After hearing all the horror stories about how hard it is to work with the City of San Diego with regards to permitting your rehab project I have to say that it really isn’t that bad. After designing my floorplan on graph paper I hired a draftsman to put it together for me. Since my company is the owner of the house I’m able to pull an owner/builder “Combo Permit” myself without being a licensed GC.
I actually found my draftsman’s number on a bandit sign believe it or not, and he’s doing drafting work while putting himself through architecture school downtown. A real smart young guy and his price was great at $700 for a full set of plans showing all mechanicals, framing, foundation, connections, elevations and it even included him to accompany me downtown to submit the plans for approval. It’s always good to have your architect go with you because sometimes they let you make changes on the spot. Here’s my boy making changes to the 3 sets of plans during our appointment.
In order to submit the plans I had to provide 3 complete sets, the County building records and 4 photos of the house, one from each side as well as the jpeg images on disc. Once you arrive downtown you check in with the receptionist and tell them you are there for an over-the-counter permit and plan check. They do take appointments but I opted to just go early in the morning and wait as they open at 7:30.
First you get sent to a preliminary desk that makes sure you have everything you need, then they send you across the building to wait for plan checking. The plan checking is very intensive and I found it to be completely opposite than in Texas. Here they look at every little detail, framing connections and sizes, mechanical placement, setbacks, elevations, demo plans, structural, and even smoke alarm/CO2 placement.
Additionally, there are all these other disclosures you have to show on your plans, you even have to designate trash areas, concrete clean out areas and account for storm water run off with regards to keeping your debris on your lot in case of a downpour. In Texas to the contrary, the City didn’t even want to look at the plans but rather left the responsibility up to the inspectors as they went through for rough-in and final inspections to make sure everything is correct.
It’s a little more red tape up front here but at the end of the day its easier to build it once you have such detailed plans for all your subcontractors to refer to. All in all, we had a great experience with our plan checker and even learned that we can request her in the future if we want to. On the second visit downtown we got stamps on the plans showing approval but now we have to wait the mandatory 10-day historical department review.
The only item on my plans that’s still unclear is with regards to what type of siding they are going to request for the new rear portion of the house. Total cost for the permitting and plan check was about $2700. A far cry from what would have cost $300 in San Antonio.
While we wait for the historical department approval I’ll have my foundation guy start doing some prep work so we are ready to start leveling the house the day we get the permit. With the arrival of dumpster #4 yesterday, all of the big demo work is done minus pulling nails and some small framing stuff which we’ll do at the time I frame the master suite.
I’m still spending a lot of time getting bids from sub contractors, its always one of the most important parts of any project but once I get my team in place on this first project, then I can just improve from there. It’s a lot of work acting as your own GC and now I’m essentially starting over without all my valuable San Antonio contacts but with a good team of subs I’ll be able to really stretch my budget thus enabling me to compete in this competitive market.
Feels great to be back doing what I love, creating new spaces, and most of all home in San Diego. We spent all week doing demo on The Painted Lady, with 3 laborers I gutted just about the entire house, maybe only a half day left and we’ll be done. I filled nearly (3) 40-yard roll off dumpsters at $427.00 each. I was really worried that we weren’t going to be able to get the dumpsters into the back yard, having to put them on a public street is a pain in the butt as you have to have a permit. My only other choice was paying someone with a dump truck to drive the loads to the dump one by one. This would have been very time consuming and costly.
The house is huge inside, I am really excited and can see the final product already. Next up on deck after the demo is done is the foundation work, then I’ll be ready to re-frame the back of the house and put the new roof on. So far it seems sub contractor prices are not that much higher than I was paying in Texas, although I still haven’t nailed down a good electrical or plumbing contractor. Here’s a walk through video so you can see this great floor plan.
The Neighbor’s House is basically done now minus some small touch ups but we’ve been plagued with more bad weather so it’s dragging on. You can see the before and after is really dramatic and I am really looking forward to getting it on the market. I got an automatic driveway gate installed last week as well and boy is it sweet! This week I passed all my final inspections so all that’s left now is to have the gas company come out and install the new meter. Since the line will be underground I foresee a little touch up in the backyard after they are done. We’ll hopefully be staging the house at the end of this week and getting started shooting pictures for our marketing. One neighbor mentioned they want the house for 350k but I think we are going to test the waters a little higher for a few months since we are heading into the best time of year to sell a house. After all, it is a 2 on 1 so if we can find the right buyer that needs the extra apartment in the back then they’ll pay a premium for this house. I’ve spent all my time this week remodeling the rear unit with a full new “basic” kitchen, drywall patching, texture and complete interior paint. It’s really been a decrescendo to go from the cool main house to this garage apartment rehab but its all gotta be good. We have a lot of value here with this rear unit and its presence will be why we get a higher price yet still than we got for the house next door.
Last week our website was featured on Jim The Realtor’s blog, www.bubbleinfo.com. For those of you looking for a great housing market blog for San Diego, Jim Klinge’s is the best one out there. He brings you unbiased front line info on what’s happening in So Cal with no typical Realtor spin so we follow it religiously. He’s one of the top agents in S.D. and has also been featured on ABC Nightline and in the LA Times so getting a spotlight by him was really an honor. If you are looking for investment property in San Diego give him and his team a call.
We’ve been working closely with our architect also on plans for the Target House. We are doing some cool new things so I am really excited to get over there full time after our current house is on the market. There will be major floor plan changes since I gut the entire house and have that option. I am taking the front bedroom and opening up the space to add it onto the living room similar to what I did on Hat Trick. We’ve gone through several changes on the new addition but now I think I’ve got it nailed down as it includes all the things I wanted for our remodel: vaulted master suite with master bath, walk-in closet, food pantry, inside utility area, dual vanities, spa tub, shower, water closet and last but not least a double-sided fireplace between master bedroom and Jacuzzi tub! It’s going to be sick, can’t wait to frame this puppy up!
Here’s how the new floorplan is playing out after our drastic changes. As you can see we’ve opened up 4 main walls with dramatic arches. It has really given the home a more functional layout and brings in a lot more light.
We also got started on the foundation repair which is always 2nd on our list to do after demo. It was important on this project to get everything level before we even start the room addition and it needs to be lifted 3 inches in some areas. The house sits on 38 cedar posts, these posts are actually trunks of cedar trees which is common in this part of Texas.
Each post is 5 feet tall, 3 feet of which is buried in the ground sitting on a concrete pad. Cedar is naturally resistant to termites, however, after 85 years and possible drainage problems the cedar gets rotten as you can see in the above photo.
In order for us to level the house, we are replacing all 38 posts. We had 4 workers under the house digging the holes to pull out the rotten posts. How would you like to have to crawl under the house with only a damp dark 24 inches of clearance and dig 38 3-foot deep holes? These guys are rad.
We started the rehab on our next project “The Hat Trick House” this past Tuesday. It’s one block over from the two bungalow houses we sold this summer. It took two days with 3 helpers to do all the demolition and we filled two 30-yard roll off dumpsters in the process.
I ripped the kitchen and bath down to the studs and took off the paneling throughout the rest of the house. There was no drywall under the paneling so we have a lot to replace. The house also had vinyl siding that was installed over the original waterfall wood siding.
I ripped all this off already as well to reveal the historically correct appearance. I got lucky as the condition of the wood underneath was o.k. I also cut down the loquat trees blocking the cool front porch; we have some great features here to show off with this old craftsman bungalow so you need to be able to see them.
You can’t sell a house if you can’t see it, right?
The house is originally a 2 bedroom, 1 bath with 1450 square feet. There is a bonus sunroom off the master but you can’t technically call it a bedroom since you have to access it through the master.
I designed a completely new floor plan to bring this grand old lady current and get us top dollar on the resale. We are closing off one of the two front doors and will now be using the front bedroom as an entrance and study.
I’ll open the wall between this room and the living room to give more space to the front of the house. I am also opening the wall between the kitchen and dining room and adding a hallway to access the sun room in order to take it as a third bedroom.
For the middle bath I am relocating the doorway around the corner so it’s not visible from the dining room since I am also opening the wall to the main hallway. There is an original room off the kitchen called the milk run, it is a narrow hallway used in the old days for the milkman to leave your milk and eggs inside your house without entering the kitchen.
It’s common to find these interior hallways in older homes from the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s basically a waste of space and this area will be added to enlarge the kitchen. With the new huge kitchen size I’ve designed a laundry room on the back wall that will be 36 square feet. My wife and I also designed a 435 square feet master suite off the back of the house including new second bathroom with dual vanities, water closet and shower.
The master bedroom will measure 13×15 feet and have French doors leading to a new deck in the backyard similar to the last house. A huge 60 s.f. walk in closet is also in my plans at the back of the new addition. I’ll be matching the original siding to the rest of the house, as this “waterfall” is still available and called #117 siding.
We are entering uncharted waters here by adding square footage to a flip. Usually we only work with the existing footprint and maybe open some walls or raise ceilings at the most. This neighborhood is fetching around $150/s.f. and I can build the addition for around $50/s.f. so adding this master suite should pay off.
We are having a lot of fun given the opportunity to design our own master suite addition. Here’s what my new floor plan design will look like after the complete reconfiguration and added master suite.
Friday I got started with opening some of the walls for the floor plan changes. Since the ceilings are 9’ I am raising the headers up as far as possible to the top plate and adding arches.