remodeling hell #1.1

The back bedroom, which was to be a fairly simple repaint and refloor and done, has turned into a bit of a behemoth.

First, we started experimenting with how to repair the scrape marks on the ceiling from the asbestos abatement. Not a big deal, just plaster over it with drywall compound. This turned out to be easy enough; the only issue is that it leaves big knife textures that even sanding doesn’t really get rid of. So we decide to texture it. Again not a big deal; I found some nice how-tos that show you how to make a decent knockdown and/or orangepeel texture using a paint roller, a paint pan full of runny drywall compound, and (30-60 minutes later as the stuff hardens) a drywall knife.

Cut to the walls. I find that the lower part of a couple of the walls is soft, almost as though there’s moisture there. Dreading what I’m going to find, I cut some away. I find out that there really isn’t much bad there, and (thank goodness) apparently not mold or anything like that. It turns out that the corner of the house there has some broken stucco at the base, and the back patio has dirt and concrete up to the stucco’s bottom drip flange thingy, which is supposed to be 4-6 inches away from dirt or concrete, so that the stucco doesn’t wick water up from the ground. Fine, not a huge issue, and it’ll be fixable once we jackhammer the back patio, which is on our big to-do list anyway.

But after cutting away the drywall, we find that the two outside walls of that room have NO INSULATION. Bad, since while being in California the heat loss isn’t a huge deal, this wall faces south, and heat comes in very easily in the summer. So, we decide to remove this drywall and add insulation. Again, not a huge deal; we’re getting some drywall in to replace the stuff removed in the mold abatement, and what better way to practice my drywall technique than on more drywall.

And while we have the drywall off, let’s do what we always wanted to do and add two more windows (simple, 1 foot wide by 4 foot high windows) to the room along the one wall that has none. Then, add recessed lighting to the main part of the room, and then put up the new drywall, texture it, paint it, and finally lay the bamboo flooring.

So, we’re ready to go, right? Hah. I wish.

The item bringing us to a dead stop is…the permit process! While I’m not exactly a novice at this (I’ve done no-plan permits and gotten a permit for putting the stereo stuff into the wall (which is waiting on the mold abatement to finish, remember?)), it’s getting to be quite frustrating to deal with.

I want to make sure all the permits are done right because at some point I plan to sell the house, and one thing I know gets checked into (because I checked into it when I purchased) is whether any additions/modifications had permits. The process, though, is frustrating.

We’re already going to need to get a permit for the electrical (adding some lights in the room and moving an outlet), and to insulate and drywall. Fine. So then we add the window issue into the mix. Here’s where it starts to get hairy.

We’re modifying a structural load-bearing wall, though only slightly; the windows are going to be small enough to just barely fit between the existing studs. One stud might need to be moved by about an inch to accomodate the window, and we have to replace an angle brace because we have to cut into it to fit the other window. Again, not a huge deal, but these modifications mean we have to submit plans to the city.

Since I can’t easily get time off of work, I made an appointment with the “Homeowners’ Saturday Service” – a block of time set aside on Saturdays to process homeowners’ permits when they have to get permits themselves. Fine. Except I couldn’t get an appointment till 3 weeks out; which would be fine,
but I waited till halfway through the lead time for the windows to make the appointment, meaning the windows contractor will be ready to install before I have the permit. Oops #1 (last time I did it, I got an appointment the next week).

Then, I get to deal with the lovely liability section of the permit process. While I understand that this is part of the ‘protecting the consumer’ portion of the process, it’s become something of a pain. I had to get the contractor’s license number, city tax ID, and copy of workers’ compensation insurance certificate, and had to have the contractor fill out and sign part of the permit application.

So I’m going to bring all this in on that Saturday, and my big worry is, what if they need something else? Do I have to make another appointment? Can I just fax over the changed item or whatever? Do I have to wait another 3 weeks?

Add that to the fact that it’s probably going to cost upwards of $500 (it cost $450 just to do the permitting for the put-the-rack-in-the-wall project), and
I’m not exactly enthused about this whole process.

So we’ll see. The appointment’s not for another week, but I’m still nervous about it.

One thought on “remodeling hell #1.1”

  1. *sigh* I’m sorry things are so convoluted and tedious. Personally, I’d go with what some of the contractors have been saying and f*ck the permits…but then, that’s me. :/


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