It’s just a little hole in the wall

The first day of demolition, or D-day as Mike has casually been referring to it, a.k.a. the true beginning of our possible demise, is tentatively set for this Tuesday, July 23rd. I know what you’re thinking, it’s been like two weeks and we’ve done nothing. Well, we’ve done some stuff, we started packing and we paid a ton of fees…that felt like a lot. Plus, we also enjoyed some family and friends time before taking the plunge into this deep hole.

Enough with the excuses, basically we are freaking the f out. This is huge people. HUGE. We are taking the roof off of our freaking house! It’s like cutting into the biggest cake you’ve ever cut into, where the heck do you put the knife?

Sorry about the language, I get a little trashy when I’m nervous.


This is my kitchen, it’s messy. I. don’t. care. This is the cleanest you will see it for the next several months. This doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m over it. In fact, not having to keep everything neat/tidy/clean allthetime feels pretty liberating.


Take another look at my kitchen and focus in on that red arrow.
If you’re colorblind you won’t be able to see this, I’m sorry life’s not fair like that.


That little shadow is not a not a bad lighting issue or a crack in my lens or any other excuse you may help me come up with.

That little shadow represents the bain of my existence right now.

That represents the absolute ignorance of the diy’s.

At some point, waaaaay before M and I lived in this house (because we’d like to think we would never have done such a thing and I’d like to think you wouldn’t either). A previous owner decided they didn’t like the beam that used to be there and they cut it out.

I think they used a steak knife.


See that sawed off piece of wood, that’s the remnants of a structural beam. I wasn’t joking when I said they used a steak knife. Look at those jagged edges, what was that a chisel?



It spanned from wall to wall, where the cabinets are to the header above the sliding glass door. It dipped into the kitchen by a measly 10″ can you say shoulda been a soffit or a nice exposed beam?

If that’s the only surprise we find during this master endeavor I think I’ll survive. We have to pull that stump out and put in a new beam because 1. The roof is unsupported, did you happen to notice the cracking in the beam and the 2×6 under the beam? No? Scroll up, it’s there. Imagine another Northridge quake…I predict a much bigger hole than the one we made. And 2. The new second floor connects to a girder truss that happens to rest on that beam.


So, what do you think? Are there any previous edits made in your house that make you shake your head?

kitchen_second_story_addition_before2    kitchen_second_story_addition_before4      

Sometimes It’s Just Plain Luck

elevations Our house “As Built”

In order to know where we are going, we had to start with an accurate view of where we were starting. Most additions are build with “as built plans”. “As built” can also be translated into necessary and expensive. It is when the engineer or architectural group comes to the house and measures everything, then draws up the house “as built”. We were fortunate enough to get scanned blueprints of our house from the city of the original plans. If you’re lucky, and you live in Awesometown, your city may have copies of your original house plans.

Our house was built in 1982 in an unincorporated part of town. In other words it was “county”. The county had a copy of those plans on file (since they approved them) and luckily when the city incorporated our development the blueprints were given to the city – this doesn’t always happen – usually things get lost – especially something like blueprints for one house…. this was over 30 years ago people. Who keeps stuff that long? I know I don’t! And then – as if keeping those blueprints wasn’t awesome enough, some very special person with a lot of patience and a ton of time on their hands scanned every single 24″x36″ page of blue prints in all the city archives and then saved each set as individual pdf’s for public access.

Having originals made our engineer’s work a lot easier because he knew what types of headers were over all the doors and their load capacities, the foundation and where all the footers were, the composition of the walls, all without leaving his computer screen. This saved us a ton. So, if you’re lucky – and in construction a lot of times it just comes down to that – your city will have original plans for you to purchase. Ours were $15, and saved us from digging up footers, exposing headers, and expensive site visits for measurements well worth the $15.

Where we are heading.


Into the rabbit hole…

For more than a year Mike and I have been flirting with the idea to enlarge our current house. We have a two-bedroom two-bath house, four people and two large Labradors. It’s 972 s.f. To some of you this may be perfect, and for us, it works, but it is far from our ideal.

When Mike bought this house he had always planned on making it larger but he never had a real reason to…then along came me and our two little girls and the concentration of estrogen is a little too thick. We batted back and forth the ideas of building out or building up. We loved the idea of building up because we wouldn’t have to sacrifice our back/side yard (which is pretty large in relation to the rest of the houses on our street)…but we were nervous about what sort of foundation improvements it would involve. All of our family members insisted the best way would be to build out.

With all the conflicting information we decided to write a pro and con list for building up versus out. Eventually the only pro from building out was: getting to live in the house while it was being built. However, the cons far out weighed the single pro: loose valuable backyard space, awkward floorplan or split floor plan, not able to add on as much s.f. as we would really want to add (set backs/preserving backyard/etc). The list went on, but I think you get the gist: Mike and I really wanted a 2-story house.

The largest con for building up was, “What sort of engineering will it take to improve our current foundation to handle a 2-story addition (and if this was even affordable/practical).” We decided we wouldn’t know until we asked an engineer.

A few years back, one of our neighbors added a second story. We began stalking his house. We took walks down his street, drove out of our way to go by his house out of our development (he lives in a cul-de-sac so this was verrry out of the way), we were there so much that one day we even shut the water off at his neighbor’s house because we noticed they were out of town and one of their sprinklers had broken, this stalking took about a month until we were able to “randomly” meet him. He was very generous and gave us copies of his final plan set and his engineer’s number. The engineer offered to design our plans but insisted the only way to build up was with steel columns and deep piers i.e. extremely expensive…plus he wanted 10k just to draw up the plans. Not much for patience and having a design background I had already drawn up our blueprints, so why would we pay him to do exactly what I had already done? We thanked him nicely and hoped there would be another way. And what does a girl do when she doesn’t know what to do? She calls her dad – of course. And dad gave me the number to an engineer. His name is Fred Sheu and Fred Sheu is awesome! I won’t go in to great details of everything that he did, because you will get plenty of info as we go through the addition, but basically he designed a way for us to build up without breaking the bank or tearing our house a part (too much). He used my cad drawings and engineered them to work/pass plan check.

On May 1st, 2013, we submitted our plans to the city to go through plan check and a few revisions later are about to break ground.