There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IDEAS FOR CHOOSING YOUR COLOR SCHEME




If you have a room in your house or office that you would like to renovate, here is an exercise in planning the color design. Stand in the middle of the room and think to yourself: What purpose(s) will this room have? What theme do I desire? What colors do I personally like and dislike? Which colors appear in my dream getaway vacation? From your responses to these questions, the colors best suited to that room might come to you.

Colors affect us physiologically. Some colors stimulate our appetites, others encourage discussion, still others make us feel optimistic or calm. Can you identify which colors apply to which effects? Here are some examples:

Red stimulates the appetite.
Yellow encourages discussion and induces optimism.
Green makes us feel calmer.


All colors do not need to match in one room. Non-matching colors can lend depth and interest when applied correctly.

Follow nature's lead: Choose darker values of color for the floor, medium values for the walls, and light values for the ceiling. This mimics the ground or forest floor, the trees, valleys and hills above the ground, and the sky.

Add an accent of black for a dramatic effect. This could take the form of black chairs or stools, a black shower curtain, or black pillows. Black in a white room creates grounding and dramatic contrast.

The Latest Color Trends

The "Tuscan" look is popular and utilizes earth tones such as browns, yellows, desert red shades and forest greens.

The "Southwest" look is also appealing to many, and calls for earth tones plus turquoise and teal.

"Island Colonial" requires nature tones plus dark brown accents. An example is yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange and dark brown.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

KIND WORDS FOR ON THE BEAM


Some of our favorite On The Beam clients celebrate with us.


We are coming up on our 25th Anniversary as a company called "On The Beam Remodeling". It actually starts in 2010, but we decided to celebrate a little early before the holiday season gets underway and everybody is fresh and bright-eyed, not groggy from over-partying. The company has undergone several transitions since 1985, to wit: a single ownership, a partnership, back to a single owner, and finally incorporation. Through it all we have demanded of ourselves the best that we can possibly deliver in quality at all levels, both to our clients and within the internal workings of On The Beam.

With Apologies, We Blow Our Own Horn

Here is a response from one client:

Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary....The remodel that you did for me...looks as good as the day you completed it and I have still not found a "We should have done that different" spot!

With all best wishes,
Ralph Samuel

We designed and remodeled Ralph's kitchen in Oakland in 2003, listening carefully to his design requests as he had very specific ones.

More Horn Blowing

Here is another client's response:

You certainly have much to celebrate - 25 years of outstanding work is quite an achievement. We couldn't be more pleased with what you've done for us. Your dedication to quality and your patience and responsiveness to your clients are extraordinary. Please feel free to use us as a reference...We can't say enough great things about OTB.

Fondly,
Karen and Bill


The McClave-Stevensons had us build an addition to their home last year. We've done several other smaller projects for them over the years as well.

You can see their projects and others on our website gallery: www.onthebeamremodeling.com, click on "gallery". The McClave-Stevenson's project is one of our three slide shows.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WE'RE IN THE S.F. CHRONICLE!





I certainly hope you read the Home & Garden Section of the Sunday October 4th S.F. Chronicle. The feature front page story was about a huge, multi-level deck and entry we built in 2008 in the Oakland hills. In case you missed it, here's the link:
Click Here

We knew the article was supposed to come out that day, but we were all mum's the word by agreement....and here's why: You never know with the media. Over the years, we have counted on media coverage that didn't happen, or expected the company to be mentioned and then it wasn't. Once the reporter got our name wrong. We've learned to be blase about upcoming possible media events involving On The Beam Remodeling.

BUT NOW WE'RE EXCITED

Yes, that's the buzz word around here. Our excellent photographer, J. Michael Tucker, has some of his fine photos of the job spread all over the Home & Garden Section. Phil Tiffin of 522 Industries did the steel railings and the iron crutch that holds up a limb of the winding old oak tree in the middle of the deck. Jeff Cohen Electrical designed and installed the lighting for the entry and fence. We worked in concert for almost a year to produce this elegant outdoor lounging and relaxing center that brings in light and maintains the homeowners' privacy.

BEST HOMEOWNERS EVER

Steve Nelson and Brian Yoshida were great to work with, and we really enjoyed getting to know them as the project unfurled from paper to three dimensions. They added intelligent and sophisticated design choices to the mix and had a solid vision of beauty and elegance to share with us.

ABOVE PHOTOS SHOW THE REAR VIEW

The view you will see in the San Francisco Chron article are all the front entry. This gigantic deck wraps around the side to the rear of the house, and we're showing you the back view of it. There is also a lower deck underneath the back deck, a flight of stairs that we built to get from the front to the lower garden, retaining walls and a beautiful gravel pathway, which happens to be a featured photo in every On The Beam e-newsletter. Alan Bellamy of Paradigm Concrete & Masonry did the concrete work, retaining walls and installed the slate tiles in the front entry.

What made this deck particularly challenging is that the house is perched on a steep hillside close to the neighbor. We had to work carefully and delicately to maintain safety for the crew and respect for the neighbor.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Be Your Own Estimator

I am now announcing a new feature on my website, and I invite you to take a look. My website is: www.onthebeamremodeling.com. Once you arrive at the home page, you will see a new feature: What Will It Cost? If you click on that button, a magic chart will appear! This is the tool that you can use to actually calculate your own remodeling project.

My Budget: "It's a Secret"

The reason that I installed this on my website should be obvious: What are people dying to know? That's right, how much will it cost? I almost always ask inquirers if they have a budget that they would like to share with me, and the response is mostly, "No, I have no idea what it will cost. I just want to hear a price." However, everybody has at least one or two numbers in the back of their mind, that 'secret' amount of money that they don't want to exceed. And so often the reality of what building costs are collides with many homeowners' 'secret' cost.

Step-By-Step Process

The What Will It Cost chart will guide you step-by-step through your remodel, including most details that are required. I test ran it on a few guinea pigs to make sure that people not in the building industry could do it: Thank you, Chris, Bonnie, Peggy and Melissa! However, if you run into any difficulties, please just pick up the phone and give me a call. I will answer your questions and if I can't, I'll refer you over to Steve Schliff, who is the estimator of the company.

Keep in mind that these are going to be fairly rough estimates of your project. However, they will give you a realistic starting point.

My great appreciation goes out to the people that were involved in this project:
John McLean, a San Francisco Architect who devised the chart; Allen Romano, who cleverly recreated it from a magazine article to a virtual chart on the computer; and Tod Abbott, my website editor who got it up and running on the website.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Empathy for the Level




Steve and I are once again living through a remodel of our home. Oh yes, we've done it before, many times. We wouldn't ask others to go through something we never had gone through. On The Beam Remodeling, Inc. is at our house: breaking through a wall, sheetrocking, compounding, sanding, wiring, replacing windows, tiling a section of floor. There is drilling, hammering, machinery whining, and wind whistling under the temporary plywood where the old windows used to be. A gigantic plastic bubble tarp with handy floor to ceiling zipper puffs out against the breakfast table. A lovely thing to see over scrambled eggs.

HONEYMOON YEARS

We wax nostaglic over our honeymoon years, when we ripped the roof off of our first home in the Bernal Heights district of San Francisco one month after escrow closed. The next six years we lived amidst construction projects. The house transmogrified from one year to the next. I called it "organic living".

EMPATHY BUILDER

This is a good thing. This experience reminds us and once again imbues us with empathy - not just sympathy - for our clients. We don't just 'understand' what they are living through when we invade, demolish and build. We know it at the experiential level. All builders should be required to live through remodeling in their own homes (most probably do).

FUN AND EXCITING

And at the same time it's exciting. The vision of what will take form becomes clearer every day as progress is made. We mull over color swatches and consider styles and sizes of wall sconces. The imagined dinner party in our future new formal dining room takes on a certain luster.

FUNNY TOO

There is also humor to be had if we seize the opportunity. We have no cat door, so the cat must be let in and out. In she goes through the garden door and then where? Where there once was open space, there is now a plastic barrier. She's baffled until I lead her around the corner and through a new opening. The next day, that new opening has been closed and she must follow me along yet a new route. The third day, yes, it's another route, and the fourth day she merely walks in and sits down in total confusion. It's not often you see a cat do that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Building It Green: What Price Eco-Friendly?

How Do You Build 'Green'?

There are many ways to incorporate eco-friendly materials and techniques into a remodeling project. Some are commonly and easily done, such as low-e double pane windows, or adding jacket insulation to your old or new water heater, which reduces heat loss by about 10% or more and is an inexpensive and easy retrofit.

Other elements of green building are more costly, such as solar roof panels that can provide enough electricity to your home to get you off the utilities company grid. Still other elements are downright esoteric, such as a sod roof, literally a green, grassy roof that sports a garden of growing plants while cooling the house underneath it naturally.

Interview with Neighbors Who Built Green

We have neighbors who really went to green town on their remodel/addition. That included recycled glass tiles, beautiful and environmentally correct, but much more expensive than regular ceramic or porcelain tile. They also put in radiant heat: pipes filled with water that get heated and radiate warmth into the space above through the flooring.

They used 'sustainable' wood, which is certified as not old-growth and replaced quickly by new planting. It's more expensive, but as Michael F. sagely pointed out to me, non-sustainable wood should be more expensive because of the damage that is done to the environment. "Damage to the environment is the real cost", he said, "so let's invest now for the future."

Budget Balancing Act

Michael also said that homeowners can balance out the expense of some sustainable, more costly items with recycled and re-usable less expensive items. For example, he and Irene choose a bathtub and variety of bathroom accessories, doors and medicine cabinets from Urban Ore in Berkeley. Michael vouched for the quality and the savings. They also re-applied existing redwood siding to the wainscotting and paneling in their new dining room, beautiful old-growth redwood that would have been prohibitively expensive to purchase new and a shame to toss in the debris box.

Green building and remodeling encompass many aspects impossible to cover in one short blog. I will be blogging about it again in the future. Look forward to:

How Did On The Beam Become Green Certified?
The latest savings on solar panels
How Green Is My House? LEED Certification
On The Beam's conserving/recycling/reusing practices

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Tip of the Hard Hat to the Contractor

I was reading an article in one of those slick, thick home and design magazines this morning. It starts out: "The request that (the designer) got from his client was clear: a bathtub situated so he could see the ocean." There's a brief description of how the bathtub was situated and the building was extended to protect privacy while affording a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. There are stunning photos of the tub and its interior setting. There is no mention of the general contractor who built the design.

Why is that, you may wonder? I wonder the same thing, yet this is pervasive and goes back a long way. I read an article back in 1937 that touted the architect and made no mention of the builder.

If you read the Home & Garden section of your daily newspaper, you will notice the same phenomenon. The exceptions are when a builder wins an award that is recognized in a news article, or if the builder is also the architect or designer.

There is a reality that many people not in the building industry aren't aware of. The builder doesn't simply build the exact drawing that the architect or designer supplies, following each instruction at precisely the measurement drawn. The builder comes through many times over in the course of construction where the design is not sufficient, which begs the question: Why isn't the design sufficient?

There are various and complex responses to the above question, but we'll start with the simplest one. Many architects (though not all) haven't done much construction work. Translation from pencil on paper, or computer lines on screen, to three-dimensional real space and materials, presents many challenges. Even the best of architects can easily miss a few factors, particularly when the project is a remodel and the new work must be integrated into existing old structures.

Other problems with the design involve inaccurate measurements and oversights. For example, we had to make allowance for a design that completely ignored the fact that a chimney flue was running through the middle of the room. We've also had to re-design a hallway entrance that would have had everybody bumping their heads smack into the wall.

The next time you read an article in the S.F. Chron or Today's Homes Magazine, notice if the builder's name comes up. You can be sure that they contributed to design and design-solutions in the process of the actual construction work. Let's tip our hats to them and inform the editors that we would like to know who built such beautiful rooms.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IT STARTS WITH AN IMAGE



As a Design/Build firm, on occasion we have heard surprised reactions from homeowners who don't know why we would need a drawing or plans to execute the remodel project they are dreaming about. The dream starts with an image in your mind, and the next step is to get that image down in concrete terms. This means both words and drawings. Without these tools, the project could go badly awry.

FIRST STEP: DRAW WHAT'S THERE

Verbal communication can be tricky, and describing what you envision for your home can be challenging. So how do we tease out the details and arrive at a whole integrated picture? Steve starts with the existing structure, taking measurements and drawing accurately what is there with correct dimensions. How can you transform something until you know exactly what you have and how it relates to the surrounding environment? Together with the homeowner, we identify the precise areas that they are unhappy with and want to see changed.

SECOND STEP: PLANS AND ELEVATIONS

Steve draws the proposed changes in a new plan, including reconfigured space, dimensions and suggested finishes. He bases this on many things: the homeowner's desires and needs; the basic purpose and function of the room; the need for light, shade, privacy, and other external factors; and Steve's own design ideas. He executes the drawings in two versions: as a plan, which means that you are looking down on it as if the roof were removed from your house and you're in a helicopter hovering above; and as an elevation, which is from the perspective of standing in the room and looking at the opposite wall.

THIRD STEP: DESIGN BEAUTIFICATION

But that's not the end of it. I colorize the drawings by hand (I must admit, the most exciting and fun of my job duties). I use colored pencils and periodically add a charming new color like "jade", "celadon" or "burnt ochre" to my collection to aid in capturing the hues of chosen finishes. I also replicate the texture of marble, granite, patterned tile, wood grain, chrome and steel in the coloring. I base my colors on what the homeowner has told us s/he wants. If they aren't certain about colors or finishes, I usually stick to earth tones. The addition of color and textures - and sometimes trees and bushes - to the drawing makes it easier for the homeowner to read what is on the paper. Looking down from above on lines that represent walls, windows, doorways and stairs can be daunting to the untrained eye. Elevations are easier to read.

THE FINAL BOUNCE

Then we present the illustration to the homeowner and discuss all the design ideas, finishes and colors represented. This is the 'bouncing off' period where we exchange ideas with clients to arrive at the perfect solutions to address their remodel project. With drawings to scale, details and finishes, we have a map to steer by.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Warrine Shares More of Her Story


Here is the third installment of Warrine Coffey's remodeling journal. As a guest blogger, she has much to offer from the homeowner's point of view and experience going through a large renovation.

APPLIANCES AND WORKERS

"Another six weeks have passed since my last epistle on our project. We are now 75% through and it's looking good. We've had our ups and downs.

We ordered the appliances and had them all delivered except for the cooktop which we picked up ourselves so our contractor could get the exact measurements. The dishwasher and ovens went directly into the kitchen to await a later installation. The new refrigerator is in the dining room so we are very crowded with two refrigerators and everything else we need in there for our temporary kitchen. It's just for a few weeks, so we just live with it.

One day we had 2-3 of our contractor's men here in the kitchen AND the burglar alarm folks (2 people) working throughout the house AND several exterior painters. Talk about chaos! The new alarm failed that same evening. The next day the alarm guy was back and the appliances were delivered and work continued in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago they removed the plywood barriers between the kitchen and the rest of the house. Now when we want to see the kitchen we don't have to go out the front door and around to the back. We just walk through the interior door.

A 'HOT' DISAGREEMENT ON OVENS

We had a major argument - I mean difference of opinion - on ovens. Bill felt stronger about it so he got his way. The contractor was agreeable to the changes and now all is well. I thought the hardest part of this remodel was the hundreds of decisions that have to be made, often without adequate knowledge about what is being decided. I was wrong. That is the second hardest part. The hardest part of a major project is the other person...Now I know why people ask if we're still married after several months of construction. I tell them we are, indeed.

OUTDOOR AND INDOOR LIVING

Our little temporary balcony off the dining room continues to be a blessing through all this. It has its problems, though. There were the ants that appeared the first week, so we learned to be very careful about leaving any dirty dishes out there. Now there is a tree in the front yard with pollen that attracts bees, so the bees have found our balcony...I learned that ants like dog food and bees like tuna.

As of last week we have lights on in the kitchen and the doorbell works after four months of doing without. Most of the cabinets are in. The crown molding around the ceiling is lovely. The stone countertops are in. The bathroom floor tile and backsplash are in. Today most of the plumbing fixtures were installed and we have water in the new kitchen - with hot water! We no longer have to haul hot water from upstairs. That means we can wash dishes inside like other folks.

PERSONAL GROWTH

An unexpected side effect of doing this major construction project is the personal growth that occurs during it. Choosing to do something truly difficult and actually doing it without too much bellyaching is a real accomplishment. It's so much easier to let things be the way they were. I'm so glad we didn't. We are stronger for the effort we have put in, plus we're going to get a lovely new kitchen when it's all over.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Onward Remodeling Soldiers!


My Blogger Guest, Warrine Coffey, continues with her saga of home remodeling. She is talking at first here about her dog, who was a canine warrior and a noble beast:

DOG ON THE PREMISES

"Nigel was very agitated when we brought him home after vacation. He doesn't like being boarded and when he got home, his bed and food dish had moved and the house was in disarray and noisy. We gave the necessary TLC to calm him down. He quickly adjusted and is just fine. We take him into the back area with us so he can see what's happening. He likes the additional attention from the workers.

SUBS MOVE IN

After about three weeks of this, I realized we could cook, eat well, have clean clothes, and find things. So I began to relax somewhat. So it was back to planning and making decisions for the project. The foundation for the extension was poured May 19. Framing is pretty much done. The rough plumbing is in. The electrician starts Monday. One interesting aside is this: When the plumber started, one of the first things he did was to install a water shut-off valve in the basement for the area in back of the house. That involves the kitchen, laundry, powder room and master bath. When he worked he would shut off those areas. That left us the upstairs hall bathroom and the sink on the balcony. We had a toilet and hot and cold running water almost all the time. Life is easier than it would be without that valve.

DOWN THE CONSTRUCTION ROAD

I think our contractor has been wonderful. He plans things out carefully, keeps us informed and keeps things moving. When one works on an 80-year-old house, there are going to be some glitches. He is very experienced and will help us get through the glitches. I am still amazed at the temporary kitchen setup. I had envisioned washing dishes in the bathtub, scrubbing vegetables in the bathroom sink, etc. Those are the stories I have heard from other people. I think we are very fortunate to have the setup we have. Most people who see it are amazed. We haven't even gone out together for dinner because we always have prepared food here. I do not focus on what we don't have. I just focus on what we do have which is plenty more than millions of people in the world today have. And I never forget the prize: a new kitchen down the road.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Journal of a Remodeling Warrior

I am pleased to introduce a 'guest blogger': Warrine Coffey, a client of On The Beam Remodeling. She is not only a remodeling warrior par excellence, but also a journal-keeper who is willing to share with the world her experience up-close and personal of going through a substantially large kitchen, bathroom and laundry room remodel and addition. Here is the first in a series of excerpts:

"I think it was fortuitous that we chose to visit colonial Williamsburg and Richmond with its civil war era sites. We got to see how our forebears lived. I especially paid attention to the kitchens. They did not have running water. They walked to the river or the well (which they dug) and hauled water. They did not have electricity to heat food. They chopped wood and made a fire and cooked over that fire. They didn't know any different and I doubt that they complained about it. It wouldn't have done any good. We both thoroughly enjoyed the vacation and visiting with old friends. We arrived home April 28, relaxed and ready to face what came next."

"We got home around 3:00 p.m. Monday afternoon, April 28. Most of the demolition had been done. There were two bobcats in the backyard removing dirt. The ugly concrete walls in the backyard were gone. The interior areas had been stripped to the studs. A temporary balcony had been constructed off the dining room and a laundry sink installed with cold running water and drain to the sewer. We had a countertop there, too...One can do a lot with cold running water, sewer line, electrical appliances and extension cords."

"...I go to the laundromat once a week with a roll of quarters....It doesn't take long to get used to it. Now we have the dryer operating in the basement, so I can bring home clean, wet clothes and dry them here. I don't expect to get the washer operational until the new laundry room is completed. It's quite okay. After all, our ancestors took dirty clothes to the river and pounded them on rocks or else used a scrub board at home. I bet they would be delighted to have a car and go to a laundromat."

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Journal of a Remodeling Warrior".

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Contribute Your Own Artistic Touch


Some years ago we did a lovely kitchen remodel for Jan and Carol of Berkeley. They chose a striking dark green granite slab for their countertops, but for the backsplash they chose ceramic tiles. 'Backsplash' is the term for the area just above the counter, against the wall, that will get splashed by you when you cook or run water. Frequently the choice of finish there is a continuation of the counter surface, be it tile, granite, marble, Corian, Silestone, etc.

However, Jan and Carol desired a contrasting lighter surface. The tiles were a pretty cream color and performed excellently for their task. Every so often a different-looking tile would appear in that backsplash, because Jan had handcrafted it and illustrated it with a color image of an animal. Some were pets they had owned, others were not: a Labrador retriever, a Siamese cat, a colorful parrot, a lizard, and so on.

Jan let us know before the work had even started that she wanted to make her own tiles. We allowed a little extra time in the schedule for her to accomplish her creative goal. We placed the special tiles randomly in the backsplash throughout the kitchen. The animal tiles brought a magical look to the kitchen that made the final result even more endearing to Jan and Carol.

You can also contribute to your own home remodel. If you have a special skill like Jan, who is a graphic artist and professional potter, let us know. We'll examine ways for you to create something that will enhance your home remodel, making it even more personal and intimate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is the Lowest Price Really the Best Deal?

Allen Romano, our Production Manager, fielded a call the other day and told me about it. I'd like to share it with you. The caller was a relative of an On The Beam client whose kitchen we had remodeled. The relative was so impressed with our work, he referred us to some friends who had a very large project: a whole house remodel. They had an architect and the plans were done, permitted and ready for construction. The friends just needed to find a contractor to do the work. They called us for an estimate.

First we wanted them to feel good about who we are so that they would be able to trust us with their beloved home. We invited them over to our office and carpentry shop, met and shook hands and gave them a tour. We gave them many, many references to call. We showed them many photos of our good work.

But alas, when the price came in, it was much higher than they had hoped for. The fact is, Steve is an expert, fair and reasonable estimator, but the plans represented a huge amount of materials and hours of labor. The homeowners went looking for a contractor who would give them a better price. And they found one.

Six months or so later, their friend who referred them to us was telling us a sad tale: They wished they had hired us. Why? For one thing, the other contractor's "lower price" ended up being the same and a little more. For another, they were doing much of the work themselves that they thought the contractor would do. In other words, the 'cheaper' contractor hadn't included some of the work in the contract, and now the homeowners were having to scramble to get it done without him.

We've heard similar stories over the years, as people come to us for an estimate and go looking for a lower one. Fact is, our estimates are all-inclusive, meticulously detailed, fairly priced, and well-informed. Our contract is thorough and covers all aspects of the remodel that need to be covered. But even more importantly, the EXPERIENCE behind the estimate is one of respect for the home and its residents. We make sure that the ups and downs of remodeling rest squarely on our shoulders.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When Friends and Family Pitch In

I was getting a fabulous massage the other night, and then the masseuse said something that made my muscles seize up: "I have a friend who's having problems with her remodel." "Really?" I asked noncomittally. "Has she started it yet or is it in progress?" "She's in the middle of it.....It's being done by friends."

Over the twenty plus years we have been in business remodeling homes, we have heard the same story over and over. The masseuse continued with her friend's situation. "The deck isn't up to code and has to be fixed. There are other problems with the kitchen. And they're working without a permit." She didn't know any more of the details, but I could have easily filled them in.

Here's the secret to avoiding this type of remodeling disaster: DO NOT hire friends, relatives or in-laws to perform any phase of remodeling upon your beloved house. Most of them, I am sure, are wonderful people in many ways. Many are even very professional. But there's something about the intimacy of your relationship with them that tends to excuse and dismiss that level of professionalism required for excellent, well-thought-out, high-quality design and build.

I was in a friend's kitchen some years ago, listening to her tale of woe. Her husband had hired his brother, a professional remodeler, to remodel a substantial amount of their house. It was a huge project, and at the end of it, many design details hadn't been worked out and were not well built. The two brothers haven't spoken since.

So if you think you're going to save lots of money and get a great deal on your design/build project by hiring Sis or best friend Jeremy, think again. Hire a licensed, insured architect and general contractor with solid reputations that you aren't related to. You'll be doing yourself, your family and friends a huge favor!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Come Into My Home: An Inviting Entryway


Hello and welcome to an historical moment: my first blog! We're in the midst of an exterior entry project in the Oakland hills. The homeowner is single, retired, and travels frequently. Picture this: an old wooden fence, an equally old wooden gate which opens onto an uneven, chipped and scratched walkway. The walkway leads to three cement stairs and a porch covered by a plastic awning. Not such an attractive introduction to the house, eh?

First Go Round

Because of structural issues and proximity to the neighbors' property line, we brought in a licensed architect. But whoa Nelly - the project skyrocketed to $150,000! This entry remodel had been overdesigned for its true purpose.

Second Go Round

We sent the architect away and went at the drawing boards ourselves. Steve, brilliant as always, drew a simpler, more scaled-down version that maintained its elements of beauty. The cost to construct now was $50,000, quite acceptable to the homeowner's budget.

Where Does The $$ Go?

Much of this project involved demolition, excavation and hauling. Then came the selection , ordering, purchase, delivery, layout and setting of some downright beautiful 24" x 24" slate tiles. Bye-bye plastic awning and entire porch overhang: We built a new structure in our shop, disassembled it and moved it to the jobsite, then reassembled and installed it. Posts and beams support a new porch overhang with red Spanish tiles to match the roof. Also included in the budget are new steps and a pretty new wooden gate, not yet built. The walkway extends further than the original.

Is the Homeowner Happy So Far?

She's tickled pink, and is asking for more work to be done. When we are done with the first project, she would like us to replace a cracked and sagging 60' retaining wall and add a railing.

Want To See It?

Be patient. We will soon have a slide show of this project on our website, from demo to finished entry. The announcement will show up in our newsletter.