I Bought a House! – Construction – Part 1

I’ve been house hunting over the last year, and in early December finally had my offer accepted on a house in Culver City. The escrow process was supposed to be pretty straight forward, however due to an incompetent broker, the process turned into a stressful 2 months in which the seller threatened to pull out of the deal a number of times.

However, on 22 January 2015, escrow closed and I finally became the owner of a 2 bedroom/1 bath house next to Sony Studios. I got a great deal on the house, which meant that work needed to be done on it. Over the last month I’ve been working diligently on the house with the help of my family and friends.

House Construction

Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to:

1. Demolition of the awful wood panels in the 2nd bedroom and replacing rotten wood framing.

During the escrow process it came to light that there was a major leak in the roof. My mortgage would not be approved without the roof getting fixed, so the roof got fixed. When we pulled off the awful 70’s wood paneling we discovered a whole corner where the wood had rotted out from the leak. The corner had to be re-framed and plastered. We also had to pull off ancient wall paper that was hiding under the wood paneling.

Taking off the ugly 70's wood paneling. You can see the white wall peeking out from under the pink wallpaper.

Taking off the ugly 70’s wood paneling. You can see the white wall peeking out from under the pink wallpaper.

Re-framing the corner

Re-framing the corner

2. Demolishing the shed on the side of the house.

The last owner of the house built an ugly shed on the side of the house which he used to store junk. It blocked light into the 2nd bedroom, blocked entry into the back room (which I am turning into a rec room), and blocked entry to the side door into the kitchen. The shed had to come down.

The outside of the ugly shed

The outside of the ugly shed

The inside of the ugly shed. The door to the right leads into the kitchen and the door at the back leads into the garage/rec room.

The inside of the ugly shed. The door to the right leads into the kitchen and the door at the back leads into the garage/rec room. This is post-removal of their junk.

Knocking down the ugly shed.

Oliver & Frankie knocking down the ugly shed.

The ugly shed has been taken down. The house now has more light!

The ugly shed has been taken down. The house now has more light!

 

3. Build a second bathroom.

I am going to rent out the second room and wanted to add an attached private bathroom. The planning part of this build was quite difficult as there were a number of configurations I could have done. This part of the project has also been the most stressful. In the end I opted to convert the closet and laundry room into a second bathroom. This would give the second bedroom a bathroom, and would still give me a walkway from the kitchen to the side door. This is still in progress, but it is finally starting to look like  bathroom!

Knocked out the back of the closet wall into the laundry room.

View through the side door – Knocked out the back of the closet wall into the laundry room.

The hot water heater was moved outside and the washer/dryer was moved to the rec room. You can see that the original 1928 fuse box is located right in the middle of my new bathroom. The main fuse box is no longer located there, however the box was being used as a major junction box. A professional electrician was called in to move the cables.

Laying backer board into the floor before tiling. You can see the archway leading into the kitchen.

 

A plumber was called in to run the new pipes for the toilet, sink, shower, and the washer/dryer line in the rec room.

The kitchen archway. This is the walkway to the side door. The framing in view is the back of the shower.

The kitchen archway. This is the walkway to the side door. The framing in view is the back of the shower.

Tiling the bathroom. This is the view from the bathroom door. The hole in view is where the toilet will go.

Tiling the bathroom. This is the view from the bathroom door. The hole in view is where the toilet will go.

After the tiling was done, the plumber was called back to do the finishing work – install the shower and toilet. Coming back to the house to inspect the work, I was in shock. He had installed the toilet facing the wall! Doh! I immediately called him back to fix the issue. He had to move the water pipe and the toilet hole. You can see the difference in the photo above from the photo below. The water pipe in the photo above is on the left of the hole and the hole isn’t centered. Below, he has centered the toilet hole and moved the water pipe to the back wall behind the toilet. Some of the tiles had to be replaced after the toilet was re-aligned.

The walls of the bathroom have been drywalled. shower can been seen on the right, sink will be on the left.

The walls of the bathroom have been dry walled. Shower can been seen on the right, sink will be on the left.

4. Update the garage/rec room.

The garage in the back is too small to fit a car in it, so I am turning it into a rec room! The original owner was using this room as a third bedroom. It was dark and depressing and had a weird bathroom that didn’t have any walls or doors. I took out the bathroom (this was actually a part of my loan approval) and took out one of the lofts to raise the ceiling. I also re-did most of the electrical as whoever did it before made an absolute hash out of it. This is still in progress… more pics to come.

Oliver demo-ing the rec room wall.

Oliver demoing the rec room wall.

Taking out one of the lofts  (where the cross beams are) and the weird closets in the room.

Taking out one of the lofts (where the cross beams are) and the weird closets in the room.

Rewiring the plugs and new light switches in the rec room. (The door leads to the back patio)

Rewiring plugs and new light switches in the rec room. (The door leads to the back patio)

Dry walling the rec room.

Insulating and dry walling the rec room.

5. Changing all the locks.

Changed the locks on the front security door, front door, and drilled news holes to install locks in the back doors.

6. Fix the guttering – Back patio done, need to install the side guttering.

7. Swap out the light switches. Some dimmer switches are broken – still in progress.

8. Install new electrical fixtures. In progress – receptacles have been installed, waiting for dry walling to finish to mount the fixtures.

Installing new switches for the hallway and outdoor light.

Installing new switches for the hallway and outdoor light.

9. Storage shed on the back side of the house was demolished and removed.

10. Asbestos pipe removal. An old asbestos pipe was in the middle of the new bathroom. After a few outrageous quotes for removal, we decided to to some research online and do it ourselves. The pipe came out very easily and is bagged, ready to take to the special disposal center.

Interesting House Info

Demo and dry walling has been very difficult because the house was build in 1928 and the walls are not a standard drywall. The walls were made with wooden slats and then layered with plaster on top. So, in essence we had to take down a whole wall of wood if we wanted to demo anything. For the new walls, we have to make sure that it’s flush with the old walls, which means lots of shimming.

Front of original wall - you can see the wood slats through the plaster.

Front of original wall – you can see the wood slats through the plaster.

The back of the original walls.

The back of the original walls. You can see the plaster through the wooden slats.

During the construction, Home Depot has basically been my second home. Running back and forth to pick up all the items I need has been rough, but Rosita has been a great help carting sinks, dry wall, plaster, 2×4’s, and loads of other stuff to the new house.

Rosita carrying construction material.

Rosita carrying construction material.

The End of Construction is in Sight!

We’ve started to clean out the front rooms to get it ready to paint! Once the 2nd bathroom and the rec room are ready I will get the place painted and move in. So excited! There are a million and one projects I have in mind for the place, but one step at a time.

Here’s a look at the newly cleaned dining room:

A clean dining room!

A clean dining room!

Next blog post will be a finished house. Am already starting to think about furnishing the place and decorating!

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