Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Green Door

Gotta love this lime twist on the classic craftsman red door.  This is a nice and wide Simpson 7860 three panel, six lite front door with matching Simpson 7260 sidelights.  I think those sidelights to the left and right of the door looked better in white, but after much debate, we were asked to re-paint them to match the Boothbay Blue of the shingles.  The thought was that the door looked too wide with that much white on each side of the green.


The header crown is stepped above the center door, a small detail with big results.  This trim style is repeated on the adjacent front windows.


The inside of this front door is so fresh and so clean in white on white.  The small windows bring light into the entryway, while their height maintains the privacy from the busy street out front.  The trim is the same as the pocket doors here.  All in all, a fabulous front door, inside and out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Second Story Addition


The second story is up!  This floor is the master suite addition, guest bedroom, new guest bathroom, and a remodeled kids' bathroom.

The challenge with every home remodel is the intersection of new and old.  On the first level, that trouble spot was aligning the floor of the new structure to the precise height of the old (which is, of course, not level) because we're going to have hardwood that patches in to one continuous floor surface with no transitions.

On this level, the challenge is a long hallway that starts in the old house and bisects most of the length of the new.  The old section of hallway is not completely parallel to the exterior walls.  We can't angle the new hall to match or you'll see crooked cuts in the bathroom tile floors, and a jog in the wall just won't do.

We decided to cant the front exterior wall out 3/4" to loose some of the angle.  That much can be absorbed by the plywood and stucco.  Then we framed the new hall walls parallel to the exterior walls and a hair wider than what we need them to be so the sheetrockers can float more mud at the joint of the two sections to give the impression that it's always been one long fabulously straight hallway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trim Out - Interior Door Casing with Style

The HardieShingles on our blue cottage are almost complete.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the work on the interior is coming along beautifully.  This house is very wood trim intensive.  Let's start with 7-piece door and window casings:


Most of the craftsman style interior trim came from San Francisco Victoriana.  They have every molding profile you can imagine.  The individual pieces from the top down are:
    Header crown:                SFV 7-37
    Flat stock head casing:  SFV 6-10
    Parting bead:                   SFV 50-1
    Side casing (trim legs):  SFV 14-59


At the base from top down, you see the dramatic trim legs again, and they abut a larger plinth block (made on site).  The plinth block is thick enough to allow the baseboard a place to die into.
    Baseboard:      SFV 20-34
You also get a sneak peek here of the wide plank, dark stained oak floors.


Put it all together on a pair of pocket doors and you get a picture of perfection.  The interior doors are T.M. Cobb F-30 3-panels in fir.  Simpson has a similar door here.  Check back for trim details at the stairs, crown moulding, and box beams.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tile Design Ideas for Bathrooms

Here are the pretty things you've been waiting for!  Material samples provide a glimpse of what the remodeled bathrooms will look like in our English Tudor.  This tile combination for the master bath feels fresh and spa-like.  Love it!
  • Tile walls and shower surround (top left) -- 3"x6" Frosted Art Glass A-106 in Willow from Import Tile in Berkeley, CA
  • Tile floors (large square underneath) --  Rough textured 12"x12" limestone slate tile in Pistachio also from Import Tile
  • Bathroom vanity cabinet (bottom right) -- Made locally from Khaya wood with a rich espresso stain
  • Countertop material (bottom left) -- CaesarStone 4220 in Buttermilk 

This layout for the kids' bath is great for any age.  The hex floor tiles give a period vintage feel fitting of the house, while the frost blue subway tiles keep it modern and clean.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Framing Success!


Let's have it for walls!  After a month of slogging around in the mud and concrete, it feels great to roll out some joists and have a floor to stand on.  The best thing about framing is how fast it goes -- big, dramatic change every day!  The first floor walls are just about complete and the second floor walls will be up by next week.  What you're looking at here is the new garage addition on the outside and kitchen and family room addition closest to the main house.   Second floor pics will be here before you know it.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The HardiePlank and HardieShingle Installation Dish

Once the scaffolding is up, start by trimming out all the windows and painting the trim.  It seems a little backwards, but you'll get a much crisper line between the trim and shingles if you butt the shingles to the already painted trim.  We ordered the color-matched caulk from James Hardie and use a small bead to fill the gap.  The caulk has a different sheen than the shingles, which telegraphs even from a distance, so keep the use to a minimum.

One thing to watch out for is waterfalls in your alignment.  Fortuantely, this one on the back of the house was caught early enough to stagger the spread above the doors.  See the vertical line of wide shingles?

At interior corners, we ran a piece of vertical wood trim for the shingles to butt into, and at exterior corners, we used these 199 Series metal corner trims from Simplicity Tool Corporation which conveniently come in all the standard James Hardie Colors.  I was nervous about the metal corners standing out because of the difference in texture (I ordered the smooth version), but they really go unnoticed.

The panels install quickly over the large expanses, but that time is easily lost when you bump into a window and have to make several cuts per panel to get them to perfectly align.  Overall, I think these things are awesome!  It's so satisfying to have the house look this finished after siding without the long wait for paint.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Concrete Remix


Project management pop quiz:  After 4 weeks of digging, shoring, and steel, after 2 inspections, all your hard work has culminated into this one event -- the concrete pour.  Heavy rains are on the forecast for tomorrow.  You have a crew of 6 ready to move the hoses,  5 truck loads of concrete ordered,  a special inspector waiting to check the strength of the concrete, and one day to get it done.  The first truck finally rolls up, the pump fires on, the crew jumps into action connecting the hoses, and concrete starts glugging into the forms.  Yes!  You go get the tag from the driver and see that the truck is carrying 2500psi concrete and the engineer has called for 3000psi.  What do you do?

Answer:  You send it back.

Sometimes doing the right thing will make you extraordinarily unpopular. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The HardieShingle Report

The HardiePlank siding has arrived!  To copy the look of the original house, we are installing a water table with lap siding below and shingles above.  The HardiePlank Lap Siding is 5/16" thick, comes in 12' lengths, and has about a 6 week lead time.  We went with the Smooth texture and 5" exposure in Boothbay Blue.  Smooth was an easy choice after seeing the ultra cheesy fake wood texture of their Select Cedarmill option.  Ugh!

The shingles are HardieShingle Straight Edge Notched Panels, which are not actually individual shingles at all, but are 4' long fiber cement panels which are notched to look like 6", 8", and 12" wide shingles with a 7" high exposure.  They have a subtle vertical wood grain that makes them look more like their cedar brethren.

For those of you who haven't heard of James Hardie products, they are basically wood look-alikes made of fiber cement. They make lap siding, vertical siding, shingles, exterior trim, and soffit boards.  They are also well known for their HardieBacker tile backer board.  This is my first home remodel using the siding products, but so far so good!

The pros are easy:  No trees were harmed in the making of this siding.  Won't curl, crack, or split like wood.  HardieShingles have 30 year warranty, ColorPlus finish has a 15 year warranty, and the integral color means you don't have to pay for paint.  Fiber cement is non-combustible so the whole house is much more fire resistant, termites are not interested, nor are fungi so dry rot is not an issue.  The cost is close to cedar shingles, and when you take into account the savings on paint, it's a great value.

The cons:  The dust is ridiculously toxic, respirators and vacuum hook-ups are a must to avoid lung damage when cutting.  Cutting requires a specialized (read: expensive) blade. Cedar brown shingle homes have a warmth and architectural familiarity that these can't duplicate --  the notches are just too perfect, the panels too flat.  All in all though, I think that's a small price to pay to have siding that's virtually indestructible, green, and low maintenance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steel City


Steel holds the world together, and no one knows that better than the builders here in earthquake country where the connections tend to be mighty metallic.  At the top are rebar cages that go into the base of our footings.  They get overlapped and tied together and the concrete is poured over and around them.  In the second pic, that huge bolt you see in the foreground is an anchor bolt that stretches down over two feet into the form.  We'll attach a big steel hold down to the bolt that will connect the concrete foundation to the wood framing.  Hold downs are placed at each corner of a shear wall.  The whole system works together to prevent the house from breaking off into the ocean during the next big one. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Fenestration Situation

The windows are fabulous!  The owners chose Marvin clad windows with custom wood trim for a more traditional look from the street.  The clad color is Stone White, one of the five standard colors Marvin offers, and the hardware is all satin nickel.  The metal hardware is more expensive than their powder coated base line, but I firmly believe that one should not skimp on windows.  Unlike tile or countertops, you can't come back in 5 years and upgrade. 



New to me on this project are the Marvin Casemaster windows with Securistyle friction hinges.  This is a classic example of nuevo retro products that are all the rage.  The friction hinge allows the windows to open without a crank just like the charming old French casement windows you see in cottages from the 20s and 30s.  You just flip up the levers to release a catch and push the windows open.  Though I love the idea, these require much more effort to push out than their antique counterparts, and you have to release levers at the top and bottom instead of just one in the center.  The benefit is that these windows seal and have a much higher insulation value than the old style.  For roughly $100 more per window, the operation is just not as simple and smooth as I'd like.  Is it too much to ask to get vintage in form and function?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Posts and Beams are Pretty Things

After much coaxing, the house is standing on its own at last!  The original little house is now being supported by the perimeter walls and that huge beam you see bisecting the top of the space.  The beam had to be wrestled up into place on a Genie scissoring boom lift and then each floor joist had had to be individually cut and hung from it.  That beam will be the start of a box-beam ceiling web throughout the first floor and the 8x8 posts supporting it will become architectural features as well, framing the end of the kitchen peninsula. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bobcat at Rest

From across the plains I spy a Bobcat catching a much needed nap before a day of excavation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Museum Quality English Tudor - Part 3: Gothic Stairs


Great stairs make a house.  Right in the entry you have these amazingly intricate gothic stairs.  The sharp angles contrast the swooping cello-style corner scroll which has been hand adzed, just like the doors of the garage we just tore down (not to fret, the doors were saved), and the caps on the stair posts.  The original wallpaper is just as noteworthy.  There is one layer of wallpaper on the walls, one coat of paint on the trim.  For a 90 year old house, someone exercised remarkable restraint.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lowered and Sheathed

The little house was lowered down onto the perimeter framing of the first floor below and is just about sheathed.  We're still working around the cribbing though.  It will be so nice to get those towers of wood out of the way.

The owners have chosen HardieShingle ColorPlus shingles and HardiePlank lap siding in Boothbay Blue for the exterior.  Both are fiber cement products that I've never used before so I'm excited to see how they perform.  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Garage Destuction!

I have such a huge crush on big machines.  I'm a six year old boy when it comes to Bobcats.  The detached garage came down in about two hours foundation and all.  How cool is that? 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Museum Quality English Tudor - Part 2: Entry, Living, Dining

 This place is amazing.  Check out the entry door.  Square is so, well, square.

This living room will stay largely intact.  The fireplace deserves a post all to itself.  On the left column is a happy elf and on the right column is a grumpy elf.  In the center is an old Celtic symbol that needs further research.

The formal dining room will also stay intact.  Check out the original 1920s light fixtures (going away, sadly) and the built-in hutch that matches the gum wood trim.  This house is meticulously preserved, I love it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exterior Walls Underway

Framing is underway on our little blue cottage.  The lower exterior walls are almost up.  You can see that the house hasn't yet been lowered down onto the perimeter.  That will happen after the sheathing is complete.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Project! Museum Quality English Tudor - Part 1: Exterior

Big day!  This is a great new project and we're just about to break ground.  It's a 1500 sqft, 2 bedroom, 1 bath tudor on a double lot.  The family who built the house had a daughter who lived her whole life here.  The house is virtually untouched since 1921.  The new owners have hired us to make room for their growing family by building an addition off to the left side that will add two bedrooms, three bathrooms, an expanded kitchen, and an attached garage all while preserving the architectural integrity of the original home.

The first task will be to demolish the detached garage and that little bumped out area of the main house.  We'll take all the stucco off this face of the house to tie in the new framing.  The new addition will be two stories high and come out to about the left corner of the existing garage.  I need get to work on the window order to make sure we'll have them here on time.  The windows and exterior doors will be Marvin Clad with clad stucco-mold trim.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Solid Foundation

The foundation is complete!  Woo-hoo!  The next challenge will be how we're going to frame this with all that cribbing in the way.  In normal home construction, you'd frame the floor and set the walls in on top of it. In this house, we'll have to frame the exterior walls first, then lower the house onto the exterior walls while leaving the cribbing in place.  Then we'll cut out the ceiling joists down the middle and install a huge beam that will support the center line of the house and turn into a cool architectural feature in the new kitchen and living room.  The new floor will have to hang from the exterior walls. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pour It

I love concrete pour day!  The engineer called for an aggregate mix that had to be revised to work for 4" hose.  Even that was so heavy it required 8 guys to get it into the back of the house from the pump truck parked on the street.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Form it

We wrapped the bases of the cribbing towers in plywood so they wouldn't topple if hit by a Bobcat.  The old foundation was demolished and the new foundation dug.  Here are the forms and rebar cages.  If you look up, the house is being supported by two huge steel beams that sit on top of the cribbing.  It's hard now to envision that this area will soon be a new kitchen and bathroom, but that transformation is what makes home remodeling so interesting to me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raise the Roof!

Porch stays on the ground, house jumps... what?!?  All the new door and window openings were framed while the house was still on the ground to save on scaffolding... genius, I know.  We cut the framing free from the foundation and slowly raised it up, 3" at a time over two days.  It's being supported by six columns of lincoln-log-like cribbing.  This is quite possibly the craziest thing I've ever done.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Demo Complete

After removing all the items that could be salvaged for re-use, we demolished all interior finishes: lath and plaster, hardwood floors, and tile.  On the exterior, an old chimney came down and all the siding was stripped.  The roof, rafter tails, corbels, and front porch trim remain as a tribute to the original architecture of the home. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Here we have a little one story, two bedroom one bath bungalow. Cute!  The plan is to raise it up and build a new first story underneath, remodel the entire house, and blog about the home design, construction, and architecture.  The first floor will be a new kitchen, living room, dining room, guest bedroom, and full bath.  The existing house will become the second floor and will be remodeled to include three bedrooms and two full bathrooms for a growing family.  Follow the process and pick up some great home design ideas along the way!