Monday, January 9, 2012

footings in mid-century modern homes

On day two of the much anticipated mid-century modern bathroom remodel, I got a call from the contractor. “Your house has no footings.” Because I am a marketing person who works in I.T., I have already been trained that pretending to understand gets me into trouble within 30 seconds of the start of the conversation. So I immediately asked, “What’s a footing?”

I quickly learned that footings are essentially poured concrete at a width and depth big enough to support your foundation in a stable manner (meaning no floor cracking or movement). In the 50’s, footings were shovel dug trenches less than a foot deep. In this day and age, California construction laws have changed in a manner which require footings be big enough to hold a high school gymnasium, at least 18" deep and over a foot wide. 

After several conversations, a few emails and finally a face-to-face with the architect on site, it was determined that the structural engineer needs to provide a recommendation for the situation. We expect to have this about seven days after the initial flawed footing discovery which, by my rudimentary calculation is a one week delay, one day into the project. The new unanticipated footing support is expected to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 above the project estimate -- eating into our 10% contingency much faster than anticipated. Our contingency was lower than the 20% to 30% recommended in home remodeling project budgets because we spent so much time up front planning and pre-selecting hardware, tile and fixtures. 

As planned, the master bathroom was immediately demo’d and all three of us are sharing one bathroom. On day two of the remodel, a queue quickly formed at the bathroom door. Albert observed that we can’t all continue to wake up at the same time. A staggered wake up schedule was implemented for day three and all went much more smoothly. However, sharing a bathroom with two guys, one my husband, is honestly a first for me in my lifetime. These 7 tips for bathroom sharing should come in handy. 

Another first was my first ever shower in the guest bathroom which revealed something surprising.
Me: “How come you never mentioned the shower head was on the wrong wall in the guest bath?”
Albert: “It never really bothered me.”

The shower head points straight at the shower door, blasting water against it. You have to point the shower head away from the door to the left and sneak in from the right. Plus the shower head is actually located at the narrowest part of the shower (another non-square shape typical in our home). My goal was zero changes to the plan. Tsk-tsk, what a naive remodeler. After reviewing these 10 ways to make sure your remodel doesn't go over budget, I was sure we adhered to all of them, yet over budget we are, due to the unanticipated  -- I refuse to say unexpected -- events of the last several days.

The realities of construction have quickly set in.

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