Week 1: Ground Demolition

Week 1: Ground up Demolition

After 20 months of drafting and permitting, we are finally starting to build this property from the ground up. The existing home was a 1 bedroom 400 sq. ft. property.

Pictures of property before and during demolition.


Santa Clara Project Week 1 Video

This video series documents a remodel and addition in Santa Clara, CA. This project is in the Pruneridge neighborhood which is minutes from a the new Apple Spaceship Headquarters. I will post pictures of the project and videos as the project progresses.

Continue reading Santa Clara Project Week 1 Video

How to Get a Good Bid from a Plumber?

Hi Guys,

If you ever wonder how you to get a good bid for a plumber? This is the tip I tell all my friends. You can get it straight from Yussef of Rayne Plumbing. One of my favorite pluming companies in the Bay Area. They are not paying me to say this.

Continue reading How to Get a Good Bid from a Plumber?

Three Health Tips for Moving Into a Newly Constructed or Remodeled Home

Prevent Allergies, Illness and Chemical Sensitivity.

After I remodeled my house, I wished someone had shared these tips with me.

  1. Flush out the pipes.
Flush your pipes.

My water tasted horrible when I moved back in!

After my house was remodeled, the water from all the taps smelled and tasted of burnt metal from the soldering work, and there was also some dust and dirt, as well. Be sure to give the pipes a thorough flush after plumbing renovations. If you have just installed a whole-house water filter in your house, you will need to do the same thing.

  • Turn on the tub spout first and then work your way to the shower and then the faucets. Turning the taps on in this order will clear more junk out of the pipes faster.
  • Turn on only one faucet at a time to ensure the maximum water pressure comes out of each pipe.
  1. Open the windows to get the chemical smell out of the house.
Open Your Windows.

My cousin’s house still smells like new construction, and it has been seven years since he moved in. He rarely opens his windows because Seattle is cold. What is that smell?


That chemical odor is the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and it’s coming from the cabinets, particle board, glues, construction adhesives, plastics, paint, carpet, and so on. These compounds can escape from your home for several months, depending upon the time you leave the windows open. If your house is completed in the summer, the VOCs will air out faster than in the winter. They will also come out of construction products faster if you turn the heat on.

What is in the VOCs? Lots of nasty stuff—all the bad things you remember from high school chemistry class:  urea, formaldehyde, xylene and benzene, for starters. Here is the simple rule: If the air doesn’t smell clean, then it is not good for you.

How do VOCs affect your health?

I was once gassed inadvertently at work by someone who was cleaning a piece of equipment. The gas found its way back in the air intake, and I started getting dizzy.  My eyes burned. This was due to of formaldehyde.  I had to leave the job site; I developed a headache which lasted until I got fresh air.  I had low exposure—long-term exposure is definitely not good for you. Long-term exposure to certain VOCs can give you cancer. Here is a link to what the National Cancer Institute says about formaldehyde. This is an article that discusses VOCs and indoor air quality.

Bonus Tip 1: Open your windows daily.

You should be opening your windows every day to stay healthy. This is especially hard in the winter time.

Bonus Tip 2: Specific plants purify the air quality in your home.

Add beauty to your home while keeping yourself healthy. This is a practical biological solution.


This Antherium Andraeanum removes formaldyhyde, xylene, toulene and ammonia from the air.
  1. Remove the construction dust.

If your home has carpeting, hire a professional carpet cleaning company that uses only steam-cleaning with certified Green Seal p

Dust. More Dust.

roducts. This ensures the products used in your home are soap-free, non-toxic and hypo-allergenic, and they will release no VOCs or dangerous gases. This is the best method to remove all the construction dust and particulate out of your carpet.

If you are in the San Jose Area, my personal favorite is Talbot’s Steam Cleaning. George is a knowledgeable professional. Find someone like him in your neighborhood.

To remove the construction dust from the uncarpeted floors in your home, my favorite vacuum cleaner is the Dyson Animal D41, which is a bagless vacuum. Another option is to buy yourself a vacuum with a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter. A HEPA filter will keep the dust from blowing back into the room as you are cleaning.

My Dyson D41 Animal – Beast on wheels!

HEPA filters are not found only in vacuum cleaners—you can also buy them to clean the air within your home.

My Dirty HEPA Unit

Dust will continue to come from everywhere—this is simply a byproduct of all the construction. This dust can stay in our house for weeks and even months if it is not cleaned up.

Turn on the HVAC to push out any dust in the ducts, and be sure the HEPA filter is running to catch the particulate in the air.  Remember to clean your HEPA filter regularly.

Why is it so important to go after the construction dust lurking on your floors and in the air? Allergies and breathing in dust from sheetrock, paint, counter tops, wood, and so on can wreak havoc with your health.


Three simple tips can improve the health of you and your family. Flush the pipes out. Open the windows to get the chemical smell out of the house. Get Rid of dust. Try it. Your body will thank you for it. It’s a breath of fresh air.


Santa Clara Project Demolition and Plan Changes


Current Project: 600 Square Foot Addition:


The homeowners recently purchased a 1950’s ranch home with 3 beds 2 baths 1,284 sq ft. in Santa Clara. They wanted to add a Master Suite so they can have 2 master suites available as an additional master suite when their in-laws visit.

  • Add a Master Suite
  • Remodel three bathrooms
  • Remodel Kitchen
  • Add Laundry Room
  • Remove old Roof and replace
  • Paint the entire interior and exterior
  • Match existing Stucco to the new
  • Add exterior ledger stone to the exterior wall
  • Change out existing hardwood floor
  • Add two gas insert fireplaces plus new chimney
  • Change all new doors

Current Design Background:

By the time, I was brought on to the project, the floor plan set already. The owners didn’t want to make any further changes because they had been waiting close to a year to start the project.

Hiring Issue: 

The architect who was referral from several coworkers did not provide a full set of plans which delayed the start of the project.  Before the general contractor could move on, the architect failed to complete energy calculations (Title 24) and pull the permits from the city. He claimed that it was not his responsibility but the general contractors.  This delayed the project about three weeks. In my experience working with architects, it is responsibility for all the plans as well as pulling the permits from the city.

Comment from an Interior Designer I work with:

“We are now seeing cheaper architects are not completing the drawings such as plumbing and HVAC and the Title 24 Home Energy Calculations.”

Old Floor Plan:

Existing Floor Plan

Continue reading Santa Clara Project Demolition and Plan Changes

Myth: Great Hope My Remodel will Cost Less

Continue reading Myth: Great Hope My Remodel will Cost Less