Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nice Pipes!

All underfloor plumbing is done! Who hoo! I tried to get a permit for the 2nd sink today and (duh!) realized that I would need to have the building dept plan checker approve the 2nd sink before I could just pay a permit fee. And the guy had just left 12 min prior to my getting there. Damn! Looks like I'll have to get to the City at 7:30 on Monday morning to go through the over-the-counter review and pay the permit fee. Geesh! Im just trying to give them more money! They should just take it and leave me alone! Anyhow, I'm not going to have a post tomorrow since there is no work being done, however, the doors/windows are supposed to arrive between 8 and 9 tomorrow morning. I sure hope they get here in that window since Mike and I both have to leave at 9:00 sharp. Note: the 1st photo I posted is where we are having to put the new upgraded electrical panel in the existing house's wall.


Oh bummer. The plumbing work wasn't finished yesterday so he'll have to finish today (not his fault - I threw in some extra work he didn't know about until Wed morning which added to his list.... namely the new double sink in the bathroom). With the underfloor plumbing work not complete we can't call for an inspection today, and the City is closed this Friday (every other Friday off schedule like most Cities these days). That means no work will be done on Friday since we can't get inspected and move on to the next step until Monday. Oh well. I'd surely wait another two days and be behind in my mental schedule than have shoddy plumbing work with someone who cut corners. Dennis isn't that guy - he's got a good reputation for excellent work and I'm glad he's on our project. And now that I think about it, the "delay" gives me an extra day to get over to the city and pay for the permit to install a 2nd sink.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

All tied down

It may not look too different from what we saw yesterday but they did a ton of work setting the beams, tying everything down and adding the bracing. Tomorrow the plumber, Dennis, will be running the below-floor piping so we can try to get both a floor framing and plumbing inspection on Thursday. On another note, our doors and windows did NOT arrive today as promised. Apparently there was some mix up on the timing of the delivery (isnt there always?) but now the window dealer and manufacturer are clear on the timing. They will be shipped out tomorrow and arrive either Friday or Monday. I'm betting on Monday. Also, I ordered the wall sconces for the bathroom today. It was between my lighting dealer's decent to-the-trade discount plus a ridiculous $50 shipping fee and's tiny 5% to-the-trade discount and free shipping. I think I saved like 50 cents but ended up going with Ylighting since they were cool to work with (and the principal behind no charge for shipping). I selected the same Oxygen Lighting, Pebble sconce that I used in my other bathroom (Ok, and my living room too) but went crazy and ordered the polished chrome this time (instead of brushed). These are also fluorescent 4-pin as required by T24. I'm all for saving energy but am bummed that they aren't dimmable. Oh well, at least they will look great and after tax, etc. they ended up being $101 each.

Monday, April 26, 2010

And there are joists!

Today is day 6 (five day work weeks) and it was great to come home from work and see that the forms had been pulled off (we asked for the wood to be saved so we can chop up for firewood for us and our neighbor) and the floor joists had been framed out. I'm not sure when the next inspection will be... need to check with Sal, our contractor tomorrow... but we are on a roll. Also need to share with Sal a new elevation for the bathroom. We picked out the sink/cabinet/legs/mirror on Sunday and now I need to make sure the plumber has dimensions for where the drain and water supply will be. I also decided on the final shower design and toilet (yay TOTO dual flush!) so now I'm set with all the fixture placement. I think I'll surprise everyone with the sink vanity manufacturer... its not what I had in mind but I'm not convinced that it will be great. Mike gets the credit for picking this one out!

Week 1 - blow and go!

Week 1 has come and gone. The guys were here M-F and worked with gusto! I can’t believe how fast they were with the demo and trenching for the new foundation (continuous footing wall to match our existing house’s floor level with a “raised foundation”). We had our first inspection on Friday April 23rd for the foundation framing and passed early enough in the day for the concrete to be poured. Whoo hoo!

Deconstructing the deck

Wow. It's amazing that something that takes weeks to build can take just a day and a half to deconstruct. Our formerly awesome 22' long by 12' wide deck that attached our tiny 850 SF house to our 10' x 12' backyard "studio" ( has now been separated into a smaller 9' x 11' low platform deck (tucked behind the studio for our future BBQ and summer lounge area) and a neat, tarp-covered stack of redwood to be used in the construction of a new deck that we will build off the back of our about to be expanded house.
Mike and I forgot about all of the huge chunks of concrete that we hid under the deck as we built the framework 3 years ago. More for our contractors to carry away after they jackhammer the rest of the old concrete landing (also hiding under the deck).

Oh, the pre-project projects!

The “pre-project” project had two purposes. One was to get rid of our water inefficient lawn and replace it with an abundance of cactus and succulents. The other was to give some of my favorite plants from the backyard a new home in front because we were expanding the house over the area where they previously lived. So on Valentines Day weekend Mike and I built forms and poured concrete each day until late into the night (he’s a camera man so we used his “movie lights” to keep the front yard lit while we poured concrete in the dark). The very next weekend we moved the plants and placed the DG, rocks, and gravel. I moved plants, added more succulents and rocks, and fussed with the layout over the next several weekends before we called it done and installed a micro-irrigation kit that I bought online (we were just finishing this outside as the 7.2 Mexicali earthquake rocked the ground for a while).

Should we do it?

Welcome to our “daily diary” to document the progress of our house expansion. Our sweet little 1950’s stucco box is only 815 SF (2 bed/1 bath) and is about to become 1305 SF with the addition of a new master bedroom/bath and dining room. We would have loved to go even bigger but kept the size of the expansion to just under 500 SF to avoid additional taxes and fees that the City’s planning department would have imposed. This project is all about economy (of energy use, size and cost) and any additional costs outside our budget would have made it a bust.

My husband Mike and I are avid DIY enthusiasts, helping to save quite a bit of money with the work we plan to do. We do, however, have an awesome GC on board to complete the biggies (foundation, framing, roofing, electrical and plumbing rough-in) while we are at work all day – and to handle the multiple inspections. Mike and I will take over from them starting with drywall installation through fittings and finishes. We’ve had lots of experience with construction since we have completely remodeled the existing house (and did a ton of work to our rental condo) so we are fairly prepared. It also helps that I have an architectural/design background and manage the sustainable design and construction of commercial projects for a living. Although, everything I have heard is true. Residential is NOT anything like commercial construction.

With some great pointers from a friend who does lots of residential remodels and expansions, I created my construction docs and reviewed them with the City planning and building department for the first time on October 31, 2009. There was a lot of back-and fourth with minor changes to my drawings and then I hit a wall. I had to get my roof slop design approved by the Design Review Board before I could move any further since Planning wouldn’t allow me to do something that differed from the existing roof slope. The DRB only meets twice a month so timing had to be just right to submit my case and set the date/time. Luckily for me they were cool folks with common sense and let me have my way (after asking me lots and lots of questions about my not-so radical design intent). Needless to say, on December 18th I received plan check approval after my final over-the-counter review. There was no need to pull the permit until I was ready to start. We had only begun to interview contractors and had a lot more money to save while we waited.