The Never-ending House Project

In November of 2004 I bought a 1970s “Brady Bunch”  house in original condition, took it back to the studs and rebuilt it. The house itself took fifteen months. The front and back yards took eight years. The side is still a work in progress…

The design process began with a conversation with an amazingly talented architect. From initial conceptual sketches, to the final blueprints was a few short weeks.

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The demolition and building was documented in slideshow photo essays. To see each slide in the slideshows below, click on the arrows or click and slide.

Built in 1975, this is the house that I intended to fix up and sell.

Built in 1975, the house was a typical California ranch-style house, two bedrooms and two baths in 1,350 square feet.

Little did I know it would quickly become Mr. Toad's wild ride...

Every element of the house was original, including the mature landscape

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The original front door.

It was so kind of the sellers to leave the curtains for me.

T-111 siding and volcanic rock wainscoting.

A quaint little back yard, perfect for a shade garden.

The narrow back yard faces north.

This would make the perfect master bedroom entrance.

The east-facing side yard off the master bedroom

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The interior was also typical of the period with sunken living room and shag carpet (also original.)

Wood paneling on the wall and genuine ?fake volcanic rock? fireplace. Wow!

The yellow 1975 carpet turned out to be green shag in the closets. The wood wall and stone fireplace informed part of the new design.

Original Congoleum flooring with matching countertops.

Harvest gold was the 1070's color

The master bedroom was built for midgets. Counter height of 30?!

The master bathroom,

Master bedroom - note the black dirt on the bottom of the drapes.

The master bathroom.

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Guest bathroom. Loved the padded toilet seat!

Demolition

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I kept for refrigerator to keep the water (and beer) cold.
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But the original carpenters had likely had a refrigerator full of beer, too
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The genuine ?fake volcanic rock? facade came off slowly.
In fact, I ended up removing the entire front of the house.
I built a temporary wall a few feet back to hold the roof up.
While I rebuilt the corner of the house.
The kitchen walls were intact.
But not before I cleaned out the cobwebs.
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Ventalation was not a problem during this phase of construction.
Look at all that good plumbing to reuse.
This demo actually happened at the end of the project.
And it was quickly insulated and returned to service.
One day, I thought to myself, this would be the master bath...
One day, there would be a door to the pool in that wall.
I tore out the old heating system, too.

Framing and Windows

So the old rotten waood was gone,

So the old rotten waood was gone,

and I replaced it with new. Nice new heating registers, too.

and I replaced it with new. Nice new heating registers, too.

Not much wall to rebuild; it was all glass under a big header.

Not much wall to rebuild; it was all glass under a big header.

Look at all of the light they let in!

Look at all of the light they let in!

I bravely cut holes in the roof...

I bravely cut holes in the roof...

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6

6

Now it just looks like lincoln logs on acid.

Now it just looks like lincoln logs on acid.

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Well, it wasn't that hard.

Well, it wasn't that hard.

And there was the refrig full of beer to look forward to.

And there was the refrig full of beer to look forward to.

It's almost straight!

It's almost straight!

Strong like bull (did you say chicken legs?)

Strong like bull (did you say chicken legs?)

Whew!

Whew!

Now, onward to the back of the hosue. No rotten wood here.

Now, onward to the back of the hosue. No rotten wood here.

New sliding doors and a big picture window to go over the kitchen counter.

New sliding doors and a big picture window to go over the kitchen counter.

From the outside...

From the outside...

Sliding doors are in.

Sliding doors are in.

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At least these openings were right in the master bedroom.

At least these openings were right in the master bedroom.

Electricity and Plumbing

This is what I started with; barely enough juice to run the saws.

This is what I started with; barely enough juice to run the saws.

I pulled lots and lots of new wire.

I pulled lots and lots of new wire.

Up and over...

Up and over...

Back and forth...

Back and forth...

Past the kitchen...

Past the kitchen...

Ten halogen down-lights to wash the new wood wall.

Ten halogen down-lights to wash the new wood wall.

Four over the kitchen island...

Four over the kitchen island...

Four over the dining table with boxes for two hanging lights...

Four over the dining table with boxes for two hanging lights...

And six ovedr the kitchen counter.

And six ovedr the kitchen counter.

I even put eight in the lightwells to refelct down.

I even put eight in the lightwells to refelct down.

Four each over the double master bath sinks.

Four each over the double master bath sinks.

A view from above.

A view from above.

Large conduit to the media center in case technology changes.

Large conduit to the media center in case technology changes.

It pops out in the attic in case you need to pull new cabes through.

It pops out in the attic in case you need to pull new cabes through.

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Speaker wire, TV cable, network cable... it all runs over the cieling.

Speaker wire, TV cable, network cable... it all runs over the cieling.

Eventually the wires were all pulled...

Eventually the wires were all pulled...

And all roads lead to Rome. This is a new 200Amp service panel.

And all roads lead to Rome. This is a new 200Amp service panel.

Fancy fans for the shower (hot showers to your heart's content).

Fancy fans for the shower (hot showers to your heart's content).

Located remotely so there's no sound to disturb your shower.

Located remotely so there's no sound to disturb your shower.

All new plumbing too (I didn't do this part).

All new plumbing too (I didn't do this part).

But Dave did a rock-start job.

But Dave did a rock-start job.

Waiting for the new toilet.

Waiting for the new toilet.

Time to start building the shower.

Time to start building the shower.

A cricket so that it drains rights starts with the proper slope.

A cricket so that it drains rights starts with the proper slope.

I bet that you didn't know what a cricket was before this; I didn't.

I bet that you didn't know what a cricket was before this; I didn't.

But I do now, and I used lots of glue.

But I do now, and I used lots of glue.

The support wall for the double sink in the master bath.

The support wall for the double sink in the master bath.

I put plugs here, too.

I put plugs here, too.

The utilities for hte kitchen island are ready.

The utilities for hte kitchen island are ready.

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Insulation and Sheetrock

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Insulation and sheetrock first.

Insulation and sheetrock first.

Then a brick wall from floor to cieling.

Then a brick wall from floor to cieling.

It set overovernight...

It set overovernight...

Then the new fake rock was applied.

Then the new fake rock was applied.

It was real fake rock.

It was real fake rock.

The insulation really made the place start to feel like a house again.

The insulation really made the place start to feel like a house again.

My friend, Memo and I did the whole house in two days.

My friend, Memo and I did the whole house in two days.

The fancy plastic facing eliminated the itching and keeps moisture out.

The fancy plastic facing eliminated the itching and keeps moisture out.

The new tub arrives.

The new tub arrives.

GWB or sheetrock is even better than insulation to make a guy feel at home.

GWB or sheetrock is even better than insulation to make a guy feel at home.

The cieling is hard! especially by yourself.

The cieling is hard! especially by yourself.

Did I use too many screws?

Did I use too many screws?

But eventually everything gets done.

But eventually everything gets done.

Even the hallway.

Even the hallway.

The licing room was last. The lightwells were a pain.

The licing room was last. The lightwells were a pain.

Over the kitchen.

Over the kitchen.

Over the living room.

Over the living room.

Even the garage got a face-lift.

Even the garage got a face-lift.

The tapers work magic with the 30 year old walls.

The tapers work magic with the 30 year old walls.

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A good week's work.

A good week's work.

Level five surface in the lightewells

Level five surface in the lightewells

Greenboard with tape only in the tile areas

Greenboard with tape only in the tile areas

and Dan and Alfonso had earned their keep for a long time.

and Dan and Alfonso had earned their keep for a long time.

Paint

The painters masked the openings and used a sprayer to apply the paint.

The painters masked the openings and used a sprayer to apply the paint.

The exterior was to be four different colors.

The exterior was to be four different colors.

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Four men did the work in four days, incuding prep time.

Four men did the work in four days, incuding prep time.

They were real pros!

They were real pros!

They even cleaned everything up!

They even cleaned everything up!

And covered all of my many mistakes.

And covered all of my many mistakes.

Inside took longer. There are six colors inside and lots of spackling.

Inside took longer. There are six colors inside and lots of spackling.

But they got the job done.

But they got the job done.

Lots of color!

Lots of color!

Once the wall was paneled, the place started to take shape.

Once the wall was paneled, the place started to take shape.

And mustard in the second bath.

And mustard in the second bath.

I did ask for green, right?

I did ask for green, right?

Lots of anil holes to fill in the trim.

Lots of anil holes to fill in the trim.

The trim is actually an extension of the door jambs.

The trim is actually an extension of the door jambs.

Tile

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The walls around the tub have been floated, too. Now the tile can go on.

The walls around the tub have been floated, too. Now the tile can go on.

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Oh my God, it's really orange!

Oh my God, it's really orange!

The kitchen splash ready for tile.

The kitchen splash ready for tile.

Hmm... might need sun glasses in the kitchen.

Hmm... might need sun glasses in the kitchen.

Alright, mabe not too bad. The grout will help.

Alright, mabe not too bad. The grout will help.

First step for the double shower is the waterproof liner. No leaks!

First step for the double shower is the waterproof liner. No leaks!

The walls are ready to be floated.

The walls are ready to be floated.

Perfectly flat and square.

Perfectly flat and square.

This heating mat will go under the tile.

This heating mat will go under the tile.

The heating mat all glued down... oops, it's under the sink! Oh well...

The heating mat all glued down... oops, it's under the sink! Oh well...

Warm toes, even in the, um, water closet.

Warm toes, even in the, um, water closet.

All floated and ready for tile.

All floated and ready for tile.

The shower looks nice...

The shower looks nice...

So does the floor!

So does the floor!

The grout really brightens everything up.

The grout really brightens everything up.

Notice the difference.

Notice the difference.

Final Steps

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Hmm... sure is bright.

Hmm... sure is bright.

The toys came on the first truck-load. Now we can have microwave popcorn.

The toys came on the first truck-load. Now we can have microwave popcorn.

Where am I going to put all of this shit?

Where am I going to put all of this shit?

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The end of day one for the cabinetmakers.

The end of day one for the cabinetmakers.

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But all's well that ends well.

But all's well that ends well.

Plumbing fixtures come next.

Plumbing fixtures come next.

and maybe roast chicken.

and maybe roast chicken.

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Waiting for the shower surround, too. At least the toilet works.

Waiting for the shower surround, too. At least the toilet works.

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First step was to lay a vynal slip-sheet and moisture barrier.

First step was to lay a vynal slip-sheet and moisture barrier.

Glue it down tight!

Glue it down tight!

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Moving right along...

Moving right along...

It's starting to look like home.

It's starting to look like home.

We used the expensive glue, too.

We used the expensive glue, too.

Half way through the floor, I decided to indulge in a fire.

Half way through the floor, I decided to indulge in a fire.

The last day of flooring.

The last day of flooring.

Looks great!

Looks great!

A pom-set to choose carpet fibers. I went with brown...

A pom-set to choose carpet fibers. I went with brown...

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Ready for another fire.

Ready for another fire.

or dinner.

or dinner.

Time to start on the shoji screens in the master suite.

Time to start on the shoji screens in the master suite.

The frames look good - very minimal.

The frames look good - very minimal.

The sinks don't look bad either. Will this project EVER be done?

The sinks don't look bad either. Will this project EVER be done?

Finally I get to take a shower.

Finally I get to take a shower.

and, um, use the water closet. Now for furniture, lights and art.

and, um, use the water closet. Now for furniture, lights and art.

The Finished Home

1_entry_living
2_living_1
3_living_2
4_living_dining
5_dining
6_kitchen
7_storage_1
8_storage_2
9_kitchen_2
10_br2
11_ba2
12_mbr_1
14_mbr_3
13_mbr_2
15_mba_1
16_mba_2
17_shower
18_hall_light
19_hall_dark
20_cooking