Saturday, July 26, 2014

We Just Had Our First Official Open House!

And well, it was kinda underwhelming...
Only 5 people showed up....sigh...

Here's the ad I put up on Craig's List.
$3000 / 3br - 1400ft² - Brand New 3bed2bath apartment in Alamedas Gold Coast (alameda)             
3BR / 2Ba 1400ft2 apartment available sep 01
laundry in bldg street parking
no smoking
Open House Dates
saturday 2014-07-26
Hello Apartment Seekers,
We have a very nice three bedroom two bathroom
basement apartment for rent starting Sept 1st.
This is one unit in a triplex.
The house is located in the Gold Cost neighborhood
of Alameda two blocks from Franklin School and park.
It is a good sized unit with a big master bedroom and
a huge master closet.
Everything is new in this unit.
When its done there will be: frig (ice and water in door), gas stove, microwave over the stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal.

Here's the catch:
Its not done yet....we are working mightily on finishing the
unit but it will not be done until the last week of August.
So, yes, we are asking people to walk through the unfinished
apartment and make a commitment without seeing the finished product.

For everything you ever wanted to know about the apartment, the house
its in, and the owners-landlords please go here.

So, think about it, read the blog, and then email me if you're still interested in
coming and taking a tour.
Open House This Sat 1-3pm.
Walk down the driveway, the entrance to the basement unit is at the back of the house.

So yea only five people...two of which obviously hadn't managed to read the ad
at all....Its a basement apartment??? What? How can you rent something in this

Well, I can kinda understand the apartment looks like this right now.

The high end kitchen
When I was giving the tours I was like, 'And here's where the frig will go, and the stove,
and the cabinets...ya just gotta use your imagination....ha...

The Luxurious Master Bedroom
 Ahem, I keep forgetting that the average person doesn't seem to have much of an
My way of thinking is, that this will give someone with the brains and imagination to
take advantage of the situation on a nice rental apartment in a great area.

What will probably end up happening is that we will have to wait to finish the entire thing
then when it looks all pretty and high-endy we'll have a bunch of schmucks in here
getting into a bidding war or something stupid like that...

A Home Depot Rant
Went to Home Despot the other day to buy some 'all purpose' joint compound for the walls.
Brought home an expired container with a bunch of hardened chunks in it. Take it back for a
refund and get a couple more buckets...they're expired also! In fact EVERY SINGLE BUCKET
of the stuff was expired....
I don't know which numbnutz's own stock in that company.....but you should really think about
selling it all...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Whoo! Passed The Screw Inspection!

Ya, I agree that its kinda silly to pay a building inspector to come to your
house and count the screws in the drywall...

But, ya know what? The drywall we demo'd was mostly being held up with
about 6 screws per sheet...a heck of a lot less than they should of been.
Ya wanna know why? Cause the job was done without permits!

Exciting picture of drywall and screws in the master closet.

Our inspector checked every room and every ceiling for proper screw placement
and spacing...don't know how he does it. I was starting to get woozy looking at
all of those screws on the white background...

Up Next:
Lots and lots of mudding and taping...lots and lots and lots of mudding and taping.
We are planning on doing this ourselves but I am worried about the time its
going to take...

Permit Expires in 29 days.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Drywall Almost Done!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, at least the hanging part.
Yay for moonlighting union drywallers!!!
Dang can those guys work,... ah, to be 25 again...
In two loooong days two young men got almost
the entire apartment hung!

The funky angles and things is what slowed them
down, or so they say...

Some Exciting Pics Of Drywall!!!!

Here's the hallway with the soffit.

The Family Room

The Two Bedrooms

The Kitchen
The drywallers loved all the outlets in this room....ahem...

Dining Room
And the bath off the kitchen...

Master Bath

Hallway to Master Bath
You can even see the ceiling is done in the Master Bath.

What Didn't Get Done

The master closet

My F up
I forgot about a conduit I needed to add to this area...

Well, it was a weekend of hell with them starting work each day at 7am and
going 10hrs....
The kids thought that the sound the drywall screws make when they are run in
was hilarious. 'Who Tooted!!!', 'Daddy, did you toot???'

Here's the reason why I hired two moonlighting union guys...FAST!!! and cheap.
The two legit bids we got for the job were basically the same, $7500. Yikes! I had
no idea it would cost that
Went and bought the drywall and screws myself ~$1300.
Hired the two guys to install it...                             $1600.
So far its cost me $2900 and I think its money well spent.
I wish they would of finished, but dang they were beat come Sunday night.

Now I gotta find some union tapers!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our Second Inspection....

We did super great on it!!!
Just passed our 2nd official inspection!
Got the okay to cover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It really seemed to me like the BI was getting
pressure from above to, 'just pass the damn thing
and get him out of our hair!' Fine with me...yay
greasy wheel!

Now, my drywall subbed bailed on me and I have to
find another one. Yikes!

Just got a call from a couple of union drywall hangers.
Say that standard for them is to hang 50 sheets a day!
They say they can get the entire apartment done in two days!
Got to get 100 sheets of drywall to the house tomorrow...might
have to do it myself...hope not...

Wow, if they can get it hung over the weekend we can start the mudding
taping on Monday!
Wow, we might actually get this thing done on time.....
Now, if we just don't run out of money.....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our 1st Real Inspection

We just got done with our first real inspection!
It went well I think.
The inspector made his rounds and WOW! this guy
looked at EVERYTHING!!!!
He found a bunch of minor stuff and one admittedly
big thing.

The big thing
I had completely forgotten to install fire blocking
between the basement furring walls. This is bad
as smoke/fire in the wall will have access to the
horizontal floor joist bay. This is the kind of
health and safety thing where inspectors can
be so useful.
The house didn't have any before? Why?, done
without permits, that's why.

Little Things
Wanted some e boxes switched out.
Wanted me to add more supports to horizontal
runs of piping.
We used the wrong duct tape...he have to cover
it with the correct kind.
I had my 12-2 romex bundled in the chase in too
big a bundle, so he wanted me to split it up.
Cap the old sink stub out in the master bath.

That's it!
Not too bad right?
Well we're going to get it all done as he's inspecting
tomorrow at 2pm....then we could actually, really,
get our okay to cover....

Permit expires Aug 20th.....the race is on!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Good News on Building Permit Front.

I love, love, love The Alameda Building Dept.

Well, Y'all you're not going to believe this.
Over the weekend I found my old BI on facebook
and sent him a note. He actually called me right
away and we had a nice long talk about my situation.

He totally agreed with me!!!!!!!!!! That the city was
being totally wrong headed about the whole thing and
that he would call the head honcho first thing Monday
morning and help straighten this mess out.

Ya, I can't believe it either, I'm totally shocked. I did always
say he was a good guy.

Just a minute ago I get a call from the building dept. Magically,
EVERYTHING is okay now.
I've got an inspection apt for Tues afternoon for the okay to cover!!!
Now I know I won't get the okay to cover but I'm hoping to get the
majority of the rough inspections signed off.
Then it will be a race to beat the permit deadline.

I'm freaking shocked, but I'm still going to celebrate tonight with some
yummy tequila.....'Hey honey, did you know its 'date night?''

I love, love, love The Alameda Building Dept.

Catch-Up, Ketchup, French-Fry

Hello Dear Readers, (both of you)
It certainly has been a while since I've done any kind of a construction post.
There has been some very exciting developments here that will astonish and
Well, okay, not really......

I think that we are ready for drywall in the downstairs apartment. Yes, that
apartment that I've been working on for what seems like an eternity.

Here are some exciting pics of the downstairs unit ready for drywall (I hope).

The main hallway
 From other side.

The utility room 

 I decided to do a low voltage panel for the entire house also.
you can see it on the left here next to the House sub-panel.

 Fancy new 90min fire door outside.
Fancy 90min fire door inside.
Very crowded in there, better clear it out before the inspection.

Master Bedroom
Master Closet


Dining Room

Dry Wall Blocking Examples

Front Bedroom
Back Bedroom

Yep, Still Purple
And its holding up awesomely.

Metal For Crazy Bike Rack Idea
 Yay! Craigs List! I got all this 1" crew square tubing for less than the scrap
price! Yep, still going to make some kind of crazy bike rack for the house.

Okay, we all caught up....not quite, one more CRAZY post should do it.

Check Your Drawers!!

That's right folks, check your drawers!

I didn't and when I finally did this is what I found!
You know how everyone has cabinets in their kitchen?
Have you ever pulled out the bottom drawer and looked behind it?
We never had, until for some mysterious reason the bottom drawer
would not shut. I pull the drawer out and reach in and start pulling
out all these crazy Asian snack foods and teas, all of them very
long ago expired.

So, you just bought a new to you house? Just moved into a rental?
Pull out that bottom drawer and check...never know what you're going
to find.
Dare Ya!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Death In The Family....

We here at Chez 3.0 are saddened to announce a death in the family....
Tiny The Wonder-Fish has passed away.

Tiny and Baby Madscientist in happier times.
The famously humongous fish in the humongous fish tank.

I inherited Tiny from a room mate over 20 years ago...yep that's right Tiny was
20yrs old when she died. She was a Pacu from the Amazon river. Pacus are
the closest relative to a piranha you're allowed to have in CA. The males with their red
bellies look a lot like piranhas when they are young and little. Unfortunately Pacus
don't stay little for long. Tiny was 18" long and 12 pounds when she died.

The Steinhart Aquarium in GGP used to have a couple HUGE Pacus in one of their
giant freshwater tanks. On this tank there was a little brass plaque that said something like,
'These two Pacus where left here in a bucket in 1940 when they were just a couple inches
long. We are not taking anymore Pacu's'. The dang fish in the tank was 65 years old and
looked like it could eat a golden retriever.

We all thought Tiny was going to outlast us and I'd end up willing her to baby madscientist.....

Tiny was a funny fish. There were people that she liked and people that she definitely didn't like.
She liked watching TV with us. She's watched every single episode of every single Sci-Fi series
we've ever watched. People will think I'm crazy for saying this but she definitely had a personality.

I wasn't expecting her death to hit the family so hard but it has.
RIP Tiny

Guess its time to make another custom tombstone for our cemetery.......damn-it.....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How To Get Screwed Over By....

Your local building dept.

Have your super nice guy, reasonable BI get freaking bought out by the city
and take early retirement....
I've been working on this stupid freaking project for a while now which is
taking a basement that has two illegal apartments in it and make it a single
legal apartment.

The code enforcement inspector was really reasonableish. He didn't make me
gut the entire basement. He let me keep both bathrooms and the drywall on
one side of each wall which also means I got to keep the non-load bearing interior
walls also.

After the initial demo we had a meeting and he laid out exactly what he wanted me to do and at what
point he wanted me to call him back to re-inspect.
Boom, I go to work, get really hurt, (my back) get really sick, (my liver unfortunately) and it ends up
taking a lot longer to get to the pre-agreed inspection stage.

 I call him back and SURPRISE he's retired!!!!

 Now the whole agreement was verbal between us, he was going to be the only BI at the job so I didn't think anything of it.

Where's The New Code Enforcement Officer?
For two months I've tried to get the new code enforcement officer out to check out the situation. That's three phone calls and three emails and one phone call to his aide. I hear nothing from the guy for two months. I get sick of waiting and email his boss with a very polite WTF?
The next day I get a phone call from the code guy who says its not his job and to make an appt.
with a regular inspector.

Regular Inspector 'no likey'
Today a 'regular' inspector comes out and freaking tells me this.
That he was sent out to tell me no, I can not actually finish the basement as an apartment legally...
that actually the zoning was never approved and that the building permit should never of been issued!!!!!!!!!!
I told him that, that seemed impossible to me as the building dept absolutely does not issue building permits without a signoff from zoning/planning. I swear I can remember getting a letter from the city saying the planning was approved.
He says that he thought he was coming out to look at a bare basement.

So, the building dept doesn't want this permit finaled and I've got a nice 3 bed 2 bath apartment that is ready for drywall(I think).

Because of my own slowness and the injury/sickness I only have a month and a half left on the permit.
I'm worried that they are going to jerk me around until the permit expires and then refuse to issue another one...

I got the inspector to unofficially look around today and he said that he thought the quality of the work was nice, and picked out a couple of small things I could fix. Point is, no health/safety issues. From what he was saying it sounded like he had a meeting with his superiors and they gave him a list of stuff to look at to try to deny me outright.

They wanted him to look at all the windows to make sure they were original and therefore under the historical building code (smaller openings allowed for egress).
I am supposed to have a meeting on Monday with the BI and the top dog at the building dept....we'll see how it goes I guess.
I need advice...what do y'all think I should do?
I feel like, to the best of my knowledge I've done the right thing and because the city early retired my BI I'm getting seriously F'd.
I think right now my only two options are:
1. Ignore city and finish unit illegally.
2. Go to meeting and hope for a reasonable accommodation.