Siding and Mud

Siding and Mud

My new construction project is running very smoothly. After passing the inspection on my house wrap Monday, we were finally able to start putting the Hardi Siding up. I have really been anxious to see what the house will finally look like after all the rough work that gets buried and nobody will see. Now comes the fun part, which actually gives the house its personality. What’s inside the walls is just as good as you guys know, but this part is what I’ll look at every day.

First, I framed the windows with 1 x4″ Hardi Trim. The Hardi Lap Siding on the bottom goes up pretty fast in 12 foot lengths with a 7″ reveal, I went with the smooth version to look clean. The Hardishingle Staggered Edge style up top on the other hand, is quite labor intensive. The pieces are only 48″ wide and go up with a 6″ reveal, but really give the house some dimension and texture.

I ran a 1x8″ dividing band board with a 1x2″ shelf on top to separate the styles and add even more detail. The siding comes in primer, but oddly enough the color is similar to what we will actually be using for paint. We are now on our second wall, I can see this siding project stretching out to several weeks as there is tons of detail work and not much room around the house for the scaffolding, but its looking great!

The second inspection we passed this week was on Thursday, for the drywall screw spacing. The mud crew was on standby to start taping and floating everything once the inspector signed off on the hanging  job. Once again, this is an extremely specialized crew. Different guys than the drywall hangers last week. We are putting one of the best drywall crews in San Diego on this project and after the whole house is taped and floated we’ll be doing 2 coats of a level 4 smooth hand-troweled texture.

In order to keep up my construction pace, I ordered all the pre-hung interior doors last week, bought the Red Oak unfinished hardwood flooring material this week, and am currently about ready to pull the trigger on the millworks package. It’s all about thinking 2 steps ahead to make sure you don’t run into a 3-week wait for a special order, which in my case is just about everything.

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!

Siding and Insulation

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.

Hidden Surprises for Fathers Day

Hidden Surprises for Fathers Day

First and foremost, Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there! The coolest thing we did this week at The Painted Lady was to remove all of the 1970’s Sears metal siding, of course we recycled it to help save the planet. This is the third time I’ve done this on a historic house but I’ve never removed 2 different layers to get down to the original wood. It’s always a gamble because you never know of the condition underneath but its been my experience that the asbestos or vinyl that’s on top actually preserves and protects the old wood and I’ve always been surprised to see near perfect siding with minimal paint jobs buried underneath. The more the homes get painted over the years, the harder it is to prep so in this case when I found the original yellow paint job with nothing cracking or peeling I was excited.  As we removed it, I found tons more hidden architectural details that these Victorian houses are famous for so I had to tell myself it must have been a pretty good salesman in a polyester jacket who was able to convince the homeowner with his “never paint your house again” pitch years ago to cover all the character of their house up. These cool details in the trim on the house are going to put my paint job over the top.

We also finally got the foundation poured, it took 2 full trucks with almost 20 yards of concrete total, as well as a pumper rig to fill up the spaces we left open around the house in the forms. Once filled we removed the forms while it was still green and hand troweled the finish. Its harder to work with but I used the 1.5″ rock aggregate although most guys use the pea gravel mix. Since the stem wall is 3 feet high in some spots I wanted it to be as strong as possible. This house isn’t going anywhere now for another 100 years. The Historical Review Board also asked me to replace the visable portions of the old chimneys in order to keep the house period correct. The old ones were crumbling and dangerous and I deleted them from inside the house to maximize my floorspace and intended not to re stack the exterior, they weren’t fireplaces inside but only basically a brick flue for stove exhaust. I found some used bricks on Craigslist and had them re-stacked just from the roof line up, I had to knock this out before the roofers show up on Monday.

I finally met with some sub contractor drama this week from one of my subs, I knew everything was going too good to be true. It’s crazy, but unfortunately I cant share the story although it involves the FBI. Hopefully he’ll have his helper finish up next week so I can call for rough in inspection and be ready to insulate and drywall after the new roof goes on.

Plumbing Passed, Pendings Up

Plumbing Passed, Pendings Up

We passed plumbing rough-in and top out inspections this week at Target House and have now got started on the electrical. My electrician is getting a slow start so I am kind of disappointed but its par for the course here in Land of Manana, especially when you are getting great prices. I am going to stay on his ass all week and try for an inspection Friday. On the exterior I am completely done with all the siding and window trims on the new portion of the house and have started working my way forward replacing various sections on the original siding where I moved windows or there was damage. There will be alot of changes once I get up front rebuilding the porch, porte cochere and columns so that’s exciting. On the new back porch ceiling I used authentic 1×4 tongue and groove bead board, sweet!

The San Antonio housing market certainly showed signs of Tax Credit fever while everyone scrambled last week for the handout. I’ve been tracking the Pending sales and as you can see they rose by about 100 houses for each week in April all the way up until the cut off of Friday. It will be interesting to see 2 things from here, if the Pending sale growth continues and how many pendings actually close and turn into solds. The San Antonio Spring buying season typically is just now heating up, we’ll see how bad the tax credit affected future demand shortly. There are currently 11,455 homes for sale, down from 11,697 last weekend.

Week                          # Pendings

Mar 29-April4                    246

April 5-April 11                 363

April 12-April 18               430

April 19-April 25              456

April 26-May 2                  556

117 Siding and New Plumber

117 Siding and New Plumber

I started getting the siding on this week and have been interviewing new subcontractors for the 3 trades that will be next in line to rough-out the house. I love the historic style #117 wood siding, it gives my projects a real edge over the competition as most guys run HardiPlank on their additions. It cost a little more at about 45 cents a foot but well worth the price for my projects. Its always my goal also to find the best prices for any work that I have to hire out because it increases my net profit. A dollar saved is a dollar earned, right?  My DIY method of doing these rehabs does not involve hiring a general contractor who would tack at least 50%  profit right onto your cost but instead managing the subs personally and working right alongside them doing most of the work myself. This gives me the freedom to pick my own sub contractors and negotiate with them directly and pocket the savings.  As with many of the subs in the past, I started to experience “price creep” with my plumber on every house we did with him. With construction as slow as it is I cant justify paying a higher price for the same job so we give new hungry guys a shot.

Out of the 3 trades I always do the plumbing first, its hard pipe and cant move whereas the electrical and mechanical can work around anything. I accepted a bid from a plumber yesterday that I’m really excited about. He’s been is business over 25 years, does alot of new construction homes, comes highly recommended and has beat our last guys price substantially. We are getting a complete new plumbing system with “15 fixtures” including new pex supply lines all the way from the water meter,  new pvc drains all the way to the sewer and complete new black pipe hard gas lines from the gas meter throughout the house to 4 locations in order to qualify us for the “Smart Energy” title. Our local energy company CPS right now is really pushing awareness of using a combo of gas and electric to builders but we’ve of course always done this anyway. They designate your project a Smart Energy House, this combined with all the Energy Star appliances has been a real plus for our customers. His bid also includes supplying the hall bath tub and 50 gallon hot water heater. I am getting a 1 year warranty as well and he wont even let me touch the fixture installation to save money as he’s that concerned about his liability. The price is $5900 for the job where previously we were paying over $7000 and having to furnish the tub, heater and do the trim out myself so effectively I think I’ve shaved about $2000 of this one trade alone. I hope he works out, he is suppose to be all roughed in and topped out this week for an inspection.

The Neighbor’s House is under contract again as of last weekend. We are passed the home inspection and are expected to close at the end of the month. Additionally there is a back up offer in the lurch. I still will share all the juicy details from all the previous offers we received and deals that fell through but not until the sale closes. This house is incredible and someones going to be very happy to own it. What a great project and fun story!