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 ???



Water Flow Issues

Now that the house is about 7 years old, things are starting to break.
Both latches on the exterior doors need repairs, the nice wood deck built around the palm tree needs to be replaced due the trees expanding girth, all circuit boards have been replaced in every appliance right after the 5-year warranty expired, etc.

One of the most recent, and confusing, issues has to do with my water flow. If you remember in earlier blog posts, I wrote how the plumbing was designed so that I could turn on multiple showers, dishwasher, washing machine, etc., all at the same time and not notice any drop in water pressure. Well something has happened somewhere where only one shower can be on and the pressure is noticeably reduced. I have no idea if it is actually lower water pressure from the city due to the drought conditions in California or if my tankless water heater is clogged up. Does anyone have any ideas on how to go about checking this out? Please comment below if you do.

In hindsight, when the plumbing was put in, I should have installed a flow meter to help monitor water consumption. It would be a real easy test to check the flow if I had one installed right now.

UPDATE 1/22/15: Exactly one year later and I finally solved my water flow issues. It really didn't take that long but it got bad enough where I had to do something about it.
I unscrewed my 8" shower head and lo and behold it was clogged with about 1" of sediment at the filter. I rinsed it out and a few weeks later the problem came back. I went through this process a few times as I think the California drought is causing extra sediment to get into the water supply due to the low reservoirs. Also, the extra minerals are causing all kinds of hard water stains and clogging of the tiny orifices in the shower head. I took a Dremel and a wire brush attachment to polish off all the deposits. It worked great and now my pressure is back to normal.

Out of curiosity, I went to a faucet down in the laundry room where I can easily unscrew the filter. Guess what? An inch of sediment in there as well. I'm routinely going around the house and emptying sediment now about once every month or so.

So what do you do to fix this? I think I need to bite the bullet and put in a whole house soft water unit. UGH!
Add/Review Comments


Security-Minded Planning for an Extended Leave

remote-home-control
You're getting ready to leave for your dream vacation, and you have the entire month off. Some people will close their house up and just go. Others will hire a house sitter for the month, which gets expensive. New security technology and common sense safety tips combine to let you relax on your vacation without worrying about your belongings.

Alarm System


A home security system will sound an alarm and notify the monitoring company should someone break into your home. Just the presence of an alarm system will deter most burglars. For those that need the actual alarm in order to be thwarted, there are some things you can do to prevent the break-in from ever happening.
Home automation allows you to check in on your home and control certain functions in the house while you're away, explains http://www.securitycompanies.com/. The more you make the house look lived in, the less likely an intruder will bother. The vast majority of home burglaries are done only when the thief is absolutely sure no one is home.

Natural Deterrents


Lighting is a very important deterrent. Using programmable settings in a home automation system allows you to turn lights on and off throughout the day through your smartphone, just as if you were at home. There are also timers you can connect to the outlets/lamps if you don't have access to a phone.

Set up a schedule when the TV or radio comes on to make the house look lived in. Create the schedule as if you were home. Anyone watching your home will see and hear the evidence there are people inside of the house.

Ask for Help


Ask for assistance from a friend or neighbor. Have them drive by your home every other day. They can spot something out of place; perhaps a person watching your home for a long period of time.

Once a week, have them enter the house and walk around. Simple things, such as a leaky faucet or a broken window from a windstorm, can mean coming home to a mess.

Have them pick up any newspapers, flyers or other material left on your property. Letting them sit out is a sign no one is around to collect them and take them inside.

Watch Your Communication


There are dangers of posting too much information on social media pages. You are never quite sure who is reading your posts. Putting your trip itinerary online is announcing no one will be home for an extended period of time. Be prudent with your trip information, and who you give it to.

Create a Secure Home You can Leave


With some simple planning and the use of affordable technology, you can create a home environment you will feel safe leaving. You'll have more fun while on vacation not worrying about what you may come home to.

What tips do you have for extended vacation planning? Share them in the comments.
Add/Review Comments


Throw a Hottub on That New Deck!

Choosing to install a hot tub is a big decision, and there's a lot to consider before making the investment. Before buying a hot tub consider both the pros and cons of ownership.

The Pros



  • Provides Relaxation

  • Invites Fun Social Opportunities

  • Provides Therapeutic Benefits for Arthritis or Sports Injuries:


An article in Arizonacentral.com reveals that soaking in a hot tub can greatly relieve pain associated with arthritis or sports injuries. If you do have a sports injury, however, hopping in the tub too soon may increase inflammation. Once the swelling has started to go down and the pain is not as bad, the warm water encourages circulation and reduce muscle spasms and may allow arthritis sufferers to do exercises more easily.

The Cons


Looking at the cons is less fun, but these need to be weighed as well.

  • Cost: Installing a hot tub is an investment. The Better Business Bureau reveals the tubs can be $4000 -$6000 to install for the actual hot tub. Monthly energy costs may also rise. Maintenance supplies are another expense.That's why you need to make your tub as cost effective and energy efficient as possible. Finding hot tub parts suppliers like HotTubworks.com can help keep money from becoming too big of a problem.

  • Responsibility of Ownership: Owning a hot tub means watching out for others. Hot tub owners need to be firm about tub rules, including limiting the time and exposure of guests.

  • Medical Issues:


WebMD reveals a number of infections can occur as well as respiratory problems, so safety precautions are important. According to Medical News Today, male infertility can also be an issue.​ HealthlinkBC.com offers suggestions on what types of infections to watch for and how to avoid them, as well as important safety measures to remember. Keeping the tub clean and disinfected with either chlorine or bromine will reduce the risk of infections, such as legionella and pseudomonas which can bring serious skin rashes, eye infections or even pneumonia. Water temperatures should not exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and should be even cooler at 102 degrees if pregnant women are using the tub.

Where to Put Your Hot Tub


Hot tubs can be installed both indoors or outdoors. Installing a hot tub inside is more expensive, requires more costly renovations, and will require you to make adjustments to handle the additional moisture in your home to avoid problems such as mold. For the majority of people, buying a good robe and putting the hot tub out on the deck or patio is the more realistic choice.

Among the most important considerations is the actual weight of the tub and its impact on whatever floor it stands on. Add the weight of the tub itself, the weight of the water, and about 8 pounds per gallon to the the weight of the people in the tub. This is another reason to take things outside; to avoid that extra pressure on your livable space.

Choose What Environment You Want Create


While the first hot tubs were big wooden barrels, it's likely that you will want something a bit more stylish. Tubs can be built on the same level as your deck floor so you can walk, rather than climb, into them. Some people place a gazebo around their tub, or a romantic canopy that brings privacy, even outdoors. Asian themes that create a "Zen" feel are also popular. With a little brainstorming and imagination, you'll come up with the perfect tub style to fit into your life. Houzz.com has many inspiring examples of dazzling hot tubs you can look at to help you find your own style.
Add/Review Comments


Outdoor DIY: Lay Sod for a Greener Summer

sod rolls
There is something remarkably satisfying looking upon a field of lush, green grass and calling it your own. It is truly one of the joys of summer.

Maintaining a healthy lawn is no easy task, however, and attempting to grow one from seed can be difficult and time-consuming. Moreover, the results may be lackluster, especially if the lawn ends up being overrun by weeds or infested with pests.

Sod to the Rescue


Sod is more expensive than seed, but the results justify the price. Sod is not only convenient, it produces a thick, green lawn instantaneously. It is also naturally resistant to pest infestations, diseases and weeds, according to This Old House.

Follow a few simple steps, and you'll have a beautiful lawn for years to come.

Prepare Your Yard


If you are going to be replacing a lawn, you need to remove the existing grass before putting down the sod. This can be done quickly with a sod cutter, which you can rent for about $70 a day.

After you've removed your old lawn, level the soil, aerate it and give it a good dose of compost to provide nutrients.

Location, Location


The best time to put down sod depends on where you are live. If you're going to be converting a harsh, desert landscape in Arizona into a soft green one, then you can do it whenever your heart desires. If you plan on replacing a patchy lawn in the north, you can do it at any time between the spring and fall.

The best type of grass for your new lawn depends on your climate. It also depends upon your soil pH and how much sunlight your yard receives during the day. The salesperson from whom you purchased your sod will be able to tell you the best type for your lawn.

Laying it Down


Beyond the sod and some moist soil, all you need for this step is a sod-cutting knife and a few good friends to help out. If you are sodding a large area, renting a forklift is a good idea, as rolls of sod become heavy quickly. Make sure to be careful with the forklift, however; the driver should always wear a safety belt while it's in operation, and it's vital you know the lift's carrying capacity. Overloading can cause it to tip over.

While installing the sod, make sure to pack the strips together tightly in a staggered pattern. Once all of the sod has been laid, the DIY Network recommends a light watering and a once-over with a weighted roller. This will bring the sod into contact with the soil.

Sod Care


The sod should be allowed to settle without excessive foot traffic for at least a week. Water your new grass at least once a day, preferably before it gets too hot. Do not water the sod at night, as the excess moisture may encourage fungal diseases.

Once the sod has grown to 3 inches, you'll want to cut it back some. Within a few weeks, you can then begin treating the sod as you would any normal lawn, which means watering about an inch per week and cutting the grass by no more than one-third of its height.

The best part? Take to it in your bare feet. Ahh... now that's summer.
Add/Review Comments


Minimize the Chances of Home Flooding

Rain does a great job of going on its downward trajectory to get on the ground and become a part of the groundwater supply. Unfortunately, water can get impeded in its quest by manmade structures; roofs, parking lots, and streets all block water from getting soaked into the ground.

The takeaway from this is that rainwater blocked by a house roof runs off the roof. The water that had been spread over a larger area gets consolidated into the perimeter of your house. Without preventative measures, a great deal of water will be landing on and around your foundation. When this large quantity of runoff starts permeating your foundation, you run the risk of a flooded basement.

As a homeowner, there are some proactive steps you should take to limit your risks.

Gutters
The common solution for diverting water away from your house foundation is by those funky metal troughs we call gutters. Gutters are pretty standard on houses, but it is really easy to render them irrelevant.

A gutter should be depositing water a good distance away from your foundation. You're more likely to encounter a flooded basement if your spout is depositing the water right by your house. Extend the spout further away from your home.

You can have as many gutters as you want, but if they're full of leaves and other build-up, the water will slosh over the side rather than flowing down the spout. Regularly cleaning out your gutters is crucial for avoiding excess water on your foundation.

Sump Pumps
Unlike gutters, which are an exterior way to battle flooded basements, a sump pump is your indoor protection. Usually located in a pit, the sump pump gathers collected water and expels it either into the sewer system, or at a different location away from the home.

Before installing a sump pump, find out the regulations for your area. Many municipalities have regulations against pumping into the sewer system as it can create problems with the sewage treatment facility.

A backup sump pump is a good idea in case you encounter problems with your main sump pump or to help out if your main pump isn't keeping up with the incoming water.

Back-up Power
Your sump pump is only as effective as its ability to stay on. While some sump pumps have a battery in case of power failure, you'll be more secure with a generator providing power. The back-up battery is likely to only have enough power for a couple of hours.

A portable generator, on the other hand, can run for much longer than that and, if the wattage output is high enough, can also keep your major appliances on.

Water damage resulting from flooded basements can create a nightmare scenario. Being proactive before the big storm will increase your chances of avoiding a nasty situation.
Add/Review Comments


5 Energy Efficient Home Renovations

If you’re looking to remodel your home, you might want to consider an energy-efficient design. A green remodel can make your home more efficient and save you a considerable amount of money in energy costs. Aside from the money-saving benefit, green designs minimize your impact on the environment by creating fewer emissions and using renewable resources.

Before you get started, you may want to consider scheduling an energy audit. It is a great way to see where your home needs energy-efficient improvements. Once you know where you need to make improvements, there are a variety of eco-friendly options to make your home run more efficiently and have a smaller impact on the environment.

Buy energy-efficient appliances
If your renovations include upgrading your appliances, consider purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances, which meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. They will significantly reduce your energy use and could save you up to a third on your energy bill. Finding these efficient appliances is easy since many appliances now come backed by ENERGY STAR.

Insulate
A renovation is a great time to beef up the insulation in your home. Keeping a well-insulated home slows the rate that heat and air conditioning escape, reducing the energy required to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Many older homes typically have less insulation than newly built homes, however, adding insulation to any home could significantly reduce your energy costs.

Think solar
As you are renovating your home, think of areas where you can use solar energy. Why not buy a hot water heater with a solar panel? It could reduce your energy usage and ultimately reduce your energy bill. Installing solar panels on your roof is another energy-efficient option. By using this alternative energy source you could eliminate or significantly reduce your energy bill.

If installing solar panels is not in the budget, consider switching to a green energy supplier. Green energy is generated from renewable resources, such as solar energy. Some suppliers allow you to purchase up to 100% renewable energy. While it may not save you money, it's certainly good for the environment. For example, if you live in Texas you can visit Energy Providers Texas to see if there is a green energy provider in your area.

Replace windows
A typical home can lose up to 25 percent of its heating or cooling through windows. A great way to increase your home's efficiency is to replace your old windows with double-pane, energy-efficient models. ENERGY STAR windows are said to be twice as efficient as older windows. As an added bonus, some energy-efficient windows are eligible for a federal tax credit.

Buy a programmable thermostat
Whether you are doing a big remodel or some simple fixes, be sure to save room in the budget for a programmable thermostat. Your air conditioner or heater has to work hard to keep your home at a constant temperature. This causes the unit to use more energy and cost you more money. Fortunately there are many types of programmable thermostats that can help you take control of your energy use. A basic model allows you to program your thermostat to turn on or off at certain times, and it is relatively inexpensive. Some more advanced models allow you to control the temperature in your home through a computer or smartphone. So if you are at work and need to stay later than you anticipated, you could reduce the temperature with the click of a few buttons.

If you want to go really high-tech, there are even models that can learn your heating and cooling habits. For example, if you go to work every day from 8 to 5, the system would learn this pattern and cool your home accordingly. When you leave for the day, the thermostat will turn itself off and before you return home, it will return the house to your usual, comfortable temperature.
Add/Review Comments


Breaking Down Break-Ins

A break-in is every homeowner’s nightmare. Luckily, you can protect your home with just a little knowledge and foresight. Here’s what you need to know to stop even the most conniving criminal.

Turn off your landline ringer – it’s a giveaway that no one is home. Put lights on timers so that they turn on and off throughout the evening. Ask your neighbors to use your trash bins while you’re on vacation. Discontinue newspaper delivery, or have a neighbor pick up the mail.

Yard
Plant trees away from the home because they offer concealment and access to second story windows and balconies. Hide spare keys in a combination-lock key box instead of under doormats, planters and in gutters. Put security signage up around your home, to remind potential burglars that you’re not an easy target.

Windows
Use window locks and re-enforced glass to prevent easy smash and grabs. Use multi-paneled windows because they are harder to break and harder to see through. Drip solder on installation screws to prevent thieves from simply unscrewing whole windows and removing them. This can be as a retrofit or during new construction.

Doors
Use a deadbolt on all exterior doors because they can’t be opened with a credit card like spring latches (a technique called “loiding”). Seal any gaps in your door to prevent a burglar from prying it open. Install door hinges on the inside where a burglar can’t unlatch them. Replace sliding glass doors with French doors or at least update them with re-enforced glass.

Garage
Place a C-clamp on your garage door track to prevent a burglar from manually lifting it. Keep the garage door closed at all times. Frost garage windows to stop burglars from seeing whether a car is inside, allowing them to determine if anyone is home.

Breaking Down Break-Ins
Source: eLocal.com
Add/Review Comments


Do Your Bedroom Up With Style and Functionality!

If you're looking to makeover your guest bedroom in a quick and easy fashion, here are five basic ways to get the job done so your guests can feel right at home:

Makeover Your Guest Bedroom


When making over your guest bedroom, keep it clean and simple. When guests are ready to settle in, they don't want to stay in a cluttered room that had a bed thrown in as an afterthought. Try to keep it uncluttered and neutral. A great piece of advice to everyone who has a guest room is to sleep in it yourself for just one night to see what changes need to be made. If you notice weird noises, annoying light or an uncomfortable mattress, chances are your guest will too.

Simplicity


Try to keep everything basic yet stylish by using the minimum amount of furniture — one table, one chair and one bed. Keep the décor uncluttered and try placing only two items on top of the dresser and only a lamp on the bedside table. Always keep the dresser empty, so your guests will have someplace to store and easily access their personal items after arriving. Also, don't forget to keep the closet cleaned out so guests can also use it to store their suitcases and hang wrinkle-prone clothes. Add a comfortable and classic-looking couch or set of chairs for a serene spot for your guests to relax.

New Paint for the Guest Room


Paint the walls a neutral color, and this doesn't necessarily mean a cream or tan color. Nowadays, many people think outside the box and have actually started to use black as the base color as well as an accent color to really make a bold statement. However, you shouldn't paint every wall black; Use it on a selected wall if so it won't appear too bold.

New Window Treatments


The idea of keeping it simple can also continue to window treatments. A great look that is a favorite among many is wooden blinds made of bamboo or woven wood, and popular plantation shutters. Many other styles are available, such as blackout shades, light filtering shades, Roman shades and honeycomb cell shades. Great deals with many different designs that match every kind of décor imaginable can be found online with the right research. You don't have to spend a fortune on designer brands to set up a fashionable guest room that is sure to impress.

Extra Items for Comfort


You should always keep certain things on hand for your guests so they stay comfortable. Some of these items should include:


  • Books or magazines

  • Stationary

  • Mirror

  • Alarm clock

  • Clean towels

  • New shampoo, soap and toothpaste

  • Night light

  • Clothes hamper

  • TV

  • Phone or computer charger

  • Bottled water and light snacks


Keeping small items readily available will make your guests feel more at home. Many guests forget the small things such as shampoo or toothpaste, so having them readily available for use would be nice. Besides, you can purchase these items for as cheap as $1 each, or stock up for free next time you are at a hotel.

You will find that simplicity and these small convenience items will actually make a big difference for your guests.
Add/Review Comments


Unique Ways to Decorate your Living Room

From asymmetrical walls and oddly shaped windows to a sunken floor plan, you need to look at these architectural details not as if they're decorating dilemmas, but as if they're interior highlights that need to be creatively accentuated. Here's an example of three unique living rooms features and what you can do to turn a decorating dilemma into an aesthetic showcase.


Window Placement


The style and shape of the windows in your living room can present dilemmas. Whether they're too big and letting in too much light, or oddly shaped, there are ways to incorporate them into your decor plan. If the sun is simply too much, you can add a glass darkening tint or go for custom treatments. Vendors today can provide made to order drapery, curtains, blinds or plantation shutters in a huge array of colors and materials. With this many options it shouldn't be hard to find a look and feel exactly like you want for your living-room windows.


However, the unusual shape of the window is a bigger aesthetic challenge. Instead of trying to seamlessly fuse the window into the rest of the living room's decor, why not make it the focal point? Look at the window as a painting. It's a free piece of art, however unusual or abstract it might be.


Configuration Style


Popular during the '60s, the sunken living room is experiencing a renaissance. Whether you find it tacky or retro-chic, it's a unique and distinctive look. However, the biggest problem with this type of configuration is that people always forget there is a downward step into the living room, so trips and falls are common. In other words, when you have people over and they are unfamiliar with your house, a cocktail party can turn into a lawsuit.


One way to remedy the problem is to stain or paint the step, bringing attention to the room's sunken configuration. Once the safety measures are in place, concentrate on the living-room decor. When you have a sunken configuration, it's important to have tables, chairs, sofas and consoles of varying height, as this will create space and dimension. A variety of contrasting colors will help add depth to the room.


An Odd Shape


What do you do if you have an oddly shaped living room? For example, asymmetrical walls are common. It's not unusual to have three rectangular walls and one sharp, asymmetrical slant. There are several ways to highlight this feature. You could hang an asymmetrical drapery or a piece of abstract art that mirrors the slant of the wall. Use bold paint colors and patterns to accentuate the walls, or stick with beiges and cremes and use your furniture as the room's focal point.


Finally, buy furniture with upholstery patterns that match the angle of the wall. Once you have a few matching features in the room, an unusual detail will no longer stick out.


From octagon-shaped living rooms to eyebrow-curved windows, not everything on the market is cookie-cutter. At first, these unusual spaces might seem like a dilemma, but the joy of owning a home is figuring out the type of decor that will make these rooms shine.

Add/Review Comments


10 Astounding, Inexpensive Remodeling Projects that Pay Off

Using value-conscious guidelines, home remodeling can add a major price bonus to any house you want to put on the market, yet not all home remodeling ideas produce an adequate return on the investment. This article considers ten remodeling projects that can bring in high rewards for limited expenditures.

Find a Balance 


When it comes to houses, fix it like you plan to stay in it and pay attention to the market. Unless you happen to own that one faultless house that every U.S. citizen dreams about but never finds, selling your home will require some measure of home improvement. If you want to increase the profit, the remodeling must be balanced and well applied.
Start with a bit of observation. Consider the design points that make your home unique. Focus on the outside as well as the inside. Don’t overlook the importance of indoor air quality and don’t miss the value of creating enticing curb appeal. Also be sure to set an eye for basics such as curtains, blinds and other fundamental items that present the “feel” of a home.
When planning the modifications, think like a homeowner, but keep the mind-set of a real estate agent. Find a balance between what you like and what actually sells. Don’t get lost on a vanity trip.
Bone up on current home improvement concerns, finance plans and basic cost issues. Spend some time browsing the home improvement section of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website. It's not just about getting loans. The information offered by HUD ranges from how to fix a faucet to what you need to know concerning “the facts and the pitfalls of home improvements.”

Focus on Curb Appeal


According to Remodeling Magazine, the following ten projects – all focused on curb appeal – promote the best return on your remodeling dollars. These are simple, value-added improvements – not vanity makeovers:
  • Exterior Siding – Replace old siding with high-end fiber cement. Cost: $15,000 or less. Payback:78%.
  • Entry Door – Replace that cracked and discolored entry door with an inexpensive steel door. The payback: 73% on $1,300 or less.
  • Attic Remodel – Turn the attic into an extra bedroom. Remove a dormer. Install a shower. Revamp the flow of heating and cooling. Add Insulation. Update the lighting. Put in four vinyl windows. Polish out the walls and ceiling. Average cost: $50,148. Payback 72.5%.
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel – Put new hardware on the cabinets. Add some Blinds.com blinds over the sink. Install new faucets, a new sink and laminate countertops. Top it off with a quality selection of new appliances. Cost: $20,000. Payback 72.1 percent.
  • Garage Door, Midrange – As a low cost improvement, a midrange garage door update can really pump up a home’s curb appeal. Cost: $1,500. Payback 71.9%.
  • Garage Door, High-End – It’s all about curb appeal. The payback on a high-end garage door update performs just as well as the midrange counterpart. Cost: $2,994. Return 71.1%.
  • Deck – New wood decks are not as expensive as composite materials, but the return on investment brings a healthy balance at a lesser cost. On average, a wooden deck runs around $10,350. Payback: 70.1%.
  • Vinyl Siding – Foam-backed vinyl siding provides several value-added services. It helps maintain a steady temperature within the home and it lends a fresh look on the curb. Cost $14,274 for an average project of 1,250 square feet. Payback: Around 70%.
  • Midrange Vinyl Siding – More expensive than basic siding and high-end fiber cement, midrange replacement vinyl siding provides stronger, longer-lasting protection for the home. Cost: $11,729. Payback 69.5%.
  • Windows – For holding back the elements, you can’t beat the performance of double-pane vinyl replacement windows. They are easy to clean, double-hung and easy to install. Plan the project around using low-emissivity glass, insulated units and simulated wood-grain casings. Cost for 10 3x5 windows including installation: $14,328. Payback: 69.1.
Add/Review Comments


5 Warning Signs That You May Need New Windows

New windows add architectural interest to the exterior of your home and enhance the style of your home's interiors as well. When it comes to buying new windows, however, it's a desire for improved function rather than style that often motivates people to take the plunge and make the investment. If you're unsure if the purchase is worthwhile, here are five signs that can indicate the time is right for replacing your windows.

1. Drafty Rooms


If your home's thermostat is telling you that your home is at an ideal temperature yet you still feel uncomfortable, chances are that your windows are drafting outdoor air into your rooms. Windows are strongly affected by the airflow around them. They require modern insulation technologies and techniques to keep them air-tight. You can check your windows for drafts by slowly moving a stick of incense or a smoke pencil around the interior frame. This test is most effective when it's windy outside.

2. Worn or Rotting Window Frames


If your existing windows were improperly installed, painted or maintained, inclement weather can cause frames and sills to rot and decay, potentially damaging your home's structure. Peeling paint and soft wood are clear signs that windows need attention. Frames and sills that are misaligned are another clear indication that replacement is needed.

3. Shakes, Rattles and Noise


Windows that rattle every time that someone in your household opens or closes a door are sending you a clear message that something is amiss. Loose windows can pose a real danger to you and your family. Old units also do little to block outside noise. New insulated windows are not only great at blocking drafts, but help muffle outside noise as well.

4. Rising Monthly Energy Bills


It's easy to assume that increases in your monthly energy bill are due to rising energy costs, but a closer examination may reveal an unaccounted-for increase that can indicate drafty or energy inefficient windows. Today's modern windows can be far more energy efficient than the windows that came with your home. Replacing old units with double-pane insulated glass windows can reduce your energy bills by as much as 25 percent.

5. Increased Maintenance


Sometimes, windows let you know that they need replacement by making increased demands on your time and wallet. If you find yourself having to caulk, seal and weatherstrip your windows frequently in order to keep drafts at bay, replacement may be a cost-effective solution. Modern windows feature materials and finishes that don't require much attention to keep them weather-tight and looking beautiful.

Brendan is the content editor for CalFinder, a free service designed to make window replacement projects as easy as possible, by connecting homeowners with licensed and insured local contractors. CalFinder contractors install major window brands, including Andersen Windows and many others.
Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


How to Prepare Your Home to Be Remodeled

If some or all of the rooms in your home are being remodeled, you’ll need to do a few things to get your home ready. Preparing your home inadequately before a remodeling project begins can make things significantly more difficult for you and those working on your house. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your home is ready to be remodeled, whether you're installing new Kohler Bathroom Sinks or remodeling the kitchen. Here’s what you should put on your to-do list:

Organize

Remodeling your living room won’t be easy if the walls are lined with paintings and the floor is covered in furniture. You have to clear everything out of the rooms that are going to be remodeled. Before you clear everything out, though, you’ll need to organize it all and put smaller items into boxes. During this organization step, it’s a good idea to try to get rid of a few things you don’t use very often. Lightening your load a little bit will make packing and finding a place to store your belongings easier. After you’ve lightened your load, it’s a good idea to start sorting all of your small belongings according to type to help ensure that they stay organized as you pack them up.

Pack

Once you’ve organized everything based on type, you can start packing things up into boxes. Be sure to label all the boxes you pack up, so you’ll have an easy time finding everything you need when you unpack. Remember to label boxes that contain fragile materials with the word “fragile” as well, especially if other people will be helping you carry and transport the boxes.

Clear Out

Once everything’s packed up, you’ll need to clear it out and find a place to store it. You may want to consider renting a storage pod you can put in your driveway or backyard, especially if you want to store your things close to your home. You may also want to consider signing a short-term lease for a storage unit, especially if you’ll be storing antique furniture. You have the option of renting a climate-controlled storage unit that will keep all of your antique furniture and temperature-sensitive items like musical instruments safe.

Once you’ve successfully and efficiently transported everything out of the rooms that are going to be remodeled, the project can begin. You’ll be amazed by how great your old things look in your newly remodeled home when you transport them back out of storage!

Author’s Bio: Lisa is a writer at SelfStorageDeals.com, your price-focused search engine for finding deals on storage units in Colorado Springs and storage units in McAllen.
Add/Review Comments (4) Show Comments


Build a Better Bathroom for Your Kids

Hi everyone,

Occasionally, I will allow a guest blogger to write here in the Craftsman Remodel blog if they have good information to share. Read this blog about bathroom remodeling.
==========
If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, you may want to take your children into consideration, particularly if they have their own bathroom separate from the master bath. However, kids’ bathroom ideas aren’t limited to décor; you need to take their needs into consideration when designing and remodeling the bathroom as well.

Smaller People: If you have several children and are planning to live in your house for a while, it pays to remodel with shorter arms and legs in mind. You can install towel bars, shelves, and cabinets at a lower height for easier reach and put more room around the toilet so parents can help children who are potty training. You may find a handheld showerhead more convenient for washing small bodies. Choose semi-gloss paint and fixtures that don’t show fingerprints. Plan for toy storage with holders in the shower or shower curtains with built-in pockets.

Design for Growth: By all means have fun by decorating with frogs and ducks or whales, but try to make this décor easy to change. When your children are ten, they may be embarrassed by frogs on the wallpaper. However, if you limit the childish décor to trashcans and shower curtains that are easily changed, you can update the look as they grow. Many manufacturers also make stick-on decals that are easy to hang on the wall and simple to remove. Remember, too, that as they grow children will need more drawer and shelf storage for things like hair dryers and acne medications, so plan accordingly.

Shared Bathrooms: If you have two children’s bedrooms next to each other, it’s great if they can be adjoined by a shared Jack and Jill bathroom with two sinks. It’s great if the décor in the bathroom is compatible with that in both bedrooms. Plus you want both children to be happy with the design choices. If need be, go with something neutral that nobody would object to.

Getting Kids Involved: Children will love to contribute to the design and remodel of their bathrooms, so you can consult them on colors and décor elements. They might even be able to contribute artwork or paint some of the tiles. However, remember that parental guidance is still important. If they want neon green, you might be able to talk them into a softer shade or substitute a Spongebob trashcan for Spongebob wallpaper.

Safety: The tub and shower should have a slip resistant surface. If you’re remodeling, think about smaller tiles on the floor; with more grout they are less slippery than bigger tiles. You can install a scald guard faucet in the tub to ensure that water doesn’t get too hot. If you have very young children, cover the bathtub faucet with something soft and put a lock on the toilet.

Themes: You can have some fun with the décor in a kid’s bathroom. However, this doesn’t mean that you are stuck with baby ducks. Think about a nautical theme, with ship-based designs and colors. Marine life is another option as is a beach theme. All of these decors can be updated to look more grown-up as the children age.

Author Joaquin Erazo Jr. leads all marketing, advertising, and public relations strategies for Case Remodeling and Design. His team handles all client acquisition and retention efforts for the Case brands. With an MBA from Averett University, Erazo has over 18 years of experience in senior marketing positions.
Add/Review Comments (3) Show Comments


Ceiling Tile Store is now OPEN!

Through our partnership with Decorative Ceiling Tiles, we are able to bring their entire collection of Faux Leather, Tin, Copper, Aluminum, and Foam Ceiling Tiles to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.

Be sure to check out the Coupons/Rebates page to see if there are any deals to be had.
Add/Review Comments (3) Show Comments


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

Add/Review Comments (20) Show Comments


Craftsman Home Remodeling Blog WINS!!!!

Thanks to all of you, the Craftsman Home Remodeling Blog has won the 2010 JDR Industry Blogger Award in the Remodeling category.

Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


Craftsman Curtain Rod Bracket Installation

As promised, here are some installation pictures of the curtain rods. A previous blog post shows the manufacturing of the curtain rod brackets.

Rich Wright, the contractor of my house, made the curtain rods and brackets out of left over mahogany from the construction. He had to build a jig to hold the base bracket in place and ensure that it was aligned straight.
Curtain Rod Bracket Jig Craftsman curtain rod bracket installation.jpg

This picture shows the mounting really well. There are two screws that mount the base piece into the wall. The cover piece has a hole in the center where a 3-inch screw goes through the rod (not shown) and into the back support bracket. That hole is then filled with an ebony plug.
Installed curtain rod bracket

We ran into an issue with how to do a bracket for a corner window where each window had it's own curtain. Here is the solution, a corner bracket that takes each rod in at a 45 degree angle.
Corner curtain rod bracket installation

Test fitting a curtain rod into the brackets to make sure everything fits.


Now it's time to make the curtain rods. Each mahogany rod was custom cut to the length required for each window and door. I numbered the ends of the rods when finishing so I could remember where they went later. After some light sanding to bevel all edges, I sprayed on 3 coats of Varathane to seal them. This is the same finish I used on the curtain rod brackets.
Curtain rods finished with Varathane Numbered Mahogany Curtain Rods Mahogany curtain rods of varying lengths

Meanwhile, this block of ebony was cut into tiny squares to plug the holes in the brackets after installation.
Curtain rod bracket ebony plugs

And now for the final product. Well, almost final. I still haven't put in the ebony plugs but you can't really tell in these pictures. The rods extend one inch past each end of the brackets. The curtains have tabs with buttons so the curtain can be removed if needed.
Craftsman curtain Craftsman curtain tabs
Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


Craftsman Home Remodeling Forum Shut Down

Hi everyone,

Due to excessive abuse of the Craftsman Home Remodeling Forum by spammers, I have had to shut it down. Not only was the forum being blasted with inappropriate messages but somehow the spammers were using it send out SPAM emails.

I do plan on resurrecting the forum at a later date with much more stringent controls.

Sorry for the inconvenience,
Mike
Add/Review Comments


Kids Outdoor Arts and Crafts Area

This is late in coming but for those of you that have read about our palm tree removal, you know that we had some empty space on the side of the house.
palm tree removal palm tree removed

Not wanting this space to go to waste, I built a frame structure, put on a corrugated, plastic roof and grew wisteria over the entire surface. I had some left over slate from my master bathroom so I fit it into the dirt space for a floor. The blue table is one that I made out of a single 4x8 sheet of plywood. It always seemed to be in the way but now it has a good home.
arts & crafts play area-left arts & crafts play area-right
Add/Review Comments (3) Show Comments


2010 JDR Industry Blogger Awards

The Craftsman Home Remodeling blog has been nominated as Best Remodeling Blogger in the 2010 JDR Industry Blogger Awards! Voting is now open.
Please vote for us here today!

Add/Review Comments


ForteFaucets.com and ForteLight.com Join The Craftsman Home Remodeling Network

Welcome ForteFaucets.com and ForteLight.com to the Craftsman Home Remodeling Network.

A recurring theme in emails I receive from the Craftsman Home Remodeling readers has to do with where is the best place to get a sink, faucet, chandelier, toilet, etc., etc. I decided that I should create these two web sites as part of the Craftsman Home Remodeling Network to give our readers a place to shop for these items.

ForteFaucets.com logo
ForteFaucets.com

Now you can finally have the Kitchen or Bathroom you've always dreamed of - without the frustration of going from one store to another searching for that perfect faucet or fixture. All this without weeks of searching for an accessory to match. That's because we've designed an online store with over 272,000 items where you can find all the best names in kitchen and bathroom plumbing including Delta Faucets, Delta Select, Moen, Grohe, Price Pfister, Insinkerator and more at guaranteed low prices!

ForteLight.com logo
ForteLight.com

As your premier home lighting dealer, we are proud to offer a full range of products for the do-it yourselfer or contractor. We have an extensive online catalog of over 42,000 products offering a wide variety of home lighting products from Kichler, Minka, Murray Feiss, Quoizel, Maxim, Sea Gull, Progress, Monte Carlo, and more. Our fully trained Customer Service Representatives care for you and will help you with your product selection and any questions you might have. You can always count on ForteLight.com to have the right light at the best price.
==============
Make sure to
sign up for our newsletter. Not only will you receive home remodeling tips but I will also include coupons for the stores. Of course, I also provide these on the Craftsman Home Remodeling site, but signing up will make sure you don't miss out!
Add/Review Comments


Craftsman Home Remodeling is going Social

Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I have posted anything. I have had some projects around the house that have been finishing up such as custom Craftsman-style curtains that I want to share with you all but it was time for me to move this site into the 21st century. As a result, this blog is now synched up with it's own Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Craftsman-Home-Remodeling/287979256075) and Twitter page (http://twitter.com/craftsmanremodl). Feel free to become a fan on the Facebook page and follow me on the Twitter page. I will be posting the blog to all, sharing more remodeling information, and also providing coupons on the latest home appliances, faucets, sinks, tubs, lighting, and more.

So sign up now and join me on these pages. Also, I have just started a newsletter that I will be sharing this information weekly in your email box. So please sign up for that. The links to everything are as follows:
Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Craftsman-Home-Remodeling/287979256075)
Twitter page (http://twitter.com/craftsmanremodl)
Newsletter (http://eepurl.com/hiSs)
Add/Review Comments


Relax the Back Store is now OPEN!

Through our partnership with Relax the Back, we are able to bring their entire collection of mattresses, pillows, massage, office, and recliner chairs, and more to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.

Be sure to Check Out Relax The Back Clearance Items to see if there are any deals to be had.

Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


The Lighting Store is now OPEN!

Through our partnership with Lamps Plus, we are pleased to bring their entire collection of lighting to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.

Add/Review Comments


The Gourmet Food Store is now OPEN!

Remodeling is hard work and takes a lot out of you so I decided to open up a Gourmet Food Store right here on the Craftsman Home Remodeling web site.

Gourmet Food Store is an epicure's paradise, an online store for those who love great food and great ingredients. We offer you the ultimate selection of international specialty foods such as caviar, cheese, foie gras and pate, gourmet chocolates, oils and vinegars, smoked salmon, specialty meats, teas, fresh truffles, and many other gastronomic delights. Explore the best and most elegant foods in the world at prices that will amaze you. Bon appetit!
Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


The Rug Store is now OPEN!

The Rug Store is now officially open.
Through our partnership with eSaleRugs.com, we are able to bring their entire 20,000+ collection of rugs to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website. With over 20,000 Persian rugs, Oriental rugs and area rugs in stock, eSaleRugs.com is the world's leading retailer of hand-woven and hand-knotted tribal rugs, traditional rugs and modern rugs.

Be sure to check out the Coupons/Rebates page to see if there are any deals to be had.

Add/Review Comments


Craftsman Curtain Rod Brackets

It has been awhile since I posted here so let me give you an update on the curtain rod brackets and show you what we did. My contractor wanted a web site and I needed curtain rod brackets so we bartered services. I had leftover wood and it was easy for him to manufacture so we had a win-win situation here.

The brackets are made from my leftover Honduran mahogany. Here are the long awaited pics of the unfinished brackets and the finishing process.

Here you can see a complete bracket and the two halves that make it up.

Craftsman curtain rod bracketCraftsman curtain rod bracket

The brackets are match drilled. We had to number them to keep the sets together.

Craftsman curtain rod bracket

All of my materials: curtain rod brackets and Varathane clear semi-gloss.
Craftsman curtain rod brackets and Varathane

Taking all of the brackets apart in preparation for finishing. Ebony plugs will fill the holes.

Craftsman curtain rod brackets are taken apart

The brackets are apart and ready for finishing with Varathane.

Craftsman curtain rod brackets are apart and ready for finishing with Varathane.

Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


Asbestos Removal and Greener Alternatives

There are many things to consider when remodeling or purchasing an older home. Homes built before 1980 have the strong likelihood of containing asbestos. Due to a steady progression of technology and green sustainable methods, there are many ways to ensure your home or property is asbestos free. If you are interested in saving money, remodeling and improving your carbon footprint, here is some information to get you on the right track.

Used in millions of homes throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, asbestos insulation can become a real dilemma for homeowners due to causing a variety of health problems, including Peritoneal Mesothelioma and Malignant Mesothelioma. These types of cancer take the lives of thousands each year.

Non-regulated asbestos material can be legally performed by homeowners, regular contractors, or licensed asbestos abatement contractors as long as the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) are not violated.
Asbestos removal in public facilities, homes and workplaces must be undertaken by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Once the removal is complete, green insulation options should be given serious consideration, such as: Cellulose, Cotton Fiber and Lcynene.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), in a study conducted in 2003, estimated a savings of $50-$65 per square foot for well-constructed green buildings in the U.S. (see table below) during that year. The numbers continue to improve as more eco-friendly options become available, and those kinds of figures have finally begun to attract those who thought eco-friendly construction was just a bunch of hogwash.
Add/Review Comments


Craftsman Curtain Rods and Curtains

After 2 years of living here, we are getting ready to put up curtains and rods. The problem we have been having to this point is what will look good and compliment all of the wood. Well, we found something we like but the problem is that it costs anywhere from $200-$400 per curtain rod. The rods are made of oak with small ebony inserts as you can see in the picture.

Craftsman curtain rod

Craftsman curtain rod bracket

If you remember, I have a lot of mahogany and ebony left over from the job so we will be using that and make it ourselves. On a related note, my contractor Rich Wright asked me if I could create a web site for him in exchange for some work I may need done. What great timing! Rich will be building the curtain rods in exchange for his site.

Add/Review Comments


Craftsman Furniture Store

Through our partnership with Home Decorators Collection, we are able to bring their entire collection of home furnishings, including the Craftsman Collection, to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.

Order from our Craftsman Collection to bring the classic look of the Arts and Crafts style into your home. Explore our vast selection to find furniture for every use, whether it's a desk to separate bills in your office or a bench that will store shoes in your entryway.

You'll enjoy how the extra details of cross-paneled doors, flared trim and cast metal hardware add fresh appeal to your decor. And the handcrafted construction contains solid hardwood and oak veneer, highlighted beautifully in your choice of warm finishes. See what our Craftsman Collection can do for you today; order now.
View Craftsman Video
Add/Review Comments


Faucets, Sinks, & Tubs Oh My!!!

We are pleased to announce the opening of our newest store; Faucets, Sinks, & Tubs. Through our recent partnership with eFaucets, we are able to bring their entire collection of trusted mega brands include Delta, Moen, Kohler, American Standard, Price Pfister, Danze, Grohe, Giagni, Hansgrohe, Blanco, Teka, In-Sink-Erator, and many more to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.
Add/Review Comments


This Old House Magazine

The magazine that had contacted me several months ago was This Old House. I had submitted a few before and after pictures and they really liked it. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough before pictures for them to run a story. If you remember, when this project started the plan was to add a room and try to save everything so there wasn't supposed to be any drastic changes. Also, the demolition guys worked so fast that I couldn't get any pictures after the first day.

I worked with one of the This Old House writers for about a month to get her all of the information she needed. After pitching it to the editor, it was decided they would not do anything with it due to the lack of before pictures.

If any other magazine people are reading this (American Bungalow, Sunset, etc.), you can feature this house if you like as it has not been in any magazine....yet.
Add/Review Comments


Kids Arts & Crafts Area

Now that the palm tree is gone, we have a big space (4.5' x 9') that can be used for something. After looking at the space for about 6 weeks, we have decided to turn it into a kids' Arts and Crafts area. I just bought the lumber yesterday and will be building it over the next few days. Stay tuned.

The palm tree that was just removed made for the future Arts and Crafts center.

Add/Review Comments


We Won the Pond Competition!

Back on May 13th, my post talks about how we were cleaning up the koi pond for the pond landscaping competition. Well, I just found out that we took first place for small ponds under $10,000. As soon as I get a picture of the award I'll post it here.

Landscape Award for Forte Craftsman House

Add/Review Comments


The Yard Store is Open!

We are pleased to announce the opening of The Yard Store; our new landscaping and gardening tool area. Through our partnership with WORX Yard Tools we are able to offer their complete line of innovative outdoor power tools that make yard work easier.

They have taken that simple idea and tried to offer something even more... like products which are high-quality, environmentally friendly, and recognized as being the most ergonomic tools on the market today. My favorite thing is that all of these tools run on interchangeable battery packs! Click on the picture below to be taken to the store.

unknown

Add/Review Comments


Seven Steps to Hiring a Contractor

This came up on the forum the other day and I think it is worth repeating here in the blog.
==========
Seven Steps to Hiring a Contractor
1) Get a referral from someone you know. In fact, I'll bet you know several people that have done remodels in the last few years that could offer up some opinions on local contractors; good and bad. I got some names from friends plus I used several contractor referral services that match contractors to you in your area based on your criteria. They are listed under Contractor Referral Services on the
Contractors Used page.

2) Hire a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need done. Someone you hire to install wood flooring or to build a deck should be a carpentry contractor, while someone you hire to install recessed lighting in your kitchen should be an electrician. There are many different trade certifications, so be sure to check the title on your contractor’s certification to make sure he or she is a specialist.

3) Check licenses and insurance with your city’s Contractor Licensing Board. Ask the tradesman for copies of the Contractor’s Certification, Worker’s Compensation status and Liability Insurance certificate. A reputable contractor will have no problem providing copies of these documents. In some areas, you may also be able to get this information online. I know that I could see all of this information online for my contractor who is in the Los Angeles area.

4) Get at least three references for your contractor and call them. The contractor will likely give you references who had positive experiences, so be sure to ask them specific questions about workmanship that are important to you. You might be concerned about whether the contractor cleaned up his work area and kept to his time line or whether the final invoice matched the estimate. When I was interviewing former customers of some contractors, I was amazed at how willing they were to tell me what to watch out for and where the contractor messed up. Having these 5 minute phone calls was very enlightening!

5) Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have ever been filed or are outstanding against the contractor.

6) Request a written estimate. Any contractor who does not provide you with a written estimate should be crossed off your list immediately. Get at least three estimates and then compare prices with what is included. Remember the lowest bidder is not always the best.

7) Sign a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out all the steps the contractor will take from beginning to end of your job, what supplies are included, the payment schedule and the time line for the project. Put into the contract that you will get a discount of X number of dollars for each day the contractor is past his completion date. A few years ago, during the construction boom you would have not been able to get a contractor to sign up to late penalties. With the economy slowing down, now is a great to time to take control again.


What To Look Out For
• Hire a contractor who shows up on time for the initial estimate and seems professional and knowledgeable. If a contractor doesn't show up on time to bid the job, why would he ever show up on time after gets it?

• Check with the building department about whether a permit is required for the work to be done. If a permit is required, the liability is on the owner of the property to procure the permit or authorize the contractor to pull the permit.

• Make sure you hire someone with a large crew if time frame is important. My house took 2 years to build instead of one year due to manpower issues. Just think, the Empire State building was built in 14 months. Manpower is extremely important.

• You will need to provide a deposit to start the work but don't give too much up front. Enough money should be given to cover the contractor’s large expenses like construction materials, flooring, fixtures and crew to start your project.

• Contact your County Licensing Board. They can educate you about licenses, permits and trades, as well as answer any questions you may have about your project or a contractor licensed in your county.

• Don’t hire an unlicensed contractor! If you do, you will have no recourse should you be unhappy with the job. You will also be responsible for any and all code or permit violations cited by your county.
Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


The Palm Tree Was Removed

Southern California Edison has been trimming my palm tree every few months for the last 8 years. During that time, I have been trying to get them to underground the power lines before my tree reached them. The last trimming was one too many as they topped off the palm tree resulting in its quick demise. Here are some photos I took of the removal.

The palm tree right before it was removed. The tree trimmer is getting readt o cut the top off the palm tree.
 
 
The remaining palm tree stump. The stump grinder was brought in to remove the stump at least 1 foot below the grade.
 
 

The palm tree has been removed and there is no trace of it.

Add/Review Comments


The House is Complete, Time to Make this Site Useful

As many of you have noticed there has not been too much activity on the house lately. The reason is that it is mostly complete with minor projects and ongoing maintenance tasks in it's future.With that being said, my plan is to continue to document any upgrade and maintenance tasks as they occur, but my primary focus is to evolve this web site into something that everyone finds extremely useful with how-to tips, shopping for books, Arts & Crafts style items, products to finish your home, tools you might find useful on the job, and a Woodworkers' Corner for you do-it-yourselfers out there. Most importantly, a Home Remodeling Forum where everyone can exchange pictures and ideas, has just been created. Please drop by and show off your remodel, ask questions, and help others with your lessons learned. Be sure to add your remodeling horror stories.

Just remember that this site is for you and together we can make this a great community for both the Arts & Crafts community and Home Remodeling in general. All I need is your help to tell me what you would like to see on the site or how I can make something better and easier for you to use.

Thanks for all your kind words and questions so far.

Regards,
Mike

P.S. I am still uploading the construction pictures in the Photo Gallery. It is just taking a ton of time to keyword tag them all. Over the next couple of months this will hopefully be done.

P.P.S. Please vote in our poll on the Home page. This will help steer me in the direction of which sections to update first.
Add/Review Comments


Another Magazine Called!

I can't believe it but another magazine called asking for pictures and saying that they may want to possibly use the house in a future issue. This is quite exciting for us. I don't want to mention the name unless something is official but it is a major magazine. Keep your fingers crossed!
Add/Review Comments


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.

Add/Review Comments


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!


Add/Review Comments


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

Add/Review Comments


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!!!
Add/Review Comments


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. :)
Add/Review Comments


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. :)
Add/Review Comments


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.

IMG_8162

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!

Add/Review Comments


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!

IMG_8076


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.

Add/Review Comments


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.
Add/Review Comments


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

Add/Review Comments (3) Show Comments


The Mailbox Post and Mailbox Get Installed

Dave Barlow made me a custom, mahogany mailbox post to hold the copper mailbox I bought. It is a furniture grade box and slides right over the installed 4x4. I made the numbers out of glass because I couldn't find any I liked that would contrast the dark background.

Craftsman mahogany mailbox post Craftsman mahogany mailbox post ready to install
Craftsman mahogany, copper, and glass mailbox

Add/Review Comments


Sanded and Stained Front Door and Garage

With the sun beating down on the garage door, the mahogany was getting bleached. I decided to have the garage door and front door sanded and stained. The garage door took three weeks to do. What a job!

Craftsman front door is sanded and ready for stain. Craftsman garage door is sanded and ready for stain.
Staining the mahogany Craftsman garage door The stained mahogany Craftsman garage door

Add/Review Comments


Adding a Barbecue Island

After living in the house a few months, we decided that our portable barbecue wasn't going to hack it. We also had a concern that the side of our deck dropped off and wasn't safe for people. The result is we built in an extension off the house at the edge of the patio to house a barbecue, ice chest, double burner, three drawers, power, and trash can.

The block was built just off the house. We tied it in using the stone veneer to make it look like one wall.

Barbecue island block wall gets built The stone veneer of the house will blend into the barbecue island


The structure was framed out with aluminum studs. The dark green posts are steel.

Barbecue island structure framed out in aluminum and steel Hardibacker board on barbecue island

The gas line was run in from under the house.

Natural gas to barbecue island comes from house

Golden Buckskin flagstone was used on the top to match the patio and the face is stone. It looks like the barbecue island was here all along.

Flagstone counter is set on barbecue island Appliances are installed in barbecue island
Ice chest and double burned are installed in barbecue island

Add/Review Comments


Garage Floor Upgraded with RaceDeck

Now that I am moved in, it's time to take care of some details. I want to be able to keep the the garage floor clean and dry but I wasn't crazy about the idea of putting epoxy paint on the floor. After a bit of research, I came across RaceDeck. This floor is used in showrooms and looks perfect for what I want it to do. I bought the Freeflow type as it allows water and dirt to fall through to the floor underneath. When I rarely need to clean it, I just vacuum the floor and everything below comes up.
The pieces snap together like a puzzle making it real fast and easy to complete. The hardest part was emptying and refilling my garage. The installation below took all of 2 hours.

RaceDeck installed in the garage

Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


Construction is Complete But Who Is The City Forester?

September 24th was the 2 year anniversary of when we broke ground!!!
• 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!!!

Temporary glass fireplace door


• 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!!!

Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


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.

Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


Painting Lesson Learned, Stairs Almost Done, Landscaping Going Well

No....not yet! I hate saying this as I haven't been right yet but I expect us to start moving in by mid-July.
• 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!

The risers and treads fit together like a puzzle in this Craftsman staircase Ebony plugs in the Craftsman staircase siding


• 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.

Add/Review Comments


Everybody is Working - Painting, Murals, Library, Stairs, Wainscot, Playhouse, Landscaping

Well it's mid May and I'm not moving in yet. It's quite frustrating and basically comes down to manpower. My new projection is the third week of June. I'm still taking pictures and will eventually get them loaded but I just can't seem to get in the mood to do it. Maybe I'm just lazy. Trust me though....the house is coming out so much better than I had hoped for and I will eventually get the pictures loaded. Once complete I will look into creating a searchable photo database to make it easy to find pictures you are interested in. Well here's this month's progress.
• We have a painter going room to room now. We had a muralist paint this big oak tree with animals in the kids' room.

Mural of an oak tree with animals in the girls' bedroom.

• 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.

Master closet lined in cedar with cherry cabinets

• The library is built. In fact, all cabinetry is complete and will be finished over the next few days.

Unfinished library cabinets with built-in Murphy bed. Library cabinets with Murphy bed

• 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.

Mahogany, bathroom wainscot being installed

• 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!

Craftsman playhouse made from leftover materials

• 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!

Add/Review Comments


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.

Add/Review Comments


Stairwell Wainscot, Concrete Poured, Work Stopped, Gone Surfing

I received a letter from the City stating that the permit will expire on May 12. At least we now have a target date. I would still like to shoot for final inspection by May 1st.
• 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?
Add/Review Comments


Gamble House Lights, Floor Issue, Fireplaces, Ebony Plugs, Kitchen Tile

I have finally caught up with the pictures! I have been taking more than I could annotate and finally caught up today. I am adding about another 500 pictures from the last few months. So let me give you all the rundown.
• 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!

Gamble House replica light with my own stained glass


• 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 kitchen cabinets were stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany.

• The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete.
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.

Master bedroom fireplace covered in Batchelder tile.

• The living room entertainment center is built and ready for finishing.
The unfinished entertatinment center is ready for stain.


• 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 Moonlight flagstone is being installed on the living room fireplace.

• 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!

Glass tile installed in the Craftsman kitchen.

Well, I'm going to start uploading the pictures now and then I'm off to Kauai for my 40th birthday.

Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


Wall Sconce Stained Glass, Wood Floors Being Installed

Yes, I'm delinquent with the update again.There are a lot more pictures that I haven't had a chance to put on the site yet so keep checking back. A lot is going on around here.
• 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.

Brazilian cherry floor installed in office

Add/Review Comments


Soapstone Counter Installation

The soapstone countertops were installed in the kitchen and laundry rooms today. The templates were made on Tuesday and the countertop was installed on Thursday. Soapstone West has great service!
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 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.

These slabs are heavy!

There is a 3/8" overlap of the sink. The holes for the faucet, soap, drinking water, and vent are drilled.

Kitchen soapstone is being installed around the sink.

Black epoxy is mixed up to join the soapstone pieces and fill in any voids.

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.

A ding is repaired with the special epoxy

Even through the talcum powder layer you can see the caramel vein showing through.

The soapstone counter pieces are being bonded together.

Soapstone installation is messy work.

Sanding soapstone 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.

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 kitchen corner's soapstone installation is complete.

This looks gray now but wait until it's oiled.

Kitchen soapstone is installed

The range will slide in between these two pieces.

I oiled the soapstone with mineral oil. It's shiny because it's still wet. When dry, it will have a matte finish.

Freshly oiled soapstone in kitchen is shiny.

The counter looks great! The door to the laundry room has a "Delta" pattern in it.

Craftsman kitchen with freshly oiled soapstone

Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


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

Add/Review Comments (4) Show Comments


Garage Door Installed, Interior Primed, Bathroom Floated, Ceiling Beams Installed

Not much has happened the last month. Vacations and other jobs have gotten in the way. However, the work that has been done is looking really good. So here's the run down.
• 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.

Dave Barlow installs the living room beams

Add/Review Comments


Camera Broken, Drywall Taped and Sanded, Starting Staircase, Siding Complete

• Bad news. I took a trip and my camera got some dirt in it. It now doesn't work so no pictures. The new camera should be coming in a few days.
• Drywall is sanded and just about ready for primer.

Drywall is taped and sanded. 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.

MDF Craftsman staircase mockup


• All shingle and stone siding is installed.

Craftsman shingle and stone siding is installed.

Add/Review Comments


Staircase Design a No Go

Bad news today on the staircase. The building inspector will not allow us to create the design shown in an earlier blog . If you scale it out, the design has openings of up to one foot. Code is no more than four inches. We'll have to come up with something else. Whatever we decide on I can guarantee you that it will be spectacular. Stay tuned...
Add/Review Comments


Shingle Siding, Drywall Inspection, and Stone Siding

• The siding continues to go up. I think the variation in the tone makes it look very interesting. Anyway, it can't be stained until at least June 2006 so no need to worry about it now.
• Drywall inspection is tomorrow.
• Stone siding starts to go up this week.
Add/Review Comments


Exterior House Work, Shingles May Be Too Colorful

• Got back from vacation and the house was all white instead of black when I left. It's covered now in a Tyvek waterproofing layer.
• The water table was installed. This separates the shingle siding from the stone base.
• Window trims are being installed.

Tyvek, shingles, and trim are installed on the house exterior.

• The drywall is almost complete. Inspection of the screws should take place this week with taping to follow.

Drywall before taping

• 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.

Craftsman cedar shingles are very colorful

Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


Survey Says...Move the Fence!

I have finally uploaded the pictures for the last 2 months.
• 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.
Add/Review Comments


Cabinets, Plumbing, Electrical, Insulation, Surround Sound, Roof Work, Shower Mopped,.....

I have been really busy and haven't had time for updates. I have finally organized the new pictures since my last posting on 4/16/05. I will load them up sometime this week, I promise. Here are the latest issues.
• 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.

Ceiling Speaker Bracket Installed


• Copper flashing is going on the roof.

Copper Flashing Installed on Roof


• The shower has been hot-mopped. We were told to pick out all bathroom tile and balcony and laundry room flooring this week.

Hot Mopped Shower


• Skylights have been framed.

Framed Skylight


• The kitchen range vent has been put in place. One of the joists had to be moved over and plumbing rerouted to make room.
• 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.

Add/Review Comments


Low Voltage Wiring, Electrical, Plumbing, Garage Door Ordered, Issues in the Kitchen

• Still working on updating the pictures. They should be coming within the week.
• 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.
Add/Review Comments


Disaster Strikes My iPhoto Database

I'm still working on my disastrous photo database problem. I'm in the process of re-identifying the 1500 pictures with keywords so I can upload the new pics. Here is what happened. During an upgrade of iPhoto, I messed around with some file I shouldn't have and all of the keywords and captions associated with each picture was trashed. This will take months to get back to where I was.
Stay tuned...
Add/Review Comments


Roof Papered, Skylights In, Siding Ordered, Ceiling Layouts, Rough-Ins Continue

• The roof has been covered with paper.

Craftsman Roof with Paper


• 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.

Add/Review Comments (1) Show Comments


Patio Poured, Ordered Door, Interior Design Starting

• The patio was poured.
• 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.


T.M. Cobb Craftsman Stickley DoorT.M. Cobb Craftsman 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.

Add/Review Comments


Windows In, Roof Sheeted, Ordered Fixtures, Lessons Learned

A lot has happened in the last 2 weeks. Here's the rundown.
• 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.

Plywood Sheeted Roof


LESSONS LEARNED
• 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.

Add/Review Comments


First Window Installed

Today I helped install the first windows. They look even better than I hoped they would.

First Installed Loewen Window

Add/Review Comments


Windows and Doors Delivered

The Loewen windows and doors were delivered today. There is a scratch on the 8' french doors. Somebody will need to come out and fix that. I'm told it will be after all exterior work is complete.


Add/Review Comments


Everyone is Working, Picking Fixtures, Designing Landscape, Where's My Garage

• The rough plumbing is going well. Only about 4 more days until it's done.
• 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!

Mr. Steam MS 300T


• 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.

Garage Torn Down


• Hired John Bauman, landscape designer and former owner of the Begonia Farm Nursery.

Add/Review Comments


Fireplace Construction Starts

Pete Ramage of Ramage Masonry has started the fireplaces and the plumber, Jaime, is putting in the gas lines to them.


Add/Review Comments


Eaves and Rafters Stained Today

Craftsman eaves and rafters were stained.
The eaves and rafters were stained today using Cabot Stain's Bark color. I had everything brushed so it would reveal the grain better and give it an older look. It worked!!! When the painters first started, they were spraying and we had to stop that fast. Instead of seeing the grain like in this picture, everything looked solid brown.
Add/Review Comments


Paint Colors Selected and Front Door Started

• Today we finally picked the actual colors of the house. The shingle siding is a clear-coated natural cedar. The window and door trim, rafters, and eaves are Cabot Semi-Transparent redwood stain. The balcony railings and trim are Passion Vine, an olive-green color. All colors except for the siding were actually choices I made after the Art Jury told me what they liked. It was easier that way since it gave me fewer choices.

• Gave Joe Madden of Madden Millworks in San Pedro the go-ahead to start construction of the front door.
Add/Review Comments


Front Door Design

I'm working on the front door right now. This picture is a sketch of what I'm trying for with a darker (mahogany) wood. I'm going to do the stained glass myself along the lines of what is shown.

Rough Idea
Mockup of my proposed Craftsman Front Door

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.
Craftsman, mahogany front door in the mill and rawCraftsman Door with my custom stained glass
Add/Review Comments (2) Show Comments


Time to Redesign the Bathroom

Today's GOTCHA. I was at the house looking around at the framing on the second floor and noticed that the master bath window seemed much larger than what I had remembered so I pulled the drawings and measured it. It says the window should be 4 feet wide with a 4 foot wide shower. Then I looked at the window schedule and saw that 2, 2'-6" windows were to be ordered for the spot. Now my shower would be quite narrow. I decided to swap the shower with the counter at the opposite corner of the room. This will not only give me a larger shower but will move all of that plumbing to the outer wall of the house between the tub and toilet. A win-win in my opinion.
Add/Review Comments


Job Shut Down Due to Rain

Well we got about 10 inches out of that storm. The job was shut down for over a week. This makes for about 6 weeks of delay due to rain so far. A lot of water came in on the remaining wood floor. Let's see what's left of it when the masonite is removed. The tarps couldn't handle all of the water and the ceiling fell down in one of the downstairs bedrooms. Second floor framing work starts today.
Add/Review Comments


It's Raining Again Part Deux

It's raining again! This is getting ridiculous. It's supposed to start again on Tuesday and go at least through next Sunday. Also, I have given up on the server downtime and moved the whole web site to a real company.
Add/Review Comments


The Web Server

Some pictures of the web server set up during the construction. I'm going to move it out of here real soon as it is difficult to keep it running.


The web server is under the tarp.
Web Server Under Tarp

The phone box was moved onto the tree to keep this site going.
Phone Moved Onto Tree

The workers broke the DSL connection so I had to splice it. There's another one about 20 feet down the wire.
DSL line is spliced

Add/Review Comments


It's Raining Again!

It's raining again! The tarp on the roof started to blow off so Rich went onto the wet, shake roof with muddy shoes. Needless to say, he slid all the way off. He said he is just fine but probably used up one of his nine lives.
Add/Review Comments


Foundation Snag

Major issues today. The city building inspector came by and said that we can't build a second story on a foundation wall that is only 6" wide (six inches is standard for one-story houses here). So he decided to stop the concrete pour before we started. Rich had to run to the city engineer to have all of the calculations reverified per the city. That apparently was not good enough so luckily we got the engineer to come out to the house and visually inspect the footings. Everything was OK and we got to pour on Monday. That cost us a few days.
Add/Review Comments


Windows and Doors Ordered

Loewen windows and doors were ordered today. They will be push-out, french casements in a cranberry color.

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.
Add/Review Comments


Timber Reused When Possible

Timbers reused in construction
Much of the large timber frames from the demolition were saved for reuse during the project. For example, several 2 x 6's were used to reinforce the floor joists. Rich Wright prides himself on being able to save the wood and reuse it whenever possible. Several very large beams from the living room will most likely be reused in the new living room.
Add/Review Comments


Trying to Get Ideas in Pasadena

Today we drove around Pasadena to look at various color combinations on Craftsman and Bungalow houses. Click here to see them.
Add/Review Comments


The Steel Beam is Installed

Steel beam installed to support balcony.
The 22 foot, 1,200 pound steel beam was put in place today and nobody got hurt. ;o)
This beam was put in to support the second floor balcony.


Add/Review Comments


Foundations and Rain

The first stretch of dry weather is finally here. The last 2 1/2 weeks have been nothing but rain, about 10 inches worth. The outside trenches have water in them but on the other hand, the demo guys are having a field day. There are now 10 guys working on the site. Five of them are under the house digging a massive trench for the foundation reinforcement. Things should happen quickly now.
Add/Review Comments


Roof Stays Due to Rain

It started to rain so a last minute decision was made to not remove the roof.
Add/Review Comments


Structural Engineer Needs to Redesign to Save Tree

No footing here. The tree will die.
We ran into a little snag today. A footing (~8 ft. deep) can't be put in because it is adjacent to the date palm tree. The contractor called me over to the house and by 9AM he was on the phone with the structural engineer for a redesign. Since we can't put the footing in (kill the tree) or move the tree (block the view), we are going to put in a 22 ft steel beam (1200 pounds) to cantilever the upper deck.


Add/Review Comments


Save the Hardwood Floor?

With all of the cutting away of the floor for the foundation reinforcement and the rain we have been having, today we decided that it is more trouble than it's worth to save the hardwood floor in the living room. This is 2 1/4" quartersawn oak at about $12/sq ft installed. With all of the holes in it, it would be very hard to match new to existing wood without seeing where it was patched. Also, the wood is only 1/2" thick instead of the standard 3/4". This just complicated the problem.


The middle of my living room floor is being cut so the foundation can be reinforced.
Living room cut open to reinforce foundation

Add/Review Comments


Contruction Permit Issued!

The Art Jury finally stamped the drawings allowing the City to issue the construction permit.
It only took 22 months and $40,000 just to get to this point! Now let's build it!
Add/Review Comments


Art Jury Reviews Final Details

The Art Jury finally reviewed the final details for a wall cap, roofline, and chimney. That was what they were holding up the permits for. All of these these items are aesthetic and located at the top of the house. None of these items would have impacted the foundation permit.
Add/Review Comments


Structural Plan Check Cleared/Partial Foundation Permit Issued

The structural plan check was cleared today with the City building inspector.
The City also issued us a partial foundation permit. It was partial because the Art Jury wanted to see some aesthetic details before allowing any work on the patio or front porch foundations. Total overkill in my opinion!
Add/Review Comments


Start Demolition

With our temporary demo permit in place, we can start demolition. Now we aren't planning on tearing the entire house down but rather save as much as we can and do a minimal amount of changes. A full set of pictures with captions can be seen in the Photo Gallery.


Fireplace Demolition
The brick fireplace was just demolished.

Add/Review Comments


Partial Demolition Permit Received

Well we got a permit to allow for a partial demolition. The Art Jury is holding this up saying that they want to see some details on the plans.
Add/Review Comments


School District Construction Fee

I hope this is the last one.
Add/Review Comments


Hired General Contractor

Today we hired our general contractor, Rich Wright Construction. Rich was highly recommended by everyone I talked to and is a master woodworker. He also surfs!
Add/Review Comments


Go Out For Contractor Bids

Today we sent out packages to four different contractors to start the bid process. I used Service Magic to get matched up to contractors that could do this sort of work.
We need to get this going as the contractor will be pulling the permits.
Add/Review Comments


City Plan Check Fees

The City asked for more money today to look at the plans.
Add/Review Comments


Drawings Sent to Structural Engineer

The design Development drawings were sent to the structural engineer at Palos Verdes Engineering.
Add/Review Comments


Art Jury Wants More Money

The Art Jury is requesting another payment to look at the plans.
Add/Review Comments


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.
Add/Review Comments


City Requests Soils Report

The city has requested a soils report today.
Add/Review Comments


Silhouette Comes Down

The silhouette finally can come down now that we waited the 15 days appeal time following the Planning Commission meeting.
Add/Review Comments


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.
Add/Review Comments


Silhouette Flags Readjusted

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

Add/Review Comments


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...

Add/Review Comments


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.

Add/Review Comments


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.
Add/Review Comments


Initial Design Review

Reviewed the initial design with the architect.
Add/Review Comments


Retainer Given to Architect

Today is a big day! A retainer was given to Olympia Greer, our architect, to start work.
Add/Review Comments


Architect Selection

After interviewing several people, we chose to go with Olympia Greer. We chose her because she has a great design sense and lives and works in Palos Verdes Estates.
Add/Review Comments


The Permit & Construction Process

Construction Process
Before I get into the daily details, it would first be beneficial to tell you how the construction process works in Palos Verdes Estates. I found a great picture on their web site that is posted below. Basically, all construction needs to go through the Art Jury, part of the PVE Homes Association, and the the City's Planning Commission.

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.
Add/Review Comments


Next Page

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