Category Archives: House Stuff

Close… But No.

I picked up the plans from plan check today (this is from 2nd submittal), and there were 8 changes needed. This is tiny compared to the 1st submittal.

At least the 3rd (and hopefully final) submittal can be done “over the counter” right there since there are so few changes.


Plans are at the fire department for review while the minor updates are being done. I guess since the changes are over the counter, we can do that. {shrug}

Building “Fees”

So today I had to pay all the “fees” required to build a house. This included the following:

Traffic Impact Fee: $8,299.00
Park Fee: $1,000.00
Fire District Fee: $4,132.36
Building Permit Fee: $2,176.00
PAD: $4,000.00 (I don’t even know what in the hell this stands for)
Fire District Plan Check Fee: $350 $450
Water District meter installation fee: $33,226.00
Sewer Fee: $600
School District Fee: $40,958.98 $30,387.31

Are you serious? $94,742.34 $84,270.67 in “fees” just so you can get permission from the city and various agencies to build a house? This is on top of the $5,545.78 plan check fees already paid, which puts the total at $100,288.12 $89,816.45 and we aren’t even building yet. I wonder if SDG&E is going to charge to install the transformer for electricity (probably). Ouch.

Oh, there is also a “Drainage Fee” that will be due and I have no clue what that amount is going to be yet.

If you were building a house for resale, how does anyone make any money??


June 2, 2006 – Apparently I was accidentally overcharged by the school district by $10,571.67, so they are sending that back. πŸ™‚

Final Design Review

I haven’t seen the “official” review response, but I think it went well today. Pretty much the HOA just wants a fence moved (maybe some other minor things), but all the “big” stuff I was worried about seemed to be fine.

So for the most part that means the house is pretty much good to go as far as the home owners association goes (this was the last of 3 necessary design reviews).

The members approved a retaining wall over 6 ft. conditioned upon it being faced with stone. This decision was made because it is a wall that will not be seen by anyone unless they are on your property. They also asked that your fencing proposed at the top of the slope adjacent to Lot 69 be dropped out of the line of sight for that property.

Canon VB-C50i/R

I need to get a good pan/tilt/zoom camera for the site of the house construction (to automatically make a time lapse of the house being built and also just to see what’s going on at any given time).

I’ve done a little research on it, and so far the Canon is the best one (for the job) I can come up with… It has good zoom capability (26x optical + 12x digital for a total of 312x zoom), it has a built-in server (no need to connect it to a computer), you can schedule it to take pictures (at a pre-set pan/tilt/zoom) for the time lapsing, has a night mode with an infrared illuminator to see in the dark, etc.

So go test drive it over here, and tell me what you think:


Or if you know of anything better, please let me know…

Home Theatre Revision

I always had plans to do a home theatre in my house, but it was going to be a bedroom that was turned into a home theatre. Well, I was finally talked into reversing that stance. It’s now going to be a home theatre that could be turned into a bedroom (if really needed).

So this…

is going to become this…

Fiber To My Door

I just found out today that the house I’m building is going to have fiber to the door from the phone company (SBC/AT&T), so there will be no old school twisted pair copper wires coming into my home. πŸ™‚

The downside to this is the temporary construction trailer is going to need special equipment to get a temporary phone line from the fiber. Oh well. πŸ™‚

39Mbit “DSL”, here I come!

Schematic Design Review

The 2nd (of 3) design reviews by the design board (for the HOA) where my house is going to be built is done. It was approved on the first try submittal (yay!).

I think the final submittal is basically just the working drawings (same thing you submit to the county to get permits). If all goes well, that could be in 5-6 weeks.

Central Audio/Video Distribution

Okay, I finally sat down tonight and figured out what I *think* I need (at least it’s a start so the experts have something to start with) to do centrally distributed audio/video for the house.


So I’m thinking every room (minus bathrooms, except for master) should be an audio “zone” as well as the pool house and then 3 zones for audio outside (front yard, back yard and golf area). That works out to 20 audio zones. Three of those should be 7.1 surround (living room, home theatre and master bedroom) with everything else being 2 channel stereo. So after figuring that out, now what in the hell sort of equipment do I need to make all this work? Maybe this (this is all Crestron stuff)…

  • CNX-BIPAD8 (3 of them) – CAT5 24×8 distributor (24 possible sources in, 8 rooms out) any room could be on any source so 3 of these will cover 24 “rooms/zones”
  • CNAMPX-16X60 (2 of them) – 16 channels x 60 watts each (8 rooms per amp, 16 rooms total)
  • CNAMPX-2X60 (1 of them) – 2 channels x 60 watts each (1 room)
  • CNAMPX-7×200 (3 of them) – 7 channel x 200 watts surround sound amp (3 of them for the 3 rooms I want 7.1 in)
  • C2N-DAP8 (3 of them) – 7.1 surround sound processor
  • AAS-4 – Digital Audio Server (250GB of MP3s, able to output 4 independent streams as sources to the distributors)
  • CEN-IPOD – iPod dock

So in the end what would that give me? I would have the ability to pipe any of the 5 sources (4 unique streams of MP3 and music from an iPod) to any specific zone, plus with the ability to hook up 11 additional sources, you could pick up the audio output of a computer for example and use it as another source.


So this is where it gets even more complicated. I want all TVs to be running digital signals (HDMI/HDCP) where possible. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Crestron has any equipment to run HDMI signals. Another problem is the HDMI signals are going to be coming from the server room, so you start to run into a cable length issue. So… enter Gefen.

  • EXT-HDMI-444 (2 of them) – 4×4 HDMI switch (4 sources switchable between 4 outputs. 2 of them should give 4 sources switchable between 8 outputs)
  • EXT-HDMI-244 (2 of them) – 2×4 HDMI splitter (2 sources switchable between 4 outputs. Need this to split the 4 master sources to the 2 4×4 switchers.)
  • EXT-HDMI-1000HD150B (3 of them) – 150′ HDMI fiber extender
  • EXT-HDMI-1000HD100B (4 of them) – 100′ HDMI fiber extender

The lengths are just guesses, but that setup would let me run HDMI signals over fiber at full 1080p resolutions (1920×1080).

What would really simplify this would be if there was a 4×8 HDMI switcher available. But I couldn’t find a company that offers a HDMI switcher/matix except for Gefen. I didn’t even attempt to go digging for a dual link (Type B) HDMI switcher. hehe

At least this gives me something to start with when dealing with the home automation guys… now I don’t have to meet when them and just be like, “Duuuuhhhhhhh… I don’t know what I want/need.”

It also made me realize I want conduit running to every place a TV could be.

Color Rendering Of Front Elevation

I have a color rendering of the front elevation of my house now (it’s required for the second phase of the design review by the HOA).

It was too big to fit in my scanner, so I pieced it together from two different scans. If you don’t like the line where the images were joined, too bad! πŸ™‚

Notice the moat on the front (with a bridge to the front door).

I DON’T Have 3 Swimming Pools

After I made this post about maybe having three pools (technically), I took my building/site plans to the San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use this afternoon to just ask them what they thought.

It turns out I’m exempt from the normal pool fence guidelines because my parcel is more than 3 acres. Not only that I found out that the lagoon and moat wouldn’t count as a pool because a pool is specifically defined as “a structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing”. Which is pretty stupid if you ask me, because you could make a 20′ deep “lagoon”, which a 1 year old child could still drown in… but you wouldn’t have to fence it, because it’s not DESIGNED for swimming.

Oh well… at least I don’t have to have dreams about this problem anymore.

I Have 3 Swimming Pools

The pool fence for my house has been the only part about it I don’t like. It’s stressing me out so much that I’ve been dreaming about it. I don’t like it because it ends up cutting my backyard in half and dividing it (there’s also some other weirdness that I won’t bother getting into).

So anyway… I’ve been trying to figure out a good excuse to wrap the fence completely around the property just so I don’t have to see it in my backyard, and today I just realized something that complicates it even more. Technically I have three pools. The actual pool, the lagoon in the middle of the golf course and the moat in the front of the house are going to be considered pools as far as the county is concerned (so they are going to have to be fenced in so the neighbor’s kids don’t wander over and drown themselves). So now I may not have any choice but to fence the whole property…

At least I won’t have a fence splitting my backyard.

Home Automation Checklist

Okay, I need to start making a list of things I want to be able to control from the home automation system for my house… So I’m just going to use this blog entry for that. If anyone can think of anything I’ve forgotten, please leave it as a comment and I’ll update this post as necessary…

  • Lights (indoor, outdoor and landscape)
  • Some door locks (front door, server room, office)
  • Heat and air conditioning
  • Music to any room (or outside)
  • Video (all TVs, central PVR/movie server?)
  • Fireplaces
  • Waterfall
  • Sprinklers
  • Spa
  • Cameras
  • Security
  • Windows (open/close windows, shades up/down, electrochromic maybe)

Five Hole Golf Course

I also saw the first rough sketches of a 5 hole golf course for my house. It looks pretty damn cool if I do say so myself. It even has a pond in the middle (although I didn’t see a golf cart path). πŸ™‚

The front of the house is going to have a “moat” too, with a waterfall feeding it So you will have to drive over the moat to get to the garage and walk over a bridge to get to the front door. I think this is going to be a pretty cool house when it’s all said and done. πŸ™‚

Fire Department Doesn’t Like My Pool House

The fire department doesn’t like the fact that I want to put a pool house against the edge of the slope off the pad (even if it’s 100% non-combustable materials). Now we are going to see if maybe they will be happy if we extend the pad in that area 15′ out using a stepped retaining wall.

The fire department is the man, and they are out to get me! (hehe just kidding)

Concept Design Submittal

I had a 9:30 am meeting today with the homeowners association where I’m building my house for the first stage of a three stage process of getting your house approved to be built.

Of course, I’ve never been to something like that before, so I’m thinking it’s going to be 3 or 4 hours or something. Nope… I was there a total of 5 minutes (I guess thats a good thing). πŸ™‚

The good news is the first step (Concept Design Submittal) was approved, so now we can move on to the next phase of the review process (Design Development Submittal). I think that’s things like landscape plans, artist renderings of the home, samples of the materials you are going to use, etc.

Passive RFID Tags

So I’m thinking about getting a system for my new house where you can get an implant and doors will unlock for you automatically. But I also thought it would be cool if you could use those to track where someone (or a pet) was in the house in real time. Well I talked to the VeriChip guys today and they say that only the active RFID tags (ones that have a battery and transmit a signal at all times) can be used for that. The implants are tiny passive RFID tags (they have no battery) so they don’t have enough range to do it.

That sucks… now how am I going to find my cats in the house?? πŸ™‚

Dueling Hot Tubs

I’m starting to think I may have actually lost touch with reality here…

For my pool, I want a big (large enough to actually swim in) zero-edge pool with a swim-up bar. Then I started thinking it would be pretty cool to be in the pool and go under a waterfall into a grotto where the hot tub is. Well… what if you want to be in a hot tub and actually be in your backyard (vs. inside a cave)?

Is it too excessive to have two hot tubs in the backyard (one in a grotto, and one in the open)?

Human Implantable Access Control

So after my last post, I was poking around the Internet regarding RFID access control systems for buildings (for a house in my case), and I found a company called VeriChip. They offer systems that are wearable (what I originally was looking for), but also implantable inside your body, which seems pretty cool to me. It would be pretty hard to lose your house key then.


Google Earth KMZ Files

Google Earth lets you generate .kmz files by right-clicking a marker and saving it. Pretty handy, but I wanted to be able to adjust the tilt and direction the default view comes up as, so I poked a little bit (well not that much… heh). The .kmz files are simply zipped .kml files (which are just normal XML). So it’s pretty easy to manipulate them.

My only complaint is that you can’t have multiple tags within a single .kml file (Google Earth will barf and give an error). I also tried to put two .kml files within a single .kmz file with no luck (only the first one was shown in Google Earth).

Anyway, for those of you with Google Earth installed, I made two little .kmz files that will plot my old and new property at Cielo.

Building A House Is A Lot Of Work

Funny I think that because it hasn’t even started yet. πŸ™‚

But I met up with my architect and saw a new property that I liked better (and put an offer on it) on Tuesday, met with a landscape architect on Wednesday, going to Irvine to meet with the company for the home automation/smart home stuff this afternoon, starting the escrow on the new property tomorrow, etc.

Oh yeah, that reminds me, I need to go to the bank before I drive to Irvine to cash out a CD (I need to wire 5% of the purchase price tomorrow when the escrow starts).

Hopefully it will be less work later, but I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case.


Well, they rejected my offer I put in yesterday, but came back with an offer that was still pretty good, so I’m going to go into a 15 (quick huh?) escrow on the new lot tomorrow.

Anyone want to buy my old lot? πŸ™‚

New Property

Funny how things work out… I was meeting with my architect this morning, and he showed me a lot for sale right down the street from my existing one. To make a long story short, I put an offer on the new property today, so hopefully I’ll get that and sell my old lot.

The old lot is really nice, but the new one is 10x better…

  • No other lots on either side (I wouldn’t have to look at the side of people’s houses)
  • The property itself is 3x larger
  • The useable pad is 2x larger (the old one is still one of the biggest around)
  • There is an area below the slope on the property that I could put a full-on orchard without needing to use the normal lot pad
  • The views are amazing (ocean, lake, golf course, city skyline, etc.)
  • Private driveway off the main road, so you don’t even see the road from where the house would be.

So basically I could put a big house, a 30 car garage, have a huge backyard and still maybe have room for a football field. πŸ™‚

Weird how things happen…

Dan Castillero Design & Construction

Now that I’m moving forward with having my house designed and built, I just wanted to say how nice it is to have an architect that actually does everything when he says he is going to. No nagging necessary… which is a welcome change from every other architect (individual and firms) I’ve dealt with in the past.

It’s really early at this point, but it’s SO nice to not have to follow up with them on things they said they are going to do. If Dan says he will call me in 2 weeks with something (for example preliminary design ideas), I’ve found you can bet money he will call you in two weeks. Other architects I’ve worked with went something more along the lines of… “Gee, I haven’t heard from them, and it’s been 4 weeks now.” So then you call them up and they tell you they haven’t started anything because of whatever (insert random reason here). Hmmm… were you ever going to call me? πŸ™‚

Anyway, just figured I should mention that since the little things like that often go unnoticed, and you usually only read about the bad things when researching a company.

French Chateau Style Home

Until a few days ago, I had no idea what was the difference between different style homes. For example, I couldn’t tell you what’s different between a Tuscan or Italian style.

But dammit, now I know! And I also know that I like French Chateau style (which is what I’m going to have my house designed as). French style has steep roofs with slate roofing materials. It also uses a good amount of stone, but not so much it’s overwhelming. I like it. πŸ™‚

This is a French Chateau (as an example), although this one is a little much for my tastes…