I have officially broke ground in South Park. This is not a big house but its really crazy to see it marked off on the lot and try and picture walking through it, it looks very small. First order of business was a light Bobcat grading of the lot and setting a Temporary Power Pole which has to first be inspected by the City and then hooked up by SDG&E.
Did you know that all new single family construction in San Diego now require fire sprinklers?, doesn’t matter if you are right on the beach without a tree in sight. Not a big deal after all, I found a licensed sub contractor who will install everything at the rough-in stage for $2100.
There is a 30′ height restriction in our zone but that doesn’t mean you can be 30′ high at the front of your house. If you draw an imaginary line at the 15′ front setback point and then go up 25′ and create a 45 degree angle back to the 30′ height, this is the envelope you cannot cross. All bathrooms with a tub or shower also now have to have an exhaust fan with a humidistat, even if there is an opening window. CO2 detectors also now have to be upstairs as well as downstairs for current codes.
Since the house is going to be on a raised foundation, I rented a mini excavator for the day from my favorite place BJ’s and we dug all the footing trenches. I’ve never re-measured and re-squared anything in my life, its such an important step getting the house in the correct position on the lot. We had the property line markers to work from that my land surveyor installed, so we set up strings and then transferred the footing locations onto the ground.
Soil testing in San Diego is the first step of your project. A few months back I had a soils test done, they found native soil under about 1-2 feet of fill. Although the footings for a 2 story house only have to be 18″ deep, we had to dig 2-3 feet in order to reach the rock hard native soil. The soils company will now come and re-inspect the trenches before we start on the forms and sign off that its correct.
If I hadn’t done the soils testing the City could have, at their discretion, made us take apart the forms and dig the trenches deeper if they felt the soil conditions were questionable at the time of form inspection. This happened to a friend of mine last year. The soil in our area is very good, not expansive and rock hard so this house isn’t going anywhere.
Additionally, I plan on using a little more rebar that the minimum building code calls for, just for piece of mind as well. After the soils testing inspection is the critical part of form-setting which has to be perfect in order to create the level foundation from which everything will rest. Once all the forms are set and rebar in place, then the City comes and inspects it for accuracy before concrete can be poured. Its so exciting to build our own home!
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.
Here’s a walk through to show the progress of The Painted Lady at week 6. After waiting 4 weeks for historical board approval we finally got the green light so we started calling for inspections. It was quite interesting to say the least, initially we failed both the foundation and framing because of a few small issues. The trench for the foundation was 2″ too shallow, the plans I drew noted a 24″ deep trench which is overkill because a 2 story house only requires 18″ deep footings but I wanted to beef it up a little.
I also upgraded the rebar size from the nominal 1/2″ as code requires to 5/8″ just do make it stronger. None of this mattered when the inspector showed up, he failed me anyway for lack of the 2″ to make it match what the plans called for. On the framing I was missing a few nails as the plans called for. I knew it wasn’t a big deal to make these few changes so it really didn’t bother me to fail. We fixed them quick and called the inspector back out 2 days later.
This is when I learned that nothing is going to just get signed off on that quick. When he arrived it took him all of about 10 minutes to measure the trench depth and check for the framing nails. He then proceeds to tell me that he can only pass me on the foundation but I’ll have to wait to pass on the framing. Really, didn’t you just look and see I made the corrections? I’ve heard that they commonly show up and will only sign off on one or two things due to time restraints. The framing inspection includes about 4 categories; roof, floor, wall construction and sheer panels and could take up to 40 minutes in theory. Although he already verified everything was o.k. he only passed me on the roof portion “so I could stay busy and put my roof on.”
As you can imagine there’s not much new construction going on, so last year half of the inspectors got laid off so I don’t think morale is at its highest level. With half of the staff now the inspectors are covering twice the territories so there’s not much time when they show up. When dealing with inspectors always tread lightly, give respect and remember not to rock the boat. The best rule is to close your mouth and just listen.
This is exactly why most rehabbers look for the cosmetic flips or sneak by without permits. Next week will be big, plumbing is now completely done, hvac done and electrical 75% done. Monday we are finally pouring the foundation after waiting forever for the City. Even with the slow downs I’m still pushing, small set backs are just part of the business.
Several other cool things in TomTarrant.com land for this week;
1. There is a new contest at REIClub.com that I am nominated for. It’s another Best Real Estate Investing Blog shoot out. I’m up against some really popular sites so please go and cast your vote for me. Voting doesn’t begin until Monday, June 13 and goes through midnight on Friday June 17. This one is big, I could win a $250 Apple gift card which my wife would love. I need your help on this one guys, if you like the info I share here for you, please take a second and go vote for me!
2. Joshua Dorkin over at Biggerpockets.com asked me to do an off the cuff Skype video interview for him where we’ll cover general real estate investing stuff and info about my house flipping business. Make sure and go by his site next week and look for the interview. I’ll probably spill all the secrets you’ve been wanting to know.
I’m getting close to the stem wall pour, the guys worked on the forms all week. Inside the forms we hung 12″ j-bolts that will anchor the house to the foundation once it’s poured. Then we laid 4 rows of #5 rebar and secured it to the screw jacks with tie wire. Anywhere the stem wall is more than 24″ high we will hang vertical rebar 24″ on center as well. This is over and above local building codes but worth the extra expense. All the load from the weight of a house is carried on the exterior walls and down to the footings, it’s totally different for me here doing this as in Texas when building a pier and beam room addition you don’t do this perimeter foundation. The plastic sheeting you see is to keep the concrete from blowing out the back once we pump it into the form cavity. All that’s left now is to set the outside forms, we’ll cut windows along the top of the outside so we can pump the concrete in.
I also got the new master suite all framed up, it’s 375 s.f. and includes 9′ ceilings, a big bathroom that fits dual vanities, soaker tub, stand up shower and water closet. There’s also a generous sized walk in closet and french doors off the back. While the framers were there I also had them raise the kitchen ceiling, move some closets around upstairs and add some really cool tray ceilings in the living room and dining room that I’ll use for my mechanicals and central heat ducting to get upstairs. We also added fire blocking to the entire house since I had all the walls open. I bumped up the room addition ceiling joist size to 2×8 and the roof rafters to 2×10 just to ensure the inspector likes what he sees and I get off on the right foot with him. It’s coming out pretty trick, I’m excited about how easy it was to really modernize this 100-year-old floor plan and am confident it’s going to help sell the house. The prices I’m nailing down for mechanicals on this 2000 s.f. house so far are as follows: Complete electrical with new 200 amp service: $5300. Complete plumbing with copper supply, gas lines and all new ABS waste lines: $5000. Complete new central heat system with new furnace and ducting: $1800. New roof: $2000 labor. These are killer prices and all from legal, licensed sub contractors, I couldn’t have done better in Texas. Thanks to everyone locally who has sent me referrals, after this huge project I’ll have a great team ready for any size project!
So we finally got started this week on the huge foundation repair in which we are completely leveling the house and adding a new perimeter concrete stem wall. Before this huge stem wall can be formed and poured, we had to level the house and dig the 24″ trench around the sides. The house was only 2″ off at the most so the leveling was easy and we got the entire house within 1/4″ with a digital level going from one side to the other. I hired a foundation guy who has worked for me in the past even though I had a cheaper bid from a new guy, I just felt it’s such an important part of the rehab and I didn’t want to go down that road with a new sub contractor, especially on my first project back in San Diego. The only downside was I had to wait for him to finish another job so it slowed me down a bit. I’m not sure that I would have wanted to be under this huge house with jacks on a Friday the 13th! The next step now will be to set all the wood forms for the stem wall and tie all the rebar inside per building code.
My sub contractor has been doing foundations for over 25 years so he’s got cool little tricks to make things easier for himself. I always enjoy learning these little tidbits from a true experienced professional in their field. As you can see here he’s got the outside of my house sitting on “sacrificial homemade screw jacks” we made out of 3/4″ galvanized pipe with 5/8″ all-thread inside and nuts and washers for the adjustments. Once everything is level he uses these jacks to hang the rebar on, and they’ll actually remain inside the new 8″ wide concrete stem wall permanently. Inside the trench they are sitting on small 8″ pier blocks, additionally he’ll hang the j-bolts from the new treated bottom plates so the house will be anchored to the new stem wall once its poured. It’s looks crazy to see this huge, heavy house sitting on these skinny legs but most of the weight is actually on the beams underneath a short distance away. Hopefully by the end of this week we’ll have the forms built and new foundation poured so we can get on to the framing. After the framing I’ll do the roof, plumbing, hvac and electric. Everyone is ready to go for these trades so stay tuned as things shall move along a little faster soon. I pulled off some of the Sears metal siding that’s probably been on the house since the 70’s and as I guessed, the original 1909 ship lap wood was in perfect preserved condition with only one coat of faded yellow paint. I’m pretty stoked as this could have gone either way with what I was going to find under there. On a side note, I had to rent a temporary construction fence this week to keep out the local kids who’ve evidently adopted the house as their local hang out at night. Every morning I’ve arrived to small surprises such as spilled ice cream, candy and even an egging. While nothings been stolen, construction sites are just not safe places to play so for the first time I’ve had to go on total lock down. This flimsy fence wouldn’t have kept me out 30 years ago but it gives me a little more piece of mind now knowing it’s not wide open.