Note: Since completion of the house I have also decided to allow guest bloggers to post articles related to remodeling. This continues the education process.
Architect Selection - December 2002 through January 2003
Getting a Permit - January 2003 through November 2004
Construction - November 2004 through September 2006
Post Construction - October 2006 through ???
Construction is Complete But Who Is The City Forester?
• Most everything is done now and we are in the process of moving in. In this city, to get signed off, the City Forester must sign off the inspection report. He came over, pulled out his spray paint and put this circle 7 feet off the street in the middle of my front yard and said you will plant a 24" box, Japanese Cherry Tree a.k.a. Pink Cloud. Since this is in the City right of way, I am basically giving the city a gift per their direction. In my opinion, there are now too many trees in the front yard as it was perfectly balanced. Time will tell how it all fills out.
• Code states that glass doors must be put in all interior fireplaces. There is a fireplace store in town that rents doors for 30 days to get through inspection for just over $200. It's one of their standard services!!!
• All that is left to do is minor stuff; low voltage lighting, seal the fence and new gates, make the stained glass for the front door, kitchen, and entertainment center doors, etc.
• There is one more thing I forgot. We had the rear patio fireplace stone redone to get rid of the seam at the 45 degree bend in the wall. While that was accomplished, the rest of the stone was redone but not to my satisfaction. I'm going to redo the opening and face of the fireplace again.
• I am hoping to have the final pictures online by Thanksgiving. There are a lot and I still need to categorize and annotate them all.
And last but not least, there is a third child on the way that is due at the end of November. There is a struggle with my gym being turned into a baby's room. For now, we are going to share it as I will not give it up that easily and the baby will mostly be in our room for the next couple of years. Maybe by then I will have to remodel to add another room! Just kidding....you can put a fork in it because this house is done!!!
Another Painting Lesson Learned, Stair Railing Being Refinished, Electrical Done, Pond Built
• Skim-coated all walls in house in preparation for paint. Individual patching of blemishes was not working and we needed to overhaul all walls.
LESSON LEARNED: An eggshell finish is great for a house with kids but it's also great at pointing out every imperfection in the wall. If you don't have kids then definitely use a flat paint. We are using a flat paint for the ceilings.
• Painting is all that is left with the walls. Stefan is continuing and 3 more painters come in next week to finish the place out.
• The stair railing has been fit and will be sent out for refinishing.
• All data, phone, and cable has been hooked up and patch panels installed in garage.
• All exterior wall sconces installed.
• Office is 100% complete.
• Backyard is fully powered.
• Pond is fully operational with fish, snails, and tadpoles.
• Spa is being filled.
• Trees have been ordered.
• Front pathway is complete.
Painting Lesson Learned, Stairs Almost Done, Landscaping Going Well
• We are still painting rooms. Probably for another 3 weeks. The problem is that all wall and ceiling surfaces need to be skim-coated. My GC was trying to keep the costs down by spot patching the walls and in hindsight it looks like it ended up costing me quite a bit more because it takes forever to spot fix these walls with all of the wood trim everywhere.
A MAJOR Lesson Learned here is plaster the whole house or go in with the plan to skim coat over ALL drywall surfaces. The bottom line is drywall may be faster and cheaper if your building a bunch of condos but it ends up costing a lot more if you are trying to do a good quality job. About half of the screws popped out with all of the hammering due to woodwork finishing.
• Dave Barlow has finished the stairs and wainscoting and is now working on the staircase railing. After that, he should be done. He's been with us 1 year now, did all of the interior woodwork, and was only hired to do the stairs. Unbelievable!
• Landscaping is going pretty well. The front driveway is complete, the front pathway is just about done, sprinkler valves are in, final grading and irrigation starts next week, and the waterfall/pond will finally start next week.
Everybody is Working - Painting, Murals, Library, Stairs, Wainscot, Playhouse, Landscaping
• We have a painter going room to room now. We had a muralist paint this big oak tree with animals in the kids' room.
• We are almost finished laying all of the exterior flagstone around the house. The driveway will be poured this Saturday.
• The master closet is complete. Cedar-lined walls and American cherry cabinets.
• The library is built. In fact, all cabinetry is complete and will be finished over the next few days.
• The stair treads have been sent out for finishing. Dave is starting on the wainscot in the bathrooms and the newell posts for the stairs.
• A playhouse was built in the backyard. We used the leftover shingles for siding, shingles for the roof, Brazilian Cherry and limestone for the floors. Scaled down rafters were carved. It looks awesome!
• The waterfall and pond construction will start any day now.
• I had almost half of the exterior stone siding removed and replaced by a new stone guy. My first guy is great at ceramic tile but not so when it came to stone.
• I almost forgot....For the past four months, Matt Keyes of Keyes Landscape Design has been implementing the landscape design. It is amazing! So far we have 18 tons of boulders and need another 6 tons. I believe the landscaping will actually finish before the house now. There is a consistent group of guys that work 6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. They are really good and fast!
Retaining Wall and Fireplace Mantel Complete, Upstairs Painting, Historic Lighting
• The master bedroom fireplace mantle is complete.
• The painters are starting upstairs tomorrow. They have a lot of sanding to do.
• Su Bacon of Historic Lighting is coming out tomorrow to see the house and advise on entry and stairway chandeliers I'm purchasing from her. They are designed by the craftsman Karl Berry from New York. Su has been a consultant on many big projects. When we went into her Arcadia store, we found out that she was consulted for lighting on the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I told her about the living room fireplace we were creating based on a picture I saw in a magazine. She knew it well as she was the designer. How cool is that!
• My updated guess on a move-in date is mid May.
Stairwell Wainscot, Concrete Poured, Work Stopped, Gone Surfing
• We are laying out the stairwell wainscoting. It will be Honduran Mahogany with 6 distinct layers to give it a depth effect. Just wait and see...
• Drainage was put in on the North side of the house.
• Concrete was poured on the North side so we can now build the block wall for the planter.
• Two carpenters and the electrician are surfing and camping at Big Sur for the last two days. My GC is sick with food poisoning and Dave, the finish carpenter is on another job for 2 days. In other words, NO WORK FOR THE LAST 2 DAYS IN THE HOUSE. How in the world will we finish in time when things like this happen?
Gamble House Lights, Floor Issue, Fireplaces, Ebony Plugs, Kitchen Tile
• I created the stained glass for the light in the December 18th blog post only to find out that half of them were too small. After another week of stained glass work, I finished and my fingertips were raw. I brought the glass panels to Old California Lantern Company for installation and received the lights about 2 weeks ago. They are absolutely stunning!
• The floors are installed. Lesson learned - make sure the installers verify that the door still opens before the whole thing is laid!!!
• The kitchen, laundry room, and master bathroom American cherry cabinets have been stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany by Wood Kote.
• The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete.
• The master bedroom fireplace is covered with a beautiful Batchelder tile from Mission Tile West in Santa Monica.
• The living room entertainment center is built and ready for finishing.
• Dave Barlow is installing the ebony plugs in the scarf joints around the house.
• The living room fireplace is having Moonlight flagstone installed right now. It's a very slow process as each piece is being chiseled to the right dimensions. Look on the left part of the mantel and you can see my sugar cube mockup of the stone corner. I made this to make sure they understood how I wanted the 45-degree angles handled.
• The appliances will be installed tomorrow.
• Clear-coating of the mahogany will start in about 2 weeks followed by painting the walls and ceiling.
• Glass tile from Mission Tile West has been installed in the kitchen. It looks amazing!
Well, I'm going to start uploading the pictures now and then I'm off to Kauai for my 40th birthday.
Wall Sconce Stained Glass, Wood Floors Being Installed
• I'm really busy now creating the stained glass for some authentic Gamble House reproductions. The stained glass will be different and my own design. I'll tie that into the front door window whenever I get around to it. Go to Old California Lantern Company to see the best Arts & Crafts lanterns. I went in there and 3 1/2 hours later I outfitted my entire house.
• The hardwood floors are being installed right now. It is long-length (8'-16'), quarter-sawn, 5"-wide, Brazilian Cherry. We are having a slight bevel put between the planks to give it an older look. The floor will be stained black, sanded, and then stained with a green dye to subdue the bright reds associated with Brazilian cherry.
Soapstone Counter Installation
Below is a play-by-play of the installation.
These guys drove in from Arizona, and within 2 days measured, fabricated, and installed the soapstone countertops.
These slabs are HEAVY at 20 lbs/sq ft.
There is a 3/8" overlap of the sink. The holes for the faucet, soap, drinking water, and vent are drilled.
Black epoxy is mixed up to join the soapstone pieces and fill in any voids.
A ding is repaired with the special epoxy. After it dries you can't even see it.
Even through the talcum powder layer you can see the caramel vein showing through.
Soapstone installation is messy work.
Soapstone is much denser than granite and can't be stained. However, it is soft enough so that hand sanding can be accomplished to smooth the edges.
This looks gray now but wait until it's oiled.
I oiled the soapstone with mineral oil. It's shiny because it's still wet. When dry, it will have a matte finish.
The counter looks great! The door to the laundry room has a "Delta" pattern in it.
The Finishes are Going In
• The master bathroom has been tiled and looks great!
• Cherry cabinets have been installed in the kitchen, master bath, and laundry room. Unfortunately, the kitchen sink cabinet was 3/4" off center from the window. The cabinet had to be shortened by 3/4" on both ends to keep it symmetric and centered on the window.
• I have purchased the soapstone slabs for the kitchen and laundry room from Soapstone West in Escondido, CA.
• Brazilian Cherry floors have been ordered from Dutko Hardwood Floors in Lawndale, CA and will be installed the first week of December. Talk about a backlog.
• The fireplace mantel has been installed and stained. Plaster will go above it and Moonlight flagstone will go below. It will be cut into manicured blocks of varying size.
• Actual work has started on the staircase. There was a lot of planning to get to this point.
• The hot tub has been delivered. We're just waiting for power now.
• The Golden Busckskin flagstone has been installed on the front and back patios.
• The green slate has been installed on the balconies.
• Paint samples are all over the walls. I hear they will start within 2 weeks with the paint.
• Interior doors are installed and stained.
Garage Door Installed, Interior Primed, Bathroom Floated, Ceiling Beams Installed
• All interior doors have been ordered but we have to wait about a month. Expected delivery is 9/14/05.
• The garage door was installed.
• Interior of house and garage has had two coats of primer applied.
• Master bathroom has been floated and is ready for tile.
• The ceiling beams are being installed single-handedly by Dave Barlow. The planning for this was extremely difficult as there is quite a bit of wood and detail in a Craftsman style house. We are designing the layouts on the fly for the ceiling, crown moulding, plate/picture rail, floor trim, wainscoting, and staircase. All of these pieces tie together as one entire wood 'system'. Our design of this is staying about one or two steps ahead of the build. One problem is that we don't have our wood floors in yet so we can't build the jambs up from the floor.
Camera Broken, Drywall Taped and Sanded, Starting Staircase, Siding Complete
• Drywall is sanded and just about ready for primer.
• Dave Barlow is working the staircase and will be doing other fine carpentry in the house. He is creating mockups of everything out of MDF (fiberboard) prior to cutting the real wood.
• All shingle and stone siding is installed.
Staircase Design a No Go
Shingle Siding, Drywall Inspection, and Stone Siding
• Drywall inspection is tomorrow.
• Stone siding starts to go up this week.
Exterior House Work, Shingles May Be Too Colorful
• The water table was installed. This separates the shingle siding from the stone base.
• Window trims are being installed.
• The drywall is almost complete. Inspection of the screws should take place this week with taping to follow.
• MAJOR ISSUE! The shingle siding is being installed and the color variation is a bit more than expected. On its own, it looks great but when the stone siding is added it may be too busy. We called Cabot Stains and asked them what we could do and they said we have to wait 1 year before we attempt to paint a different color stain on it. Oh well, live and learn.
Survey Says...Move the Fence!
• Today I went to the neighbor over my backyard fence to inform her that a survey was done and the fence needs to move about 10 feet onto her side. She said do whatever I need to do. Now wasn't that nice? I told her I'll landscape her side of the fence.
• The roofer has started to cover the black paper with a rough asphalt paper.
• The front door jamb has been installed.
Cabinets, Plumbing, Electrical, Insulation, Surround Sound, Roof Work, Shower Mopped,.....
• All plumbing and electrical in the master bathroom has to shift to the left by about a foot since we had a designer lay out the cabinets.
• All insulation has been put in.
• I installed in-ceiling speaker brackets for surround sound in the living room.
• Copper flashing is going on the roof.
• The shower has been hot-mopped. We were told to pick out all bathroom tile and balcony and laundry room flooring this week.
• Skylights have been framed.
• The Thermador range and Thermador dishwasher were delivered last week. I found a place in Alabama (Fredrickson's Tire and Appliance) with amazing prices through eBay. They were clearing out a supply of Thermador appliances from a warehouse that closed down. They bought everything up and were liquidating at wholesale prices.
• With the extended garage roof you now hit your head when walking around the corner. So, we dug down about 2 feet around the garage to lower the grade.
Low Voltage Wiring, Electrical, Plumbing, Garage Door Ordered, Issues in the Kitchen
• There is still quite a bit to do before inspection. We had a telecom installer come out and install phone (Cat 5), cable TV (RG6), and Ethernet (Cat 6). There was about 1700 feet of ethernet wiring installed. It's easier to put it in now than later. For example, it's behind TVs, in the kitchen, etc. I won't be using it but in 10 years or so it may be needed for home automation purposes. It's also a good selling point if I ever go down that path.
• Wall sconces have been wired.
• Plumbing is almost complete. Just finishing up the gas lines.
• The garage door has been ordered from Designer Doors. This is going to be really nice!
• Issues continue to test my patience in the kitchen. There are so many wires, pipes, and ducts running through the ceiling that we are having trouble figuring out how to get a 10" duct from the range hood over about 10" off center to fit between two joists and vent out the wall.
• The ceiling beam patterns are a challenge since we decided to add the kitchen into the remodeling mix. We decided to stop the ceiling beams at the boundary between the kitchen and dining room so the living and dining rooms only have beams. Kitchen ceiling is TBD.
• The remaining part of the block wall on the rear patio was cut down yesterday.
Disaster Strikes My iPhoto Database
Roof Papered, Skylights In, Siding Ordered, Ceiling Layouts, Rough-Ins Continue
• Velux skylights will be added to the entry, and all downstairs bedrooms. These skylights have remotely controlled blackout blinds built in. I definitely wanted a chandelier in the entry but Amy was saying it was too dark. Our solution is to put in a 24"x24" skylight that is parallel to the floor instead of the vaulted ceiling. Wood trim will be placed around the opening to match window and door trims. From the four corners, wires will be strung to hold an as yet to be determined chandelier. I'll probably have to make it. I'm envisioning a 4-sided inverted pyramid with stained glass panels. During the day it will be illuminated by the skylight above and at night it will work as a regular chandelier, i.e., it will always be lit up.
• The cedar, shingle siding has been ordered from Cedar Valley in Hollister, California.
• Beam locations in the living room, dining room, and kitchen have been identified by string. This allowed rough-ins of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and central vacuum systems. Inspection should be next week.
Patio Poured, Ordered Door, Interior Design Starting
• All doors are now installed except for the front door (being built) and the side door (just ordered it). The side door is made by TM Cobb. It is a Stickley model with a mantel from the Greene door.
Edited October 29, 2005: The actual door interior and exterior.
• Hose bib locations have been identified.
INTERIOR DESIGN STARTING
I had no idea that I was going to be designing the interior of this house on the fly.
• Spent the last few days identifying all lighting that was not on the original plans. This includes wall sconces inside and outside.
• Roughly laid out the beam design separating the living room and dining room.
Windows In, Roof Sheeted, Ordered Fixtures, Lessons Learned
• For the past week, I was pushing the masons to hurry up and put in a block wall around part of the patio according to the plans. Amy came over to see it that night and we both decided it was too tall and closed in the patio too much. The following day I had the guys tear it out. It wasn't very fun telling them that.
• Installed all windows. Working on doors now.
• Ordered the master bath plumbing fixtures in oil-rubbed bronze (Phylrich Carrara Beige Marble) and the steam shower system (Mr. Steam)
• The roof is sheeted, now it's ready for waterproofing.
• Heating ducts have been a pain in the neck. Multiple small changes have been needed to make the design work. A lesson learned is that none of the subcontractors know how the other is planning on roughing out their lines. As a result, heating ducts start to go in and one by one I tell them why it can't go in a certain spot. A soffit was created upstairs to handle the ducting. Downstairs, ducting is being run without knowledge of the final beam layouts on the finished ceiling. I'm having stuff moved. They wanted to run ducts right where I need my range vented out in the kitchen, etc., etc.
The bottom line is make sure you are on site a lot during the rough-ins to make sure everything works. Only you will know how the end product is going to be used.
First Window Installed
Windows and Doors Delivered
Everyone is Working, Picking Fixtures, Designing Landscape, Where's My Garage
• The master bathroom shower, sink, and tub fixtures were picked today. They are made by Phylrich - Carrara Beige Model Series. The finish is oil rubbed bronze with the beige marble handles.
• Chose Mr. Steam MS-400T for the master bath steam shower. I purchased it and then found it for about $150 less. Oh well, maybe I'll save next time. This site has everything!
• The electrician started today and mounted electrical boxes around the house. It seems the code of a box every 6 feet is excessive.
• The garage was torn down today due to wood rot and termites in preparation for the new garage framing and roof. This was not part of the original plan.
• Hired John Bauman, landscape designer and former owner of the Begonia Farm Nursery.
Fireplace Construction Starts
Eaves and Rafters Stained Today
Paint Colors Selected and Front Door Started
• Gave Joe Madden of Madden Millworks in San Pedro the go-ahead to start construction of the front door.
Front Door Design
By the way, the rain is coming again next week. We should get another 2 inches which will push L.A. up to the second rainiest ever. I guess I was just lucky to start building this year during this monsoon season. Maybe we can be number one soon. UGH!
Modified on 1/23/08
Here is a picture of the actual door at the mill and with the final stained glass. If you look closely at the raw door, you can see the three plugs at the base of the window frame. These remove to allow me to remove the frame and swap out the glass at anytime.
Time to Redesign the Bathroom
Job Shut Down Due to Rain
It's Raining Again Part Deux
The Web Server
The web server is under the tarp.
The phone box was moved onto the tree to keep this site going.
The workers broke the DSL connection so I had to splice it. There's another one about 20 feet down the wire.
It's Raining Again!
Windows and Doors Ordered
On a completely unrelated note, I was told that the concrete for the foundation under the house will be poured on Friday, 1/21/05.
Timber Reused When Possible
The Steel Beam is Installed
This beam was put in to support the second floor balcony.
Foundations and Rain
Roof Stays Due to Rain
Structural Engineer Needs to Redesign to Save Tree
Save the Hardwood Floor?
The middle of my living room floor is being cut so the foundation can be reinforced.
The Permit & Construction Process
The first step is to get your drawings approved for aesthetics by the Art Jury. After their blessing, you can then go to the Planning Commission where they will weigh in on neighborhood compatibility, and listen to any neighbor's concerns. If there are concerns, you go before the Planning Commission and defend or compsomise on your position. The 5 members then vote to approve or deny your request for a permit. A majority of 3 members is required to grant approval.
Be sure to browse the 2,000 picture Photo Gallery for more step-by-step construction details.