Wednesday, November 26, 2008

From the Air...

This is the area where I'll be building the house, from my flight to St Louis last weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Met with Rocio Romero in Perryville yesterday to discuss the plans. Didn't realize it would cost me $600.00, but I suppose that's my fault for not reading the small print.

The sticking points for customization is the placement of the garage (in the basement? Access from the street, or from the private road at the bottom of the lot?), which won't be resolved for a while. Ideally we'd build a driveway up from the bottom, but first I need to find out if we can get an easement, and if so, how much that will cost. There's also a sewer line at the bottom of the lot, and it may be a challenge to construct the driveway over it.

Got to go and look at some aluminum windows tomorrow. Apparently, I can use aluminum out here by the ocean if I get them with a clear anodized finish.

Can't get used to calling them 'aluminum', though. It's supposed to be 'aluminium.'

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Window to my Soul

This is a conundrum.

The LV Home looks best with aluminum windows, and my first quote was encouraging - Milgard aluminum windows at under $16k.

Not so fast, though.

The lot is close to the sea, and apparently aluminum corrodes in sea air, which means that aluminum is probably out. That leaves vinyl (yuck!) or fiberglass. Vinyl only comes in white or tan, and is quite a bit more expensive. It's just not gonna look good with the galvanized steel siding. After all, it's vinyl. On the plus side, like fiberglass, it doesn't produce condensation, so the glass doesn't need to be thermally broken.

Fiberglass is even more expensive, and you can finish the exterior it to match the color of the siding. But so far I can't find thin-frame sliding patio doors, only French doors with big fat ugly frames.

I'll talk to Rocio and her staff about this on Saturday. Hopefully we can come up with an elegant, non-corrosive, non-astronomically expensive solution.

You Can Quote Me On That

Starting to get some quotes now:

$5300.00 for the site survey
$4000.00 for the soils report
$15425.69 for the windows (Milgard Aluminum, with SunCoastMax)

No idea about the roof yet, though. There are so many choices - EPDM (which Rocio used on her house), TPO, PV, Green, and Duro-Last, to name a few. I'd love to get the PV (photo-voltaic) roof, but I'm sure it's going to be too expensive. Green is Good, but it's also pricey, and my budget is thinner than a bulimic supermodel after a visit to the bathroom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


For my birthday in late September, Connie and I stayed at Jennifer and Barry Watson's LUMINHAUS in Amherst, Virginia. Jennifer and Barry were Rocio Romero's first customers for the LV Home, and they built it themselves for just under $100,000.

Getting there wasn't simple. I live in San Francisco, and Connie lives in NYC. So I flew Virgin America to Washington DC, while Connie flew Delta to Richmond, VA. The plan was for me to take the Amtrak train from DC to Richmond, but my flight was delayed - badly - due a mechanical problem, and I missed my train. Since there wasn't another one for 6 hours and I was stuck, the very helpful Virgin supervisor agreed to refund the cost of my flight. I grabbed a (very expensive!) taxi to the Greyhound station, and got a (very cheap) bus to Richmond. The bus experience in the U.S. is, and always has been, a little depressing, but I arrived at the Richmond bus station right around the time Connie pulled up in our rented car.

Luminhaus is hidden away on 6.2 acres of woodland in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The house is truly lovely, as you can see:

We had a great weekend, and it confirmed my fierce desire to build my own LV Home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hey Big Spender!

And so the big spending begins!

Wrote a check today for the deposit and dropped it off at the title company (and I forgot how hard it was to cycle up Franklin to Post - damn, that's steep!), so we're now officially in escrow, with 90 days before close of escrow.

In that time I have to get the site surveyed (I have several quotes, from $4k to $8k) and get the geotechnical report (also known as a soils report - expensive); work with Rocio Romero to get the completed and probably slightly customized plans (just wired them a $10k down payment) ; and get the building permits (that process looks like it will cost at least $16k - oh, the joy of building in the Bay Area!).

Early days, but I'm hoping that we can start building in late March/early April.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What a Lot I Got!

Well, it's about 90 ft wide by 85 ft deep, in the Sharp Park area of Pacifica, and it's about a quarter of a mile from the Pacific Ocean. If you wanna see it, take a look on Google Maps or Google Earth. It's at 445 Talbot Avenue, Pacifica, CA 94044.

These are photos of architect Rocio Romero's own prototype LV Home in Perryville, Missouri. The house is available as a kit home, and about 100 of them have been built around the U.S.

Next Saturday I'll be flying to St. Louis for a tour of Rocio's house, and then we'll be meeting to discuss my LV Home!

It Starts Here...

OK, the plan is to build an LV Home on a 7650 sq ft lot that I'm buying in Pacifica, a pretty, foggy seaside community about 15 miles and 15 minutes down the coast from San Francisco.

With any luck, we'll begin the building process in March or April next year, at the end of the rainy season, and I'd love to be able to move in next August. We'll see.

The lot has ocean views, so it should be spectacular on those rare sunny days:

Spent a beautiful afternoon and evening in Pacifica today. Lunch at the Salada Cafe, chatted with some neighbors, then watched the sun set on Rockaway Beach. One of the nicest evenings I've ever seen in the Bay Area!