eaves. It took me and a helper just over 3 weeks to do all the siding, knee braces and corbels but it was worth it.

The Hardi staggered shingle is very labor intensive but it paid off. It gives some great depth and adds texture while defining the pop out shed dormer too. You can see I separated the siding styles with a Hardi Trim 1×8.

We kept the corbels very simple to match the knee braces. I used Douglas Fir 4×8 and had it re-sawn at my local lumber yard. They will get a cedar stain to match the tongue and groove eaves and porch posts and beam. I’m really liking the big overhang look and all the open rafter tails, cant wait to see them individually painted.

I left the roof off the porch until after paint so I didn’t mess it up by walking on it. It’s going to be a Bronze standing seam metal roof that will be close in color to my aluminum windows. The reveal for the 3 small bathroom fixed windows was quite challenging to pull off but it looks very organic. You’ll notice the angle changes from the top as you go down. We used aluminum corners made especially for the Hardi staggered shingle to hide the edge seams and protect it from moisture.

Here are the 4 colors we picked for the house, The body is 2 shades of green, Edgy Gold and Wheat Grass by Sherwin Williams. The trim is a very light green that almost looks white, its Ionic Ivory. The rafter tails, barge rafters and knee braces will be Benjamin Moore Cromwell Grey. All the tongue and groove eaves, corbels and porch post and beam will get that cedar stain.  This is the first time we’ve stained the eaves on top of painted rafter tails so I’m pretty excited to see the results.

SP2

Here’s a Sneak Peek of the new build we are doing in South Park. Rough framing is now complete, roof on, Milgard aluminum windows in, plumbing done, HVAC almost complete, next up is electrical and fire sprinklers then I can call for the big “rough-in” City inspection.

More Concrete and Inspections

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.

Raised Foundations for Dummies

While the City of San Diego only requires footings for a 2 story house to be 18 inches deep, went close to 5 feet in some spots. You can see here that the bottom of all my trenches remain level with steps, so gravity doesn’t take our house down the canyon. The reason the footing trenches vary in depth is due to the distance to reach native soils. No lot is perfect, in our case with this house one main challenge besides having the rear 30% unusable due to the canyon is unstable fill that’s been there for years. The only alternative to digging all the way down to native soils would be to have the whole site compacted to 90%. I could have done a slab on grade at that point but at the end of the day I felt this way will be the most structurally sound. While these deep footings will eat up expensive concrete at $95/yard, a slab on grade foundation would still need deepened grade beams and since the lot slopes down towards the back, the foundation is 3 feet high and end up being about the same amount of concrete. Note the existing 4″ sewer lateral ready to go.

The excavator we rented made quick work of the foundation dig but after the soils engineer came and inspected our footing trenching, he requested us to go farther into the native soils. You can easily see here where the brown, silty cobble fill changes to a rock hard gold color at my spray paint line. This stuff is so hard to dig we used a jackhammer for 3 days to deepen the trenches to satisfy the soils engineer. He’ll now give me a certificate which I’ll hand to the City inspector when he comes to inspect the foundation forms and rebar placement. As previously mentioned, you could roll the dice and not have a soils test but if the City inspector feels there is fill he’ll make you take all the forms apart and get the report anyway. I want to build it right so in my mind this is the only way to do it.

The first step in forming a raised foundation is pulling some control lines from which you can set your exterior forms. We build them all with 2×4’s and OSB, setting the outside of the house footprint first and then starting with hanging the rebar inside. All rebar has to be 3″ away from dirt or forms. Finally after cleaning out and debris that might have fallen into the trenches you then set the inside form. After inspection we’ll pump concrete in from the top.

Once again the City only calls for (4) 1/2″ horizontal rebar inside the foundation with vertical bars 24″ on center.  For just a little extra cost I upped the ante to (6) horizontal 5/8″ bars with verticals 16″ on center. Raised foundation houses in California have this exterior stem wall. In the interior of the foot print the load is typically carried by4x6 treated sills that the floor joists rest on. These beams usually sit on posts and piers. My raised foundation design is far superior with one more stem wall running down the middle of the house like a spine. I’ll be using TJI floor joists which will span the whole width of the house without any posts and piers. We’ve fixed so many foundations on old pier and beam bungalows, with this method you’ll also have the convenience of a wide open crawl space to run mechanicals without any posts in the way. A little extra cost but by far a superior design for a raised foundation. Most of the neighbors have stopped by now, its the talk of the street that something is going up on “old man Fred’s” lot. I’ve been extremely respectful to everyone, even buying car washes for neighbors whose cars got dusted out by all the digging. I also rented a construction fence with privacy mesh so no one has to look at the mess all summer. We should be done with the forms mid week and then we’ll get started with the underground plumbing that needs to go in before we pour concrete. Stay tuned, once I get past the undergrounds and pumping this foundation it will get framed up real quick.

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 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!

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

New South Park Project

Great news this week, we are going New Construction in South Park and building a killer brand new Craftsman Bungalow for ourselves on a canyon lot. I dug this deal up straight ninja style, no MLS listing, no For Sale sign in the yard, just some driving for dollars, looking up the owner on the tax rolls, a cash offer and we closed 5 days later. A build-able vacant lot, with utilities, in popular South Park is virtually unheard of. You’ve seen us do some Major bungalow transformations such as The Hat Trick House, The Neighbors House and The Target House but stay tuned and see what we’ll build given the opportunity to start from scratch and build one for ourselves! Plans are in the works, I’ll show you guys soon our design ideas. Stay tuned, 2012 is off to a great start!