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 ???



Flushing the Tankless Water Heater and Streamlining the Hot Water System

I want to streamline my hot water system setup to hopefully save electricity and money. Let me first explain my hot water setup.

I have a Takagi Mobius TM-1 tankless water heater that receives cold water and outputs hot water on demand. The initial problem I had with water being on demand was I would have to let the shower run for 3 minutes just to get hot water. To remedy this, I had a 10 gallon electric heater hooked up to the hot outlet of the tankless water heater to maintain a reservoir of hot water that I would recirculate through the house every 30 minutes through the use of a recirculating pump.

The problem I have with this setup is my electrical bills have been really high and I'm sure the electric heater is not helping matters so I'm trying to find ways to lower that expense. I'm not sure how much I'll save but I think it may be as high as $50 per month.

The following pictures show the tankless heater and recirculating pump right after the electric heater was removed. The plan is to bypass the electric heater and go straight from the tankless water heater to the recirculating pump.


Since the system is open, I decided to flush the tankless water heater. You are supposed to do this every year but it has been two years since I installed it and haven't done it yet. We are using two bottles of white vinegar.


A small pump is connected to the cold water line entering the tankless water heater and a return line from the hot side is fed back into the bucket.


Here you can see the whole setup in action.

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Biometric Fingerprint Garage Door Opener

Biometric Fingerprint Garage Door Opener
I still don't have any way to get into my garage and have been wondering about a fingerprint scanner mechanism so the kids won't have to remember a code. Well, I just found one that's made by Craftsman. According to info I have read, it can store up to four unique fingerprints and takes about a minute to program it. You can read more about it here.

What I like about it is that you can program a contractor's fingerprint into it for the one or two days he needs access without giving a numeric code. When he's done working, remove the fingerprint from the system and he's locked out!


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We Really Need Window Shades

I have a problem sleeping when it's light out. Now that summer is coming the sun is rising earlier and as a result I'm waking up now at around 5:30AM. Some of you may have noticed in looking at the pictures that there are no shades, blinds, or shutters anywhere to be seen. It's not that we don't want any but we need to get a specialist in here that works with Arts & Crafts style shades and figure out how to incorporate them into the house without covering up all of the great woodwork.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of you that I just purchased some eyeshades which are extremely comfortable, soft, and they block out 100% of light.
Click here for more information.

Exterior

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The Central Vacuum Won't Turn Off

Last week the central vacuum would not turn off. It is a Modern Day Silent Master S5. I couldn't figure out what was wrong so I unplugged the unit. I called the installer, All Makes Vacuum and Sewing Machine Co., who I also purchased it from, to see what they could do. The owner, Carl Tice, came out yesterday and in two minutes he removed the vacuum and put it in his truck. He thinks something went wrong with the circuit board. Today he returned with a new circuit board already installed in the vacuum and put it up in 30 seconds. No questions asked, it works great, and I got great service!!!
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Koi Pond Gets One Last Update Before Landscaping Contest

The koi pond has been entered into a pond landscaping contest for the LA area during June 6th to June 8th. Due to its size, the pond was entered in the small category of under $10,000.

In preparation, Cor van Diepen of Paradise Landscaping, came over with his assistant Cesar (see April 16 blog post) for one last touch up before the judges come over this weekend. They spent time on details like making sure no rubber trim was showing and that every rock was in its place. There were a few bubbles showing at the waterfall that he called 'foam' and said we would lose some points if that was there when they came by. I'm going to see if I can find something to get rid of it tonight.

Cor thinks we have a really good shot at first place! I'll let you know next week. Maybe I'll get to stick a sign in my front yard. :)
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A Magazine Called

A magazine I had emailed a few months ago just contacted me and said they would be interested in featuring the house. I'll let you know who it is when it's a done deal. Keep your fingers crossed. :)
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Koi Pond Cleaning

Today I had the koi pond cleaned out. There was a bunch of muck on the rocks and it just seemed like the time since it has been 2 years since it was installed. They started draining the water before taking the fish out. Once there was only a few inches of water left, they started to catch the fish and move them to their temporary house; a large trash can. After Cesar caught all fish he could, he drained the pond completely and even sopped up the remaining water with a sponge. The troubling part to me was that 4 fish were in the rocks flopping around. I could here them but there was no way to get to them. I was told not to worry.

With only a few inches of water, Cesar starts to catch the fish. The koi were placed in a trash can for temporary housing. Cesar is catching fish in the rocks. As Cesar catches the fish, he puts them in a bucket for transport to the trash can.

While Cesar scrubbed the rocks, Cor cleaned out the biotic filters. The picture below shows the lava rocks that sit in a bag at the top of the waterfall. There is bacteria living in those rocks so they get a superficial cleaning.

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You are probably wondering what happened to the four fish. Well, after about 30 minutes of no water, the pond was refilled and the fish swam out of their holes. Amazing!

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Landscaping is Blooming Well This Spring

The landscaping is filling out very nicely right now. I planted a Concord grape last summer and there are at least 50 bunches of grapes starting to form on it. The Haas avocado, Babcock peach, and Santa Rosa plum trees are full of flowers and small fruit. And last but not least, my little artichoke plant that was cut to the ground about 4 months ago is growing with a vengeance and about 5 feet tall now.

Concord grapes are starting to appear.

Bunches of Concord grapes are appearing everywhere.

The artichoke plant is growing FAST!

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One of my plans was to have wisteria grow up the columns around the house and frame out the different entry ways. I may be a few years off from that but they are growing quite nicely and the purple flowers are strikingly beautiful. I'm going to have to get a small trellis built between the columns as the wisteria will be tall enough to grab on soon.

The wisteria is in full bloom along the back fence. It compliments the Arts and Crafts style brick path. The wisteria is getting taller. Eventually it will go over on a trellis and down the other column.

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Neighborhood Church Annual Yule Parlor Parade Homes Tour

Today is the first of two days for the Yule Parlor Parade. Several months ago we were asked if we would consider our house for the homes tour. We agreed and now we have 1200+ people coming through with little blue booties. It's a lot of fun! You can see the pictures of the decked out house just before the people came in listed in the Photo Gallery under Finish Pictures.
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Dining Room Table Being Built

A month before Dave Barlow was finished with the interior woodwork, I asked him if he thought he could build a dining room table out of mahogany and ebony from plans that I saw in a woodworking magazine. After a few weeks of studying the drawings, Dave said " Do you want it exactly like the plans show?" I asked him why and he told me that he could make it better. So we started. Below are a few pictures of this table being built. It took 5 months to complete.
The table is modeled after a table in the Robinson House, another Greene and Greene design. With both leaves in, it can comfortably seat 14, without the leaves it can easily seat 8. It weighs in at about 150 lbs for the base and 150 lbs for the top. The extensions are wood sliding on wood, there are no metal sliders. Also notice that your knees won't hit anywhere around the table.


IMG_4536 IMG_4537 IMG_4538 IMG_4539 IMG_4540 IMG_4541 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table Craftsman mahogany and ebony table IMG_4546 IMG_4547 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table top Craftsman mahogany and ebony table edge is raised 1/16 Craftsman mahogany and ebony table. The edge is attached with many biscuits and adhesive. Craftsman mahogany and ebony table extension sliders Craftsman mahogany and ebony table clear coating Craftsman mahogany and ebony table stops Craftsman mahogany and ebony table top pins Craftsman mahogany and ebony table finished Craftsman mahogany and ebony table

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