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 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

New “Zestimates” Formula – Did Your Home Value Go Up or Down?

With the recession still taking its toll on the housing market, those of you who bought your homes at the height of the bubble might not want to think about what they’re worth right about now.  But just in case you’re curious, or if you were fortunate enough to buy low and are throwing caution to the wind, Zillow, the real estate data company known for its popular “Zestimates,” has revamped its formula for developing estimates, and you might be surprised at what you find out.

According to an article on Friday’s MSN’s real estate blog, Zestimates have gone up in some areas and down in others.  Writer Teresa Mears reports that one homeowner found that his home in Phoenix had dropped $100,000 while an investment property in San Francisco had increased by more than $67,000.

The Zestimate for the Irvine project I’m working on went up more than $20,000 with the new formula – I guess nobody showed the folks at Zillow what the house looks like right now.

The fluctuation in values is due to Zillow’s adding 25 million more properties to its database (3/4 of all U.S. homes can now be “Zestimated”) and changing the formulas used to calculate home value.  The new Zestimates are said to be more accurate than those determined with the previous formula.

Zillow reminds visitors that Zestimates aren’t true appraisals of a home, but a starting point to determine a home’s value based on whatever data is available to the company’s number crunchers at the time.

Now don’t you want to see what your home is worth?  Come on, you know you want to.  Go to to get your Zestimate, and let us know if your home’s value increased or decreased.

Also, what do you think about Zestimates – are they worthwhile or a waste of time?  Post your thoughts in the comments section.

Now back to the Irvine project, because revamping Zestimates isn’t the only way to raise the value of your home.  Tomorrow is the sixth and hopefully the last day of demo – there’s not much else to take apart.  Remember the nice, neat-looking kitchen?

What a difference a week makes.

That wall on the right side is coming down tomorrow, so we’ll have a big, open space  with lots of room for cabinets, workspace and a convenient island with seating for the entire family.

You’ll notice we pulled out lots of walls and parts of the steps and ceiling.

In a remodel of this magnitude, that lets us see the full potential of the home, showing us where we can raise or lower floors, raise ceilings, and remove unnecessary walls and beams.  Maximizing your living space; that’s what it’s about.

We’ve pretty much finalized the plans with the architect and engineer, so we know that everthing we want to do will be structurally sound and will work.  Once we’re done with demo, we’ll start with building the office off the family room.

In my next post, I’ll share another major home renovation I did recently, this time in Laguna Niguel.  You’ll be amazed at the before and after.

Have you got an area in your home whose space isn’t being maximized?
Shoot me an email with a photo and tell me what you think you can do to
make it work better.

Contact me at or 949-228-5218.

Until next time.