The Kitchen Remodel is Underway!

It finally happened! Our fair City of San Jose finally showed up to work and were able to sign off on our extensive drawings and plans.  It only took about 2 months of submittals, extra drawings, waiting, re-submittals, and more waiting to get the plans approved, but its now in the past.

We got bids from three different contractors back in late August/early September.  Two of the contractors were comparable in their bids, and one was incredibly high.  Of the two reasonable options, one was the same one that Emi and Tony (Laurel’s sister and husband) used on their kitchen remodel.  He was great throughout their project, and worked extremely hard.  The choice was pretty obvious.  His name is John Jelvani, and we’d recommend him to anyone.

The project is about three weeks in.  As of today, we have passed rough electrical and plumbing inspections.  The framing is also done.  When our windows come on Wednesday, drywall and cabinets will begin to be installed.  It has been quite a journey to get to this point.  These past three weeks have not been without their hiccups! However, it looks great and we can really see how wonderful this large, open kitchen will be!

The project began Tuesday, October 28th. The first two days were demo and framing.  Then it was onto shear wall construction.  We had no idea what a shear wall was, but we knew we weren’t thrilled about having to add two.  For those who are like us, and had no know knowledge of a shear wall, here is a brief description via Wikipedia:

“In structural engineering, a shear wall is a structural system composed of braced panels (also known as shear panels) to counter the effects of lateral load acting on a structure. Wind and seismic loads are the most common loads that shear walls are designed to carry.”

They are basically an extra strength wall that is designed to hold the house together in an earthquake or strong winds- hence the word shear. They are anchored into the foundation, and have a lot of extra lumber. Though we knew it was totally necessary, it was a late add by the city which added extra drawings by a drafter, more materials, more time, and more labor.  In other words, some unexpected $$$.

In true Murphy’s Law fashion, while John the contractor was drilling the anchoring bolts down into the foundation, a large chunk of the foundation cracked and fell off.  Yikes! John was cool about the whole thing, but there were concerns.  We knew it could be fixed, but these walls have to be inspected before moving on in the project.  The inspector came out, and checked off everything except for the anchor bolts. She observed the the large crack and missing chunk, and said it should be fine to pour a new chunk of concrete with rebar. John then called her back out to take a look at his suggested fix.  The worry was that another inspector would come out and request drawings and a plan to be approved, which would take time and money.  We got lucky though!  The same inspector came out, and she approved his fixed, and John poured concrete that day.  Shear walls were done!

Shear wall

Here is the exterior of one shear wall. Notice the plywood. There will also be plywood on top the vertical 2″x 4″ supports.

With shear walls behind us, progress was made. This was when John got the rest of the framing done, and had his electrician out on a saturday to get the rough electrical and can lights in.


The washer/dryer will be hidden below a counter and kitchen cabinets. The plumbing for these is shown here.


One of the 8 can lights that are installed.


From the dining room, there is no more large wall running perpendicular! The laundry/mud room is also gone. To the left is the new hallway that used to be closets.


The hallway that was a closet. The next opening is the hall bathroom that used to be a Jack and Jill bathroom. Before, if you were a guest and needed to use the restroom you had to go into a bedroom. Now we have better access.

Overall, things are progressing well.  As for the other hiccups, our leaky garage was an issue and water got all over our new appliances! Though it was scary, the appliances all seem fine, and they’re now covered with tarps.  It was a large reminder about the next project, that darn garage roof! The other hiccup was that John found a substantial colony of live termites.  We had the house tented in July, so this won’t be a big issue as it came with a 3 year warranty.  We already have a plan with the termite company to re-treat for free.  However, we were fairly surprised in finding these so soon after a tenting.  It makes you wonder how successful they are.  We only found them because our contractor was digging into a wall.





Right now we are hoping we are about 3 weeks away from move in day. Below is a good visual of the progress so far. There have been some scary moments, and extra costs, but we’re mostly on track and are very happy with how things are looking! Thanks for reading- Todd




On the way to “after.”


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