about the renovation of our new north Portland Church into our future home!

Archive for September 2009

Houston, we have a problem.

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So my friend Rodney and I were taking out some aggression on the walls yesterday, and got the bathroom ceiling to the point that it was hanging by a thread ( four lengths of romex, to be exact) … needing a little helping hand to make it topple.  So, I climbed up above the skeletal ceiling structure that we’d slowly stripped the walls out from under, leaning on the huge glulam beam for support and balancing on the one remaining beam… hard to describe but trust me, precarious as hell.

snip…snip… snip.. 6919_1248688060889_1340079698_2053839_5421053_n

(that’s my arm holding the nippers to the right)…

….and down the enourmous ceiling came with a thunderous crash! We whooped and whinnied with delight.. I climbed down to escape the huge cloud of dust an debris, and looked up to discover that the glulam beam, the very same one I’d been leaning on during this process, had become dislodged!!!  It is now in two pieces, the left portion slanted and several inches lower than it’s opposite end…. firmly wedged  in place such that falling is not likely, (thank god.. the thing must weigh 1000 pounds) but getting it back to level will be very challenging.  Um, Anyone have a 20 ft tall hydraulic car lift we can borrow?


WHY on earth the original builders would not brace this thing into the wall, or with a sufficient beam under it, I will never know… but it appears to be literally placed on top of very lame mickey-moused pieces of wall that did not appear to be load bearing. suprise, suprise. it was.

Not sure if we are going to try to lift and brace it (to what, though? we’d need to build an appropriate beam under it since the sheetrocked 2X4 wall won’t support that kind of weight) or figure out how to get it down safely… and then we wont have it to connect a floor for the loft….

Another little treat: termites. not very many but definitely a tiny infestation along the ground below where this pic was taken.


Written by lilylivered

September 29, 2009 at 6:42 am

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New designs!

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Here are some new ideas Eli just sent over….. I love so many features of these…!

4828 N Williams 09-17-09 West

1.The front view is gorgeous.. Great work, Eli!!! He’s eliminated both front doors, pulling the main entrance around to the left side.  There are planter boxes across the front, and the main large window is partially frosted, partially openable.  The trellis will likely come up the middle somewhere where trees are shown.  Windows here are not certain.. we are still working out size and placement.

4828 N Williams 09-17-09 North2. the front entrance is easily accessible from the driveway, but not directly on the public sidewalk like before.  The placement of the windows and doors are also yet to be determined.  Still not placed yet; the skylights… likely one big one over the fireplace, and another over the loft bedroom.

4828 N Williams 09-17-09 Patio3. The driveway will be cut up and broken apart for some sort of groundcover and landscaping will incorporate many more potted plants along the fenced sides and back portion near the rain recovery tanks, which are cleverly concealed.  Above all  this I’d like to fit in some sort of awning, so I can sit/eat outside when it rains.  Steps lead up the left to Eli and Rae’s deck, front entrance and yard.

4828 N Williams 09-17-09 Kitchen4. The slider barn-style door exposing either the bathroom entrance or the hallway at one time is on the left. this is where the reclaimed wood slat wall idea will likely come in…. (to save some money on a traditional solid barn-door) and the idea may continue over in the cabinetry and island.  The exposed trusses and glulam beam above the kitchen area will be another striking architectural element that will expose the structural qualities of the building and show off the rustic original character.  Steps up on the right go around to the work studio, which is visible through a frosted glass window backsplash inset in the kitchen cabinetry.  Above will likely be some sort of large painting or peraps more plants… really the only thing missing here is the island, where I’ll likely have a gas inset stove.  Notice also the step down from the entrance on the left, a japanese style entrance.

4828 N Williams 09-17-09 Fireplace

5.The integrated gas fireplace, hearth/bench/half wall has room above for a film screening area above.  It incorporates shelving and storage on the backside, and creates a natural division of space for openness and versatility (office? bedroom?) behind.    Less permanent curtains can be used to enclose it if privacy is needed.  I am planning a vertical garden and skylight above this wall…  should be a very warm and inviting centerpiece.

Written by lilylivered

September 21, 2009 at 1:13 am

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The ride is getting bumpy…

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Much to my dismay, I am sad to announce that Taka has decided to pull out of the project.  His reasons are his own, and though they don’t fully make sense to me, I have to respect them and try to move on.  We are looking for a good General Contractor to replace Sakura Urban Concepts for the job. 😦

Eli is hard at work coming up with our Big List of construction items to address so we will have this to present to potential GC’s interested in bidding for the project.  I also have a  friend or two in mind to invite to the table… TBA.

Also, we have decided to go condo, rather than a zero-lot line subdivision.  this will be expensive in terms of legal fees, but not nearly as much of an expense, hassle and time-consumer as the town-home… so yeah, we need a good real-estate lawyer, now too.  This also affords us greater community control (with HOA rules), more flexibility for exit-strategy and ease & simplicity of shared utilities rather than new & separate lines.

Jim sent me another lovely Colorado condo conversion called The Sanctuary Lofts

church-condoThanks Jim!!

Written by lilylivered

September 16, 2009 at 6:38 pm

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Ongoing research this week:

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Written by lilylivered

September 11, 2009 at 6:47 pm

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Colorado Church remodel…thanks Jim!

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This is a fabulous church remodel my friend Jim sent to me… BTW, this church is a MILLION times more beautiful than mine… sigh.

Church remodels 058 (1)

Church remodels 058 (31)

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original sanctuary

Church remodels 058 (32)

Light well

at least this gives me something to aspire to…

Written by lilylivered

September 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm

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Well, the meeting with the City official , Mark, went *pretty* well.. better than expected.


The church is in an R-1 (a overlay) zone.  This means we are in a multi-dwelling zone and have a three-unit development minimum based on our square-footage.  This is one major point of which we needed to be certain.. (since we’d had some differences of opinion among the two planners previously, one saying we could do just the duplex, another requiring a fourplex. )  We can’t do a duplex anyway without the building dept requiring that we sprinkle the entire place.  Way too expensive.  We *can* do three, but absolutely not four. (also too expensive, and we don’t have the space.   If they’d required four it would have likely killed the whole project.

If we do a legal zero-lot line land division (town-home) there are also alot of requirements:

-creating a common area “easement” or permanent ownership agreement regarding the area along the side of the building (where the driveway is now) that common space is shared and communally agreed upon in use.

-15 foot street-frontage requirement for the each unit, which means no parking spot like we’d hoped.  Also a lot more landscaping requirements there.. not just a huge patio like i’d hoped.

-a second structural 1-hr wall built alongside the existing CMU wall, dividing the two existing units, as well as some additional supports for the north wall to the roof.  Also a second layer of “type X” sheetrock across the entire ceiling span of both existing units.

-hire a structural engineer to prove that the two walls are laterally structurally independent.

-installation of a new water line for the two rear units.

-installation of a new sewer line for the two rear units.

-provide a soil filration test (to the tune of $1000) to assess how to practically manage and reduce stormwater runoff

-redirecting of stormwater in a manner that is satisfactory for the two units.

-redesign of our essentially windowless front facade design (except the new huge window way up high which apparently DOESN’T COUNT!!) to show a minimum of 15% of total space as glazed area (60 sq. ft) that is transparent from the inside out, with a VISIBLE door.

-reducing the size of the storefront windows out to the side patio.

Next we have to sit down and really assess whether it’s most practical and cost effective to divide this thing up as a condo conversion or a zero-lot line subdivision (townhomes).  Either way is expensive for different reasons, but Eli and Rae need to be able to buy into this for it to work, so renting is not an option.  We just have to figure out which one is more cost prohibitive. Also the overall value retention of each option should be considered.

The Bad News (threefold): The planning department has just been cut in half.  Our planner, Mark,  was the only remaining fella in the department with any experience who hasn’t been laid off.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mark also said he has never seen a land division review take less than three years to complete.  And yes, he was totally serious.  He seemed to want to help us (because he liked Sakura’s designs and wants to see the urban renewal in that particular area especially), but couldn’t guarantees or assurances.  Basically the final say seems not to be up to him, but subject to approval from other planners in the department.  I was under the impression that we’d be getting more definitive answers today.

I haven’t formed an ulcer yet, but I guess I have three years to work on it.

The Good News: No major prohibitive issues came up.  Everything is possible, it’s just going to take more time and money than we’d anticipated.  What else is new!

Written by lilylivered

September 2, 2009 at 1:57 am

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