In this blog I will do my best to describe the process I went through in turning my 1957 Ranch-style house into a 2006 Craftsman house as inspired by the Gamble House in Pasadena. Please feel free to comment on anything I write and ask questions as it is the only way we learn.

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.


TIMELINE
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 ???



Maintaining this House is Something Else!

I haven't written in a few months but that's not because I had nothing to write about. We have been in the house over 3 1/2 years now and there are certain things that need fixing. Some are regular maintenance items and others are just surprises. Let me give you a quick rundown of what's going on.

Exterior Paint - The South sides of the house start to fade due to the constant sunlight received throughout the year. On average, we have been needing to paint the South side of the house every 12-18 months at a minimum. For this we are using a clear coat of Varathane on the shingles and the bark-colored Cabot stain on the redwood trim. Just last year I had the garage door sanded down and refinished along with the house as it was fading bad with only a clear coat on the mahogany. I had it stained and recoated. Now it looks like a million bucks.

Tankless Water Heater - Once a year I have to flush the tankless water heater with vinegar. It's not difficult to do but just another thing to do.

Hot Tub Pump - I just had the hot tub pump replaced with about 3 months left on the warranty. Whew! Apparently, it's better to keep the water pH on the high side to prevent corrosion of the parts.

Craftsman hot tub stone door
Stone Facade on Hot Tub Door - I built a wall surrounding the hot tub but needed to leave one side open so it could be slid into place. I had a 3-sided wall and wanted to close off the fourth side. We devised an extremely heavy two part door on heavy duty hinges. When I had to open the doors and put them back for the recent hot tub servicing, I had a problem getting the doors to shut. Apparently they weigh so much (maybe 200 pounds each) that the hinges were bending. With some finessing and a lot of brute force I managed to shut the doors again, however, some of the stone facade attached to the face of the doors fell off and now I have to fix it. Not only that but two fingers were crunched in the doors when they finally shut. Not fun!!! Note to self....get others to help shut the door so you don't create more work by having to replace stone.



koi pond

Koi Pond - The koi in the pond are HUGE!!! I'm glad to see the pond thriving but that being said, I just got through my annual cleaning of the pond. It costs about $650 per year! They take out the fish, scrub all of the algae off the rocks, clean out the filters, check everything, and refill it. I'm sure there's more to it than that. It takes 3 guys about 4 hours. See the koi pond cleaning here. But wait, there's more. The lights in the pond are failing and I have been told that the new lights out now are the way to go and will last for 10 years or so. So there's another grand or so. Stay tuned.



Wood deck around palm tree
Wood Deck around Palm Tree - Do you remember the palm tree in the backyard that we basically built the house around? Well, you may also remember that I had a wood deck built around it in 4 pieces to maximize the patio usage. It was a very nice fit but as the tree continued to grow about 18 inches per year, the base kept getting larger and the surface roots started to lift the deck. Last year I lifted the 4 panels, trimmed the roots around the tree, and enlarged the hole. Well, it's time to do it again. This looks like an annual event.


Now after all of these things, people always say "you wouldn't do it again, would you?" I would do it all over in a second! I love this!!!

Bye for now......Mike

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Another Painting Lesson Learned, Stair Railing Being Refinished, Electrical Done, Pond Built

When will it end, you ask? Within a month is my latest prediction. Here's why:
• 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.

Craftsman wall sconce with a peacock filigreeCraftsman wall sconce with an oak filigree

• Office is 100% complete.
• Backyard is fully powered.
• Pond is fully operational with fish, snails, and tadpoles.

This pond is about 600 gallons and contains fish and tadpoles.


• Spa is being filled.
• Trees have been ordered.
• Front pathway is complete.

Craftsman walkway in front yard made of stone.

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Retaining Wall and Fireplace Mantel Complete, Upstairs Painting, Historic Lighting

• The North retaining wall is complete.
• The master bedroom fireplace mantle is complete.

Master bedroom Craftsman, mahogany fireplace mantel


• 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.

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The Finishes are Going In

Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the number of things going on at the house and though I have been taking pictures, I have not had time to annotate and post them. They will arrive, just a little patience.
• The master bathroom has been tiled and looks great!

Master bathroom is tiled in glass, slate, and seagrass limestone.


• 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.

Kitchen sink cabinet is off center.


• 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.

Craftsman Mahogany Fireplace Mantel


• 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 hot tub has been slid into place


• The Golden Busckskin flagstone has been installed on the front and back patios.

Golden Bucksking Flagstone has been installed on the patio


• 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.

Paint samples are on the walls


• Interior doors are installed and stained.

Interior Craftsman door with Delta glass

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Next Page

Be sure to browse the 2,000 picture Photo Gallery for more step-by-step construction details.