Moving In and Forming Plans

We moved into the house on September 20, 2014. I remember distinctly because the next morning, the LA Triathlon ran at our local beach and the bike portion rolled right past our house. We and our neighbors sat out on lawn chairs (or the curb, in our case) drinking our morning coffee. It was a great way to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time and start to get established and integrated into the neighborhood.

Our plans started almost immediately. We knew going in that the house needed updating. The kitchen was poorly laid out and has a horrible tile countertop that is impossible to keep clean.

MLS kitchen main 2

Dated appliances that are too small and a goofy layout. It will work for the short term, but I cannot cook the way I want to in this kitchen.

MLS kitchen front

The eating area under the fan is detached from the bench seating. We’re going to fix that with a custom booth and built in table.

The eat-in portion is too small and the nice built-in nook is detached from where the table fits most naturally.

All of the bathrooms need to be updated.

This bathroom is a good size, just way out of date.

This bathroom is a good size, just way out of date. The tile is nasty, the cast iron tub is dull and etched and the vanity is horrible.

The master is more recently updated, but too small, has a single sink vanity and not enough storage.

The master is more recently updated, but is too small, has a single sink vanity and not enough storage. It also suffers from a bad layout.

The living room doesn’t really need much in terms of remodeling, but we are going to open up the ceiling and form a vaulted exposed beam ceiling so the house feels more “beachy.”

I started to draw up plans myself using SketchUp, then had some initial discussions with a structural engineer. Earthquake is the major consideration here, and everything has to be engineered not to move. I’m a pretty accomplished carpenter, but growing up in the Midwest, I knew we needed help with the seismic aspects of building out here.

After an initial meeting, it was clear that we were going to need an architect or draftsman to work on our plans. Aside from getting valuable input on the design and layout, the engineering was going to be complicated. We met with a couple people, discussed our ideas and settled on Loera Designs.

They were great! We ended up with a set of plans that we are really happy with. They also navigated us through the city process, which is unique in our area because of the Hillside Overlay. This set of rules and regulations limits development in the Riviera to preserve views, breezes and natural light. It creates a lot of wrangling with the city when building or remodeling. Luckily for us, we weren’t expanding our footprint or trying to go vertical, so our permit process was easy — only taking 5 months instead of the typical year or more.

In the meantime, I had to do something

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