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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Next Page

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