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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

When life gives you limes. . . lots and LOTS of limes

Last week was a holding pattern week on our renovation.  We’ve decided to start with our backyard landscaping and pool as our first project and our landscaper was on vacation (not sure who gave him permission to do that!  LOL just kidding).  So we enjoyed the week of no workers being around by grooming the citrus grove in our backyard that is more like a citrus forest at the moment.  And my we I mean my husband.  We picked literally thousands of limes, THOUSANDS!

We have at least 8 citrus trees in our citrus forest/grove and we haven’t quite discovered what they all are yet because some of them have no fruit on them yet and some of them have fruit but we’re not sure what it is or when it’s supposed to be ripe. Because the trees weren’t watered well over the last several months, they started ripening right after we started watering them, which is out of season. At first we weren’t sure what sort of limes we had, regular Persian limes or Key Limes.  Then we discovered we have both!  We picked about 100 Persian limes a couple of weeks ago, those were easy to tell what they were.  The Key Limes though were turning yellow so we thought they might be a type of lemon, but after some internet research and taste testing, we figured out they were Key Limes.

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(PERSIAN LIMES)                                         (KEY LIMES)

Our Key Lime tree is OUT OF CONTROL.  We have literally picked over 2500 limes from it an there are probably 300-500 limes still on the tree.  No joke.  Myself, my husband and both of our kids picked limes for 2 full evenings and filled bags and bags with key limes.  Oh and did you know that citrus trees have thorns?!  Well they do, my arms discovered that the prickly way.

So what do you do with thousands of limes?  Well you give a LOT of them away.  We gave away 12 large, like gallon and a half size bags full of limes away.  I didn’t want to give them all away and you can only use so many fresh limes before you’re limed out. So I started to juice them.  Over three different evenings I juiced over 650 limes. . .by hand lol!  The limes were too small for my electric citrus juicer so I used a hand lime juicer and just cut and squeezed hundreds of limes.  Then I froze the juice into ice cube trays so I’d have it for later when I no longer have thousands of ripe limes.

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That’s 20 cups of Key Lime Juice in case you were wondering.  All juiced by hand.

Some of you are thinking, geeze, that sounds like a lot of work, and it was work, but it was also in a strange way very therapeutic.  Yard work is not my thing, but having citrus and fruit trees in our yard has changed me I think.  I actually enjoy going the forest/grove and picking fruit, trying to discover what we have, research what the fruits are and how to use them.  It’s a rewarding process.  Even squeezing limes by hand was relaxing.  I just stood in the kitchen squeezing limes, watching TV and decompressing after a day at work.

Something else that I’m finding extremely rewarding about having trees to garden from is that I get to literally enjoy the fruit of my labor!  I not only froze 16 cups of lime juice, I also kept 4 cups fresh and made Key Lime Pie!!!  I’ve never ever made a pie in my life, but I couldn’t not make Key Lime Pie with all of our fresh Key Limes.  And why make one when you can make three?!  LOL!  Let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS!!!!  I took one to work to share and gave one to my friends and we devoured the last one ourselves.  Fresh Key Lime Pie with homemade graham cracker crust and homemade whipped cream may be my new favorite thing.  I hadn’t even ever tried Key Lime Pie before so I really have nothing to compare mine to, but I’d say mine were pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

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MMMMMMMMM, PIE!  Here’s the link to the recipe I used and it was Deeeelicous!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/key-lime-pie-recipe1-2011840

 

So what do you do when life gives you lots and LOTS of limes?  You share and you enjoy.  Life is always going to be full of busy stuff: work, school, sports, bills, etc.  Sometimes it does you good to stop, squeeze some limes and enjoy the simpler things in life. . .home.

 

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!

Time to Get Dirty

This week was another big starting point week for us on our renovation.  On Monday our backyard landscape overhaul began!  Bear (our furry person) is just as excited as we are, can you tell?!

When we first put an offer on our house the lawns were completely dead; like crunch under your feet dead.  The sprinklers had stopped working during one of the weeks that it as over 100 degrees and no one noticed that none of the plants were getting watered because the home was vacant, so all of the lawns and many of the other plants around the yards died or are very close to dying.  We had a landscaper friend of ours bid a new sprinkler system for the yards, front and back, as well as new lawns during the Inspection period portion of our escrow so we knew it was going to cost us a minimum of $10,000 going into it. We also knew that we wanted to add a pool.  That “simple” idea has now turned into a full blown yard renovation project that we jumped into with both feet this week.  Literally, with both feet because the yard is completely torn up and you can’t get around the dirt without walking through it, see?!

 

We also met with our Pool contractor for the first time on Monday!  That was super exciting and I can’t wait to see what he draws up for us (though I’m not looking forward to the price it’s gonna cost LOL!).  As with most of the projects we do, the original pool plan has already changed like 3 times and we haven’t even had the plans drawn up yet.  The planning and designing process of renovation often goes through a LOT of changes from first thought to final product and for me that’s the fun of it!  There’s usually a ton of different ways to do something, and figuring out what’s best for the space is like a big puzzle and coloring book smashed into one.  Our landscaper helped us get a better feel for his suggestion of the pool placement by spray painting an outline of the pool onto the ground.  That helped a ton to be able to visualize how the pool would fit into the space.  Sometimes talking through design isn’t enough to help you make a decision. If you’re a visual person like me, you have to measure it out and actually see how it will all fit before making a decision.

(You can’t see the whole pool outline but those painted lines are the edge of the pool closest to the house.  Yup, we’ll be cutting into the concrete to make it the size we want and to have a better fit and shape for the yard.  More work but it will be a much better result.)

Whoever designed our yards originally put a lot of thought and care (and money) into the yard.  Cement planter beds line the backyard and are full of excellent soil.  There’s also a cement mow strip under 90% of the fence which keeps the wood from touching the dirt and allows less critters to get into our yard.  They also put a lot of irrigation in, but unfortunately time has run it’s course on the irrigation system, so we’re replacing all of it.  The good part about replacing all of the irrigation is that the new system will be much more efficient for the plants and grass that our landscaper will be installing.  So this week, that’s what our landscaper has been working on so far.  He’s ripped out all of the old sick and dead plants that were around the edge of the backyard, as well as saving those that could be saved to use elsewhere.   He’s been removing the old irrigation lines making room for brand new irrigation.  He’s also spent a good amount of time helping us to plan out the new design for the yard, listening to our ideas, (vetoing some of my husbands overly creative ideas lol) and helping us come up with the best design for our space.

(This crazy jumble of pipes will be a lovely new irrigation system someday soon.)

At the beginning of the week our backyard looked like this, prior to any work being done:

You can see all of the plants around the edges of the yard, those are now gone.  The “grass” is still there, or at least it was when I left the house this morning, but I expect it will soon just be dirt as well.

As of this afternoon the backyard looked like this:

Less plants, more dirt, dirt, dirt.  But eventually there will be new planters, beautiful healthy plants, a huge sprawling lawn and a pool!  We decided to dig into (ha ha, I’m punny) the potential this yard holds since it was the potential of this yard that drew us to this home I am so excited to watch it become what it will be.  It’s a big dirty job and someone’s got to do it, so I’m glad we hired a landscaper!

 

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!

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!

 

 

 

 

Location, Location, Renovation

You’ve probably heard the phrase “location, location, location” when it comes to Real Estate and it couldn’t be more true.  Location plays a HUGE role in a home buyers choice and for my family it was our top priority.  You can change a home through renovations, but you can’t change your location. . .unless you plan to pick up the house and move it.  When we were searching for a new home a lot of our friends, family and acquaintances thought we were crazy for wanting to move.  We had a beautiful home that we had just finished updating and it was located in a highly desirable area of Paradise.  Our home had incredible curb appeal, beautiful views of the canyon and was quite picturesque.  But for us, it just wasn’t home.  I honestly didn’t realize it until we moved, but the entire time we lived there, we felt like we were living in someone else’s house.  After we moved we came to the realization that it was the location that made it feel that way.  Even though our previous home was in a highly desirable part of town, it didn’t end up being the location that worked best for us, for our families lifestyle.

(This is the home our friends and family still think we’re a bit crazy for selling)

(And this is our new home, the one we’ll be ripping apart and renovating over the next several months LOL)

Our old house was in a very nice part of Paradise.  It was also a 30 minute drive for my husband to get to work everyday.  Now for some of you who live in the City, that sounds like nothing I’m sure.  But we don’t live in the City, and the 1 hour round trip commute for him was exhausting, for both of us.  I don’t mind having to commute as my job is driving people around to look at properties all over the place, so the placement on the map in relation to my office wasn’t as important to me.  We decided that it was a priority for us to find a home that was much closer to my husbands work so our home search took us to the next town over, Chico.  We are also very involved in our church which is also located in Chico.  For us, all arrows pointed to Chico as our desired location.  Our new home is actually situated in between Paradise and Chico, close to my husbands work and only about 3 minutes further for me that our previous home to my office!  The kids even get to finish this school year at their school in Paradise which has been an incredible Elementary school for them these past several years.

Another thing that was important for us when choosing a location was a flat usable lot.  Our previous home was on a sloped lot, with a million oak trees.  Okay, not a million, more like 30, but 30 oak trees equals a million leaves.  This time around we wanted a flat lot with no oak trees; somewhere that we could have a large flat lawn for the kids to play on and where we could plant a garden.  We could not have a garden at our last house because our overly friendly neighborhood deer thought that anything we planted was their own personal buffet. Our new home has almost an acre of flat land.  We don’t really have “lawns” yet, but starting in the next week or two the project of installing a functioning sprinkler system and sprawling lawns will begin!  The chore of raking leaves is gone and now the kids and my husband argue about who gets to mow the grass on the new riding lawn mower.  They also like to see how can drive it the fastest LOL.

On the flip-side we also loved watching wildlife come through our yard at our previous location.  We had all sorts of critters, from deer to wild turkeys and even a bear. The kids especially enjoyed watching the wildlife and I was worried after our move that we would really miss that part of our previous location.  Lucky for us, we were greeted by 13 turkeys in our front yard during our first week at our new house, and about 50 quail live in a couple of the trees in our yard, as well as a trillion tiny lizards that are constantly running around the property.  So all in all I think we’re good on the wildlife front.

We also have a bunch of fruit trees at our new property.  We’ve discovered at least 10 different citrus trees, some of which we haven’t even figured out what they are yet.  So far we know we have Meyers lemons, tangerines, oranges, kumquats, grapefruits and Key limes as well as an avocado tree, peach tree and pomegranate tree.  The fruit trees were one of the things our kids were most excited about when we first looked at this house.  They were fine with a smaller house and smaller bedrooms if we had fruit trees LOL. We also have a large area in our backyard that will be the future site of a garden.

(Our first grapefruit from our own trees!)

When it comes down to it, for us the phrase “location, location, location” means a whole lot more than just where a house is located.  The priority of location meant finding a home and property where our family could be happy; with space to run and play, laugh and make memories.  With land to garden and lawns to play football on.  With a neighborhood we not only felt comfortable in, but felt at home in.  We were fortunate enough to find an amazing location that we absolutely LOVE.  Not only did we find a property close to both of our jobs so we spend less time commuting to and from our home and more time enjoying being home, we also found a large flat lot in a neighborhood that we love.  Our neighbors are all amazing.  One of them even came over the day we were moving in and greeted us with fresh homemade fig bars with figs from their tree and several of our neighbors have come over and welcomed us to the neighborhood.  Our road is a large loop and our kids adore riding bikes all over the neighborhood.  Even our dog loves our new location and gets to run freely around the large backyard.  Our home and yard will be going through a huge transformation as we renovate, but the renovation of our personal lives has already begun.  Sappy but true. We have found “home” for us (even if we will be tearing it apart it the near future!).

 

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!

 

Design Time: The first stage of a Home Addition

Yesterday was so much fun! I had the opportunity to act as designer with our Architects and design our new floor plan!  With the renovation at our old house, all of the work was cosmetic: floors, paint, adding some cabinets here and there, but no walls to be added or removed, so an Architect was never needed.  With our new home, we have a general plan of what we want to do to the house, but it requires the work of an Architect as we are doing an addition to the front of the house and modifying our roof line.  These are designs I can see in my head and do my best to describe but I’m pretty sure our contractor can’t see the designs I see in my head, so we need someone to put them to paper. . .enter the Architects.  Meeting with the Architects felt like the first real step towards our Renovation project.  It was also the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with an Architect and was such an educational (and fun!) experience.  We worked for two hours at our new house taking our current floor plan and modifying it to be what will hopefully be our new floor plan (I’m sure there will be some tweaking along the way).

The first 15 minutes of our meeting went something like this:  introductions (as we had never met except over the phone), walking around the house inside and out, me showing them a few picture ideas of what we like and then describing what we’d like to do and then they started with their Architect magic.  One of them started taking measurements of each of the rooms with his laser measuring tool while the other one entered the measurements into his design program on his laptop, immediately creating a rough birds-eye floor plan of our house.  It was really cool.

(when I texted my husband this picture he said it resembled “Centipede” more than our house design, lol.  Silly husband, that’s why I’m doing the designing 😉  )

Ignore the top thing in this picture but this is our current floor plan (though very rough) for the middle section of our house that we will be focusing on renovating.  The section to the left of the screen is where our bedrooms, master and guest bath and laundry room are.  Those are not being modified at this time.  The section to the right of the screen is the garage.  The big middle lower rectangle in the screen is our current living and kitchen area (and a guest bath behind the kitchen).  The square to the top left of that is our current Family Room, the rectangle to the right of that is our Entry, the next section is our Dining Room and the small rectangle is my favorite room in the house right now. . .my giant pantry.

Once all of this information was entered into the design program the real magic began.  With one click here and one swipe there the Architects started taking down walls and moving rooms around.  I wish it was that easy and fast in real life LOL.  All of the walls between the family room, dining room and living room are coming down. BIG OPEN FLOOR PLAN.  They added our current kitchen format to the drawing so we can see it, but we’ll be completely remodeling the kitchen as well.  Next we started adding walls for the addition.  At first we thought we would just extend the current family room, close a portion of it off and make that an office. We also planned to extend the Entry Way and add a sitting room area in front of the Dining Room.  After we got it all on paper though, we realized that designed that way it really didn’t optimize the space, and made the front of the house very flat on the exterior which is not a look we wanted.

After walking around the outside of the front of the house a few more times and some creative thinking, we decided to shuffle the rooms of our addition around.  So what was going to be the office is now going to be a window seat area of the Great Room and what was going to be the sitting room by the Dining room is now going to be a much larger much more functional Office!  Plus there will be an Entry with a raised ceiling and a covered front patio area with roof lines that will be creatively tied into our existing roof.  It was truly amazing how much creativity, thinking, rethinking and designing it took to add around 300 square feet and a proper entry to our house while also making the front of the house look amazing, and not like it’s an addition.  The most challenging part in my opinion was making the addition not look like an addition on the exterior of the house.  We are purposefully setting part of the addition back from the front so the house is not flat, and recessing the entry a bit so that it adds even more dimension.  The large covered patio is going to be biggest change to the front of the house I think and I can’t wait to see a drawing of the proposed front in detail!

All in all yesterday was VERY educational and fun.  I love getting to be creative and the  opportunity to have a hand in designing my house made me want to get my Architectural degree a bit, except for the part about having to go to school to learn how to be an Architect.  So I think I’ll just play designer on my house and let the Architects and contractors do their jobs LOL.

Something else I learned yesterday that is NOT so fun is the realistic timelines that come with home renovation.  We won’t get an actual finished drawing from our Architect to submit to the County (our house is on County property, not City) until around the first week of October and it takes the County around 6 weeks to approve the plans. Add at least another month to that time frame just for approvals and then add your construction time on top of that.  And for us, that construction time will now be happening during Fall and Winter, and that means most likely add some weather delays to that as well.  So all of you who love to watch design shows on TV like me, now you know that a six week time frame from design to finish is NOT realistic.  TV contractors and designers have already submitted their plans and had them approved before the shows even begin.  Also, in a hot Real Estate market like we’re in right now, expect even more delays.  More people are renovating and building which means longer time frames for finding Architects and Contractors who are available to do the work and getting approvals from County or City can take longer as well. I called several Architects before connecting with ours. Two of them were not taking new clients and two of them were over a month out before they could even meet me for a consulting appointment.  So if you’re planning on renovating let me give you a tip; take your estimated time frame that you’ve created in your brain and multiply it by 3 or 4 times that length.  Then you might be closer to the actual time it will take for your renovation.

All in all I’m glad we ended up with the Architects we are working with, even if they weren’t our first call.  Not all Architects would take 2 hours out of their day to let me play designer with them.  It was an amazing experience and I look forward to watching the digital drawing become the addition to our home!

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!