Irvine Update: Bye Bye Beam and Loving the Purple

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in, which I guess is good and bad – good because we’re busy; bad because I haven’t been keeping you up do date.  Nevertheless, in case you were worried, rest assured we’ve been hard at work in Irvine and on a couple of other big projects (let’s face it, given a choice of sleep or blog, well, you get it).

Since my last Irvine update, we’ve had to secure a few more permits because we added a few more elements to the project.  More on that below.  Now we’re done with all the framing, the new plumbing and electricity are installed and good to go, and it’s time for drywall – and wait til you see the color (no, Sapir, we’re not leaving the house purple).

So where should we start?  How about the family room?

The big news here is that I succeeded in getting rid of that intrusive ceiling beam that divided the original family room from the addition.  This one.

Ceiling Beam

From the photos, it may not seem like a big deal, but believe me, it is. That beam divided the room and made the ceiling feel lower than it really was.  Plus, functionally, it made it hard for the room to work.  We needed a special permit to remove it, but it was well worth all the effort – even the inspector agreed.  With that beam gone, we’ve opened up the entire room, removing the artificial divider and making for a much more comfortable and functional living space.  And, there is a much more spacious feel to the entire room.

On the other side of the room, we finished the structure for the new office.  Have a look.

The city won’t let us install windows on the outside wall because the house sits on a zero lot line (I guess they don’t like neighbors playing peek-a-boo), so to bring in light, we installed five interior windows – four on the wall adjoining the family room and one over the door.  These will be filled with frosted glass that will let in light but maintain privacy on both sides.

  

Thinking about resale, this room could be used as a guest room, nanny’s room (since it’s downstairs, the family has privacy upstairs), or any other kind of bonus room. For now, it will be an office with a door that locks, keeping little hands away from important papers and expensive machines.

Outside the office, you can see the makings of the kitchen workspace.  We call it “Grand Central Station,” because that will become the functional center of the home in terms of the family and its activities.

Think desk organizers, a bulletin or white board, places for all the notes from school and activities, right off the kitchen where the family spends most of its time anyway.  Functionality with a capital “F.”

Here in the kitchen, you see that special drywall I was talking about.  Dig that color.  It’s very high quality and prevents mold and mildew- the Scarlet Letters of resale – from developing.  This is a great example of how thinking ahead can save $$$.

Upstairs, we’re finishing up the “behind the scenes” work in the two bathrooms.  Here’s the master.  Again, our lovely purple drywall, for obvious reasons.

Shower going in with jets on both sides.  Can’t see them under the plastic, but they’re installed and ready to go.

Dual vanity will go here.

And in the fourth bedroom, we’ve installed a pocket door for privacy in the bathroom.  That’s the framing for the closet you see below, with the bathroom on the other side.

   

So that’s where we are.  New windows and doors are coming this week.  Stay tuned.

Thinking about renovating?  Contact Doron at 949-228-5218 or doron@edenflooring.com for your complimentary, expert consultation. 

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Permits Secured and Ready to Launch

Remember my big project in Irvine, the house I pretty much tore down to the studs?  Wondering why you haven’t heard about it for a while?  Permits.  The city and I were doing the Cha Cha for the better part of the last three weeks while I secured the necessary permits for the remodel.

Permits are a vital part of the construction process for major remodels because they
ensure that what’s being built complies with national, regional and local building codes.  Not all remodeling projects require permits, but for those that do, there’s no getting around them, nor would you want to.  Construction done without permits where required can result in significant fines and penalties.  The city might even come in and demo the unauthorized construction – something neither a homeowner nor a contractor ever want to see.

But more important, permits ensure that what your contractor is building is safe. It’s kind of like a checks and balance system, only it works a lot better than Washington does, but we’re still hopeful about that one.

In Irvine, we needed an electrical permit and a full building permit for the construction.  We had planned on leaving the electricity as is, in which case we would not have needed the permit.  But as the scale of the project grew and we decided to put in more lights throughout the house, we upgraded to a 200 Amp panel, and that’s what the permit allowed.

What will that mean for the clients?  Well, suppose they’re having a party one night.
They’ve got lights on in the backyard and throughout the house.  DJ’s pumping some tunes, or maybe there’s a band.  Hors d’oeuvres are warming in the oven, air conditioner’s on, dishwasher’s going, you get the picture. One of the guests decides to turn on the bubbles in the Jaccuzzi and BAM!  Circuit overload and bye bye electricity.   And that’s when the real fun starts: people start falling over each other in the dark, drinks are spilling, food’s flying, glasses breaking – pretty ugly.

That won’t happen with a 200 Amper.  This guy is Superman; really powerful.  The breakers won’t jump, lights and music will stay on and the party will continue well into the night.

The other permit is for the construction, and now that that’s secured, we can start
the framing.  Framing is basically where we build support walls out of wood which will allow us to knock down other walls to create an open floor plan.

You can see what I mean with these photos of the framing in the dining room.   In the original home, a wall separated the kitchen and dining room (where the oven is), and you had to step down to the sunken living room.

 

That separating wall is now a relic of the past, and we decided to lower the dining room floor three feet so that it will be flush with the living room.  What will be left is a beautiful,
open space in which the dining area can be extended out (because this family
entertains BIG).  Plus, the higher ceiling will make the house feel much more spacious.

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but really friends, this is progress.

Here in the family room, you can see another example of framing.  This family room was huge.  Remember this?

We cut down the space a bit to make it more manageable (I do have a 68” TV that would have been perfect for this room but my wife wouldn’t let me give it away), still leaving plenty of seating and entertaining area.  By doing that, we expanded what
used to be the laundry room on the other side, and now we have plenty of room
to make a nice office that can also be used as a guest room.  The wall will go up soon, but here’s the wood frame.

So that’s where we are.  Lots of dust, dirt and wood, but believe me, it will be worth it.

We’ll be finishing up the framing this week which will give shape to the final layout.  We’ll also be installing the new plumbing for the bathrooms we’re building in the master
suite and fourth bedroom, as well as for the kitchen, and we’ll finalize the placement of the light fixtures and exhaust fans.  If you’re a Bob the Builder type, you’ll find this stuff fascinating.  If not, stay tuned anyway because soon we’ll get to the interior design part – colors, tiles, flooring, etc.  The client has some ideas but will be looking for some input from YOU, so be sure to keep reading and don’t forget to share my blog with your friends.

Got a major renovating project in mind in Los Angeles, Orange or Riverside
counties?  Contact Doron at 949-279-2011 or
doron@edenflooring.com for a free estimate or design consultation.

Got Noise? Put a Cork on It.

Did you ever wonder why the floors in haunted houses creak so much?  Probably because they have no cork under them (and you thought they were just trying to scare you).  
 
If you’re thinking of installing hardwood or laminate flooring and don’t want your house to sound like Jason’s coming to get you, I urge you to put down  cork underlayment.  Cork is the absolute best choice for “acoustic control” (reducing noise, that is) – it prevents creaking from the floor boards themselves and, when installed on second floors or higher, it keeps the noise from below from coming through the floor.

How does it do that?  Millions of air-filled pockets inside the material create a cushiony surface that prevents sound waves from travelling through.  That’s why cork is commonly used in apartments buildings, hotels, museums and other high traffic venues where uncontrolled sound would kill the experience.
 
Cork can be used with laminate flooring and almost every hardwood flooring installation, whether you’re gluing, nailing or stapling down the wood.  It can also be used under ceramic tile or to build up a subfloor when there is a height difference in the floors between two rooms.
 
And here’s a few more great things about cork I’ll bet you didn’t know: it’s fire resistant and environmentally friendly.  Cork is stripped from the trunks of cork oak trees beginning when they are 25 years old. 

Those big guys live to be about 200, giving us an abundant supply of this renewable material – an important fact for those of us worried about our carbon footprint.
 
So what’s the downside (isn’t there’s always a downside)?  Price.  Cork adds about $2 per square foot to your cost, making it probably the most expensive of underlayment materials.  I always try to save my clients money wherever I can, but this is one item I say is well worth the additional expense.  There simply isn’t another material out there that controls noise as well, so unless you plan to tiptoe your way through life, I recommend bearing the price.
 
We recently installed a cork underlayment in a client’s Newport Coast home.  He installed hardwood on his second floor and was very concerned about noise from downstairs disturbing him while he’s working in his upstairs office or trying to catch a few winks.  

Here’s a photo of the prep.


 
For best installation, we glued the cork to the subfloor, then glued the wood on the cork. 


 
The wood you’re seeing is Midnight Oak, a beautiful, rich hardwood that never goes out of style.

 

Keep in mind the baseboards have yet to be installed, so we’ll show you the finished project once we’re done.  For now, you can see the beautiful hardwood floor with cork underlayment.  And listen….

Hear that?  No noise.  

Before I go, I’ve got another contest for all you trivia buffs.  What country produces the most amount of cork (hint – it’s not Ireland)?  Send your answers in the comments section or on Facebook.  Winner gets a free cork bulletin board courtesy of Eden Flooring and Construction, Inc.

Is noise in your home driving you mad?  Why not install new flooring with cork underlayment?  Contact Doron at 949-228-5218 or doron@edenflooring.com

Aging with Jets – Botox Sold Separately

Here in Southern California, age has become a bad word and fighting the aging process is pretty much a way of life. From Botox to plastic surgery to super foods and antioxidants, a whole lot of folks out here are obsessed with keeping the hands of time off their faces, and everywhere else for that matter.

Well, I’ve got bad news for you– it doesn’t work. We’re all aging. All that stuff we’re doing to make us look like time-warped versions of our former selves can’t keep our knees, backs and other internal fixtures from feeling the effects of our (I’m gonna say it) – age. I figured that out for myself on my family camping trip this weekend after two nights sleeping on an air mattress – my back sure ain’t what it used to be.

But I’ve got good news too. With 70 being the new 50 (or something like that), people are staying independent well into their twilight years and moving into assisted living or old age homes as late as possible, if ever. That means they’re living, and aging, at home much longer than the generation before them. To do that, though, today’s strong, healthy Baby Boomers are finding they need to modify their living space to accommodate their aging (eek, I said it again) bodies.

And here’s the even better news – it’s not all that bad. In fact, those wild Boomers are catching on fast to a luxurious little secret – spa-like showers are becoming a medical necessity.

What’s that, you say.  Well, as the Boomers are having a harder and harder time getting in and out of bathtubs, they’re getting rid of them and replacing them with beautiful, spa-like showers. And let me tell you, the old-timers sure know how to indulge because one of the hottest features in showers these days is dual shower heads and multiple, programmable body jets.

   

Whether it’s his and hers or double the fun (hey, they did bring us Woodstock, among other things), Boomers aren’t settling for just one shower head raining down on them. They, and many others, are creating the most relaxing, stimulating shower experience at home with water coming at them every which way.

Here’s a jet shower we built recently for our clients in Laguna Niguel. They went for a single, hand-held shower with double jet system. With these systems, we install a diverter, so the client can choose where the water comes from: the shower head, the jets, or both.

Here is one of the jets and the diverter closer up.

 

We also installed the tile in this shower, a soap niche and beautiful glass doors to finish off that spa look.  Nice.

Check in later this week for an update on Irvine, a beautiful, maple floor installed in the Hollywood Hills, and more.

Until next time, if you’re contemplating your 10,000 mile tune-up, don’t sweat it too much. Luxurious aging begins with jets.  Botox sold separately.

Want to create a luxurious, spa bathroom in your home? Contact Doron at 949-279-2011 or doron@edenflooring.com

“Cause you’ve got, functionality…”

Don’t remember that one by the great Lloyd Price?  Well, maybe it didn’t go exactly like that.  But everyone wants rooms with functionality (personality too, for that matter).  Funny thing is, we often don’t understand how unfunctional a home is until after we’ve lived in it for a while.  Yet with home values down throughout Southern California and much of the country, the last thing many homeowners want to do is sell their home because it’s not as functional as they thought.

That’s where I come in. With some creativity, a little faith in your loyal home remodeling expert and some great materials, I help clients reorganize a single room or an entire house to make it work better for them.

Case in point: my recent project in Laguna Niguel.  Overall, the clients liked the home and loved the location, but the rooms just weren’t meeting their needs.  We did a lot of cosmetic upgrades to the home, which I’ll show you another time, but the real challenge was transforming the kitchen and second bedroom into rooms that had, well, “functionality.”

Sorry I don’t have the before photos for this one – you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Let’s start with the kitchen.  The biggest problem was that the washing machine and dryer had been installed right there in the epicenter of home.  Not only did they cut down on the valued workspace, but they also broke up the flow of the room.

We got them out of there, and in the open space that was left, we built these great, functional cabinets and relocated the fridge to where the washer and dryer used to be.

 

Then we built a 21-inch pantry where the fridge used to be, and put in the microwave and oven with warming drawer underneath, and cabinets up top.

With the washer and dryer out and the fridge moved over, that left a big working space where we put in granite countertops.

 

That big hole there is where we put a cooktop.  I installed a hidden hood under the cabinet with a fan.  You can’t see it, which makes it all the more aesthetic.

The clients didn’t like having two small sinks, so we put in one large one.

And we built a large island for added workspace.  The island has a built-in trash receptacle and lots of cabinet space.

 

Here’s the granite.  Notice how we finished the edges.  That’s good craftmanship.

You see the big, open space between the sink and the post?

There was a wall there, but it made the kitchen feel closed up and kept the light out.  We took the wall out, giving a much more spacious feel and bringing the light in.  The pole is structural, so we had to leave it, so to give it a designer’s touch, we refaced it with wood paneling.  Here it is from another angle.

The backsplash is made from edged subway tile.

 

It comes in a lot of colors and finishes.

For even more  of a modern flair, we raised the ceiling and installed recessed lights.

 

The other room we remodeled was the second bedroom, which the clients wanted to use as an office.  That meant they didn’t need the closet anymore.  We took it out and replaced it with upper and lower shelves with pull-out drawers that will be used as filing cabinets.

On the other side of the closet, I put in an art niche with glass shelves and lights to showcase the art pieces the clients will put there.  An elegant touch, wouldn’t you
say?

 

 

And there you have it.  A kitchen and office that have a lot more functionality and style than before.

So what’s going on in Irvine?  Glad you asked.  Permits.  Often when we do major construction work, we have to get permits from the city to ensure that our building is up to code.  So that’s what we’re doing.  Building will continue next week.

Next time around I’ll try to come up with some more contemporary tunes – I may have to ask the kids about that.  Until then, stay tuned and stay functional.

Want a room with more functionality? Call Doron for great ideas and a free  estimate.  949-228-5218 or Doron@EdenFlooring.com

 

Getting the Home You Want and the Money to Fix it Up

Have you ever seen a fixer upper that you knew had a lot of potential but you just didn’t think you had the budget to both purchase it and make it the home you knew it could be?  Then I’d like to share with you one of real estate’s best kept secrets (well, maybe not a secret, since it’s been around for years and has put homeownership in reach for many who couldn’t afford it otherwise, but it was new to me until not that long ago).

FHA 203k loans are home loans backed by the U.S. government. Simply put, they let
you purchase a home and finance up to $35,000 in renovations and repairs in a single loan.

Why is that important?  Renovating with an FHA loan means that you can do the work in your house without dipping into your savings.  Imagine being able to remodel your home to make it exactly what you want – and not going broke to do it.  There are some limitations, mind you.  203k loans won’t let you put in a resort-style pool with swim-up bar and cabanas covered in palm leaves.  But you can get that beautiful new kitchen or
bathroom you’ve longed for, or make your home environmentally kind by using green
appliances and materials.

Another advantage is that 203k’s may be easier than getting a mortgage plus a second
renovation loan – and you know how much paperwork and hassle multiple loans can
be (plus they give the banks more opportunities to say “no”).  Dealing with the FHA may mean that you’ll get a lower interest rate than you would on a regular loan. These loans may also require a lower down payment – between 3.5-10% – than a conventional loan, for better or for worse, depending on your situation.  For someone with shaky credit, this may be the way to go, since 203k’s have a lower credit requirement.  And since you’re looking at homes that need work, you may be able to negotiate a really good deal, especially when the seller knows it needs work and isn’t willing to put the money into it.

Of course, like anything, 203k’s have some disadvantages.  First, they can take longer to secure, sometimes up to 45 days.  You might also incur costs such as having the home appraised and getting an estimate from an approved lender for the renovations you intend to do.  Finally, because 203k’s have safety guidelines, you might have to pay for repairs and improvements you hadn’t planned on (and that aren’t nearly as much fun), such as replacing faulty wiring or removing lead paint.

All in all, 203k’s are a good solution for some people, especially those want to purchase a home but can’t afford one that is turn key, as well as for those who really want to create something truly their own.  If you think this is for you, talk to your real estate agent.  If you don’t have one, or if yours isn’t fully versed on 203k’s, let me know.  I can recommend some great ones.

I thought I’d share with you today a staircase we did recently in Irvine – I think it’s just beautiful.  The homeowner had old, worn-out carpeting on the stairs and wanted to pull it out and do something a bit more dramatic, but he didn’t want the expense of hardwood.  Stairs are a high traffic area, so I often recommend installing laminate, a multi-layered, wood-based flooring system that is strong a durable, resists scratches much better than wood, and can typically stand the wear and tear of kids and pets that would be no match for hardwood.

The client chose a rich, 12 mm red ancient pine laminate which we put only on the tread, leaving an elegant contract between the tread and the riser.

 

Beautiful.  And see how wonderful the stairs look against the wood banister.

 

Cutting the laminate for the treads is hard work, but so worth it.  I just love it!

Here’s just one more view.

More next time about our big Irvine remodel, where some behind-the-scenes electrical rewiring and plumbing is taking place to get ready for the new bathroom and recessed lighting that will go up through the house.  Thought I’d spare you the photo of hanging wires and toilet pipes.  Stay tuned.

To get a beautiful, durable staircase like the one you see above, contact Doron at 949-279-2011 or doron@edenflooring.com.