Remodeling Features: Glass Blocks

Here are a few of the ways I’ve used glass block features in projects. Several are from my own home’s remodel. I’ve used 18 of these features in and around our home.

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Remodeling Features!

Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Home, Kitchen Remodeling, Remodel, Remodeling Basics, Remodeling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remodeling Features: New Roof Line on an Old Cottage

Here is the reconfiguration of a roof system on a quaint cottage home.  (More text below gallery.)

The owner wanted to dress up the old roof system and make it all consistent across the length of the home and its added-on carport.  The home had a 4 in 12 pitch on the front and 2 in 12 on the back with painted corrugated steel roofing over that, while the roof of the carport and entry was a tar and gravel over plywood at different pitches from each other and the rest of the roof of the home.  The carport was pasted on to the home at the gable end.  An architect drew out what the owner was initially looking for at the carport and entryway, but didn’t suggest centering the ridge over the home to achieve a consistent pitch over the entire roof (north and south sides).  In re-drawing the building’s roof, I ran the ridge continuously the length of the home and the carport, and tied in the front entry’s roof so that there are now only two continuous planes over the entire roof system.  I submitted my drawings in place of the architect’s and the local building department was set for me to begin.

Of course, we picked the hottest week of the entire year to do the work – and I was ready with the requisite water, thermometer, full shade, etcetera.  Once the owner stripped the corrugated steel off of the roof I could see how much the front plane of the roof dipped in the center . . . not uncommon in any home, especially stick-framed roof systems.  I started by creating the new ridge where I wanted it and then ran new rafters from the ridge down to top plates along both the front and back walls of the home.  A little more framing and hardware was added to give the support needed and I was ready for the new radiant barrier sheathing on the roof system.

But, first the insulation and heating contractors needed to install their new systems into the attic space.  While they did their work over the ceiling of the home, I started the more tedious work of the carport and entry’s roof system.

One problem that wasn’t apparent until everything was opened up was that the back wall of the carport – where the rafters needed to rest to achieve a plane with the back of the roof system on the house – was not aligned with the back wall of the home by more than 3″.  In addition, the top plate already sloped off to the right (so that the old tar and gravel roof drained off in that direction).  In effect what I had was a compound set of angles to deal with.  To adjust for these conditions I created a top plate that is a wedge and floated it a bit off of the back corner of the carport’s wall.  The trim covered it.  This essentially allowed me to create what looks like a consistent plane of the back portion of the entire roof without straightening the carport’s back wall and its foundation.  (Straightening this wall would not have been practical as the building is already within two feet of the back property line and there is a water heater room in that corner of the carport that would have been a real challenge to adjust.)

Once the carport and entry roof framing was in place, I started to sheath it.  I also added overhangs at the two gable ends of the new roof system, and eaves along the north and south edges.  There is also now a continuous ridge vent.  The day after the insulation was done the home’s interior temperature went down by about 10 degrees.  And, the next day – with the new radiant barrier sheathing in place – the interior was down another 15 degrees more.  The interesting thing about this is the outside temperature was almost exactly the same, and usually the residual (or latent) heat takes days to dissipate.  I’m wondering how much the new air conditioning system will actually be used with such a noticeable difference with just these two passive, and inexpensive, upgraded systems added to the home.  The total for both upgrades (new insulation and radiant barrier) was less than $1,000, and will save many dollars over the years in both heating and cooling costs.

The new roof line looks fantastic compared with what was there before this work was done.  All that’s needed now is the gutters and a paint job.

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Remodeling Features!

Posted in Home, Insulation, Passive Energy Saving Solutions, Radiant Barrier, Remodel, Remodeling Basics, Remodeling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Remodeling Features: A Home Wet-Bar Takes Shape

Here are some photos of the conversion of a home office space into a new wet bar. The owner had a job tending bar when he was in college and wanted to have a ‘feel’ of his ‘old days’ in his home today. This project is particularly exciting to me as it included a number of the specialties that I really enjoy doing: problem-solving, designing, matching existing historical cabinetry in the home, wood-working and wood-turning (on a lathe), leaded glass, metal-working, plumbing, electrical, and wood-finishing (staining).  This home was built in 1906 and designed by the same architect that designed a childhood home I lived in years ago.  Our home was built in 1900 and had a very similar design. Walking up to this home brought back many memories of my younger years.

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Remodeling Features!

Posted in Home, Kitchen Remodeling, Remodel, Remodeling Your Home, Whole-house Remodeling | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Remodeling Features: Cabinets

Here are some photos of a few of the Cabinets I’ve built and/or installed. Even most of the factory-built cabinets have needed modifications or repairs before installation could be completed. One time I had some kitchen cabinets come from an east coast manufacturer and the largest cabinet (the pantry) that had to be set first was damaged beyond repair. Another one was ordered and also arrived damaged weeks later. I was able to re-create a replacement out of the parts from the two broken ones that I had to work with, and ended up with no extra parts to spare. (Sometimes you have to be creative in your problem-solving.) The sales lady at the cabinets’ store was more than happy about it.

Here you go:

The next Remodeling Features will show the transformation of a home office/catch-all space that was converted into a home’s wet bar.

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Remodeling Features!

Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Home, Kitchen Remodeling, Remodel, Remodeling Basics, Remodeling Your Home, Whole-house Remodeling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remodeling Features: Entries & ‘Street Presentation’

This gallery contains 35 photos.

Here are some photos of a few entries that I’ve done over the years. Stay tuned for more Remodeling Features!

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Eight Steps to Your Remodel

How we do it at my company – others go through similar Steps

2012 Benicia Kitchen – low $30,000’s – many cabinets not visible in this photo: clear finished maple custom cabinets, solid surface countertops, glass and stone mosaic splash and porcelain floor tiles, hand-textured wallboard, lots of painted trim, 5 sets of glass block windows, buffet/hutch, new lighting, new layout of room meant moving electrical, plumbing and heat registers.

STEP 1 – Discovery Stage: the Most Fun for Now!
Determine your real need for your remodel. Then, determine the anticipated scope of work of your remodel: walls to remove; lighting, electrical and plumbing changes; bringing in outside light; what is the ideal remodel you would like to do, and what is the minimum you would be content with (gives options to consider for doing the work in phases); major problems in the space you really must deal now; adjacent spaces affected; things you really like (small nooks, gourmet cooking, book shelves, natural materials or lighting, colors and textures, etcetera); things you want to remain unchanged?  Collect pictures and such to communicate what you want in the remodel, and to show what you like.  If you find things you specifically don’t like, those are also helpful to know.

STEP 2 – Determine Your Budget
Establish what funds you have for your proposed remodel work. The price of a remodel is likely more than you think it could be so prepare yourself for this news. Just some examples here: in northern California bathroom remodels can range from $1,000 for a new vanity installation to $25,000+ for a full tear-out and new room configuration; whereas a kitchen can range from a few thousands for very little work to the mid-$100,000’s for something really nice; and whole-house remodels can range all over the board, well into the hundreds of thousands for some very high-end work.  The pricing of an addition onto your home is a very different matter than a remodel within an existing floor plan; it involves too many variables to guess at.  This is why having a contractor help with the budget pricing during the design phase is so important.  Designers are good at designing but they do not run our businesses, and therefore can’t give you very accurate budget pricing structures; nor can the ‘big box’ stores.   You may want to check with your finance person also, if you are planning to finance any of the work.  The financier may require you to pay the contract deposit and a portion of the contract from your own cash.   The loan monies are often used to pay out the contract as it is completed.

STEP 3 – Contact [Your Selected] Contractor
We will  meet with you and discuss your requirements, the proposed work and the spaces involved, and your budget.  It is best to meet with all decision-makers in the initial meeting. See my blog about Choosing the Right Remodel Contractor – Parts 2-6

STEP 4 – Preliminary Design Proposal – We use a Professional Services Agreement
We will put together the ideas discussed at our initial meeting and draw preliminary sketch(es) of the proposed work.  We can also do ‘walk-through’ screen shots to show you what it will ‘feel’ like when completed.  It helps once you see something like this in its basic form, nothing is confirmed here.  Depending on the extent of work we may meet again to check that you are happy with what we propose to do in this phase.  We should also be looking at and confirming some of the finishes you want in the remodel, as well as cabinets, appliances, trim, doors, windows, etcetera.

STEP 5 – Preparation of our Budget Proposal
Based on the preliminary design, we will put together a budget proposal for you.

STEP 6 – Preliminary Acceptance
This is your approval for us to proceed to the next step.  The pricing is getting close to being real and the preliminary design is confirmed now.

STEP 7 – Preparation of the Contract Price
We will undertake the following investigations to prepare a contract price: confirm local building authority’s preliminary approvals (and compliance with codes),  complete the design drawings and specifications, and  engage any needed design professionals and consultants.

STEP 8 – Final Acceptance, the Contract (Agreement) and Construction
Your acceptance of the contract price means we will prepare the contract documentation, provide a start date, contract duration, procure building permit(s) and commence work. Throughout the contract we will communicate regularly with you to ensure things are progressing satisfactorily, and that your remodel experience is a positive one.  When the work is completed the contract is finalized at the Final Completion.  This signifies the beginning of the maintenance period.  Any Punchlist items should be completed at this time.

Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Home, Kitchen Remodeling, Preparing for a Remodel, Remodel, Remodeling Basics, Remodeling Your Home, Whole-house Remodeling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Floor Was Soft!!! (a follow up post to April 23)

(continued from My Floor Is Soft)

What we found . . .

Bathroom repairsHere’s a follow-up on the post I did recently (see link above) showing a floor that was in real need of repair.  We found damage within the floor system and in the head wall of the tub/shower, plus in the wall adjacent to the toilet.

Now, here’s what we did to repair: took out the valve that was leaking in the head wall of the tub/shower; removed the rotted framing within the wall (had to open the other side of the Bathroom remodelingtiled head wall to replace the valve that was leaking, and more framing that was damaged); removed the bad wood of the sub-floor and reinforced with a wood hardener, then fiberglass wood filler to replace the rotted wood that we took out (the wood was sound except on the surface – we checked under the floor also, just to make sure); next we installed new underlay for the flooring; last was the vinyl flooring material.  Here the wall is repaired but the plumbing valve is not yet replaced.

Bathroom repairsSo, the sub- floor here is ready to cover back up.  We used particle board as it’s inexpensive, very flat and swells when it gets wet – a problem not uncommon, particularly in rentals.


here is the finished room

Bathroom remodelBath remodel
This is a client’s ranch style rental home so it’s also only a partial remodel to keep the costs down – typically these only get what’s needed actually done. We got the rotted material out of the room, re-plumbed the vanity sink and tub/shower, including under the floor, put new flooring and baseboard in and spruced up the painted surfaces a bit . . . ready for the next tenant.

Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Crawl Space, Home, Moisture Damage, Remodel, Remodeling Your Home, The Crawl Space Below You | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment