Featured

Demo Before Reno

The Renovation has begun on our home.  When you think renovation, what comes to mind?  A beautiful finished project, or the dust and mess, contractors, hammers, nail guns, noise galore?  Well when I think of renovation, I think of demolition. Before you do the work to make something in your home or outside of your home beautiful, you usually have to rip it all apart first lol.  For some the demolition process is stress relieving, I mean you can save yourself hours of therapy I’m pretty sure by just picking up a sledge hammer and whacking into things.  But you can also cost yourself a bunch of extra money if you don’t know what you’re whacking into!  For others the demo part of renovation is anxiety inducing.  Ripping into a perfectly fine wall to expose who knows what issues beneath.  But with renovation comes demolition.  They go hand in hand.

The fun part of demolition is that is usually happens relatively quickly.  Then you’re left to live in the wake of torn up sheet-rock, dust, insulation, nails, dust, pipes, more dust, etc.  For us Demo day started week before last.  I actually didn’t even know we had begun until I got home from work one day, walked through the house and saw this.

To clarify, we had decided to open up the enclosed back patio, I just didn’t realize the work was starting that day.  We hired a friend of ours to take down the walls to the covered patio returning it to it’s original post and beam covered patio status.  My husband arranged for our friend to start working on it that week, but didn’t remember to relay that information to me, lol.  For some, walking into a demo zone would freak you out, but for me, a huge smile spread across my face, I jumped up and down in excitement and took this picture and texted it excitedly to my husband.  I may have issues, but that’s beside the point. Demo had begun!  The reason I love demo so much is that you get to see immediate change.  All of the hours and tossing around ideas and potential plans are put into action!

Now you may be wondering, why would you rip open a perfectly fine enclosed patio?  Let me give you several reasons.  First of all, the previous owners enclosed the covered patio on their own, and not very well.  The walls didn’t go to the edge of the slab so water seeps in under the walls.  Walls that have electricity run to them.  Water and electricity, not a good mix.  Second of all, I don’t think whoever enclosed the patio thought it through first.  I see this a LOT as a Realtor.  People enclose a patio thinking it will give them extra living space but more often than not it just creates an odd mostly unusable room that it either too hot or too cold or both.  In our case, the sun faces the patio during the heat of the day, and there was no heating or air ducting run to the enclosed patio room, so it was basically a giant useless hot box.  To top it off, our dryer vent vents into the patio area, so not only was a hot, it was humid and dusty.  It also wasn’t added with permits.  Why does that make a difference you might ask?  Well, if you’re a home owner and you’re truly wanting to add value by adding square footage to your home, having the area permitted so that the County Records reflect that added square footage is the way to go in my opinion.  You will pay a little more in property taxes if they reassess your property because of the permits, but you’ll be gaining value by having square footage that you can actually claim (and is added correctly) if you ever decide to sell your home.

Back to our giant hot box/enclosed patio.  This is what it looked like when we bought the home.  A long narrow room that cut off the view to the backyard.  Trust me, these pictures make it it look better than it actually was.  The functionality of the room was just not there.  You can see by the staining on the floor where the water used to come in, and even though there were windows and fans, there was very very little air circulation.

The thing with renovation is that it can be a little scary for some.  You’re taking something that is mostly usable and making it unusable for a while.  It always gets worse before it gets better.  Sheetrock comes down quickly, but the outside of our enclosed patio was entirely stuccoed, and stucco does not come down so easily.  Our friend ended up using a diamond blade to cut the stucco into pieces to remove it.  We needed the posts and beam across the top that were the original covered patio to stay intact, so he couldn’t just go bashing down all of the walls, he had to take it down piece by piece.  Here’s our patio after a couple of days of demolition.

If you’re looking at these pictures and thinking, wow, that doesn’t look that dirty, you’re absolutely right!  Our friend is amazing at cleaning up after himself when he’s done for the day.  I can’t say that’s true of all contractors, so if you hire someone to do demo for you, make sure you’re clear with them what you expect.  We still needed to be able to access our yard through the patio since our dog goes out there, so he was fantastic about picking up anything that could be a hazard to the dog.

A few more days in and it looked like this!

Just taking the walls down made the whole yard feel bigger, plus we gained about a foot and a half of usable space on the patio because the person who enclosed it built the walls in line with the posts.  So a foot of cement past the posts and 6 inches of wall where the posts are made for a small narrow enclosed room.  Now it’s a spacious wide open 40 ft long covered patio!

And here is it in it’s current state.  All of the walls are down, stucco is off and insulation is out!  You even get a camo of Bear, our Golden Retriever 🙂

Now you may be thinking, um Christina, it looks worse that it did as an enclosed patio.  You’re not wrong.  It’s looks worse in it’s current state.  But this won’t be the finished product.  Let me share my vision for this space with you, dream with me for a minute if you will.  Picture shiplap on the ceiling (Jo Gaines and I are like BFF’s if you didn’t know, lol, just kidding), but seriously shiplap running horizontally across the entire ceiling.  We’ll be keeping the ceiling fans, not THOSE ceiling fans, but we’ll get some nice outdoor ceiling fans and we’re having the electrical for them rerouted to the house since the electrical was run to the exterior walls that came down.  The roof will be replaced when we do the addition to the front of the house and we may do a metal roof for the covered patio.  For the posts that come down, the bottom 1/3 of them or so will be getting wrapped with a stacking stone of some sort and trimmed out to look more substantial and much more attractive than they currently are.

I know you’re anxious for some before and after pictures! Ready?!  Ok, here you go. . . .

Look past the mess and you’ll see why we opened up this room and one of the reasons why we bought this house.  See that canyon view back behind the house in the bottom picture there?  That was completely blocked off by the enclosed patio and also by some trees that were there that we’ve taken down.  We now have a wide open usable patio and in that dirt section back there, there will be a pool.  Potential.  That’s why we bought this house, for the potential is has and the amazing yard it will have.

The demo has began, walls are down and our patio is now a usable space. We’ve already enjoyed sitting out there almost every evening this week, enjoying the cool breeze (that we can feel now that the walls are gone)  a glass of wine, a few games of Cornhole and taking in the view that we can now see (once we look past the insulation lol). That’s the thing with renovation, it’s a process, sometimes a very loooooooooooong process, but in the end it’s (almost always lol) worth it!  If you’re in the middle of a renovation or plan to do one in the future, don’t forgot to enjoy the in between part of the process.  It doesn’t have to be finished to be fun.  If you’re going to live in it and through it, you might as well enjoy it!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

 

 

 

 

Featured

The Skinny on Stainless Appliances

If you’ve ever shopped for appliances then you know that the options seem endless.  Just take refrigerators for example.  There are French door refrigerators, Side-by-side refrigerators, freezer on top refrigerators, freezer on bottom refrigerators, not to mention all of the extra options that come for each of these styles, like door in door french door options, or french door with a refrigerator drawer option, or TV in the door option or ice maker in the door vs in the fridge option, or dual ice-maker option or no ice maker at all option, or. . . you get the point.   Some of the options are quite ridiculous if you ask me, I mean, unless my fridge can do the grocery shopping and cook dinner for me, then I don’t think my fridge needs to have WiFi or an App, but I digress. The reason I know all of these options is because we had to buy a new refrigerator for our new house because we left our old one with the home that we sold.

As I shopped for our new fridge I had to take quite a few things into consideration because our current kitchen will be remodeled in the nearish future, so I needed a refrigerator that would work for us now, but would also fit into our new kitchen design once it is complete.  We also knew what options we liked and didn’t like from our previous fridge, and those options just come down to personal preference really.  For us, our old fridge was a french door style with the ice maker in the fridge and an extra refrigerator drawer above the freezer drawer.  After using that fridge for almost 5 years we realized we REALLY didn’t like the ice maker in the fridge because it takes up a lot of space.  Our new fridge has the ice maker in the fridge door and we LOVE IT! Regained the space in the fridge for storage but still have ice in the door!  We also didn’t like the refrigerator drawer option, it seemed to take up space not give extra space and we often found ourselves having to open that and then open the fridge doors to find what we were looking for.  So this time we chose a fridge that had a large drawer inside the refrigerator section so I can still put large trays in my refrigerator, but don’t loose space with an extra large exterior drawer.  But again, those sorts of design options just come down to personal preference.

The biggest thing I knew I wanted was FINGERPRINT RESISTANT Stainless Steel.  Whoever decided that the name “stainless steel” was an accurate description needs to have their eyes checked, seriously, the title stainless steel has to be the most deceptive title EVER!  If you’ve never owned a Stainless Steel appliance let me tell you a little something, STAINLESS STEEL IS NOT STAINLESS. Stainless steel shows every little mark, fingerprint, water spot, everything.  It looks nice and shiny and clean for all of 5 minutes after you take the protective plastic off of your new appliance and then your sweet dear child (or husband) walks by and rubs their grubby little hand across the front of your beautiful stainless appliance and it’s covered in smudges for the rest of it’s days.  But Stainless is the modern trend, so what do you do about it?  Well, some companies are now making a Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel and let me tell you, it’s amazing!!!  We opted for a Maytag Refrigerator with the Fingerprint Resistant finish and is truly lives up to it’s name.  Not one smudge on it and we’ve been using it for almost 2 weeks now!  Not all companies make this finish though and that was something we discovered in our fridge search.

You’ll also want to know that not all Stainless Steel finishes are the same color.  “Stainless Steel” is a generic term but does not look the same in all brands.  It’s like saying you have a Red shirt.  There are many shades of red.  There are also many “shades” of stainless steel.  That is a very important piece of information to know if you are buying appliances at different times or if you opt for various brands.  Some brands have a lighter and brighter looking Stainless Steel finish than others.  Some are more shiny and others have a more matte look to them.  And then you have your specialty finishes, like Black Stainless, which are even MORE brand specific.  If you are opting for a specialty finish like a Black Stainless and you want your appliance finishes to match, be prepared to buy all of your appliances in the same brand and model style.  For some this isn’t a problem, like if you’re buying the whole appliance suite (fridge, dishwasher, stove top, oven, etc.) at the same time.  But many of you are like myself, upgrading once appliance at a time.  We only needed to buy a refrigerator right now because we will be remodeling our entire kitchen and will be upgrading our other appliances at that point, but we needed a fridge right now because well, people apparently want to eat in my house.  Our current appliances do not match. They are all Stainless, but they are all different brands and so all vary just a bit in color and sheen and all have different handles as you can see.

If you’re like me and you end up upgrading your appliances at varying times, then there are some other things you might also want to consider before you buy.  Other than the Stainless color, you’ll want to consider your handle options.  Each brand seems to have it’s own style of handle for it’s appliances.  They generally keep the same handle or a very similar handle for all of their appliances in a certain model style.  Also, and this is important, companies update their handle styles from time to time!  So if you buy say a Whirlpool Fridge this year and then plan to buy a Whirlpool stove next year, the handles may not match, even though they’re the same brand.  This was something I learned during our fridge buying process. Another thing to consider is that some companies do not make all appliances in the same model style, or certain appliances may be harder to come by (which usually means more money).  For instance, I came across a gorgeous refrigerator in a slate color that I loved, but quickly discovered that the wall oven in the same color wasn’t readily available so was very expensive to get.  I also discovered that this company had discontinued the unique slate color appliance line (this information wasn’t on any of their websites, I found out from our local appliance store), so even if I was able to find the oven I wanted, if one of my appliances needed to be replaced in the future, finding a replacement would be extremely challenging if not impossible.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is where to buy your appliances from.  There are so many options, from local mom and pop stores to big box stores to technology stores or even online.  I’m a hands on kinda girl so I could never buy an appliance online without being able to open it up and look inside and test drawers and stuff first.  We decided to buy our fridge from a local hometown store rather than a big box store, for a few reasons.  First of all, local stores are usually well educated on all of their appliances.  In fact, they were the ones who told me about the handle options and let me know that the brand we opted for had just updated their handles so before I checked out, they made sure that the fridge we wanted was the most updated version.  Another reason we went with a local store, and perhaps the most important reason for me was their excellent customer service.  With soooooooo many appliance options, I had a lot of questions, and I needed someone who had answers, knew what they were talking about and treated  me well.  I mean, we’re talking about potentially spending thousands of dollars on an appliance, so the person selling it to me better know what they’re talking about.  A bit of a tangent here but customer service is HUGE to me, probably because it’s such a large part of my job, but also because it seems to be lacking in so many industries today, so if you provide excellent customer service, you win my business.

If you’re wondering how much you’re going to spend on a shiny new stainless steel appliance, well, that’s all over the board depending on what kind of appliance you’re in need of, what brand, what model level (each brand usually has several models varying in price) and what finish.  The specialty finishes, like black stainless, can sometimes cost you a bit more depending on the brand.  Our refrigerator came in at just under $2400 delivered and installed.  That sounds like a lot of money, because it is, but it’s also an investment.  It’s going to stand the time of the Stainless Trend, it has the features we absolutely wanted and no extra frills (which are usually just one more thing that can break) is FINGERPRINT RESISTANT (YAY!!!!), is a brand that has excellent reviews and stands by their products, we will be able to match our other appliances to it when we remodel our kitchen and, mostly importantly, it keeps our food cold LOL!

So if you’re still wondering if Stainless is the way to go, from a Realtor’s perspective, YES! Home buyers prefer a home with Stainless Steel appliances. And from a Home owners perspective? YES, just make sure you’re well educated in the options and choose the stainless that’s best for you!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

Featured

The “not so hot” Water Heater

When you purchase a house you have dreams of moving in and making it your own.   Some buyers look for “move in ready” homes.  My husband and I tend to look for “renovation ready” homes.  Some might call us crazy, but I prefer the word creative.  Living through a renovation is not for everyone, that’s for sure, but we enjoy the challenge of taking a house that needs some love and making it a home that we love.

Our new home isn’t what I would call a “fixer” because it has all of walls and floors in tact (for now until we start ripping it apart LOL), has a kitchen and appliances and upon first look, it looks pretty good.  But upon further inspection, there were many things about this house that needed some serious repair, not just updating.

Being a Realtor I can honestly tell you that getting inspections during the escrow process is one of the most important parts of the escrow.  You want to really know what you are purchasing, so there are less surprises after you close escrow.  For many buyer discovering “problems” like a failed HVAC (Heating and Air) and a roof that needs to be replaced may be a deterrent, but for my family and I it was a welcome piece of information that allowed us to negotiate a lower price.  Now we get to do the repairs on our own, how we want to have them done, with the upgrades that we want for us!  Most of the time a seller will want to repair an issue for the least expensive option possible, because well, they’re not going to be benefiting from the expense after the sale.  But as a buyer it can benefit you to take on those repairs yourself after the home is yours since you are the one who will be living with those repairs.  For some this is a scary option, but for us it’s an exciting challenge.

Ok, Realtor hat off, homeowner hat back on.  So during our inspections we discovered that not only did we need a new roof, but the Heating and Air unit was completely shot, as in did not work AT ALL (and it’s summer people, it’s HOT), the garage doors did not open and the water heater was also not working.  Remember I said this house isn’t a fixer?  You’re probably laughing at me now.

We got keys to the house last Wednesday (YAY!!!) and on Friday the renovations began!  First task, to replace the “not so hot” water heater.  First of all let me tangent for a moment, it’s not called a “hot water heater” people, it’s simply a water heater, because you don’t need to heat hot water.  Ok, tangent over.  The house came with the standard old tank water heater that was original to the home, well past it’s lifespan.  We decided to look into Tankless Water Heater options.    I’m a researcher, some might call me indecisive, but either way I definitely gather a lot of information before I make decisions.  Let me save you some research time if you’re contemplating between a standard tank water heater and a tankless water heater and share my findings with you.  Basically, they both heat water, that’s a given I guess, but in very different ways.  Tank water heaters keep water hot in the tank and tankless heaters heat water as it’s needed.  There seems to be the assumption that tankless water heaters are more cost effective because you are not paying to keep the water hot all of the time.  It’s true, it is going to save you some money monthly on your energy bills to run a tankless water heater.  However, the cost to have a tankless water heater installed will generally run you 2 to 3 times the amount it will to have a standard tank heater installed.  That is because the plumber may have to upgrade or install electrical to new tankless unit and may also have to refit your gas lines (if you have gas or propane) to the tankless unit.  On top of that, you have to purchase the water heater and the tankless water heaters are generally more expensive than the tank heaters.  Tankless heaters are supposed to have a longer life span than the tank heaters, so there’s that, but tankless heaters may also require more maintenance.   Bottom line, it’s not necessarily “cost effective” to have a tankless water heater as the money you’ll spend up front will pretty much make the money you’ll save over the life of the water heater a wash.

With all of the options and pricing considered, we opted for a tankless water heater.  For us it was just preference thing (my husbands preference really), but now we have a shiny fancy new WORKING water heater! Total cost for us was around $3600 for the new tankless water heater and installation.  Isn’t it purdy?!

Not only did we get a working water heater installed Friday, but we also had both garage doors repaired.  Woot woot!  I can park in my garage now!   I know, I know, this is exciting stuff people.  But, this is real life renovation, “not so hot” water heaters and all.

CalBRE#01984572

A Pool in Progress Phase 4: Plaster

Last week was another huge week for us in the realm of backyard remodel!  We’ve been in the ready, set, wait mode on the pool for awhile now.  The tile has been in, the stackstone has been on the cascade waterfalls and we’ve just been waiting for plaster.

Early last week we heard that our pool was scheduled to be plastered the last week of May.  The rainy weather we had in April put the plaster companies behind and so everyone’s pools were behind on schedule.  I was pretty sad to hear that we’d have to wait a few more weeks especially now that the warm is beautiful and warm and our empty pool was just sitting there teasing us.  Then on Wednesday last week we got the call that they had an opening and they were going to plaster our pool the next day!!!!  Best news ever!

The plaster crew arrived bright and early at 7:30am and got to work.  By the time I got home in the afternoon after work, they were done and the pool was already starting to fill with water!  They fill it immediately which is so crazy!  Now let me tell you, watching a large pool fill with water oh so sloooooooooooooooowly is worse that watching a pot boil.  But with a glass of wine in hand I did just that, sat and watched my beautifully plastered pool slowly fill with water, cause you know, why not?

img_9095

We opted to go with plaster as opposed to a pebble finish for several reasons.  First of all, plaster stands the test of time, has been around for a long time and will continue to be around, so down the line, when repairs are needed (because it’s inevitable) plaster will still be available.  We didn’t know however, that we had color options with plaster until our pool contractor asked us which color we wanted!  I was thrilled to discover that we could get a similar result as the pebble finishes when it came to the color of the water, based on the color of plaster!  White plaster is typical and somewhat of a dated option.  We went with Tahoe Blue plaster.  I was concerned that the pool would look bright blue, and was especially nervous about my Christina ledge as I didn’t want it to look like a giant blue step, but our pool contractor assured me it would look good and highly recommended that color for our pool.  I’m soooooooo glad we went with it, it looks AMAZING!  The plaster isn’t blue at all, but a gorgeous grey color but it makes the water reflect a beautiful blue color, more blue the deeper it gets.  It’s truly perfect.

It took over 2 and a half days for our pool to fill.  That’s a lot of impatient waiting LOL!  but finally it was full and so so beautiful.  It’s even beyond what we were expecting.  It finished filling the day before Mother’s Day so I’d say it was a nice surprise gift.

Beautiful isn’t it?!  The day it finished filling they set up filter and got the automatic fill up and running.  Our pool is a salt water pool but for now it’s set up as a chlorine pool because they can’t add the salt for 45 days, they have to wait for the plaster to cure.  Thankfully we don’t have to wait for the plaster to cure to swim!  My kids were in it the very next day, even though it was only 80 something outside and the water has to be in the 50 or 60s, brrrrrrrrr!  You won’t see me in there until the weather is HOT, but I feel like I’m at my own personal resort now sitting in my yard looking at my beautiful pool.

A few other things we’ve learned since the pool is full is the amount of plaster dust that has to be swept off inside the pool once it’s full of water.  2-3 times a day we sweep the sides and bottom to filter and drain out the plaster dust as it settles. The first few days it made the pool super cloudy, but then it settled.  Each day is a little less.  We’re also still waiting to be able to use the cascade waterfalls until the water is all ready to go.  We got to test them though and they are AMAZING!  I can’t wait to post about them once they’re ready to run!

Lastly we discovered that we were not the only ones waiting for our pool to be finished. I think the local creatures thought we were building them a pond because as it was filling with water we caught a rat and a frog in the pool, BLEGH!  My son saved the frog and set him free, the rat didn’t fare so well (which didn’t make me sad).  They’ve stayed away now that it’s full thank goodness.

The rest of the yard has been undergoing big changes as well, with a beautiful retaingin wall being built around 2 sides of the pool by our landscaper and some plants going in, but I’ll save all the details of that for another post!

For now I’ll leave you with some before, during and after pics of the pool!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

A Pool in Progress Phase 3: Tile and Deck

It’s been awhile since my last pool update, sorry! Quite a bit lot has happened on the pool since the Gunite was installed, but slowly and some of it has been behind the scenes (electrical).

Earlier this month my pool contractor texted me that I needed to choose the tile for the waterline as well as the ledger-stone or stack-stone that will go on our waterfalls.  Now I love picking out pretty things, but when it comes to making final decisions on construction things, like hardware and tile, making a decision is SO hard! TOO MANY CHOICES!!! So after 3 days and hours and hours of looking through the tile magazines we were able to choose from and researching online what our top picks looked like on actual pools, we finally came to to a decision. We choose this beautiful blue tile for the waterline on the pool.  When the tiles were delivered I was so excited that the tiles looked even better in person than they had in the magazine and we were certain at that point we had made the right choice (but honestly we weren’t certain until that point).

img_7713

This is the tile we choose for our waterline. It’s called Martinique in Ocean Blue.  We love the variations of color in the tiles and they really catch the light in person. I can’t wait to see them with the water against them!

Next up we had to choose the stack-stone for our waterfalls.  This choice wasn’t quite as hard since there weren’t quite a many options, but you’d be truly amazed how many color variations of stone there are.  Overwhelming.  We decided on Golden Honey Ledger-stone because of it’s light versatile color and we think it will compliment the tile well. It hasn’t arrived yet so I’m still anxious to see it in person, but this is what it’s supposed to look like.

img_8656

About two weeks after we made a decision on the tile, it arrived and in 2 days time it was installed.  And we LOVE IT!!!

 

Almost immediately following the tile installation, the concrete contractors began working on the decking that goes around the pool! You can see in the pictures above some of the framing they started doing around the edges.  They spent about a day and a half framing out the edges and leveling out the ground. They also had to create caps on the waterfalls so they created molds that they then poured the concrete into.  And wala! In about a week our pool decking was complete!  We ended up going with a salt finish concrete because we like the texture of it.  They basically just spread salt over the top of the wet concrete and as it dries and the salt dissolves it leaves little holes around the top of the concrete giving it a nice look and good texture.

Here’s the decking the day it was poured, you can even still see the salt on it.  I may have freaked out that afternoon when the heavens decided to open up and dump a thunderstorm and rain all over my freshly poured concrete.  It takes weeks to actually fully cure, but thankfully it only takes hours to set enough that the rain didn’t do any damage, whew!

The picture just above is a good shot of the tile as well.  It looks even better in person!

Not much else has happened that is visible on the pool since the decking was poured.  The electrical has been run and the lights have been installed.  The pool equipment has also been installed.

Here is our current view of what the pool looks like. Next week the plaster is supposed to go on. Then it will almost be done and I can hardly wait, especially with the beautiful weather we are having!  Lastly the ledger-stone will go on the waterfalls and then it’ll be just about time to fill this bad boy with water!

Watching our pool being built has been super exciting.  It’s like Christmas each time a new step is completed!  Which is good because I’m pretty sure we can’t afford Christmas for like 10 years after paying for this pool, LOL!  Just kidding. . .sort of 🙂

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

 

A Pool in Progress Phase 2: Gunite

Over the past couple of months I have learned a LOT about pool construction.  As my pool is being built many things I thought to be true about pool construction are proving false, in a good way.  For instance, I thought that they could not dig our pool in the rain, but they did.  I also thought that our pool filling with rain water was going to cause a huge delay, but they got it drained in a matter of days.

Gunite has been another one of those things I thought I knew about, but was proved wrong. The day that they planned to install the Gunite it was very dreary, grey, damp and misty and I thought for sure that they would have to delay the install, but it didn’t delay them at all!

img_7607

 

It took the crew 2 days to spray in all of the Gunite and it was pretty amazing to watch.  Our pool went from being a hole filled with shaped re-bar to actually looking like a real pool!  The crew formed the seats, stairs and cascade waterfalls as the gunite was being sprayed in and in a matter of 2 days, wha la!

Here it is after Day 1 of Gunite

The weather was a bit dryer on day two and in less than a second full day the Gunite on our pool was complete!

Day 2 of Gunite COMPLETE!

An interesting thing about Gunite is that is has to dry from the inside out, so it actually has to be kept damp so that it dries properly.  The benefit of having a pool constructed in the winter is that the weather did that job for us for several days!  Normally you have to spray down the pool surface for about 20 minutes a few times a day to keep it damp so it dries correctly, but since the weather was damp and misty, we didn’t have to wet it down at all the first few days.  After that we only had to spray it down once a day for a few days.

Another benefit of constructing a pool in winter is that you’re not tempted to want to swim in it!  LOL!

So it’s coming right along! Next step, cement decking around the pool, then plaster and tile, then swim!

Here are some shots to show you the pool progress along the way

You can follow the whole story by checking out my first post on the Pool:

https://realestaterenovation.net/2018/01/10/a-pool-in-progress

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

 

A Pool in Progress

Three weeks ago I woke up to the most glorious sound. . . Tractors and an Excavator beginning work on our pool!  I honestly can’t tell you how excited it made me, though I’m sure my neighbors were not quite as ecstatic as I with digging and drilling so bright and early in the morning.

We have been dreaming of having a pool for years and honestly we didn’t know if that dream would ever be able to become a reality.  We bought our house because it had the potential for a pool, but turning potential into reality takes a lot of planning and a LOT of moola.  After meeting with our pool contractor back in September, we decided to go for it, but knew it would still be months before he could begin working on our pool depending on his schedule and the weather since we decided to begin the pool construction in winter.  Thanks to our uncommonly warm and dry winter they were able to begin on our pool in December!

Now when you’re planning to put a pool in, there are a lot of variables that add to the basic cost of having a pool construction.  There’s the basic size, shape and materials you choose to use, custom features like lights, waterfalls, ledges, and pool finishes.  Many, many tempting options to choose from and all of them cost money.  For us there were additional variables of unknown cost because our house is built on a lava cap.  For those of you with just soil under your homes, a pool estimate will include the dig for the pool which usually takes a day.  In our case, we had no idea how deep down the lava cap was, how thick it was or how many days it would take for them to drill through it.  What we did know is that each day beyond the 1 day of digging that had been worked into the estimate would cost us an additional $2000 roughly per day for the excavation.   Our pool contractor estimated 4 total days for excavation and no more than 7 days, so that’s a $6000-$12,000 variance depending on length of the dig. Yikes! So with fingers crossed and prayers lifted, they began the dig.

POOL DIG DAY 1:  The weather was lovely and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we had at least 2-3 feet of excellent soil before we hit any lava cap!  The pool guys were able to dig the entire shallow end of the pool without hitting any lava cap and started in with the giant Excavator to chip away at the lava cap on the deep end.  Unfortunately I worked all day so I didn’t get a picture at the end of Day 1 because it was too dark out.

DAY 1

POOL DIG DAY 2: Lots and lots of jack-hammering today.  I’m sure my neighbors loved it LOL.  The pool crew built a ramp out of the soil to get the Excavator down into the pool area to chip, chip, chip away at the solid lava cap and then they’d scrape it out with the Tractor (sorry, I’m sure there’s a proper name for the tractor but I have no idea what it is) and dump it directly into the Dump Truck that made many many runs to drop the lava and be refilled.  Below is the progress of day 2.

DAY 2

POOL DIG DAY 3:  In the middle of the night between day 2 and day 3 of the dig I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and freaked out.  The Excavator was in the pool hole and all I could think was this rain was going to costs us a fortune if it delayed the dig AND, how on earth were they going to get a million pound Excavator out of a giant muddy hole? I literally got up out of bed at 2am and went outside to see if our pool was filling with water, but I couldn’t tell.  We woke up to this:

img_7335

Thankfully and amazingly the rain stopped by morning and didn’t slow down the dig at all!  In fact, they were able to FINISH the pool dig on DAY 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to describe how excited we were by that.  I attribute the amazingly fast dig completely to our fantastic pool contractor and his crew.  The lava cap didn’t phase them AT ALL, they busted right on through and completed the dig in record time, so our added cost on top of the original bid was “only” $4000!  Here’s what day 3’s dig looked like, and please excuse my fingers in the photos, I obviously was more excited about my pool than taking quality photos LOL!

DAY 3

With the excavation of the pool done, the pool construction crew jumped right onto the next step, framing out the pool and installing the plumbing.

DAY 4 POOL PROGRESS: I came home to the shape of a pool in my yard!  The crew got the whole pool framed out, including the 2 lighted waterfall features we opted for (added cost of $3000) as well as our “Caribbean Ledge” which is a 12 ft. x 8 ft. ledge off of the shallow end that will be 12 inches or so deep and have 2 umbrella holes (an added cost of $750).  I call it the “Christina Ledge” because that’s where I plan to plant myself and snap my fingers until someone brings me something tasty to drink lol. You can see in the pictures below where the lava cap is all throughout the deep end of the pool! We had about 2-3 feet of good soil and then solid lava cap the rest of the way.

DAY 4

DAY 5 POOL PROGRESS: Day 5 brought even more drastic changes! Framing continued and the filters and skimmers were installed.  They also laid out all of the plumbing for the pool, and poured a concrete pad for the pool equipment!  It truly amazed me how much work they got done in one day.

DAY 5

DAY 6 POOL PROGRESS:  On day 6 they added re-bar which is how they shape the pool. The transformation today was amazing. You can see the seats in the deep end and the shape and depth of the “Christina Ledge” and the pool in general.  It’s really starting to look like a pool now!

DAY 6

The first step of the pool is complete!  Next step. . .Gunite.  We’re now waiting patiently for the Gunite to be able to be installed, but the weather has decided to act like actual winter weather now so things are at a bit of a standstill until the ground drys out.  However, you could most definitely swim in our pool if you decided you’d like a mud bath. This weeks rain brought a LOT of water and apparently we have a significant amount water runoff coming off of the lava cap that we didn’t know existed until we dug an 18ft x 38 ft hole in our yard.  We woke up to this lovely site on Tuesday morning after a steady rain all night on Monday.  That’s roughly 5 ft. of water in our unfinished pool!  Thankfully our awesome pool contractor had installed a Sump Pump in the bottom of the pool for drainage in case of rains, so the pool is now steadily draining while the the rain continues to fall.

img_7570

 

So far is has been very interested and extremely exciting watching a pool, OUR POOL, being built!  It’s a fascinating process and moves in waves of a lot getting done and nothing getting done, but that’s mostly because of the weather at this point.

There are definitely some pros of having a pool installed over the winter though!  First of all, pool contractors aren’t as busy.  This past summer I know people were waiting 5-6 months for a pool contractor to be able to begin because there was such a high demand for pools.  Our hope and our goal with beginning pool construction in winter is that we’ll have a finished pool to swim in this summer!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

 

The Grass is Always Greener

This has been a BIG week for us in our backyard reno!  The weather has been gorgeous, incredibly dry for this time of year for the past couple of weeks which means our landscaper was able to get back to working on our yard.  They spent about a week and a half leveling out the dirt and tilling in soil conditioner and making sure all of the sprinklers were ready to go in the back yard.  I was trying to be patient but in my head was honestly wondering how flat dirt has to be before grass can grow on it LOL.

 

On Monday this week we were told that sod would be going in on Tuesday.  I have to tell you Tuesday felt like Christmas morning! We were SO excited when the lawn arrived, I was seriously giddy to see the semi truck full of sod pull up in front of my house and watch them start to unload the beautiful lush green turf that would soon become my lawn!

 

Watching the steps a yard has to go through to be ready for lawn is similar to watching the progress of interior renovation.  There’s a lot of “below the surface” work that has to be done before it’s lawn ready; old lawn has to be taken up, ditches dug, sprinklers laid, ground leveled, soil prepped, etc.  It’s also similar to an interior renovation in that the end steps seem to go quickly and show immediate results!  It’s like when you redo a bathroom, everything has to be taken apart, plumbing fixed, floors have to be leveled, and then when things start to be installed it seems to pull together fast.  That how it felt with the yard.  All of the unseen work, the work that will keep out lawn looking green and healthy over the years, seemed to go slowly and it appeared not much progress was taking place, even though you knew it was.  And then the sod shows up and it goes from being a big brown yard of dirt to a beautiful lush green lawn!

 

To give a little perspective on what it was and what it is now, here are before, during, and after pics for you.

Here’s another view from start to finish.  You’ll see we’ve not only added lawn but also added planters throughout the yard that our landscaper created reusing the cement from throughout our yard!  The planters still need to be filled but lawn was step one.

And the last view from start to current view.

 

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but I’m pretty sure whoever said that hasn’t been in my yard this week because my side of the fence is pretty darn green. From dead crunchy grass to soft lush lawn, it’s been a journey, one I’ve not been so patient through, but the result is amazing and worth the work it needed to get to this point so far!

 

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

Rainy Renovation

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Well, not much new has happened. This is the downside of deciding to do outdoor renovations in the Fall and Winter.  Work getting done is subject to the weather and the past several weeks the weather here has been VERY wet!  The rain has turned my yard into a swamp, seriously.  I can’t even get to my wonderfully trimmed citrus orchard now without putting on galoshes and wading through the puddles LOL!  But, that’s the way it goes when you decide to do landscaping in the rainy season I suppose.

img_7037

One the plus side, my landscaper has been able to get the new planters in place around the backyard which will add some character and dimension to the yard so it’s not just a big rectangle lawn. The best part of the planters is that our landscaper was incredibly resourceful and was able to re-use the cement mow-strips from the front yard to create the planter areas in the backyard. We love re-purposing, re-using and re-ducing waste so this made us very happy!  He also used a piece of the former walkway that was on the other side of the patio to create a large pass through step in the middle of this planter.  I can’t wait to see what they’ll look like with plants in them, but I guess I’ll just have to wait until it’s a little less wet outside lol.

img_7039

The downside of re-using the mow strips from the front yard is that my front yard which had lawn, dead lawn, but none the less, lawn that was covering up the dirt, now looks like this LOL!

My “favorite” part of this muddy renovation is when my big happy dog comes in from outside with his sloppy muddy paws.  It’s just awesome.  Eventually this will all be beautiful yard space (that’s what I keep telling myself at least!)

Landscaping a yard in winter a slow very muddy process, but that’s what you get when you decide to do outdoor projects when it’s wet outside.  Progress is progress, even if it looks like a swamp.

img_7038

CalBRE #01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

The Dirt on Landscaping

So I’m sure some of you are wondering, “where are these renovations she was talking about”?  Well, they’re coming, just slllloooooooooowwwlly.  After getting our Preliminary drawings for the addition we will be doing to the house (eventually) and finding out that it is going to cost us over twice the amount we originally were bid (because well, we added a ton of stuff LOL!), we decided to shift our attention from the house and start outside first, with our backyard.  We decided to focus out attention (and money) in the backyard to start so that we can be enjoying an outdoor oasis (AND POOL!!!!) while our home is being torn apart and renovated next Summer.

A few weeks ago our landscaper who is also a friend of ours helped us draw out a vision for our backyard.  It was so exciting to see our ideas and his put into drawings on paper!  As I’ve mentioned before I’m a very visual person, so it helps me tremendously to see something with my own eyes instead of just trying to picture it in my mind.  Once he had the main idea on paper, we were able to talk through it with him and make changes based on the initial drawing.

img_6731
Isn’t it PRETTY!!!  And look, he even pictured our 1,000,000 Key limes LOL!  And look at that beautiful blue thing, A POOL!

 

Drawing out EVERYTHING we’ll be planning for the backyard even though some of the items will be completed down the line is very important.  That way we can make decisions and do work now that will make steps 2, 3, 4. . . .15, easier when we get to them!  For instance, we are putting in a pool during phase one to be finished by this coming Spring/Summer, but the Pergola/poolside bathroom area most likely will not be completed this year.  However, we have to plan for the location of the Pergola so we can run tubes underground to that location for future electrical before the pool guys cement over that area.  We also have to plan the location of the future poolside bathroom so that we can run the lines to the Septic.  Planning it all out ahead of time makes for less work, or not having to redo work in the future!

Our landscaper started prepping our backyard a few weeks ago for the new sprinkler system, which I posted about here:  https://realestaterenovation.net/2017/09/27/time-to-get-dirty/.

A few weeks in and our yard is still dirt, even more dirty than before LOL, but actually quite a lot has been done.  The sprinker lines have been run for a good portion of the backyard and the front side yard is being done at the same time since it runs off of the same water lines. Up until a few days ago our backyard had a huge trench through it where they were laying the lines.  I teased my husband that was his “Lazy River” that he so desperately wants.  He never said it needed to be a clean water Lazy River!

img_6793-1
Wouldn’t it make a lovely lazy river? Or maybe not 🙂

Each day there’s a bit more work done on the yard, but to me it just looks like a lot of dirt still LOL!  It’s truly amazing the work that goes on under the surface that you won’t know has been done when the yard is finished; sprinkler lines run, pipes laid for future electrical to be run, soil prepped for lawn, etc.  But it’s the unseen work that’s being done now that will allow my yard to stay beautiful once it’s done!

 

CalBRE # 01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!