LoaA World Headquarters – Update

October 23, 2012 — 24 Comments

Life of an Architect World Headquarters (or LoaAWH – remember?) is coming along at breakneck speed despite a few minor “opportunities” that have presented themselves … buuuuuuut that’s what Contingency funds are for right? We do all have a contingency fund whenever we are doing a construction project … to do otherwise is crazy talk.

This is the second progress post – the first is here and it is ah-mazing … but that was so 6 days ago. Let’s play catch up on what’s been happening.


Installing new cedar beams

Demolition is now complete so it was time to start framing. This involved installing the steel beam to I can get a large expanse with lot’s of glass. We also had to replace all the rotted wood 4×6 cedar beams – which was a pain and required the roof to be removed (also a pain) since it was tongue and groove boards.


brackets at cedar beams

This is a close up view of how the cedar beams are sitting on the steel tube. Maybe it should be apparent but you can’t nail a wood beam to a steel beam (well, I suppose you could but the effort required would be a little silly.) We welded steel brackets onto the top of the steel tube so that we could make a lag bolt connection.


existing roof flashing

Contingency Fund Hit #1 – rot.

I knew that the 1x trim boards where the low roof and high roof come together was in bad shape but it wasn’t entirely a surprise to find that yes, indeed it was rotted. See where the low roof meets the turn-up edge? We call that “plastic” but in 1967 they called that “flashing.” As a result, we will be dipping into the contingency fund to replace the trim board and about 12″ of low roof and roof decking along the entire perimeter around the house.



roof rot

See? That is nasty and needs to get removed because it certainly isn’t going to get any better. The other contingency hit that umm .. hit us, was that our existing tongue and groove boards are 5.25″ edge to edge and the news ones that are of the shelf are only 5″ edge to edge. Because it would be obvious that the existing boards would not align with the new boards, we had to **contingency hit #2** run custom 5.25″ boards. While those were being made, we decided to move forward with putting up the concrete form work.


rebar placement and concrete form work

There isn’t a lot of form-work with this project but there were some tricky parts (that only the nerdiest of builder type people would care about so I am going to skip them.) The underlying game plan was to make sure that the new looks like the old – alignment, alignment, alignment!


concrete form work

Needless to say, the form-work was done very quickly so on the day that we had to wait for city inspections, we moved forward with installing the roof.


ready to pour concrete

This is the best picture I have to show – I used a wide-angle lens which distorted the image (the roof doesn’t actually “bow up” in the middle.


backyard view with piers removed

The new wide open backyard – free from head-splitting 6×12 cedar beams and lawnmower challenging concrete piers.


reporting live from my death bed

Oh No! Personal disaster strikes! Thursday night I went from awesome to thinking it might be curtains for me in about 90 minutes. I started running a high fever, went to the Dr. on Friday and they said I might have the West Nile virus. Several tests later, after close examination of almost all my bodily fluids, they don’t know what I have but that it isn’t West Nile. Still, it was a sucky 4 days (for my wife) as I laid around the house sweating on all the furniture. What did any of this have to do with the renovation? Nothing. But it does explain why this Monday post is coming out on a Tuesday.


finishing the concrete

The concrete guys showed up really early this morning – in fact, they woke me up at 6:45am. That’s okay, I know they want to get to it so this can be a 1 day pour and finish. I took this picture from my daughters bedroom between the floor and the plywood temporary wall.


finishing the concrete

10 cubic yards of concrete later, things were just about finished … except the finishing. In all, these guys spent about 3.5 hours scrapping, smoothing, rubbing, and aligning. Since the finished product will be this exposed concrete, the process of creating a finished product now simply requires the additional attention to details at this point.


leveling out green concrete

And here is one example. The concrete has been in place for about 5 hours but it is still considered “green.” You can still work it but with some effort. The area receiving some extra attention is in the Master Bedroom where the pair of double doors was removed. Since there was a threshold cast into the original concrete floor, once it was removed, it caused a void that will project into the room beyond the wall that wall infill that space. See how the joints don’t align in the newly poured concrete? The wall covers this up and yes … I broke the sacred grid. Take a look at the picture below and you will see why …


concrete slab

I have four equal divisions in my interior space. If I had kept on the grid, I would have had a 4″ remainder strip. Only the people who read this post will ever know so … it will be a secret between me, my wife, and 4 other people.


freshly poured concrete

So here it is … all finished. All that is left to do is wait on the concrete to finish curing enough that we can safely move around on it without scarring the surface. In other words – tomorrow.


crime scene concrete?

Oh wait … there is rain in the forecast tonight, about a 30% chance, so we put up some protective plastic so that all portions of the concrete will dry consistently. This should mean that the concrete will also end up a consistent color. On Wednesday, the window/ door will get installed – that will really change they way things look AND all the temporary walls will be removed and we will be able to experience what this modification will do spatially to the main room. That’s really what this was all about – THAT will be a big day.

Once the window is in, up next will be interior framing, electrical rough, stucco and painting. That’s on schedule to complete by the end of next week – whew!




Print Friendly

even better stuff from Life of an Architect

  • Ken G

    So, what is actually the job of the guy with the red baseball hat???

  • My 8 year old son says your profile photo looks like a cartoon. I said, “no, he really looks like that. He’s 2 dimensional, like Flat Stanley.” He said, “Good night, Dad.”

    • What?! I don’t look anything like Flat Stanley … I’m way taller

  • That rotting flashing detail is just plain nasty. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    • thanks! both are looking and feeling much better now

  • Fortunately I have no idea what being on the grid means so you don’t have to send a hit person out to silence me. Like you, I am in the middle of a BEEEG house project so can appreciate the excitement each day brings. Keep those photos a’comin!

    • yes – as I understand it, your project is substantially larger than this little project. Mine is like a piece of candy – sweet and short but even if things go bad, it will be over almost as soon as it began. You are in for the 12 course meal – slow and steady.

  • leeCALISTI

    The grid is a sacred thing. If you’re not on the grid, you’ll start to effect the weather patterns of small countries, the polar ice caps will melt faster and the dynamics of the known universe will be off. I’m really disappointed that you couldn’t find a better solution to reconcile the grid without having a 4″ remaining piece. Now I must go and get recentered…sheesh.

    • I am more powerful than any grid. The grid bows before me and does what I command. You will get there too one day and there will be rejoicing by all (that care)

      • leeCALISTI

        My first answer, which was less sarcastic was, I wouldn’t have noticed the grid had you not pointed it out. However, I went with sarcasm. The project looks good.

        • Tip: always go for the sarcasm (at least in your case because I expect it.)

          The grid thing bothered me for about 10 minutes until I decided that once the walls go up it would take a surveyor to find this. Only an architect with unlimited resources would fight for this sort of thing and since I will play with my kid and break bread with my friends in this room – rather than trying to achieve some sort of perfect tartan resonance allowing me to channel Mies van der Rohe, I decided to let it go.

  • Lois

    So glad you are feeling better- stay well. Love seeing the photos of the construction. We will soon be (hopefully) finishing one project and beginning another. We have a building permit on the house which has been there permanently :).

    • Take lots of photos – you can never have enough photos.

      Good luck!

  • Connie

    Really enjoying your project documentation. So much to be learned from every remodel. A small one, like this, is a nice bite sized bit of info. Thanks for sharing the details.

    • My pleasure. Lot’s of little moving parts on this one, wish I could spend more time really getting into all the challenges and thinking behind the moves … some people might be surprised.

  • Kat

    I think more than four people have already read this. Feel better! And buy some flowers for your wife. If you’re anything like my husband when he’s sick, she deserves them!

    • Yes, I should do something nice for my wife, but that’s true all of the time.

  • JMB

    fantastic Bob….love how you document so well.

    • Thanks – it’s called “take a million pictures”. The only down side is trying to figure out which ones to include and which to exclude!

  • More proof that living in a house during renovation can make you physically sick!

    • Hah! So far things are going very smoothly and we have planned for some contingency funds so no panicking over the budget yet.I must have licked something I shouldn’t have.

  • Steve Schoch, AIA

    I look forward to seeing the photo from Wednesday when it all becomes apparent! Also, I feel for you wife…we architects are notoriously lousy patients to deal with…

    • Petra Lipar

      You slightly misspelled “men” there. 😉
      Eh, let’s be honest, no one likes to be sick. I hope you get better soon, Bob. I am looking forward to see the results of the renovation.

    • I can’t say if it’s an architectural trait but when I came out of my fog, my wife told me it was good to have me back in the land of the living. I basically got in bed and slept every chance I could. (so why, now that I’m back at work, I feel so tired again?)