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 ???



Drawings Sent to Structural Engineer

The design Development drawings were sent to the structural engineer at Palos Verdes Engineering.
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Art Jury Wants More Money

The Art Jury is requesting another payment to look at the plans.
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Soils Engineer Survey Performed

Tony Lee, a soils engineer, came out today to take core samples of the soil around 4 parts of the house.
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City Requests Soils Report

The city has requested a soils report today.
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Silhouette Comes Down

The silhouette finally can come down now that we waited the 15 days appeal time following the Planning Commission meeting.
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Appearance before Planning Commission

Today my architect, Olympia Greer, and I appeared before the Planning Commission.
Click here to see the meeting (44 min / 26.8 MB) and YES I know I move around too much in the presentation so please don't tell me.

In addition to the architect, I appeared before the board to counter complaints by the house next door to the North. The complaint was that ambient light would be blocked by the new house. I didn't sleep well the first night after hearing of the complaint but on the second night at 3AM I woke up with an idea. I went online and downloaded sun position data for the darkest day of the year in Los Angeles, December 21. Since this is the lowest the sun will ever be in the sky I could see what the worst case situation would be for the blocking of ambient light. I charted the sun position on overhead as well as side view charts showing both houses. It clearly showed that on the worst day of the year, the sun would go behind the top corner of the house from 2PM. At the meeting I gave each commissioner a set of charts and walked through them. Some were shaking their heads and making facial expressions that seemed to say "get a life", and "you can't dispute the facts". One commissioner thought they meant their view would be blocked. Three things, I believe, helped me.

1) They don't really have a view,
2) The house isn't in the direction of their view to the west/southwest, and
3) The written letter specifically said "ambient light".

Another complaint was by a neighbor to the southwest who complained that the house would look like a big apartment building. We accommodated them and put in a window and balcony to soften the appearance. I think I got the better end of the deal on that one.

Needless to say it was a nail-biter but we won approval by 3 to 2.
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Silhouette Flags Readjusted

The silhouette flags were readjusted to show the shallower pitch requested by the Art Jury. The entire roof design was changed.

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Art Jury Reviewed Design

The Art Jury reviewed the design today but had some issues. They didn't like the steep pitch of the roof and said the shed dormer made the house look like it was 3 stories, etc., etc. Back to the drawing board...

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The Silhouette Goes Up

Silhouette from driveway
The silhouette flags were installed on the house today. This allows neighbors to see how the proposed house impacts the neighborhood.
For all silhouette pictures, please visit the
Photo Gallery.

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Design Ready for Art Jury and Planning Commission Review

The initial design is ready for the Art Jury and Planning Commission to review. The issues were that we were mixing Ranch and Colonial style features on the house and that we should pick one....so we picked Craftsman. In California, it evolved from the California Bungalow. Craftsman-style houses are evident all around the Los Angeles area and especially in Pasadena where Greene and Greene really developed this style from their Japanese and native material influences. The Gamble House is a big inspiration in this project.
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Next Page

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