Frame and Rough Inspection: Passed

Frame and Rough Inspection: Passed

Rough Inspection in San Diego. I’m rockin’ and rollin’ baby! Monday I passed the huge, monumental Frame and Rough inspection. The inspector looks at how the whole house was framed, Simpson hardware installations, shear panel nailing and then electrical, plumbing, hvac duct work, ventilation and fire sprinklers.

There are so many little things that he looks for, that its easy to fail but I’ve been through this so many times we’ve got it dialed now. He was very impressed with the quality of my work and how fast we built the house, we just passed the 2-month mark from when we got our permit stamps and poured the foundation.

I had the insulation company ready to come in Tuesday morning so we didn’t lose any time.

I use Tracy at OJ Insulation out of Escondido, I would pay the same money just buying the insulation at Home Depot for what it costs to have them do it. Since I went 2×6 on my exterior walls I was able to upgrade the standard R 13 wall insulation to twice-as-thick R 19, this is going to be a huge energy saver.

The guys hung all exterior walls, between floors, attic, HVAC closet and bathrooms for noise reduction, in a day so I could call in the insulation inspection. The insulation job ran about $1500 bucks for materials and labor.

Here in San Diego the inspector wants to verify the insulation before you can hang drywall, we passed this second inspection on Wednesday this week and I had the drywall hangers ready to come in on Thursday.

I’m using the same drywall crew that did my big historic project last summer The Painted Lady. There are less expensive guys I know that were chomping at the bit to do it, but this crew specializes in smooth hand troweled texture and I want the best for this house.

They do all the custom spec houses and million-dollar Coronado remodels. I didn’t want the skip trowel or birdseye finish that most guys do, it costs more to go smooth because you are basically doing 2 coats of mud on the whole house and using lights at night to make sure everything is flat. The drywall hangers are old guys, one guy is 62 and another is 71 years old.

I didn’t have to ask how long they’ve been hanging drywall but the texture guys wont use anybody else because the better its hung, the easier it is to get perfect smooth walls. The extra time we spent “straight edging” the walls is paying off. We took an 8-foot level and went around the whole house planing down high wall studs and shimming low ones to prep for the drywall.

The next inspection I have next week is for drywall screw spacing before we can tape and float. At the same time the inspector will sign off on the exterior moisture barrier so we can start installing the Hardi Siding on the house. I used the best product out there, Tyvek Home Wrap.

My siding delivery comes on Monday so we’ll be off to the races on the exterior siding while the drywall guys continue inside. This project is running like a machine, its all production work and as long as you have the materials ordered and ready, pass inspections in a timely manner and have sub-contractors lined up, its like running a factory, I should know from my old days from the snowboard factory. Thanks for following!

Modern Bungalow Framing

Modern Bungalow Framing

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 2x6 framing for all exterior walls instead of standard 2x4. 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 2x6 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 cool property.

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.

You’re The Boss

You’re The Boss

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?

Raining Hard, SA Housing Market Slowing

 

I had my framing inspection Monday and he passed me on the room addition but failed the new front porch because I had trimmed it out already and he couldn’t see how it was framed…oops. He said he would pass it with a letter from an engineer so I had to pay 300 bucks to have my engineer crawl in the attic to verify my framing was done correctly and draw up a certificate on it. I went straight into hanging all the insulation and called in for the insulation inspection Tuesday. The same inspector showed up the following day and passed me on that. Meanwhile I had all the drywall delivered. It turned out to be 150 sheets for the room addition, kitchen and existing bath. Man, prices on drywall have come down; I only paid 6.50 per sheet for 12 footers. My drywall crew hung it in a day and went straight into tape and float over the weekend. It’s coming out really nice as it’s always a cool stage to get to when you can see it all sealed up and smelling new. My drywall crew charges 10 bucks/sheet to hang, tape and float and texture. Since the existing bedrooms were not demo’ed I am retexturing the whole house so it will match. These guys are real pro; they do mostly new construction so the seams come out great. For texturing they don’t mix in a hopper, a truck with a mixing machine actually shows up and they spray the whole house with one batch so it turns out consistent. Drywall finishes and textures can make it or break it when it comes down to your final product so it’s important to get pros to do this part. In the past I’ve done small rooms myself but now that we are on a larger level I always sub this out. I also got all the wood floor patching done which included all new wood in the kitchen and I also ran it into the addition. I even put the wood floors into the master bath, which will be new for me this time and should be a real dramatic touch. With all the rain lately (6 inches in 1 night) I feel lucky that at least I’m making progress inside the house. After being in a record drought all summer now we get hammered with flooding, crazy weather here in Texas.

The local San Antonio real estate market continues to slow. So far this year we’ve had only 13,185 homes sold compared to the same period last year of 14,724 and 17,981 for 2007. Last year was the big slow down here when a lot of Realtors went starving. Things picked up a little this summer mainly due to the $8000 first time buyer tax credit so it will be interesting to see what happens to the real estate market if they let it expire. There’s a bill in Congress to raise the credit to $15,000 and open it to non-owner occupied buyers which would be great for investors and definitely clean up some inventory, but I’m not sure how we could pay for it. Foreclosures at the courthouse steps here in SA are also still rising, I ran across a Realtor friends’ house while reviewing the auction list for this month. Ouch, now that’s hitting close to home. Our strategy for this market is as always be extra careful on location, buy extremely right and offer a high quality renovation and unique product for the price level. Even with the slower market there are a lot of people continuing to move here to San Antonio and we only need one buyer.

Inspections Passed, Next On Deck Insulation & Drywall

The skies cleared and the inspection gods have blessed our project. Finally, we passed all 3 rough-in inspections. We had to have the mechanical inspected twice and he almost failed me the second time because I had the incorrect tape on the joints of the dryer exhaust vent. The correct taping for the seams is the UL rated aluminum tape with the red letters, same as the A/C guys use. After some word games and a battle of the egos he busted out the green card much to my relief. It always seems the young inspectors have such a chip on their shoulders while the old guys just roll through, pass you and start talking sports and telling stories. Since I pulled the main building permit myself as the owner/builder then I am in charge of the next 2 inspections. First I’ve called in for framing inspection Monday for which the City of San Antonio will look at the placement of the fixtures with relation to each other, framing and construction as well as fire blocking of all penetrations from wiring and plumbing and foaming of the windows. Once I pass this framing inspection Monday I’ll be free to hang the insulation and call in for insulation inspection for Tuesday. If you hire a company to insulate your new construction they will furnish you with a certificate that will satisfy the city but because I am such a penny pincher I hang it myself which thereby requires them to come inspect. I buy the insulation wholesale saving about 30% from what Home Depot or Lowe’s charge. Once I pass insulation inspection I am finally free to drywall! Yea buddy, whew! You’ll also see on the video update that I’ve trimmed out the front porch and removed all the kitchen hardwoods due to old water damage and poor patching. I need to get the new wood patched in also before drywalling the kitchen but that won’t take long. The original wood floors in my house are red oak, which is still available through lumber liquidators for .45/ foot. All 330 feet of wood I am replacing only cost me about 700 bucks. Once the floors are refinished you wont see the patches. I am planning on the dark walnut stain again since they seem to be so trendy now. Stay tuned; next time you see the house it will be all sealed up. It’s a big milestone, what was previously stick framing all of a sudden becomes recognizable defined spaces.