at the castro corner house, the new walls were framed in, and sheetrock is now being installed.
above is the rough framed new stair to the first floor. about 20′ of new concrete retaining wall was poured along the property line.
in the photo above, part of the concrete wall is thinner to allow for the stair landing in this location – every inch counts to make the stairs work, especially in these narrow san francisco lots!
here the 6′ tall new concrete is furred out to allow for bathroom plumbing to run inside. new johns-manville formaldehyde-free insulation (for better indoor air quality) fills the wall cavities where there was no insulation before…..the globe is warming but we’re using more insulation now than we did in 1940. 🙂 from this point looking over the new stairwell you can see through the lower hallway and to the new garden door. a nice peek to the rear yard without having to go downstairs.. a view along the floor toward the new built-in bench, and spot where the gas fireplace will go. it’s a corner fireplace by Ortal. pretty slick! can’t wait to see it. we’re further along than these pictures show; some cabinetry is installed, and we’re selecting final finishes now. stay tuned, more to come!
here’s a house at the bottom of a steep block, built in 1940, slathered in stucco with red tile accents. below are some interior views while it was for sale. it’s not unlike my own apartment: a house of redundant doors, disconnected rooms, box by box by box. my friend andrew, a realtor, introduced me to the new owners and we discussed a two-phase, or a minimal-change remodel. “let’s keep the kitchen cabinets” “we don’t want to do the downstairs until a couple of years from now”… these initial ideas have a funny way of mushrooming, and next thing you know we’re doing the entire project at once, down to the studs! the more they opened and closed the flimsy cabinets, and stared at the corner toilet (I don’t think I’ve seen that before..) they realized it all had to go. closed-off rooms is not the way most people prefer to live now; the majority of our clients want connected spaces to spend more time together. it’s less formal, but also a factor of our lives being so busy that when we’re at home we want to see each other and connect! or, watch tv while cooking spaghetti. below is the first floor garage / basement, all one huge space with no rooms or use other than laundry and storage. a narrow winding staircase connected the two levels. it was convenient to see the framing, plumbing, etc exposed on this level; for making structural estimates and knowing where everything is running. time for demo!in san francisco where codes and rules are as plentiful and convoluted as the hazy hash smoke wafting through the streets, we have to be careful about how much of the house we demo – even inside. when I try to explain this to people they give me the most confused reactions and a huge WHY? I share their wonder – I understand the desire to retain some worthy building exteriors, but inside, homeowners should be able to live and revise how they want to. we’re excavating at the first floor because the ceiling wasn’t high enough for living spaces (bedrooms). we’re going down a total of about 24″. the hulking wood posts & beams, original to the house, will be reused somehow inside – barn door? shelving? check this out below, found under the slab in the dirt: WHAT IS IT??it’s made of leather, feathers, some paint. it looks so well-preserved it’s hard to imagine it was in the dirt since 1940 when the house was built. it’s about 24″ long x 13″ at the widest. a mask, or a shield? indian, or african? we also found a red rubber bouncy ball. weird. I love when we find stuff in the walls or below in the dirt – this is certainly unique. one friend suggested it may indicate burial and that we could find bones if we dug deeper; but I can’t imagine that this block of comparatively young houses for this neighborhood, is atop a burial ground unknown at the time of construction. any ideas? more to come!
Here is a typical ‘railroad flat’ Victorian house in Noe Valley. The house is nestled among a tight old neighborhood with close neighbors and a narrow, 20′ wide lot. As seen below, the house had a full, unfinished attic – and good views of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower in the distance. Check out the spooky, dark attic. So much potential. The photo below was taken after the chimney was removed so there is some light coming in, but the first few times we went up it was pitch. Always a gamble what you may find…animals? bodies? box of money? At the back of the house was a tiny flat-roof room addition housing a pink-painted kid’s room. Not many windows in the box, creating a huge blank wall above the rear garden. Otherwise the house was in a limbo retaining some Victorian elements and halfway decent updates. That’s possibly the world’s smallest island in the kitchen! Aww. I met the new owners the day after Thanksgiving last year and learned of their quick timeline. A full, to-the-studs remodel was in order!Something else I should point out is the existing brick foundation, on which the house was sitting but was not actually connected to in any way other than gravity! Yes, the house was not bolted to the foundation at all. It could hop right off in a sharp earthquake. In order to create new living spaces at the basement level, we would have to replace the brick with concrete – a huge ticket item, something not immediately visible and would take up a lot of the budget. The permit was obtained quickly by avoiding the dreaded, 9-12 month ‘neighborhood notification’ process. We could add dormers and expand into the attic and basement but no major additions. Demo began as soon as we had a permit. The house started to open up. We’ll keep this small leaded window. It’s painted shut but it’s a cute relic. The house feels spacious now with the attic and ceiling opened up. In order to achieve living space within the former attic, we planned to drop the entire ceiling (since we had a generous 10′ height) of the main level. And just like that the roof is GONE! Except for the front 15′ feet. The contractor said the neighbors were looking out their windows wide-eyed. Seems so bright and spacious up here. Initially the owners wanted to create a small deck up there but I encouraged them to actually use the attic footprint for living space – it will be uniquely shaped with the angled roof but worth it.A rendering of the house (on the right with mirror twin on the left) showing the new dormers at the roof level. Stay tuned – more to come!