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2014-09-14 07.31.25 1.jpg

house blog

projects around the house


Filtering by Category: renovations

a fence, finally.

jenn pan

when we last left you in SEPTEMBER, we had just pulled up the bougainvillea plants adjacent to the chainlink fence in preparation for a replacement redwood fence. it took some time to get scheduled, but we finally got a date of october 28 for the installation. we were so excited. above and below are a reminder of what the chainlink looked like before anything went down.

hello, neighbors! 

the other thing we had to do before the fence was installed was pick and purchase the stain we wanted on the redwood. the fence installation company charges for stain at-cost, so we also had the option of buying our own. we bought a redwood two-by-four, cut it down to four equal pieces and tested penofin's ultra premium red label transparent wood stain in western red cedar, redwood, sable and sierra. sierra felt too orange, and sable too dark and somewhat splotchy. the red cedar and redwood were very close, but redwood won out because it was a bit less yellow. we bought three gallons of the paint from local paint store jill's and were SO ready to have an awesome new fence!

the installation for this project was supposed to be three days: dig holes and install footers and posts on the first day, and put up the horizontal wood board and stain the next two. nothing to it, right?


an hour after we left our house, we got a call from the installers that a city inspector had come by and because we didn't have a permit, they had to stop the work. according to all of our prior research, anything less than six feet tall didn't require a permit. apparently, that particular code had recently changed to anything less than 18 INCHES now requires a permit. so, this is what we came home to:

the only work they had done before the inspector showed up was the digging of three holes and their posts, as well as the removal of the random partial chainlink. and this was how the side of the house continued to look until after the new year. why? let's talk about it.

skip the copious amounts of text to the next photo if you don't want to do any heavy reading...


we went and got the permit from the city. everyone was super nice and helpful, but the process was kind of crazy. because the fence is something on the exterior of the house and visible from the street, it could require a design review. this is a minimum of $3,000. and it involves sending a public notice to everyone who lives within a certain radius of the house to make sure no one has any objections. if the change one is making is minor enough, or deemed to not require such a crazy process by the city, then the permit can be "design review exempt". however, the signature alone for something to be design review exempt is $300. lesson learned: when we decide to do anything to the exterior of the house (including changing out windows) apply for it all at once to potentially minimize the cost! 

the other crazy bit is that we had to show in the plan that the fence would be, in its entirety, on our property. it is possible to have a fence straight down the property line, but that would require a common wall agreement with the other property owner, and that paperwork starts at $2,000. anyway, we made the proper adjustments to all the plans, got buy offs from design review, engineering, walked over to the department of water and power building to get buyoffs from both electrical and water (since holes were going to be dug), back to the permit office for final building review and THEN finally paid for the permit. which came out to over $600. we paid over $900 that day because we decided to also just get the permits for the doors at the same time, to be safe.


so at this point, you would think we could move forward, right? well, there was a bit more confusion. we couldn't just have the fence guys come back and finish everything - for fence installations, the city also requires a footing inspection before any additional work can be done. we would need the installers to come back, and finish digging all of the holes, as well as remove the posts they had already put in and redig those holes as well. to be extra safe, we called the inspectors office to see what the stipulations are for passing that inspection, and they said a survey would be required to show that all of the footing was entirely on our property. we inquired a few companies and a single property line survey would cost at least $1,500.


by chance, while walking sanford, i discovered our property markers on the side of the house (we're a corner house). and lo and behold, also found one on the property line in question! what a huge weight off our chest! however, this was right before the holidays and between our travel plans and the installers schedule, we wouldn't be able to get back on the schedule for awhile.


this was the day the installers were supposed to come back and pull up the posts and dig the remaining holes. however, we got a ton of rain, and they had to postpone. moving along..


this one wasn't even scheduled! we just came home and found our side yard looking like this:

who called CSI?

they came and dug the holes!! total ninjas. we were pretty stoked. time to call the city to do the footing inspection.


footing inspection PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we can finish the fence! this took more scheduling..


posts, round two. still looks like a crime scene, but we're making progress.

view from our front porch.


the put in the wood posts and filled the last inch of the holes. and this is why i love our installers, they even put in a form so that it went exactly to the property line. they even had time to start putting up the redwood boards on our side!

taking shape.



IT'S DONE! all the boards are up on both sides, and stained beautifully! we're seriously in love with this fence.

we didn't want it to be too imposing, so once it passes our porch, it goes from being a 6' fence to a 42" fence.

which ends in a cute new gate with black hardware.

isn't it adorbs?

now we have a great enclosed area off the side of the house. we're hoping to turn this into both an outdoor entertaining space (just off the kitchen) as well as a nice area that sanford can run around in (thus the gate).

we're infatuated with the final product. we are so appreciative of flavio and his team from five star fence for the attention to detail and stellar job they did, and for working with us through the whole, crazy process.

but we still need to pass final inspection. 

DAY ???

a shortcut.

jenn pan

as much as we love the new front door, the new one at the rear of the house may take the cake. the existing door was one of my least favorite things about the house. it was just an aluminum sliding door. and it was ugly. the back of the house also faces southwest, so it would let in a lot of hot afternoon sun. we put some old blackout curtains we had from james's old apartment up to help with both situations, though it didn't completely solve either. 


but besides being ugly, it was also nearly non-functional. the door itself had no real locking mechanism. just a few holes roughly drilled into the aluminum framing, which was difficult to actually lock. and even then, if you pulled hard enough, it would still pop open. so not only could it not be locked or unlocked from the outside, it was also just not safe. we never advertised this before, but now that it's gone, we can show you our janky security system for that door:


needless to say, it was a pain in the butt to get in and out of, so we mostly avoided it. which was also a bummer because the garage (or hangar, as we call it) is behind the house, and it would be so much easier to be able to enter/exit the house this way, than to go all the way around to the front door. but that's exactly what we did for over a year and a half! but now it has all been resolved, and it is pretty, and functional, and convenient, and we love it!


as you can see, even with the sidelight, it is still smaller than the old door, so we have a bit of exterior wall to patch up. while the knob is from emtek like the hardware on the front, the lock itself is a kwikset smartcode lock, which means one less key to carry around or fumble with! and we can also hook it up to vivint, our home security system, so that we could lock/unlock it remotely, which certainly has its benefits!


the new front door!

jenn pan

it's happened. it has finally, finally happened. the new doors are IN. this post is dedicated to the front door, but before we see the final outcome, let's look at where we started.


the old door was BIG and solid wood. we liked these things. however, it was very old, and had been painted over multiple times. see that sort of scrubby detail above the center painted-over "window"? yea, it's a little "shalom" in both english and hebrew that the house flippers did not even bother to remove before they painted over it. it was also a not-very-pleasant (but also not unpleasant) shade of burnt orange. this was the least of our concerns. mainly, the door was a pain in the butt. it was very difficult to open and close, and even more difficult to lock and unlock - which required some lifting - because it was literally falling off the hinges. after shoving toothpicks into the stripped holes a few months back, the door hasn't been as bad as it was for the first year of living in the house, but it still took a good bit of effort to get in and out of on a daily basis.


another side effect of it falling out of the hinges, is that the door was not square or sealed! from the inside, you could easily see how much of the weight of the door was actually pushing into the frame, thus requiring the lifting to open or close. from the outside, you can see that there was a considerable gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold. this meant we constantly had crickets making their way into the house from the outdoors. once, a very large cockroach even crawled in from under the door. also, twice a month we'd have a ton of dirt and debris blown into the house by the bi-weekly landscaping crew.


one of my favorite things about the door is the decorative glass. it's just so darn pretty. it also works well with the shade of blue the house is painted. 


it was not easy picking a stain for the doors. we wanted something "dark-but-not-too-dark and warm-but-not-too-warm". we started with four samples from minwax, which is both a stain and sealer (important for exterior doors!). the colors were dark walnut, english chestnut, jacobean, red mahogany. the jacobean and red mahogany were just too dark. the english chestnut too red. we liked the dark walnut, but just felt it wasn't warm enough. it was also hard to judge because the 2x4 we bought at the hardware store was very knotty and obviously not stain-grade like our doors and so had lots of variation in color. for our second round of stain tests, we bought honey, early american and cherry. we really liked both the honey and early american, but ended up going with honey. the funny thing is, we almost didn't even buy it!


i am utterly in love with the final color. i think the honey hits the perfect balance of dark and warm that we were looking for. the pictures really don't do it justice because they are kind of blown out. and the chunky dentil shelf? and angled mutt (panels)? i'm really in love with this door.


the craftsman entry lock from emtek turned out really nice. i still wish it weren't hammered, but it's not very noticeable since it's a nice matte black. we've been using it for a few days now and i still revel at how easy it is lock and unlock the door. single-handed!


and look! a real, solid wood threshold! and a sealed door, where not dirt, debris or insect can enter from!


and last but not least, here is the new door in all it's glory. needless to say, we are really, really happy.