Category Archives: remodeling

Dumpster milestone

Jacquela, Steven, Jadin and Reboot announce the arrival of …

the dumpster, finally delivered to Emerald Hill.

Demo is about to begin.dumpster

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Going for green

Ranserve reports that Emerald Hill should qualify for, at minimum, 3 Stars from the Austin Energy Green Building Program.


This apparently requires a dedicated dumpster, with additional recycling requirements. At minimum.

Ranserve is asking Steven to administer the process. OK. The greater goal is a better operating house, more efficient to operate, better planned and built. Who can argue with that?

We did this when building Pleasant Panorama. The first house built by John Hagy that qualified for the AEGB program — 3 Stars. So … we’ve traveled this road before. Doesn’t make us experts, doing this only once before.

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DSC_9027Supervised by Avery Watson at Independence Title, Mark Rehberg, president of Ranserve, right, arm in sling, and Jacquela, left, sign the AIA remodeling contract. Steven is at the back taking this photo.

Ahead of this, we spent a couple of days working with the lawyers — Rose Cohen for Ranserve and David Sewell for the Leons — tweaking the contract, right up to the signing, with Mark and I working through last-second fixes by sending pdf files and text messages back and forth to his office, to David, with phone calls, and to the Independence Title printer.

Deep breath. It’s done. Now we put hammer to nail.

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In the backyard at Emerald Hill

Stopped at Emerald Hill this morning to check for storm damage. None. Cool.

Mom and her fawn have occupied the back yard.


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Contract. Almost.

Received draft of construction contract from Ranserve. Reviewing with lawyer. There’s a dumpster coming soon. And a remodeled house to move into at the end of this adventure.

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Making way for dumpster


I am about to make a cut and ask your permission.

As a kid, I planted saplings around the house. The pin oaks today are now 70-90 feet tall, and my mom lives surrounded by a forest. It’s reverant.

So I am not in the habit of cutting trees; I plant them.

But we have to cut clearance to get the dumpster up to the house, to begin the remodel. Which pains, because we bought this house, in part, for the forest of trees it inhabits.

Here’s an example of why.


This limb extends 30 feet out over the patio and driveway, five to six feet off the ground, held up by a vertical post, and then up and over part of the garage. It’s your skull — or a thwacking. They can’t deliver the dumpster with that in the way.

Our goal is to trim, not destroy.

Ranserve recommended Davey Tree, a certified arborist — a City of Austin requirement. Jeff Cisneros came out, walked the lot with us, showed us what he recommended cutting in phase 1, to make way for the dumpster, and in phase 2, to remove branches that hang over the roof, for safety. Along the way, we learned there is an American Elm in the back yard. That’s opening a Cracker Jack box to find a prize.

miguelandluisMeet — from Davey — Miguel, left, cutting, and Luis, right, about to drag a limb to the chipper.

Here’s what it looked like taking down the limb that extends over the deck and driveway.


Belaying ropes. Safety glasses. Hearing protection. Just like on “This Old House.”

That’s an eight-foot chunk of limb hanging by rope.

Count the rings. Miguel thinks the oak is at least 50 years old.



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Design & budget meeting

30march2015.planning_budgetMeeting at Ranserve to review and revise construction plans and projected budget. Everyone left with homework to do. From left, Brett Grinkmeyer, architect; Mark Rehburg, president of Ranserve; Michelle Hastings, estimator and budget whip at Ranserve.

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Exploratory surgery

Chris from Ranserve cuts a hole in the kitchen ceiling as we attempt to answer the question — how is Emerald Hill put together?

IMG_20150210_120345One answer — the ceiling beams are 2x10s.


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