A-frame House Remodel Finally Complete

Hi Everyone!

First, I want to apologize for not keeping up on this blog.  I started this to document each step of the remodel process with the intent of posting how to videos, photos, and DIY tips. Well, that didn’t happen.  Instead I did a lot of work to the house, didn’t get many pictures along the way, and mostly neglected this blog.

That being said, I have finally completed the remodel!  I had to get aggressive with the remodeling of this old A-frame house as I moved out and wanted to rent it out.  As much as I hated the idea of moving out, I knew I had to make the home amazing for my tenant.  I also still plan to keep this home forever and the updates really just freshened things up. Eventually I will post more details about the products I used and try to get some useful information out.  In the meantime, here are some pics!

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Phoenix Graffiti

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog and the time has come! Sadly, its for a not so great reason. Graffiti is an issue in every metropolitan city and it is also an issue in Phoenix, however I never thought it would really come to my neighborhood. Its not a bad neighborhood! Its not Scottsdale, or Paradise Valley, but its not bad. Anyways, last Friday night…Friday the 13th actually… Some untalented schmuck decided to deface my property. Here is the wonderful “artwork” that some kid tagged on my new back wall. Sadly, its not even good. If they painted a cool mural that would have been awesome! Instead, I got untalented kid scribble.

Graffiti on the alley side of my back fence in Phoenix.

Luckily we have a couple of City of Phoenix graffiti removal programs.  One is the Phoenix Graffiti Busters which is a collaboration of public and private ventures that help out with graffiti removal.  The second is the Phoenix Blight Buster Volunteer Program.  This programs allows adults aged 18 and over to volunteer to remove blight and graffiti across the city.  They offer free training on how to remove graffiti, use airless paint sprayers, and more.

If you come across graffiti in your neighborhood, do the right thing and report it.  These services are FREE and it returns our neighborhoods to what they should be.  Nice neighborhood that are clean, safe, and free of ugly graffiti.   The city of Phoenix also pays a reward if you report graffiti and the police catch it in action. The reward is up to $250. Here are the contact numbers for the City of Phoenix in regard to our graffiti problem.

Report graffiti/more information 602-534-4444
Graffiti in progress 9-1-1
Email blight@phoenix.gov
Crime Stop 602-262-6151
Vandal Catching Reward Program (Phoenix Graffiti Hotline) 602-262-7327
Free paint for graffiti removal 602-495-0323

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Altadena Park Spray Pad

Phoenix Arizona can be a really great place to raise a family, but during the summer months it can get REALLY hot.  There are tons of great activities for your children to beat the heat and one of the most popular are the many spray pad parks in Phoenix.  Spray Pads, or Splash Pads as they are called are free, and operated by the City of Phoenix

Spray Pads in Phoenix - Altadena Park

Altadena Park Spray Pad

Though there are many, I want to focus on just one spray pad in Phoenix.  Atladena Park  in North Phoenix has a great spray pad facility.  It is located in a quaint and safe neighborhood south of Cactus Road on and just East of 36th St. and is open 7 days a week from 5:30AM to 10PM.  The park has an awesome playground with slides, mini rock wall, swings and more.  There are 2 Charcoal BBQ Grills and 1 ramada that is great for birthday parties along with TONS of trees to hang a piñata from.  Please keep in mind that this park does not have any public restrooms.  Even though there are no bathrooms, this is a great park to bring your kids to since it is in such a nice quite neighborhood.


Altadena Park Spray Pad Hours

The splash pad portion of the park is open from 10AM to 7PM Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays. It operates between May and October.   It has a bunch of great water features including 3 animals water cannons that swivel 360 degrees, Rings that kids can run under, and of course the many water fountain sprayers that shoot water into the air as high as 20 feet.

This park is very well shaded by a huge ring of large mature Pine trees that surround the main features of the park, but please remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of drinking water as it still gets very hot out there.   There is only one drinking fountain and again, there are no bathrooms at this park.  Please do your part to keep this park clean.  The residents in the neighborhood also please ask that you try parking your car on the park side of the street to preserve parking for the people that live on the street.

Here is a list of other great splash pad parks in Phoenix, Az that you can take your children to for free.

Altadena Park Spray Pad: 3711 E. Altadena Avenue. Cross streets are 36th Street South of Cactus Road. 602-262-6696.

Civic Space Park Spray Pad: 424 N. Central Ave in Downtown Phoenix. 602-262-6412. Accessible by Valley METRO light rail.

Edison Park Spray Pad: 901 N. 19th Street. 602-262-6412. Major cross streets are 19th Street and Roosevelt.

Francisco Highland Park: 2702 E. South Mountain Avenue. The nearby major cross streets are 28th Street and South Mountain Avenue at the base of South Mountain. 602-262-6111.

Harmon Park Spray Pad: 1239 S. 5th Avenue. The nearby major cross streets are 5th Avenue and Buckeye. 602-262-6412.

Laveen Village Park Spray Pad: 3146 W. Vineyard, Phoenix. The nearby major cross streets are 31st Avenue and Baseline Road. 602-262-6111.

Mountain Vista Park Spray Pad: 13647 S. 50th Street in Ahwatukee Foothills. The nearby major cross streets are 50th Street and Ray Road.

Nuestro Park Spray Pad: Ninth Street and Pima, south of downtown Phoenix. 602-262-6111.

Pecos Park Spray Pad: 48th Street and Pecos Road in the Ahwatukee Foothills area of Phoenix.  602-262-6111.


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Phoenix General Contractor Selection Complete!

Choosing a General Contractor to remodel your home can be a daunting task, especially in Phoenix, AZ as there are so many to choose from.  In my case, it was even more difficult because I am using an FHA 203K loan to finance my remodel.  In most cases, this wouldn’t be an issue but since my house is so unique to the Phoenix Architecture landscape, not many contractors have had the experience necessary to complete my dream.  Since I needed an estimate prior to closing,  I decided to go with a referral for a contractor.  I contacted my good buddy Ryan C. who just finished architecture school.  He had done some drafting for a local remodeling company called Pankow Construction and he highly recommended their craftsmanship and ethics.  To me that is what it is all about… Honesty, integrity, craftsmanship….then price as a far last (who doesn’t want a good deal?).

Pankow Construction - Phoenix Home RemodelerPankow Construction was founded in 2000 and has been custom designing homes and home remodels in Phoenix and Scottsdale ever since.  They were awarded the 2012 best in remodeling award from Houzz.com which happens to be a remodeling website that I frequent for inspiration and ideas.  This award, coupled with the professionalism and first impression I received from Rob Pankow when I met him 2 months ago sealed the deal for me.  I knew that Pankow Construction would be the Phoenix home remodeling company to take on the Phoenix A-Frame house project!  You can visit their awesome website at Pankow Construction

Rob Pankow and his employee Joe came out to my house today to take measurements to send to their engineer and architect.  They were at my house for well over an hour and we discussed all the potential that the house had for the remodel.  These guys are professionals and I am very excited to get the remodel started!

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Halloween Decorations for an A-frame!

October is here!!!  This is my favorite month of the year.  In Phoenix, its the first month that we start seeing temperatures below 100 degrees, and its time to decorate the house for Halloween.

Halloween A-frame House

Every year I contemplate going all out on my Halloween decorations and would love to turn it into a haunted house. To build a Haunted House though is no easy task and can get quite expensive.  There is also the trouble of finding a place to store all the extra which is part of why we are renovating to increase the total living space and storage space of the home. If we were to make it a haunted house, it could easily be one of the most haunted buildings in Phoenix! Its for sure the creepiest looking house on the block since it is so unique in comparison to the other houses in the neighborhood.    Someday the Phoenix A-frame will become a haunted house… but for now I have to keep the festive budget to a minimum with the remodel looming in the near future.  Here is what we have done so far with the house for decorations.  As we put up more decorations for Halloween, I will post more pictures.


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History of the A-frame House Style

An A-Frame is an architectural style typically used in houses and buildings that are in areas that have very heavy snowfall in the winter.  A-frame buildings have steep angled rooflines that begin at or above the foundation line and meet at the top in a triangular shape to form an “A”.  Due to this high pitched roof style, the primary exterior walls of the home are angled which can make interior decorating and design a little more difficult, but many that own these homes find ways to make them fascinating in terms of design.

Elizabeth Reese House

Elizabeth Reese House A-frame NY

Architect Andrew Geller designed a stunning A-frame home built in Sagaponack, New York that is widely credited as the home to propel the styling and building of A-frame Houses.  His design was published in the New York times in 1957 and this caused A-frame homes to spring up all over the world.  This international attention really helped the popularization of the mid century modern a-frame style that we typically see today though most a-frame homes were built between the 50’s and 70’s.

A-frame house popularity began to rise post-World War II as many Americans were beginning to have more disposable income and a second home was a great investment as well as a great vacation retreat.  The simple and inexpensive styling of the A-frame was also a factor in its huge rise to popularity between the 1950’s and 1970’s.  Many A-frame houses were built as “do it yourself” kits that could be purchased as plans from a number of different architectural planning firms across the country.

A-frame Pros and Cons

A-frame houses are very stylish, fascinating designs.  While the style looks very cool, it may sometimes pose challenges to homeowners.  These challenges include and are not limited to cooling and heating issues along with interior decorating issues.

Here is a list that may help you if you are trying to decide on buying an A-frame shaped home.

A-frame Style Pros

  • High pitched roof line is GREAT in snow country as it can handle a lot of snow without buckling under the stress.
  • A-frames typically have awesome Cathedral Style Vaulted ceilings that are phenomenal.
  • Space at the top of the house can be utilized for space, or a loft.
  • The roof line is also the exterior walls, so there is less maintenance in regard to painting.
  • Easy construction.

A-Frame House Cons

  • A-frames depending on design can have limited living space.  Many are 1 story or 1.5 stories with a loft.
  • Depending on design, the sloped walls present a lot of dead space at the base of walls.  This can typically be converted into storage space.
  • Upstairs rooms if any typically have high pitched ceilings with low head room and awkward shaped rooms creating issues with furniture placement.
  • Cooling and heating can be problematic as there is a lot of volume in the home to cool and heat.  In warm climates, the use upstairs windows will help keep the downstairs cooler though.

While there are a few cons, my personal belief is that the pros are enough to justify having an A-frame home for either your primary home or vacation home.  This website is dedicated to my A-frame house that is my primary residence in Phoenix, Az.  Phoenix is not a typical place for an A-frame style home and it can be tough because it gets really hot upstairs during the summer.  The character of the home though makes every minute worth it!

If you have any questions about a-frame architecture, please feel free to contact me!


Posted in A-frame Architecture | 2 Comments

A-frame House Website now hosted at Bluehost.com!

I finally made the switch!  As of today, the A-frame House Website is officially hosted at Bluehost.com.  Blue host is a leading web hosting company based out of Provo Utah.  They have world class servers and American technical support.

The main reason I chose Bluehost.com is because a-framehouse.com is powered by wordpress.  Wordpress is a powerful content management and blogging system that uses PHP5 and mySQL.  These require high resources and most hosts have trouble loading wordpress sites at acceptable speeds.  Bluehost doesn’t have these issues.  Bluehost also offers a ton of great features including Google Adwords credits and professional managed SEO services.

If you are in need of a hosting company, check out Bluehost.com.  They are a few bucks more per month than some of the other hosting companies out there, but its worth the extra cost.  You get what you pay for. CLICK HERE TO SIGNUP FOR BLUEHOST.COM

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Zinsco Electrical Panel Circuit Breaker Problems

Zinsco Circuit Breakers

Zinsco Circuit Breakers

The whole reason I have started this website is because I am in the financing portion of remodeling my home.  It’s not just a remodel though as there are several problems that are not critical, but do need to be dealt with.  One of them is my faulty Zinsco Electrical Panel.

Zinsco was a circuit breaker and electrical panel manufacturer that started in the 1930’s and was subsequently sold to the Sylvania group in 1973.  You can still get parts for Zinsco panels but they are expensive and not very common.   The original Zinsco panel design has been discontinued and is known in the industry to be unreliable and have issues that can potentially be a fire hazard.

It is my luck that the house has a Zinsco Electrical Panel.  We recently discovered that the circuit breaker for the air conditioner has been arching and welding itself to the bus bars of the panel.  This causes the lights in the house to flicker and has caused the fan motor of my air conditioner to prematurely die.  ITS A HUGE PAIN having a zinsco.  Buying zinsco replacement circuit breakers is expensive but its also getting to the point to where the electrical panel is becoming unsafe, so this has become the number 1 priority of this remodel.  I am actually going to be paying cash to have the entire panel replaced before I begin the remodel project.  I have an awesome Phoenix Residential Electrician named Brian Selberg (of Selberg Electric) that gave me an awesome price on a new panel installation.  He is a really great guy and if you need an honest electrician in Phoenix, he is the guy to call.

zinsco circuit breakers problems

zinsco circuit breakers problems

Another annoyance to my panel is that it does not have a main breaker.  Its super strange to not have a main breaker.   When Bryan comes to take care of it, we are adding a main breaker and also increasing the service from a current 125 AMP service to a 200 AMP service which is necessary these days.  We are currently drawing more load than the old zinsco panel can handle so it will be nice having the ability to pull extra juice from the grid.  I’ll especially need it if I end up getting a hot tub some day.

I’ll post some pics of the new panel once it is installed.   Should be within the next week or two.

Posted in Home Repairs / Maintenance | 1 Comment

How to make your green pool look AMAZING!

When we moved into our wonderful a-frame house nestled in an neighborhood full of standard desert ranch homes, we were really excited that it had a pool.  We didn’t realize how much work it is to keep a pool looking its best in Arizona.

how to turn a green pool blue

This is how nasty the pool looked before acid washing

I am a “do it yourself” kind of guy.  I always try to tackle things on my own first and if I fail, or if I think I can’t handle it then I have no problem calling in the pros.  When we bought the foreclosed house, the pool was green. I mean dark seaweed green. It was so bad that there was a mosquito complaint and the city dumped larvae eating fish in the pool right before we closed escrow.  In order to get the funding, we dumped a bunch of chlorine in the pool (sorry baby fishes) to make it look decent.  In my opinion though, it wasn’t good enough.  The plaster was heavily stained and the pool honestly looked like crap.  We also didn’t know when the last time the water was drained so we decided to go all the way in cleaning it.

I hired a pool guy to come and acid wash the pool.  The change was incredible! We have an alley behind the house wo we were able to drain directly into the sewer system. My pool guy Chris spent all morning making the pool look perfect. Here are the pics.

Acid Washing a Pool in Phoenix

Before and after pictures of acid washing the pool in my backyard.


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Pre-Purchase Woes. Meeting FHA home conditions requirements

When I decided to purchase a home in 2009, I was really excited to get out of renting an apartment.  The thought of owning my very own property was alluring.

To purchase my first home, I took advantage of FHA first time home buyer financing in addition to the 8K tax credit that Obama passed.  I was one of the people that actually bought a house BECAUSE  OF THE TAX CREDIT.  Thank you Obama.

A-frame House Living Room Carpet

The FHA has a few guidelines in regard to the dwelling that it will lend money for.  For the Altadena A-Frame, I needed to have carpet installed and have the pool cleaned up before they would approve my loan.  The house originally had nearly stained concrete flooring but the inspector said it was a no go.  Get flooring installed prior to funding, or don’t get the loan.  Since I really wanted the house, I sprung for the carpeting.

A-Frame House Bedroom Carpet







I bit the bullet and dropped $1500 on flooring, and $100 on a pool guy to dump a ton of chemicals into the pool.  If I had known He was going to just dump liquid chlorine in I could have done it myself.  1 week later, carpeting installed and pool getting bluer, the inspector approved and we were ready to go to funding.   Here are a few pics of the new flooring that we installed in the house prior to closing.


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