Monthly Archives: April 2006

SF Chronicle Article

There is a great article in SF Chronicle this weekend on kitchen and bathroom design.  This is stuff that is much higher end then we are going right now, but it is still nice to dream. 

$35,000 for a fridge?  We'd really have to live in the box.

Here is the article


Leave a comment

Filed under Design

The Man Is Keeping Us Down


Click to enlarge

We met with Rick the other night and he delivered some semi-bad news to us. The City of San Jose has decided that attached garages are negatively affecting the integrity of the neighborhood of Willow Glen. Ouch, says us.

Our options are to A.) Spend a few hundred dollars and several weeks fighting the city. Not a bad option, but Rick felt that we had less then a 50 / 50 chance of success with this one. Or B.) Take the path of least resistance and leave our detached garage behind the house and modify some walls. We begrudgingly chose plan B.

The upside to this plan is that retrofitting and keeping our existing garage will hopefully be a lot less expensive than tearing it all down and moving it up on the property.

There are a lot of downsides to the new plan. The first is that when you live in the Bay Area, lots are insanely expensive. If our current house burned down today, we would get less than 10% of the total value of the property. So if you have an expensive lot of property and a detached garage way in the back corner of said lot, you now have a really expensive slab of concrete. Also, in order to accommodate two cars, the garage and the house must overlap each other by a few feet. This is beat because the closest corner of the house must be 6 feet from the closest corner of the garage and the drive way needs to be ‘S’ shaped starting 20 feet from the garage in order to negotiate your car into the garage. Long story longer, our house plan just shrunk by about 100 square feet, we lost ½ a bathroom and backyard is so small that we are going to start charging the neighborhood kids rent to keep the play house back there.

The good news is that we have a great architect that was able to find a way to keep the continuity of the house alive and actually give us a bit more of what we want. We now have a true mud room off the side of the house. Our front porch is larger by 5 square feet and wider to support a really nice porch swing. He dropped in a really cool little study in the front room. I suspect that this might be where we keep all of the audio / visual stuff as well as desks for Holly & the kids to do homework on.

Rick was also wise enough to design the new house to keep a lot more of the existing foundation which will save us a few bucks. We juggled a few things and got a bigger master closet and a coat closet, too.

All in all, the project is chugging along. This is a minor setback, but if it is the worst thing to happen to us, then we are in good shape.

We don’t meet with Rick again for another week and a half, however, between now and then, I am sure that we will be tearing through magazines and stopping at home stores whenever we can.

House in 3d

1 Comment

Filed under Architecture, The City

Home Expo

We made our first of probably many trips to Home Expo this weekend.  One of the contractors that we talked with cautioned us against going there based on the quality of the materials that they have, especially in cabinetry, but we went anyway because it never stops raining here and the kids are tired of being in the house.

We found a kitchen that we liked and Holly found a bathtub that she loved.  Next step is window shopping as we can't agree on a transom window for the front room.  

We also found some flooring that we really liked a lot.  We have a gift to be able to pick out the single most expensive thing in any showroom.  Probably not going with that, but we will have to see after we get our bids.

Hopefully, final drawings next week.  We are skipping a meeting this week due to work.  We are talking about adding a half bath to the house.  Nothing glamorous, just a trying to keep a bunch of kids from traipsing through the house every time they need to go to the bathroom. 


Filed under House, Shopping

Awesome 3rd Meeting

We had a great meeting the other night. Rick had some good ideas and felt that we were getting really close. At this point, we need to finalize where were are going to have the walls.

Floor Plan

Probably best if this is opened in another window, but you can see that we are adding the bedroom in the back, extending the front and making all types of other changes to the existing floor plan. The existing floor plan is in the double lined. We are keeping the wall down the left hand side of the house in this image. Everything else is new.

This is the rendered view of what the house will look like. I would say that we are 90% of the way there. I think that the only thing that we might add is a small bathroom in the place of the laundry room. The next step is to finalize the walls and have Rick begin the engineering.

I was at my friend Eric's house the other night and I love their kitchen. They had great distressed white cabinets with dark wide plank flooring. It looked phenomenal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture

Magazines Galore

I am convinced that our biggest expense at the end of this project is going to be magazines.  We have a ton of ripped up home design magazines now.  We buy them, tear through them, and rip out the pages of the things that we like for the contractor. 

Like anything, the more you learn about something, the more different your view point on things change.  The range in pricing for ranges is insane from the $300 at Sears to the custom kitchen Viking for $8 or $10 thousand dollars.  I never thought that I would think about transom windows so much, but when you are thinking about 10 foot ceilings, do you want extra large custom windows or two standard windows? 

The good news is that Holly and I make very quick decisions on everything.

Leave a comment

Filed under Planning

First and Second Architect Meetings

We had our first and second architect meetings recently.  It was great.  It was like being in grade school again.  We simply took our existing floor plan and a Sharpie marker and drew all over it on velum.  We made 3 different versions and ended up with one that we really liked. 

Holly and I took it home, looked at it a lot, made some minor changes to it and then we were off and running.  We told Rick that we loved the plans and asked that he put them into the computer. 

When we met with Rick the second time, he had loaded everything up.  It was cool.  We were able to see what the house would look like from the floor plan and a 3D view.  We made a few more quick changes which we could see in real time.  Some of them were:

            10 foot ceilings vs. 9 foot vs. 8 foot

            Adding windows, doors, more light

            Moving furniture around

            Changing the bathroom

            Moving walls

It was all kind of surreal and fun. 

The next meeting is tomorrow.

One recommendation that we have is to tape the plans to a common area in the house so that you can write down your thoughts on the plans in real time.  We put a piece of note paper with it too so that we can take all notes.  It makes life easier in that you don’t have to unroll the plans every time you want to look at them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture

My Fiscal Disclaimer

Holly and I aren't rich, so I don't want any strange, unknown relatives coming out of the woodwork thinking that we are on easy street and begging for dough.  We have pretty much resigned ourselves that, unless an ultra-wealthy unknown relative kicks it and leaves us all the money or some other financial windfall bestows us (finding a lottery ticket, odd law suit paying off big, bags of money found in the demolition phase), we are going to be doing a lot more ramen noodles and taking a lot less vacations for the unforseeable future.

It is hard to write about doing a project like this without, at some points, bringing up the  costs associated with doing so.  Throughout the documentation of this project, I am going to try very hard not to bring up cost in terms of dollars.  I will talk about percentages as it gives an idea of scope. 

I don't want to come across as the Rich Jerk during this documentation.  That is not the intention.  We live in an expensive region of the world and consider ourselves lucky to be able to pull it off, but our house won't have gold plated toilets or anything of the such.

Thanks for understanding. 


Filed under Finance