MCM Window Shopping

I’m really excited about the Milgard aluminum windows I picked out for this house and have to say I’ve removed tons of aluminum windows but this is the first time I’ve ever put them In. They are a modern energy efficient version of what we took out. With my right hand man Barney, we got them all installed including the 6 foot and 8 foot patio doors in a day and a half. These are new construction windows meaning you have to break the stucco back to install them using nailing fins. Putting them in is easy but the most important part is getting new flashing behind the old felt paper and using Jiffy Seal around them for a good seal. When breaking out your old ones try not to damage the wire mesh or felt paper. There’s a lot of guys flipping houses in San Diego and throwing in retrofit or vinyl lip windows. Believe me, you don’t want to put in vinyl retrofit windows, they will not hold air and warp in less than 10 years. I know because I have them in my house!

For our Mid Century project I wanted to get the stream-lined modern minimalist look so the aluminum was a clear choice. I wanted to use a mixture of casement and awning windows on this project so the master bedroom window was a perfect candidate to replace the old huge slider with a fixed window and 2 casements on the sides. I was able to put together a custom front window also with an awning on the bottom and slider on the top as seen here. I almost went with a really cool look – triple awning on the front, but thought there might not be enough air flow on those hot San Diego summer nights with no A/C so I played it functionally safe and put sliders in the secondary bedrooms as well. Since we are re-stuccoing the whole house I also took this opportunity to break out and replace all the old crawl space vents as you can see at the bottom of the top picture.

After price shopping around at 4 places I ended up getting the best deal at Home Depot. These are special order windows and take 3-4 weeks to arrive so you want to order them as soon as possible so they don’t slow your project down. For orders over $2500 you can request special pricing from the Home Depot Bid Room. Just ask to do so at the Millworks or Contractors desk. In my case they knocked off another 14% and with no delivery charge I ended up paying about $3600 for all the windows including a 6 foot and 8 foot patio door. These windows are of course low E and dual pane. The patio doors were a little more tricky because the frames come in 4 pieces but easy for anyone to do and they installed like a dream. They shut so good it sounds like an airplane door.

I tried out a new drywall patching crew this time and am super happy with the results. They cut out everything square, patched all my Swiss cheese holes from running the mechanicals, and then skim coated the entire house with a new 90% smooth texture. They also had to redo some of the window and door returns from our install, so it was nice to have them there fixing stuff as we were putting in the windows. The inside is ready for paint now, everything is really going smooth with this house. I’m off to the recycle yard with the old aluminum windows now for a nice bonus check for helping the environment!

Siding and Insulation

We finally passed all rough-in inspections and have now hung all the insulation. It took 2 tries with   my hvac sub contractor, he forgot to strap down the furnace and didn’t run hard pipe gas line through the unit so we had to call for a second inspection after having him come fix the two issues. These are small details which he should have caught but nonetheless we got all the signatures now on our inspection card and the City inspector is starting to warm up to me a bit now that he sees we know what we are doing. Right after passing I scheduled the insulation to be hung the next day and its called in for an inspection for tomorrow. I insulated the exterior walls and complete sub floor.  This is over and above what my permit called for but having all the walls opens provides such an obvious opportunity to save energy and provide someone with a product we can be proud of. I’m sure the new homeowner will unknowingly be thanking me every month when they pay their electric bill. With all the walls open I also ran Cat-6 and cable wires to all the bedrooms. We are in a heat wave right now in San Diego, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the guy under the house all day itching and scratching trying to hang this stuff. I jumped outside and started trimming out the exterior also, I re-framed the front porch and used 1×3 tongue and groove for the decking that’s historically correct. It’s a little more than I could have spent on another material but its details like this that will pay off in the end and especially since its on the front of the house which is always the most important to focus on.

I also got some of my windows installed and I’m telling you they are so neat. TM Cobb makes a mighty fine wooden double hung window for historic homes. I’m totally happy and cant wait for the missing 2 to arrive with the Victorian front door so I can install them too.

Here’s the bank of 4 windows on the study or optional 5th bedroom. This room is going to be killer with all the light that’s coming in. There was a lot of missing trim on the corners of the house that was probably removed when the metal siding went on. This stuff is easy to replace so we’ve been working our way around the house getting everything back to how it should be.

For the rear master suite room addition I purchased 10″ cedar beveled channel siding from La Mesa Lumber at $2.50/foot. This is the first time I’ve used it and boy is it nice. It comes pre-primed and its very straight, unlike the T117 siding I’ve frequently used on the Craftsman bungalows. We wrapped the room addition with Tyvek first of course and are now putting the 773 siding up. It’s great to use all the correct materials, in this case its costing me about $1400.00 for this siding but its going to be worth it. The historical review board here in San Diego wouldn’t even have let me use Hardi Siding if I wanted to. My colors were also approved this week so once the exterior trim and siding is all complete I’m going to have 2 crews in simultaneously painting the exterior of the house and hanging the drywall on the inside. Once the drywall is hung we have to get a nailing inspection where they verify spacing on the screws before we tape and float over it. Stay tuned, we’re going to see some dramatic changes soon. Also, Get on over to Biggerpockets.com and check out the video interview I did with Josh. I break down our business model and explain what kind of projects we look for.

Moonshine Jugs

I had a  productive week starting out by hanging all the OSB plywood on the room addition exterior, it really starts looking like a house once it has something on the framing. After the OSB I wrapped it with Tyvek, wow does Lowes like to advertise! Its amazing how many local rehabbers I see that dont use house wrapping on their additions. They’ll go straight over the OSB with the siding. For $88 bucks you cant go wrong and it really makes a difference on your electric bill and keeps the drafts out. The windows arrived Friday and I got most of them in along with the back door so now it all locks up again. As you can also see I had a retaining wall built this week from CMU block under the perimeter of the new addition. There was such a deep below grade cavity from my excavation that this was necessary for correct drainage and to prevent water intrusion under the house. I’ll backfill the sides now and we’ll be good to go. Another example of how we are doing things right, some guys would have thrown down some plywood and backfilled. The back porch is really neat, cant wait to see everything now with the historic waterfall style #117 siding on it to match the house.

The original owner of the house stopped by and said that their dad build it back in the 20’s. She’s going to give us all the info on the home and story behind it so we can pass it along to the new owner eventually. I am hoping she has some vintage photos of the front so when I go to rebuild the columns and porch area I can replicate it correctly. While I was under the house this week I found some old moonshine jugs, a 1927 Good Housekeeping magazine and a Texas automobile license plate from 1933. Since last weekend we’ve had 10 showings at Neighbor’s House and more offers as well. Spring buyers are out in full force. Cool stuff, stay tuned …

Window shopping

The roof is all complete and just in time to beat this week’s South Texas rain storm. Final tally after adding up the receipts for my spreadsheet is $3998 for labor and materials, an excellent price for 40 squares of 30-year roof including 23 squares of old roof tear-off. Speaking of finding deals I’ve been doing some window shopping for the past few days in search of the best price for dual pane, white vinyl, low E windows for the Target House. I compared 4 different sources and ended up back with my usual supplier Builders First Source here in San Antonio. Sometimes I cringe at putting vinyl windows in an old historic house but with today’s energy prices it really makes sense.  After having Home Depot quote it and send it to the bid room twice, Lowe’s quote and send it to QSP, I was still able to do better by a few hundred bucks. For 25 windows I am paying $3340.00 with tax. Keep in mind most of these for the old portion of the house are ESW’s (exact size windows) and are made custom to fit inside existing wood casings in order to preserve the historic qualities of the home. There is a Federal tax rebate for 2010 in the amount of $1500.00 if you spend over $5,000 and the new windows have a U factor greater than .40. This changed from last years requirement of .32 but in any case we wont qualify due to our low invoice price and we didn’t see it necessary to pay an extra 20% for the extra U factor just to get the $1500.00 back. Make sure and check with your CPA if you are a rehabber, there is some great energy efficient Obama money out there for grabs.

Still Painting and San Antonio Ranks #1 Strongest Metro Economy

Even though we were plagued with more rainout days this week, I still managed to get the exterior paint 95% complete. This is probably the most labor-intensive paint job I’ve done as it’s 6 colors and it entailed a lot of detail brushwork on the trims. So far I’ve put up over 60 gallons on the exterior! Keep in mind there’s a big 2-story guesthouse in the rear and I also sprayed 2 coats of everything including primer. As you read in my last post, I picked up a guy from Lowe’s parking lot to help me paint so it’s gone really fast. This guy is actually a great painter, he was making fun of me for using economy brushes so I broke down and bought a Purdy brush, man this thing practically paints by itself. Well worth the $14 bucks.

Front

Because I was so happy with my historic craftsman style replica window screens on the last project, Hat Trick House, I decided to make them again for this house. I changed the design a bit so they wouldn’t look exactly the same, especially since the other house is right next door. I designed the center mullion placement to minimize the visability of the white vinyl and this new design came out great. I won’t stretch them with screen, although the future owner can if desired. My new double pane windows have screens already so these frames are basically just a cosmetic design feature that also plays an important part in the color blocking of our paint job. The historic replica screen hangers are also still available from Stanley. This extra little finishing touch really gives the house the historic look that I need for our neighborhood.

Front

There was a new BusinessWeek article this week that ranked San Antonio #1 for the top National economy. The measurements used were job growth, economic growth, employment and home prices. Texas seems to be the clear winner with San Antonio in the lead and five other metros in the top 10. While we are still seeing signs of the recession here and I’m always quick to say we are late to the party, this study shows that we are still fairing extremely well compared to the rest of the country. We’ve seen the housing market here drastically slow down in the last 2 years, but homes are still selling and people are still moving here everyday from other states so we have to be thankful that when coming from California, we picked a winner with San Antonio.

I Love the Smell of PVC Glue in the Morning

Saturday morning the plumbers beat me to the punch. I got there at 8 and there were already 6 guys all over the place and a strong odor of PVC glue in the air. My plumber brought in a new construction crew and they roughed in the whole house with a complete new system in 1 day! Monday he’ll run the new gas line and we’ll call in for an inspection Tuesday. This week I also opened up 3 interior walls creating more of an open floorplan, doing a different kind of arch this time with square corbels on the bottom. Monday the roofers finished and he apologized for trying to raise the price on me? o.k… I also wrapped the house with Tyvek and installed all the dual pane vinyl windows after they arrived midweek. I remember about 10 years ago putting in my first set of retrofit vinyl dual pane windows in my personal home, a buddy of mine who is actually a general contractor told me not to ever use foam because it would cause the windows to warp when the foam expands. This was in San Diego where it’s always 75 and sunny and probably wouldn’t matter but here in Texas it’s the code and the homebuilders foam everything including the new construction windows inside before the drywall goes in. You want to create a tight envelope in order to be more energy efficient. With these new windows, a high efficiency A/C, roof vents and new insulation in the attic the future homeowner will benefit greatly with a low power bill. Our buyer of the Hat Trick House next door has a electricity bill in the $100’s while most other original homes in the area are paying around $300/month. Hey don’t get me wrong; I love original sashed historic windows with wavy glass, but not at $300 per month. While doing the new windows I also went ahead and also redid the wood trim because for the cost and labor saved in stripping and sanding, my paint job will come out killer now. Next up to bat will be getting HVAC and Electrical sub-contractors through the house, we’ll see who I can corral this week. We are moving at a really nice pace, I’ve scheduled it so I can be doing projects while the subs are busy without getting in their way.

Electrical Inspection: Passed

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

Screens

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

New Back Door

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

Bungalow 2 Rehab

The Old and the New

Front Siding

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

Electrical Wiring

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

New Siding

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