Diary of a POP TOP Second Story Addition Project

169 Replies

Wow, thanks @J Scott , I didn't know that. Is that just for new construction in City of Atlanta?

I've never done a project of this magnitude, and I've had my electrician do low voltage at the same time. Very good to know for future reference!!


Originally posted by @J Scott:
Originally posted by @Sheree Hsu:

Low volt - for doorbells and alarms right? Do you need a separate permit for that?

Not only a separate permit, but in City of Atlanta, a separate contractor!  Well, doesn't have to be a separate contractor, but City of Atlanta requires the contractor to have a low voltage license, which isn't very common among most electricians in the area.

Todd and I did our first new construction project together a couple years ago, and this little issue threw us for a big loop.  Ultimately, we ended up doing essentially no low voltage wiring because we couldn't find a reasonably priced contractor to do the work (they gouge you because they know there aren't too many licensed low-voltage guys).

The other option, of course, is to pass your rough inspections, and then throw the low voltage in the walls before closing them up.  Just don't get caught!

Now, all that said, I don't remember which city this project is in...it may not be City of Atlanta jurisdiction, so permits may not be required for this particular project...

Originally posted by @Sheree H.  

Not only a separate permit, but in City of Atlanta, a separate contractor! Well, doesn't have to be a separate contractor, but City of Atlanta requires the contractor to have a low voltage license, which isn't very common among most electricians in the area.

Todd and I did our first new construction project together a couple years ago, and this little issue threw us for a big loop. Ultimately, we ended up doing essentially no low voltage wiring because we couldn't find a reasonably priced contractor to do the work (they gouge you because they know there aren't too many licensed low-voltage guys).

The other option, of course, is to pass your rough inspections, and then throw the low voltage in the walls before closing them up. Just don't get caught!

Now, all that said, I don't remember which city this project is in...it may not be City of Atlanta jurisdiction, so permits may not be required for this particular project...

The Diary of a New Construction House  is the project J is referring too, I think somewhere in that MASSIVE thread is our thoughts on to Low Volt or not Low Volt. Had this Pop Top project been in the City of ATL, we most likely would have NOT installed low volt and made the homeowners watch Hulu and get a wireless security system...

In Wall Pest Control

We JUST started using In Wall Pest Control earlier this year.  I think it is a FANTASTIC selling feature!  Not only that... but you get In Wall Pest Control AND termite bait stations for LESS than most other companies charge for just the termite stations!  

Basically they run tubes INSIDE all the walls on the first floor and basement if you are finishing it.  There is an access point on the outside of the house so INSTEAD of the Pest guys coming INTO your house and spraying bug juice everywhere you kids eat cheerios off the floor... they inject it INSIDE your walls from a port on the OUTSIDE of your house!

Needless to say I'm a Big Fan, not sure if this is widely available across the country but definitely anyone around Atlanta should check into this!  

I bought a couple of houses from Centex back in 2005.  They both have this so it has been around for quite a while.  Since I self insure against termites and make the tenants responsible for other pests, I have not actually used it in either home except for the first year when Centex paid for it as part of the sales package.

Thanks Todd!

Don't ask me about showerheads - I always say, if the market supports it, the more the better! 

Good to know about the low volt. I need to look into when a permit is required so I don't get caught unprepared. 

WOW - In wall pest control - what a terrific concept!! I'm surprised I've never heard about this. Especially in bug-ridden GA with kids that love playing outside. It would definitely be a huge selling point for me if I was buying! Looking forward to adding this to my rehab checklist.


Originally posted by @Todd Whiddon :
Originally posted by @Sheree Hsu:

Thanks for the update, Todd! This thread is like chocolate. I need my Pop-top fixes. :)

I have a couple questions, please excuse me if they're very basic:

Multiple showerheads - I think I see two, will there be more?

Low volt - for doorbells and alarms right? Do you need a separate permit for that?

I've never heard of "In wall pest control." What is it, and is it a necessity or a good selling point?

 Sheree-

Showers...

Originally there were gonna be two "regular" shower heads on the wall, I moved one of them up to the rain head....  Think we should add another on the wall for a total of 3?   

Low Volt

Low volt for this project is for security, ethernet, and cable. Luckily for this project Low Volt does NOT require a separate permit and our electrician installed everything for a nominal charge . 

Originally posted by @J Scott 

Not only a separate permit, but in City of Atlanta, a separate contractor! Well, doesn't have to be a separate contractor, but City of Atlanta requires the contractor to have a low voltage license, which isn't very common among most electricians in the area.

Todd and I did our first new construction project together a couple years ago, and this little issue threw us for a big loop. Ultimately, we ended up doing essentially no low voltage wiring because we couldn't find a reasonably priced contractor to do the work (they gouge you because they know there aren't too many licensed low-voltage guys).

The other option, of course, is to pass your rough inspections, and then throw the low voltage in the walls before closing them up. Just don't get caught!

Now, all that said, I don't remember which city this project is in...it may not be City of Atlanta jurisdiction, so permits may not be required for this particular project...

The Diary of a New Construction House  is the project J is referring too, I think somewhere in that MASSIVE thread is our thoughts on to Low Volt or not Low Volt. Had this Pop Top project been in the City of ATL, we most likely would have NOT installed low volt and made the homeowners watch Hulu and get a wireless security system...

In Wall Pest Control

We JUST started using In Wall Pest Control earlier this year.  I think it is a FANTASTIC selling feature!  Not only that... but you get In Wall Pest Control AND termite bait stations for LESS than most other companies charge for just the termite stations!  

Basically they run tubes INSIDE all the walls on the first floor and basement if you are finishing it.  There is an access point on the outside of the house so INSTEAD of the Pest guys coming INTO your house and spraying bug juice everywhere you kids eat cheerios off the floor... they inject it INSIDE your walls from a port on the OUTSIDE of your house!

Needless to say I'm a Big Fan, not sure if this is widely available across the country but definitely anyone around Atlanta should check into this!  

POWER-ful

Or at least full of power thingies...

Sorry...  Some of my focuses for the new year are to be 

MORE investor and LESS contractor

MORE Big Picture and LESS Micro-Manager

So Instead of Romex, Outlets with built-in child protection, breakers, panels, meter bases and converting overhead service to underground service... they are now just Thingies... Power Thingies....

That being said the power thingie installation went as planned and took 2 days.  The permitting jurisdiction did NOT require a separate permit for low volt so our electrician pre-wired the house for security, Cat5, and cable at the same time as the electrical rough.

Since TV's above fireplaces have become commonplace, so have "Smurf Tubes" in all our projects.  Basically it is conduit that will allow the future homeowner to run cables from behind their TV down to inside the built-in cabinetry without cutting drywall.

We are also going with a wall mount electric fireplace which will require an outlet.  It wasn't until I posted this picture that I realized it is NOT there....something we will have to remedy before drywall!

PRE-DRYWALL Q&A OPEN HOUSE FRIDAY 1/9

Here's your LAST chance to see ALL the mistakes / pipes / wires / ect before they are covered up with drywall!  Also you will get a sneak peak at an EXCITING new feature we are adding to this project...

Look forward to seeing you THIS Friday 1.9.15 from 11-12 somewhere in North East Atlanta...  PM me if you need the address!

H-V-A-Conditioning

As far as the comfort / satisfaction of your future homeowners go, there probably are not too many things that impact it MORE than getting your HVAC right.

That being said the budget side of my brain REALLY toyed with the idea of JUST installing 1 HVAC system since it isn't all that big of a house.  But then I had nightmare's of Holmes on Homes showing up at MY house with TV cameras and chose to go with 2 systems!

We opted to go with a 90% furnace in the crawlspace since the layout of the house didn't really make it conducive to run a conduit for vent pipe up through the roof, and the 90% allows us to use PVC to vent horizontally through the side of the house.  Another benefit to the 90% is the marketing talking point of UPGRADED hvac ;)

We went with a "standard" 80% furnace for the upstairs to save a little cash since it was easy to vent.

Something else we started doing this year is installing Wi-Fi thermostats. AFTER the house is complete and on market, we ALWAYS install basic ones during construction so they don't wonder off!  This has been a HUGE hit and plays well to stand out in MLS listings and showings! What are y'alls thoughts on including these as standards?

Hi @Todd Whiddon  What's the price difference between the 80% and 90% units?

I like the "Nest".  I think it's a nice touch and suggests you spared no expense.  It should boost confidence in your home vs. an exact replica down the street (if it existed).  For $200, you should get a good return on this last minute expense.  Better than foam insulation, right?

I imagine the wife/husband says, 'honey, this house costs more than the other, but it has a Nest so it will save us money.'

@Todd Whiddon  

When you say a 90% furnace, do you really mean a 94/95% AFUE?   94/95% units are readily available and the cost difference is marginal (at lease here).

Looking forward to seeing progress. This may be an idea I emulate in my area.

Originally posted by @Rick Baggenstoss :

Hi @Todd Whiddon What's the price difference between the 80% and 90% units?

I like the "Nest".  I think it's a nice touch and suggests you spared no expense.  It should boost confidence in your home vs. an exact replica down the street (if it existed).  For $200, you should get a good return on this last minute expense.  Better than foam insulation, right?

I imagine the wife/husband says, 'honey, this house costs more than the other, but it has a Nest so it will save us money.'

The 90%s prob cost us 800-1000 more. I haven't really shopped this option around so I have NO idea if I'm paying more than I should / could get elsewhere.

And yes the Nest is a MUCH better bang for the bang than spray foam!

A NOTE ABOUT 90% FURNACES IN UNCONDITIONED ATTICS

The cost savings on the standard 80%s were NOT the only reason we installed a 80% in the attic.   90% Furnaces produce WATER during combustion which must be dealt with, i.e. pumped out on condensate lines.  Typically water and freezing temperatures in unconditioned attics are a BAD combination so our HVAC contractor says to try and avoid putting them in unconditioned attics whenever possible.

Originally posted by @Roy N. :

@Todd Whiddon 

When you say a 90% furnace, do you really mean a 94/95% AFUE?   94/95% units are readily available and the cost difference is marginal (at lease here).

 Yes... pretty much every equipment manufacture has a slightly different efficiency rating on their equipment, I think the Carrier model we had installed is actually 92.something % AFUE.    The folks here in Atlanta just call that general level of furnace a 90% even though the true percentage will vary in the 9x% range.

So..... Podcast 104

So... if you think I use the word "So....." too much in my writing...  You should hear me talk!   So...Anyone interested in hearing me philosophize about life, liberty, and the pursuit of Pop Tops, swing over to the podcast page, check it out and lemme know if anyone can recommend a good SO-SO speech therapist! 

http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2015/01/08/bp-104-scalable-real-estate-business/


A NOTE ABOUT 90% FURNACES IN UNCONDITIONED ATTICS

The cost savings on the standard 80%s were NOT the only reason we installed a 80% in the attic.   90% Furnaces produce WATER during combustion which must be dealt with, i.e. pumped out on condensate lines.  Typically water and freezing temperatures in unconditioned attics are a BAD combination so our HVAC contractor says to try and avoid putting them in unconditioned attics whenever possible.

Wow, thanks for that note, Todd. I am going to have to replace an attic furnace this year or next (limping along as long as I can on the current one) and had planned to go with a 90% for efficiency. This is excellent info for budgeting that replacement!

Originally posted by @Anna Watkins :

A NOTE ABOUT 90% FURNACES IN UNCONDITIONED ATTICS

The cost savings on the standard 80%s were NOT the only reason we installed a 80% in the attic.   90% Furnaces produce WATER during combustion which must be dealt with, i.e. pumped out on condensate lines.  Typically water and freezing temperatures in unconditioned attics are a BAD combination so our HVAC contractor says to try and avoid putting them in unconditioned attics whenever possible.

Wow, thanks for that note, Todd. I am going to have to replace an attic furnace this year or next (limping along as long as I can on the current one) and had planned to go with a 90% for efficiency. This is excellent info for budgeting that replacement!

It's counterproductive to put your furnace in any unconditioned space - the furnace needs to work harder and the heat loss on the hot air ducts will be waste ... and worse, can cause condensation to occur in the unconditioned space.

Hmm, @Roy N. , more food for thought.  In this particular house, changing the location of the furnace would be a real pain. But, it makes me more aware of the need for insulation and ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. And maybe I'll get a quote for a crawlspace furnace too.  Thanks.

PLANNING THE PLAN PART 2

So.. Picking up the Planning the Plan Part 1 post we had pretty much nailed down the conceptual house plan with some rough sketches

Now we need to turn those sketches into Construction Plans.  Can't remember if I bragged on our Drafts people "The Girls" before or not. But they are AWESOME, and anyone looking for plans / CAD services around Atlanta should check them out!

So here is a recap of the original house..

And Here is the first draft of the CAD plans for the new house

Here's my feedback from these plans..

Let's keep fireplace and Windows as is, we went by there today and we can do a shed roof under window

Drop ceiling over living BKs

Yes desk under stairs

Open rail both sides stairs btwn foyer and dining

Down shower to 4'

Kitchen window to 4'

Move master fireplace to Inset, built ins each side

Add Windows both sides sitting room?

Change label up front bedroom to bed 3

Door to upper WC, make double bowl vanity

42" knee wall btwn tub and shower

Arch above master vanity

No window master WC

Transom window hers closet?

Attic stairs in loft area?

Double wall in laundry room for hookups?

__________

And here is the revised plan with our first look at the elevations

By this time we are pretty close to having our designed firmed up and it's just easier to provide feedback with redlining plans than trying to explain in an email.

But alas more questions arise than a simple picture can explain...

1. Shake and siding on front or all shake?

BOTH SEE ELEVATION REDLINE ATTACHED


2. First floor window header hgt? Higher than standard? Bryce
might could answer this? This will affect the window hgts. We do not
need 6'-2" at 6'-8" in Family Room and window above sink will have to
be shorter than noted it set at standard hdr hgt. 
IM OK WITH EXISTING HEIGHT


3. Draw garage 24'x24'? Roof Pitch? Gable facing? 
WE CAN SAVE THIS FOR LAST, YES 24X24 , FRONT FACING GABLE, WHATEVER YOU THINK ON ROOF PITCH


4. The front porch roof does not have to be metal. It is at a 3.5
pitch so it can be shingles. 
KEEP METAL


5. Previous front door location, bricked up? 
YES


6. The windows on the front of the second floor can be set at 7'-9"
but there is no need for the rest of the second floor to be set
at that height or need for transom in Master? If you keep the transom
then make windows around it 6'-2" tall? 
OK TO LOSE TRANSOM


7. What was the plan for the covering for the basement access? 
HAHAHA WE'RE GONNA FIGURE THIS OUT IN THE FIELD


8. Is the right wall of the mud room and pantry now going to be
something other than brick? It is an opening now? 
OK TO LEAVE AS BRICK


9. We have kept several of the windows in the same locations on
the main level. Will you keep the same size or make them taller
as we have shown? For example, the now dining room windows
could stay (the same size) as well as the side and/or window
in the front bedroom (we just need one big enough for egress). 
SAME SIZE


10. The front door unit needs to be wider if we are going to try
to have it fill the space of the twin window that was there. 
OK


11. Window grids? Not sure they are the best they could be.
FRONT ALL 3/1 EXCEPT DORMERS WHICH ARE COOL AS DRAWN


12. The back porch will be higher off the ground than Brooke showed
on the elevations. Will it be a deck or a raised slab? See Rear
now that basement level is shown.
DECK

13. The existing Kitchen, Bed 3 and bath windows will be exposed
areas (broken brick) on the rear of the home. What should be show
in their place? Brick up? 
YES BRICK UP

14. I do not remember the Kitchen being laid out that way. Will there
be seating at the island or is that a 3'-0" deep island (no bar noted)?
YES FLAT BAR WITH SEATING, ACTUALLY IF WE CAN CHEAT THE PATIO DOORS DOWN AND MAKE ISLAND AND KITCHEN BIGGER LETS MAX OUT KITCHEN SPACE

15. I'm not sure what type of fireplace you are wanting in the Master, but
I do not know of any 3'-6" wide? Hearth?
JUST DELETE, WE WILL EITHER DO ELECTRIC WALL MOUNT OR JUST SHELVES ON ENTIRE WALL

16. Are you changing out the basement windows also? If so, to what? Double hungs?AS IS

17. Please notice new heated square footage, it is smaller now due to second floor porch off Master.OK

18. We usually add pictures of the existing house for reference on the plans, would you like that?NO NEED WE HAVE A JOBSITE BOOK WITH PICTURES AND NOTES

  ________

One more floorplan redline...

And we are set for construction...

And Marketing...

There are LOTS of things that looked good on paper that didn't exactly work out in real life, and a few things that once we had it framed up we had new ideas and changed some stuff around We'll review those in Part 3....

@Todd Whiddon   

I'm playing catch-up on this post, however, thanks for laying this all out for us to see...

Very exciting project, and method of sharing. Excited to follow. Thanks!

@Todd Whiddon  Thanks for taking your time chatting, answering questions and explaining the process. For anyone in the Atlanta area, you need to see what Todd is doing! Super knowledgeable and down to earth guy.

I'm very much at the beginning of my real estate journey and its great to have the BP community to learn from. 

I'm glad to be apart of this all!

Originally posted by @John Horner :

@Todd Whiddon  , Best documented (and by far the funniest) project yet!!!

 Funny Ha-Ha or just Funny looking?

Originally posted by @Todd Whiddon :
Originally posted by @John Horner:

@Todd Whiddon  , Best documented (and by far the funniest) project yet!!!

 Funny Ha-Ha or just Funny looking?

 Funny haha, as far the commentary!

Originally posted by @Herschel Kessler :

@Todd Whiddon Thanks for taking your time chatting, answering questions and explaining the process. For anyone in the Atlanta area, you need to see what Todd is doing! Super knowledgeable and down to earth guy.

I'm very much at the beginning of my real estate journey and its great to have the BP community to learn from. 

I'm glad to be apart of this all!

 Thanks for coming out! Excited to see you and your brother get ramped up! 

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