Life of an Architect World Headquarters (renovation)

October 17, 2012 — 15 Comments

Life of an Architect World Headquarters – or LoaAWH (pronounced low-ah-wah-hhh) as I like to call it, is getting a small face lift.

I have been living in this house for over 4 years and this is the first semi-significant renovation I am taking on. I wrote previously  ‘working on your own house sucks‘ and it’s still true but I can’t help but share some excitement about making my mark on my house (and I’m not talking about lifting my leg – grow up people.)


Exterior View covered entry

This is part of the area in question. See all those windows and the two doors? Yeah, well I wanted to replace them because they were built pretty badly and leaked air and … the list goes on. Also, see those four sections right in the middle? That would be plexiglas that the previous owner stuck up there and the way it was installed has led to the premature rotting of those 4×6 cedar beams (boooo.)


Exterior View covered entry

Here is a look up under the plexiglas – you can tell something architectural is going on here but this just didn’t work. I’m not a giant at 6′-1″ but I can’t walk under that 4×12 beam without hitting my head on it. You can also project that when you are inside the house looking out – guess what you see? The side of that beam … right in your face.


Playroom Interior  with brick paver floor

This is the interior of that room – also architecturally groovy. See all those brick pavers? Well, this area was originally designed as an outside space so those brick are dry set on the floor … so they move, clink, and clank when you walk on them. The floor also slopes…[sigh]. See all the exterior doors? That’s right, I said EXTERIOR doors that no longer go to the exterior. That double door on the left is into the Master Bedroom – there is a matching pair of double doors on the right that go into my daughters bedroom. Nothing like having glass doors basically from your kids room looking directly into your bedroom right? Maybe it worked out okay when she was 4 but now that she’s 8? Not so great.

Oh yeah, you have to step down about 4 1/2″ into this room from all the other rooms. [sigh]


Playroom Interior  with brick paver floor

One of the things I do love about this house is that it was set up and rigidly designed on a grid that carries throughout the entire house. The rooms are very well proportioned and the structure isn’t just holding stuff up, it’s part of the aesthetic of this house. While my wife might still be embarrassed to have people over, all of my architecture friends walk in and they get it instantly. There is a clarity to this house that is really nice.


Crayon markings on window

Knowing that all the windows were going to be gone in a few days, we let my daughter go bananas writing on the glass with crayons. What kid (or adult) wouldn’t enjoy that?


Farewell to the windows written by Kate Borson

I found this note written to “the windows” by my daughter and it totally cracked me up. My daughter even has compassion for glass.

“… Sorry you have to go to the dump.”


Playroom Ceiling with tongue and groove wood ceiling and heavy cedar beams

If you were to lie on the floor and look up, this is what you would see … wood tongue and groove cedar board ceiling, 4×6 cedar beams, and the Lamps of Lost Souls. Yes, those babies are not being reused so somebody please make me an offer … particularly if you work at a lighting company and have something awesome to trade.


Interior Glass Wall

This is a view from the main living area looking out towards the backyard – through the playroom. You can get a better look at the relationship of all the exterior doors have to the playroom. All of this is going away …

I did my design, prepared my drawings, got the permit, and work officially started Monday. This little project is small but complicated since this house is assigned as a Pandora’s box. You mess with one little thing, you have to deal with everything around it. Of course, I’m not making this easy since I want to do it right rather than   cheap. The good news is that it will be quick. Take a look at this schedule:


Monday 10/15 – Demo, lumber and portable toilet delivered, and build temp walls
Tuesday 10/16 – Demo, Install steel beam and frame roof
Wednesday 10/17 – Concrete and shingle roof
Thursday 10/18 – Concrete
Friday 10/19 – Concrete
Monday 10/22 – Door arrives (Hopefully), electrician, insulate wall and install sheathing
Tuesday 10/23 – Door installation and start stucco
Wednesday 10/24 – Glaze glass in door and stucco work continues
Thursday 10/25 – Stucco work, remove temp wall, and clad trim work over the new door
Friday 10/26 – Drywall installed HVAC chase
Monday 10/29 – Painting
Tuesday 10/30 – Painting
Wednesday 10/31 – Painting
Thursday 11/1 – Painting
Friday 11/2 –  Finish concrete floors
Monday 11/5 – Finish concrete floors


That my friends is called “getting on it.” I have a good friend who happens to be a very good contractor running this project. I could find some knucklehead contractor who would do this for less money but I want it done right the first time and by top-tier workers who actually care about the end product as much as they care about collecting a paycheck. I like my contractor types to have pride in what they do and that’s why I went with my friend Barry Buford at Buford Builders. If you are really observant you might realize that Barry is also the contractor for the Cottonwood Modern project.

A quick look at progress through two days of work:


Interior Glass Wall with protective plastic

Temporary walls are going in since we are removing exterior walls and we like mosquitos to remain outside and our air conditioning inside.


Exterior View Demolition

Remove the rotted 4×6 cedar beams, the concrete piers and the 16′ long 4×12 cedar beam that I hit my head on every time I tried to walk underneath it.


Exterior View Lead Demolition

I had to get specially trained demolition guys in since the house was made with stucco back in the 1960’s. I live in University Park and they require certain measures be put in place when demolishing certain materials for fear of lead or asbestos (in my case, the fear was lead in the masonry stucco lath.) See how the guys are wearing respirators? They also have to wrap the masonry stucco up in heavy plastic rather than just tossing it in with all the other demotion materials.


Interior Playroom Demolition

End of Day One - clean space

This was the end of day one – nice clean shell. Demolition was complete, temporary walls in place, ready for tomorrow.


End of Day One - clean space

While I liked the architectural statement that the white masonry stucco piers made in the backyard, removing them really opened things up.


Adjusting the steel beam header

When I came home at lunch, this is what I found. They were installing the new steel header at the perimeter wall. This way I can get rid of the intermediate supports and really maximize my glass opening.


inspeciting future home of a wood header at soffit

The man in the dark gray shirt is Gabe – he is the site superintendent on my project. He is unbelievably nice and despite the fact that he probably makes more than I do, he still calls me “sir.” Maybe it’s that he thinks I am soooo old that he’s just being polite. I’ve known Gabe for almost 7 years and he still calls me sir. That’s training, I’m sure his mother is very proud.

Since projects don’t normally start and finish in a one month window, I will be posting some frequent updates.One of the things we are doing on this project is refinishing the concrete floors in our house (yay and ugh.) There are a lot of moving parts to refinishing concrete floors so I will probably have a few posts just on that. Hopefully you won’t get sick of seeing how things develop.




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  • Looking forward to seeing the progress photos!

    I’m curious though: On this and your other residential projects, so few workers seem to be wearing complete PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). What gives? 🙂

  • This is great. We just bought a new house and move in next week. I can’t wait to start some similar projects.

  • Pingback: 106 Yards Later: Remodeling Show Recap :: Sean Lintow Sr.()

  • Steve R

    Congratulations on getting going so smoothly. I’ll be looking forward to seeing lots more photos, especially photos of details. Now that the Pandora’s Box is open, good luck!

  • Alan W

    Looks exciting! Are you going to be giving us a look a the plans as well?

    • I posted some of the drawings in the first post and included a link at the top of this post. If you missed it, here it is again:

      Just scroll down and you can see the drawings, click it twice and it will open 2x large

      • Many thanks, I managed to gloss over those in that post, or forget, that was a while ago and I’m getting old.

        Looking forward to your next update.

  • Ted

    WOW! Insulation in the walls! In Texas! Those light fixtures may have historic significance, though. Here in Oregon that might generate an historic review and delay the permit by 4 months.

  • any presence or influence I have is purely in the heads of a select few. I gave up the idea that someone would want to jump on this train a long time ago.

    and I still don’t know what to do with those fixtures…

  • architectrunnerguy

    Lookin’ good Bob!

    • Thanks Doug! Although it’s now day three and I have found $5k worth of things that have to be added due to discovery. Love the house but it is Pandora’s box

  • I am going to love this series, especially all the pics. Very excited for you.

    • I will try and keep it interesting, it’s going to hopefully be over within the next 3 to 4 weeks – although I am already running into “issues.”

      Even architects aren’t immune from discovery or it’s impact on their checkbook.

  • I assume this is not a knee jerk reaction to seeing the great modernist wonder: Sea Ranch.

    • Hah – no but there are some similarity’s to the types (and I do have a California roof). I’ll have to send a message off to the original architect and see if Sea Ranch influenced him. Since my house was built in 1967 and Sea Ranch Condo #1 finished in 1965, it seems highly likely.

      Wow, I never made the connection before now. Thanks!