Mud Float Tile Job San Diego

Mud Float Tile Job San Diego

We are still making progress on the Modern Bungalow trying to wrap this house up, but with the holidays its been hard to keep up the pace. Since my last update inside we got the central air conditioning installed, hot water heater, red oak stair treads and risers, and all the electrical trim and fixtures. Custom tile job.

The fire sprinkler guy came back and trimmed out too, installing all the sprinkler heads and bell box. There’s nothing left inside except for the tile setting while I wait for another week for the cabinets to arrive and get installed.

The countertop fabricator is on standby to come right in after the cabinets, then its only hardwood floor refinishing and carpet in the 2 bedrooms. Garage door is also on order. I could have had it wrapped inside by now if I would have ordered cabinets before the drywall went up.

The new tile contractor I hired is done now with mud floating all the walls and getting into tile setting with his wife. This is the second husband and wife team we’ve had on this job, my exterior painters’ wife also was a painter. Mud set tile job is the best method and common in San Diego with real tile setters.

These ladies know what they are doing too, they are not just sweeping up! Instead of Hardi backer we opted for the mud float method where you do moisture barrier paper, metal lathe and then float out the walls with spec mix. The City comes and inspects paper and lath before you can start floating the walls. Mud set is definitely the way to go.

It gives a perfectly flat and plumb surface but definitely more work, he spent 4 days floating the walls with mud when I could have put up Hardi backer board in a few hours. The tile I went with in the master is a modern 12 x 24 light grey designer porcelain and I stacked it square to give a more clean minimalist and contemporary look.

In the hall bath I went with the 3x6 ceramic but also opted not do do a subway pattern so it will be more of a clean look with a period material, working well with our home design. Both bathrooms got great niches in the wall for soap and shampoo bottles.

I thought by now I would have been done with the house but things always drag out at then end, time is on my side with Christmas and New Years coming up now so we’ll move in after the holidays.

The San Diego real estate market is still very hot. No signs of slowing even through the typically slow Fall season. With only a little over 2 months inventory it is a sellers market again and we are seeing bidding wars and multiple offers in all price tiers.

I don’t see things changing through 2013 because interest rates will stay low and there’s no more huge waves of foreclosures coming as all the adjustable loans have reset already. Banks will continue to trickle out a few REO’s here and there, but even short sale volume is dropping fast. House flippers in San Diego will have a tough time competing with large, well funded buy and hold groups investing for appreciation.

Some flippers are moving up the price range and flipping million dollar homes where there is less competition. There’s a lot of investor and first time buyer activity and prices are being affected by it, October was up 13% from last year and in some areas have reached 2005 peak home price levels again.

Modern Glass Tile and Renewable Bamboo Floors

Modern Glass Tile and Renewable Bamboo Floors

Finally some fun stuff is going in the house. To stay in the Mid Century Modern theme I did mosaic in the master shower, but an updated spin on what was there originally. Glass mosaic tile is really hot right now for MCM house design and there are fun new retro patterns available if you search. After looking around at my local tile stores nothing really fit the bill because I wanted this new trendy, spacey-looking random pattern.  You definitely wont see these materials in any other rehabs locally. I found this glass mosaic in LA for $5.99/sf so I drove up and bought everything this week. I’m using another new product for grout on the glass called Star Glass, its actually recycled crushed glass in a urethane base. It’s a flexible, non-cement, non-porous grout and wont ever fade or stain.

It’s real expensive and was primarily reserved for commercial applications until recently discovered by interior designers. Its translucent and reflective and seems to disappear when applied to glass tiles instead of contrasting heavily like even a normal white grout would do. Using glass tile like this is great, what I don’t like anymore is seeing when just a glass mosaic 4″ strip is used as a shower or tub surround accent liner. Look at some of my older bathroom remodels if you don’t know what I’m referring to!

In the hall bath above I went with a frosted 3x6 glass tile but set it in a stacked pattern which looks more modern than subway pattern. I ran it all the way up to my new vaulted ceiling lid for a more expansive feel in what is really a modest bathroom size. I also laid a 12x24 charcoal grey porcelain tile for both bathroom floors which is very popular in modern bathroom design right now.

This grey will go with anything and basically just disappear when the bathrooms are done and all the chrome hardware goes in. I set the floors butt-joint also to look cleaner and eliminate grout lines. The glass mosaic in the master also has grey in it so it tied in perfectly. The floating vanities you’ll see go in soon are also high gloss grey.

We also got started installing the hardwood floors. I wanted to go with Bamboo for this house for its durable nature and the fact that’s its 100% renewable and considered a Green building product by LEED standards. Bamboo is harvested every 5-6 years while normal trees in a forest take 40-60 years to mature. We are San Diego’s Best cash home buyer.

This product is also of the newer version of Bamboos that has been stranded and carbonized. You don’t see the old cheap style bamboo pattern and there is no wear layer, its the same material all the way through. I bought it at Simple Floors for $3.15 s.f. and decided on paying a sub contractor another $2/sf to install it to speed up my project. This Bamboo requires glue down installation because its so hard that you will bend nails trying to nail it.

The color I found is as close to my cedar ceilings as possible, and I laid it the long way to match the tongue and groove ceiling direction.  The white walls are totally working now that I’ve obtained so much warmth and color from the surrounding natural materials.

clean and simple

clean and simple

The upstairs bath now is mostly done at a cost of around $2200.00 for everything new from the studs out, all I have to do now is install the missing baseboards and then drop in the toilet. You can see my style is once again timeless, clean lines with a blend of retro and modern design. I’m really stoked on this vanity and sink this time, I tried something different and it really goes with this house. The tile is white Dal Tile K100 from Home Depot. It’s 6″ square on the bottom and changes to 3×6″ subway at the black liner. The floor tile is also Dal Tile ceramic hex dot and is my favorite for old house bathrooms, this is the only floor tile in the whole house, both bathrooms downstairs and the kitchen have wood floors which is another feature I’ve been doing to these old houses which looks cool. I know the white ceramic tub box below on the hardwood floors in the bathroom is a great look because I’ve been down this road on the last project.

With the upstairs bath tile job done we got started downstairs. My helper Steve is doing it all, I’m so stoked to have found someone and not having to do it myself and furthermore knowing that I’ve got a tile guy for the future. You can see I went back to the well with the river rock floor in the shower, its white rock with grey accents. The walls are 6″ white ceramic and will change to 3×6″ subway on top of the accent which I found of matching grey glass and white carerra marble, which I’ll cut into 4″ strips for the liner. I really hate to use any glass now because its become so trendy but I think just this small amount mixed with the other materials will give me just enough fun without looking like the house flippers who throw too much of the trendy stuff in and overkill the effect. The entire inside is painted now, I was lucky and bought all my paint over the Labor Day week and took advantage of the Home Depot rebate of $20 for each 5 gallon I bought. I used 20 galllons to spray all the trims 2 coats and another 22 gallons for the walls in the house so the rebate added up.

Good Fences Make Great Neighbors

Good Fences Make Great Neighbors

I’m getting close now so I’m feeling a bit relieved. Even with ongoing rain delays I’m making progress. I installed all the electrical fixtures and this time I spent a little more on Craftsman Style sconces for the porches. Really worth the extra money, check out Lumens.com for some killer stuff. The house numbers and mailbox are from Restoration Hardware again. I replaced the front door with an extra gem I’ve been holding onto after acquiring it from the Hat Trick House last year (some of these old bungalows come with 2 front doors and I always remove one to modernize the floorplan).  I’ll paint it my same brown color when I second coat the porch. This Pine, 6 panel, beveled glass door came from renowned San Antonio developer H.C. Thorman’s personal residence in Mahncke Park that we flipped, it was the first house he built there in 1900 and appropriately on Thorman Place. It looks right at home on our project and seals tighter than new with a modern threshold and new weatherstripping all around. A building envelope test will be coming our way shortly as part of new code changes this year in order to pass final inspections, so the house can’t be drafty.

The 2 ceiling fans on the porch are a nice added touch. Just makes you want to pull up some chairs and have a cold beverage. As you can see I am flying the” Tarrant Realty ~ Coming Soon” sign in the window, we’re getting some warm bites already. I’ve weeded the yard and we’ll be laying out some river rock beds and putting down sod this week while the floors get refinished. 

This door knob is older than you, unless you are 111 years old. It’s the original from our 1900 door that I refurbished. Note the modern weatherstripping, this thing shuts like an airplane door.

 

The tile job kicked my butt but was worth the effort. The hall bath was fairly easy but this master bath stand up shower and tub box seemed to go on for an eternity. I used white subway tile, river rock floor and a modern white/grey marble accent liner. The shower is tiled inside and out and all the way to the ceiling. Custom frameless glass for the door and picture window are on order from Thad Ziegler Glass. If you guys are flipping houses and not putting shower doors on your new showers at least give them a cheapo, so many times I see all this fancy tile work and expensive fixtures in a brand new bathroom with no shower door. It ranks right up there on my pet peeves list with no rods or build out in the walk in closet.  

The see thru fireplace in the master is my sizzle feature on this project, while the tub side of the fireplace is surrounded by white ceramic to match the bathroom, I chose white and grey marble for the master bedroom side. Very romantic to say the least and all with a flip of the switch. There is a direct line of sight from the master bed location through the fireplace, and to the spa tub and into the shower. It’s sure to keep the fire burning in the future owners love life.

 

Good fences make great neighbors. In this case we have really cool great neighbors already but its very common with the older neighborhoods not to have good fencing. Part of my business model with redeveloping these urban properties is not only to give the potential buyer a complete package but also make them feel safe living close to downtown. A 6 foot privacy fence and automatic driveway gate (coming soon) usually does the trick. Any attorney, doctor or young professional could feel safe here and these are our target clients. My friend and I rented a hydraulic auger and jackhammer and it still took us 2 days to dig the 20 holes for this section. Nothing comes easy in the South Texas heat. A menagerie of rocks, roots, glass, and ancient plumbing were thrown our way but nothing can get between a cowboy and building his fence.

No Mas Trabajo Aqui!

No Mas Trabajo Aqui!

That’s what my tile guy heard earlier this week. As I mentioned on my last post, the Friday before he snuck off to another job and left his helper there to lay the bathroom floor. By the time I noticed this goofball had done such a crappy job I told him to pull it all up before the thinset dried. I called my guy and told him if he didn’t personally do the job that I would find someone else, I know this guy does excellent work but he’s bouncing around from job to job having helpers do most of the work now. As a general contractor (or homeowner acting as one) you constantly have to watch your subs, even if you know they’ve done great work before. Monday rolls around and who shows up? A different guy still. Of course I asked him where’s Elijio? Oh, he’s coming right now, he’ll be here in 10 minutes. By 1 pm he still wasn’t there so I told his worker “no mas trabajo aqui.” If I wanted to spend all day showing him how to lay it and looking over his shoulder I might as well do it myself, so that’s where I’m at. I got the hall bath floor re-laid after going and buying all new material with a cool ceramic hexagon/dot pattern in black and white. It’s really historic looking and since this bathroom is in the original part of the house and visable from the dining room I wanted to keep the feel. It’s grouted now so I’m ready to set the vanity and linen closet in there Monday when my cabinets arrive.

In the master bathroom I put down beach pebbles again but this time I found a better supplier. In the last house the rocks were different sizes and it felt odd on your feet, this time its way more consistent but you still get the spa therapy feel. I’ve started the white subway tile that will make up most of the tile job with the exception of a small amount of Carrera Marble for the accent liner in the shower and around the double-sided fireplace. I’m staying with all clean and sharp lines in the master bath, it’s going to be elegant and modern.

Lastly I re-tiled the fireplace hearth. We decided to go with a red to tie in with the dining room wall color and also match the historic stained glass windows above. They are 4″ ceramic, laying them was the easy part, first I had to demo all the old pieces and then float it out with mortar so I had a smooth surface for the new tile. The dark red looks killer, all I need to do now is install the oak transition pieces for a border before the hardwood floor guys start refinishing.

We are known for the attention to detail in our rehabs. Here’s a tip that a lot of flippers are blowing it on and its really inexpensive to correct. A long time ago we became conscious of the fixtures and finishes we were choosing for the rehabs, and how to use them correctly. Every house we do now we chose a finish for the hardware and keep it consistent throughout the whole house. Oil rubbed bronze (ORB) looks great with travertine and typical tan flip house colors. Brushed nickel looks clean and modern and goes with everything. Nobody uses gold, don’t even think of going here. Chrome is usually reserved for modern style homes. If you are going to use oil rubbed bronze for instance then make sure you buy ORB shower trims, ceiling fans, faucets, cabinet pulls, door knobs and hinges for your doors. Everything should match. Sounds basic right? You would be amazed at how many flips I’ve walked through that have gold door hinges, brushed nickel door knobs (yes, on the same frickin door!) and then ORB ceiling fans. This is a total rookie move and will cheapen the look of your rehab, I’m just sayin’ with a little planning and about $100 bucks for replacement door hinges you can bring a way better product to market and see the results at closing. All prehung doors at Home Depot and Lowe’s come with gold hinges, not sure why. What’s happening is that investors who are not contractors themselves and just hire out all their work, don’t have the eye for detail so they don’t get changed out. We don’t buy our prehung doors at the big box stores anyway and actually get to chose the hinge finish they come with, so before painting I usually put “dummies” on and then switch them back after everything is done. I keep this box of paint covered dummies and reuse them on every house. Additionally, I don’t care how good you are at taping, there’s no better look than crisp new hinges and knobs with no over-spray or drips on them. A lot of new home builders are actually spraying over the gold hinges when they paint their trims, this is a big no-no also as the paint will surely scratch off eventually. Take a bit of advice from me please, change out your hinges guys and reap the rewards!

For this house we chose chrome door hinges with brushed nickel door knobs. All the faucets, cabinets pulls etc will also be chrome, this is the only instance when you should mix two finishes in a house unless you are doing a “theme” room as we’ve also done in the past.

Back Online!

Back Online!

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been a baaaaaaad blogger… but after moving we didn’t have internet service for over a week.  I’m back online now and back in action! Although I’ve been distracted with the personal house sale and move, we’ve still managed to keep the momentum up on the Target House. I’ve got the millwork package ordered and it’ll arrive by the end of this month so that prompted me to get right on the interior paint and tile so I’m ready when it shows up. After alot more prep inside we finally got everything primered and then I sprayed 2 coats of semi-gloss on all my new trims, no brush marks baby, first class all the way. For the walls I chose a medium warm grey for the whole house with the exception of the dining room which as you can see is red. The grey probably wouldn’t be too safe for most homes but with all the natural light I have coming in and the abundance of white trim it really doesn’t make it dark or feel small. The red for the dining room ties into the stained glass windows in the living room and we planned to pull that same red down onto the new tile for the fireplace hearth.

The kitchen cabinets will be white shaker style again that will pop good on the grey walls. I’ve chosen black granite counters that will contrast the cabinets as well and then we are going light on the hardwood floor stain. It’s going to look incredible, definitely the best renovation we’ve done to date. Also this week I had my mason come in and re-mortar the fireplace brick and firebox, now there will be no cracks and it’s back to good as new condition. Thankfully I got the A/C on just in time for all this inside final stuff, it’s sure nice to work in the coolness after what seemed like months of humid 100 degree heat. For the first time in my life I hired a pro to do my tile, this guy is really good and its nice to see it getting handled perfectly and without taking 2 weeks of my personal time to do it. I picked up $2500.00 worth of various sizes of white ceramic, mostly 3X5 subway tiles that we are putting in a brick pattern. For the hall bath I am using white ceramic hexagon floor tile with black dots and as you can see they’ve almost got the tub surround completed with the 6×6 and subway pattern combo. I opted not to do a decorative liner in this bath to keep it clean as we’ll have plenty of stuff going on with the floor pattern.

 In the gorgeous master bath I’m running subway all the way up inside and outside of the shower and the tub box as well. I’ve picked out a real neat liner for the shower that’s super clean and linear to go with all the sharp lines. No glass accent tiles in this home, we are moving on to newer materials now. Having an account at Dal Tile is key, they do they not sell retail to the public. Their stuff is a little expensive even at my contractor discount but they’ve got the best of the best with new materials to choose from. Picking materials like tile, fixtures, etc. at Home Depot or Lowe’s will make your rehab look like everyone else’s. Nothing worse than walking into someone’s project and recognizing all the fixtures and tile from a big box store!

The San Antonio real estate market is feeling some post tax credit blues as is most of the Nation, home sales were 25% down in July as compared to last year but 6% up for the year. Median and average prices were up in July due to the higher number of home sales above the 500k mark, which have previously been getting hammered. As I’ve been saying, we’ve definately pulled some demand forward so this Fall should be interesting. Stay tuned and thanks for coming back, it’s all hands back on deck now.