3961 25th Street: Rebuilding
By way of a plugged-in reader, the “before” and a bit of the behind the scenes “during” for the complete renovation rebuild of 3961 25th Street (a.k.a. “House with a Conscience“).
And as an aside, our props for the playlist.
3961 25th Street Here We Come [mdmhomes.blogspot.com]
A Noe “House With A Conscience” (And Listing Lob): 3961 25th Street [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Ah, the Sawzall. My second-favorite power tool behind the nail gun.
    Why are those crappy old walls still up in this picture?

  2. Posted by BobN

    Uh… to maintain the illusion that this is a renovation.

  3. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Does anyone actually fall for that charade?
    I always thought it just adds cost and hassles for the builder.

  4. Posted by The Woodchuck of Despair

    Why assume that those old walls are “crappy” ? Many houses constructed before 1920 were built with premium old growth redwood. So long as kept away from rot and termites, that wood will last centuries. It looks dingy on the exterior, but scratch the surface a few millimeters and there’s pink heart redwood in there. The walls are open and that’s all that is needed to make installation of the new plumbing and electrical easy. Maybe the builder can chime in on the fate of those walls.
    Now on those new joists in the foreground, that’s some delicious fresh wood. It doesn’t even look like the standard #2 stuff used for framing. Mmmmmm…..
    I’d like to know why the builder went with such huge 2Xs to span the whole width of the room. Couldn’t smaller, cheaper 2Xs get the same sturdiness if there was a beam in the center ?

  5. Posted by CameronRex

    So….all the ‘old’ house now rotting, and polluting up some landfill. Hmmm, what conscience again?

  6. Posted by anonn

    So….all the ‘old’ house now rotting, and polluting up some landfill. Hmmm, what conscience again?
    As opposed to what, CameronRex?

  7. Posted by EBGuy

    I always thought it just adds cost and hassles for the builder.
    We had a one story cottage near us that had to do an “in place demolition” when a bunch of dry rot/termite damage was uncovered. They then jacked up the essentially new cottage to add another story (and new foundation).

  8. Posted by tipster

    Is that you in the photo, Sparky?

  9. Posted by anon

    wow, sparky and anonn, whatever their relation to this project seem to be kind of defensive and nasty. what do you expect when you take the green moral highground over new construction in yuppie noe valley and price it so high? of course the chorus will comment…
    check out the original floors in those pictures and the original wood doors. i don’t care how “green” you claim bamboo is or how sparingly you used natural resources – the original floors are charming and still had plenty of life left. now they sit in a landfill somewhere and one less bamboo plant offsets CO2….

  10. Posted by anon

    Actually just took a look at the “during” photos on the blog. What happened to the original doors that were going to be salvaged? Did those end up at Ohmega? They don’t look like they made the final cut in the new house from the photos on the real estate site.

  11. Posted by anonn

    whatever their relation to this project seem to be kind of defensive and nasty
    What was “nasty?”

  12. Posted by kaya

    Were carbon offsets purchased to justify the steel framing, hardy panels and concrete? 🙂
    Getting regular lumber to span across is considerably cheaper than adding a cross beam. Cross beams are usually added into existing construction because of head height concerns, not the cost of the lumber.

  13. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I reno’d the garage behind my wife’s house recently. It had old redwood siding, mostly bug eaten or partly-rotten, and inside were fir timbers, also rotted for the most part. I offset the carbon impact of my renovation by burning all the siding and old wood in the backyard, which created heat and enjoyment for myself and my friends who sat around the fire drinking beer. Fun was had by all.
    That’s how green building works.

  14. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    And I should add that no permits were pulled, either for the accesory building rehab or the subsequent fire, nor for the beer drinking.

  15. Posted by kaya

    Oh, about the playlist… Poison (as in every rose has its thorn)???
    I didn’t realize my grade school boy band crush is classic rock now!
    I think I’m OK with the rest.
    I think your carbon offset program might qualify under LEED certified Coal, Jimmy.

  16. Posted by marko1332

    Solid sawn floor joists instead of engineered lumber is not very “green”. Do you know how long it takes a doug fir tree to mature before its razed in a clear-cut? 40 years?
    Engineered I-joists would have been a more responsible choice. With lumber at 1982 price levels, 1935 if you account for inflation, I’m sure it was more economical to utilize solid sawn lumber.
    Guess there was a higher commitment to another green.

  17. Posted by Robert

    With lumber at 1982 price levels, 1935 if you account for inflation, I’m sure it was more economical to utilize solid sawn lumber.
    That’s the point. When something is cheap, there is a (relative) glut of it. When it is expensive, it is relatively scarce. The most “green” thing you can do is to choose the less expensive option, as the more expensive option will consume more scarce resources than the less expensive one. In general, spending less is always more green than spending more, regardless of which sacred cow is being gored by the cheaper option.
    Unfortunately, the PC crowd cares only about their favorite pet resource rather than all resources: labor costs, design costs, etc — it’s a lot easier to focus on your favorite species of tree and ignore all the other inputs. It’s also very difficult to calculate all of the inputs: the cost of the designer of the green product driving to work, the cost of building a recycling center, etc. In fact, it’s an NP-complete problem. The actual cost of something does a much better job at determining how many scarce resources go into a product, at least for those inputs which are not “free”. Which is why those who advocate for a more expensive “green” option are almost wrong in assessing which option uses the most resources.
    Certainly, there are externalities — various subsidies that can alter the cost. but I’ve never seen any attempt at measuring externalities that wasn’t a childish effort at imposing the political will of the fashionable/powerful onto those who are politically poorer/more ostracized. Hence the attempts to balance the budget via cigarette taxes and lottery proceeds, or the huge wall-street/energy industry subsidy known as “cap-n-trade”, or its previous incarnation as energy de-regulation. Or the push to “recycle” plentiful resources such as glass or paper — something that is extremely labor-intensive, costly, and energy intensive. It goes on and on.
    In general, we don’t know how to properly calculate externalities, nor do we expend much thought at getting it right. Discrimination and self-righteousness is the main factor here. The rich and powerful exploit this human weakness — and consumers lap it up, happy to pay more to purchase a lifestyle marketed to them.

  18. Posted by anonn

    I would like to see the LEED credentials of the various Socketsite “green” critics before I take their words seriously. And when you come back, before you say anything, let me know how long the process to get certified took if you would. I hear it isn’t a particularly efficient process time wise.

  19. Posted by anonn

    Also, if you please, I’d like to see the receipts for the public transportation you took to get to the LEED training facility in order to have the authority to post your green criticisms on Socketsite.

  20. Posted by kaya

    LOL… I was joking about the LEED thing. I think half the reason ppl pick on you, anonn, is that you’re quite defensive. FWIW, I think a lot of the green stuff has become pretty cliche, though I appreciate that there is a market for these things.
    And yes, the LEED certification process is pretty onerous and of dubious value for residential work.
    While natural timber doesn’t use “scrap” wood pulp like engineering lumber, it also doesn’t use resins to bind the pulp which aren’t very green, so I think it’s a tossup as to the eco-friendliness of engineered vs grown lumber.

  21. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Its way more green to use grown lumber. The wood sequesters carbon, and cutting down the tree frees up space in the forest for more trees to grow.
    Using recycled wood bits gives no such benefit.

  22. Posted by anonn

    I’m not particularly defensive in real life, kaya. I can take a joke and laugh at myself. No, the thing is, is that on here I’m frequently arguing with at least eight people at once. So, the English language being what it is, it’s pretty difficult not to be pointed. I realize that “defensive” is how it comes off sometimes, and I do not wish it so, but it’s pretty much gotta be that way. Today I think it was LMRiM, Trip, Joe, Anna, and an anon (I think). That’s nothing. Usually I’m arguing against twice that.
    But I gotta say. Today? With all these posters in the other thread talking about “2008 was peak”??? Anybody who has spent any time reading this thread will appreciate the e-validation I’m e-feeling. I’m seriously laughing out loud at this stuff.
    As far as green goes, look, this house was gonna get developed. I asked. These guys took all the doors and the hardware and flooring to Caldwell’s. They tried really hard and did a really good job. And it showed.
    The fact that some people are apparently viewing this photo above as some sort of imbedded tipster gonzo coup journalism is pretty comical too. The photo is from the developer’s own website. These guys have nothing to hide. They did an awesome job, and they made someone who obviously has been searching for a long time happy. Let the snakes crinkle their heads to death, in the grass. This is a feel good story IMO.

  23. Posted by anon

    Jimmy, not sure if you’re kidding or not.
    A large tree sequesters MUCH more carbon than a small tree or even three or four small trees. So, recycled wood allows the large tree to not be cut down to begin with and continue sequestering carbon. Recycling “wood bits” is certainly more green than cutting down a mature tree.

  24. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Well I was thinking more along the lines of grams of carbon sequestered per year … the big tree still sequesters all the carbon it did in its lifetime (unless you burn it), and the new ones the grow to replace it do their share too over time.
    I bet you’d find that after a few years, it’s a wash … if there was a way to measure such a thing.
    Anyway, there is no shortage of trees in the world. Just fly over Canada one day — you can fly for hours and the forest just goes on and on and on (and they replant what they cut).

  25. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Just think of it in terms of leaf area and incidence of sunlight — that’s what drives the sequestration process.

  26. Posted by anon

    Sure – and it takes years before a young tree approaches the level of leaf area that an old tree has.
    I’m not arguing that a young tree won’t eventually reach the same level as the old tree, but it won’t ever become “more” than not cutting down the old tree and using recycled tree “stuff” in place of the old tree. (In your example, what would happen with the old tree stuff? That’s the ONLY thing that matters in measuring net carbon sequestered)

  27. Posted by anonconfused

    Am I at the wrong site?! “sequestration process”?
    Canadian forest replanting? Leave it to San Francisco to worry about such issues when consideration of any expensive new Noe Valley home is discussed. This is actually what I find so unique about the Bay Area. In NY, LA, or Chicago, this would just be presented as a new custom urban residence without worrying about whether or not it had a “conscience”. Was the lunch truck that arrived daily for the construction workers hybrid? Were the burritos only with fair trade beans and tofu? Where does one stop when calculating green points to satisfy your conscience? (sarcasm switch turned on)

  28. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Well, I was *trying* to say that there will be more than one little tree that grows up in the place of the old one. (Plus all those bushes, grass etc. that grows when an old tree is removed or falls down). As long as there’s enough leaf area to catch the impinging sunlight and turn it into plant material (of any kind) … in my view its probably a wash in terms of carbon. Gotta think in terms of the rate of conversion, not the absolute quantity being stored (which is still stored in the form of a house, after all).

  29. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Actually in this case, I happen to know that the lunch truck is a plug-in hybrid powered by methane gas collected from the bean farts of the day laborers on the job site.

  30. Posted by San FronziScheme

    True, wood in a house captures carbon. But all the power tools and transportation mostly used fossil fuels. Any activity at this point does. You can claim a green label but the green part if just a tiny bit of the total sum.
    I agree with anonconfused, it’s futile to want to look green if you (re)build a house. It’s a talking piece at best. I am calling a smug alert!

  31. Posted by anon

    Jimmy – under your theory that cutting down trees to plant new ones (instead of using as much recycled material as possible) actually sequesters more carbon, why don’t we simply cut ALL trees down and plant new ones? Set aside the cut down trees for when we need them. That would solve all of our problems.

  32. Posted by condoshopper

    seems like a lot of hair-splitting about what constitutes green. from a wider perspective, building a big detached home, as opposed to living in an apartment, for one family seems 99% un-green and now we’re just arguing about how to make the marginal 1% green.

  33. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    In the small northern BC town where I grew up (42 sawmills (once upon a time) and 3 pulp mills — see if you can figure it out!) that is approximately the business model they’ve been working on for the last 60 years. Fortunately, there are too many trees up there for us humans to have a huge impact despite our best efforts at “accelerating the rate of permanent carbon sequestration.” As I recall, the town where I grew up produced enough 2×4’s every year to reach from the earth to the moon and back 55 times if stacked end-to-end. That’s a LOT of 2x4s.
    Anyway, the pine beetles did way more damage to the forests than the loggers ever could, and faster too (only 10 years to destroy about 75,000 square MILES of forest — an area approximately 1/2 the size of the ENTIRE state of California).
    But in any case, the logging goes on, the beetles were contained by a few cold winters (you need 2 weeks of -35oC or below every year to contain them) and, unsurprisingly, the earth regenerates itself (even without Al Gore’s intervention). Funny how that works isn’t it?
    I’m sure that we will have some huge forest fires that take out all the deadfall first, then a lot of new growth and the forest regenerates itself. Meanwhile the new growth and deciduous trees provide habitat for mooses (meese?) which are mighty tasty and fun to bag. Their habitat and population have exploded with the start of clearcutting and industrial forestry starting about 60 years ago.

  34. Posted by Valentino

    My wife got her LEED certification on Thursday evening. She did not pay for any classes. She bought a few books and put in about 40 hours of study time. The test is entirely memorization of how many credits one gets for doing such and such. She took about 5 or 6 self administered practice exams as part of her preparation. I understand that she was one of the last people to take the test under the “old” format and the new test will be more difficult.

  35. Posted by Rillion

    “The most “green” thing you can do is to choose the less expensive option, as the more expensive option will consume more scarce resources than the less expensive one. In general, spending less is always more green than spending more, regardless of which sacred cow is being gored by the cheaper option.”
    Robert, thanks for this information. Based on your advice I am going to change my lifestyle to be both cheaper and more green. Prior to today I used to pay money to have the trash and recycling picked up from my condo but now I realize I should be going with the green option of just throwing everything into one bag (I save time and money by not having to have multiple bags for trash, recycling, and composting) then just throwing into the street rather then paying to have it collected. Hey wait, I can be even greener by just throwing my trash out my window rather then paying for a bag!
    Aweseome! I am so going to love being green and cheap!

  36. Posted by dub dub

    “be even greener by just throwing my trash out my window”
    You’d probably get fined, though, and there’s an additional hassle for stepping over all the stinky garbage, so don’t forget to include those costs 😉 😉
    Have you considered renting goats to eat the garbage once a week or month — the month would allow the garbage to compost more efficiently. And goats are a really green option because they are so alive and pure and farmlike.
    That might pencil out, if goat rental was cheaper than fines, and depending on where you live in SF, you might not notice all the goat sh*t.
    (Im KIDDDING, Im kidding, let’s not go there today 🙂 )

  37. Posted by anonfedup

    Isn’t it really just the new version of “stainless steel appliances and granite countertops”? This fits in with Veblen and Galbraith who poke fun at upper-middle class consumer habits, and this is just the latest trend to show off to the neighbors.
    “Don’t you love our GREEN recycled glass tile two sink, steam shower, large soak Zen tub, spa bathroom?”
    I second the call of “SmugAlert!”

  38. Posted by diemos

    “Does anyone actually fall for that charade?”
    Apparently the planning department does.
    “As opposed to what, CameronRex?”
    As opposed to doing an actual renovation instead of doing a tear-down where you reuse one original nail so that you can call it a renovation in order to squeak it by the planning department.
    “Isn’t it really just the new version of “stainless steel appliances and granite countertops”?”
    Yup, green themed conspicuous consumption. But they should have stuck a little windmill on the side of the house.

  39. Posted by anonn

    As opposed to doing an actual renovation instead of doing a tear-down where you reuse one original nail so that you can call it a renovation in order to squeak it by the planning department.
    Thanks “CameronRex.” Oh wait. Actually, no thanks snarklad TM. Can I see your greensnark credentials? Or can you at least scan your June Muni Fast Pass and provide a link to its hosted image?

  40. Posted by diemos

    “snarklad TM”
    Ampersand trade will get you the correct formatting of snarklad&trade.
    Do I get a spandex outfit and utility belt to go with that moniker?

  41. Posted by diemos

    if you add a semi-colon too.

  42. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Oh, like this™

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