Problem Solving: Finding Different Ways To View A Problem

Blog Post created by jonescarp.aka.dale.Jan_2007 on Apr 15, 2015
      Venice California 2004  
      An owner trying to make improvements and flip a house hires unlicensed contractors with no knowledge of building codes to make improvements on the rear building of the property. She has them redo the 2nd and 3rd floors of the rear building without any permits and then has them strip the inside walls of the front house and gets caught by the city. As she had done demo and opened up the walls of the front house, code required that EVERYTHING be brought up to todays standards. They hired me because I was a hands on carpenter/licensed contractor. It was up to me to fix the mess.  
      Here's a link to the whole project with pictures of the before and after.  
      After we had the front house nearly done the city notified the owner that the two buildings qualified as separate residences and we had to create more parking or connect the two units effectively making it a single family residence.,  
     2 Options: 
    1 Remove the back downstairs garage wall and create a niche for parking BETWEEN the two buildings. The cost to engineer and restructure a 3 story building with both downstairs long walls gone and thus their shear value missing, will be well over $100k.    The other drawback is there can be no garden area due to the access of the turning radius required for a car to get to that space.



2 Connect The Buildings To Make It One Residence

Problems: The buildings don't line up. (they are offset) They are at different elevations. There is a stairwell in the rear building that cannot be changed. There is a window on the other side of the normal ridge location.

   They hired an architect to come up with a way to connect the buildings. His vision of the final result was very awkward and expensive and was dismissed.
   My Solution: Skew the ridge off center so the rafters don't impinge on the headroom of the rear buildings stair opening, (which can't be changed) and narrow but not remove the window opening so you retain the morning light on the second floor of the rear building.

Another problem before construction:

The engineer wants 5 steel columns and pads which will cost $5k each as I will have to have a welder come out at $85 and hour due to the different heights which will not be able to be determined except in the field. (one wall rises while the other side falls)
Solution: As the buildings did not line up, there was an 18" jog outside the bottom of the rear stairs. (see (see the forms jog in picture 1, above) I suggested an 18" engineered wall (ready made) . The engineer calced it out and everything worked. That saved 20K+

PS: I installed all hardware required for earthquakes but kept it hidden as much as possible for aesthetics.

Total cost including $10,000 for the cost of commercial roof materials, $35-40k

We then had to remove and replace all the work on the second and third floors of the rear building at additional costs because none of it was to code specifications.


Get your head outside the old smoking box simply by making little changes that remind you  are making a change.

Value these changes instead of bemoaning that you can't continue killing yourself and you will receive a better outcome.