1-January-2019 marks the five-year anniversary of my family and me building a brand new home in one of San Francisco’s most exclusive and prestigious neighborhood, which I call, Top Of Nob Hill.
This BLOG is about my family’s dream-home journey with our awesome and ethical contractor, PJ Hegarty and his team. Our home is NOT a remodel nor an add-on — it is a BRAND NEW home — newly constructed from the dirt up, erected by PJ Hegarty Construction Company.
I proudly make this distinction because of the rarity of such an event in San Francisco — especially, in one of San Francisco’s most exclusive, historical, and prestigious neighborhoods, which I call, Top Of Nob Hill. Our accomplishment of building this brand new home is the result of the Trinity being in our lives and blessing us; hence, we are grateful to Him on a daily basis — we blessed our home; hence, it is His home, too; and, I feel His presence all the time.
We couldn’t find our dream-house at Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, nor Sea Cliff; so, we built our own!
My sister wanted to build an Italian Tuscany-style mansion, and split it into three individual addresses — each address is a separate unit — each unit has its own entrance — each unit is a flat. We wanted a family compound. So, that we did!
Why not just say, “You wanted to build a brand new 3-unit building?”
Well, because it is not entirely accurate. Unlike a 3-unit building, our home can be converted to a single family dwelling based upon the existing design and floor plans — we have no physical restrictions to convert our home to a single family dwelling.
My sister targeted our purchase and interest toward this 1904 house, which was owned by Marguerite Berringer for over a century. She wanted the house to go to a family — not to a developer that would build it to flip it for a profit. I promised her my family and I would live here, and I kept that promise to her.
So, after we bought it, we demolished it to dirt level; and, we built our dream-house with our winning contractor, PJ Hegarty Construction.
We were so fortunate to have found our contractor, PJ Hegarty Construction. PJ Hegarty is an immigrant from Ireland with traditional, strict, and sound working ethics and skills. He is honest, reliable, consistent, professional, patient, and driven towards success by his own strict standards, as well as the standards set forth by his clients… in this case, my family and me. He is a man of utmost integrity, and we were so impressed by his professional and creative expertise. Because of him, we slept like newborn puppies during the whole construction process — he dealt with everything, from hostile neighbors to delivery of cabinet knobs, in a timely, calm, and professional manner.
Here is an example of his integrity, which took place on 23-May-2013:
“Irene, the estimate to build your house is $X. I forgot to include the installation of ABC, which costs $X; but, I will cover that cost since I screwed up.”
My sister offered to pay PJ the cost that he forgot to include in the contract, and PJ Hegarty responded, “No — it was my error; I will take care of it.”
Our final new construction cost was lower than PJ’s original estimate — he is truly a man of integrity, and I learned a lot from him during our new construction project. My father and sister are my models of integrity and strong morals and ethics — I view PJ Hegarty as a man of integrity and has the same moral and ethical groundings as my father and sister. I have never said this about anyone before.
Total costs made in cash (no loans nor credit cards) (cash = personal checks drafted from our checking account):
Total Labor, Construction, and Material Costs: $X,xxx,xxx.56 (paid full in cash)
Architecture Cost: $xxx,xxx.45 (paid full in cash)
Engineering Cost: $xx,xxx.06 (paid full in cash)
Permit Costs: $xx,xxx.00 (paid full in cash)
Miscellaneous Costs: $xx,xxx.00 (paid full in cash)
Total Balance: $0 (We owe no one.)
My sister’s requirement: “All cash — no loans nor credit cards to demolish and build our dream-house.” We executed an all-cash transaction on this new construction project. Why?
My sister wanted all of us to enjoy our lives in this house — she did not want our enjoyment of living in this house to be interrupted by making payments to a construction loan nor did she want us to be financial slaves to our house.
This new construction project was a luxury commodity for us — not a necessity. I had my own crib; my sister had her own crib; and, my mum had her own crib; but, we all decided to come together to live separately under one roof out of luxury — not necessity.
Our family’s principle regarding luxury items is “luxury items must be paid for in cash — not credit or loans — if we can’t afford it with cash, then we don’t buy it.”
As she worked on this venture, my family and I would learn many things about building a brand new house in San Francisco — specifically, at the Top Of Nob Hill:
- It is extremely rare and seldom happens in San Francisco (for you readers living in the suburbs, building a brand new house is common; in 1978, my family built a brand new house in Walnut Creek, California — piece of cake — easy-peasy; however, building a brand new house in San Francisco is a very rare activity — especially, at the Top Of Nob Hill);
- It would be a tremendous undertaking (e.g., time, work, skills, talent, commission hearings, city approvals, engineering, and design);
- We would have to gain the votes of the commissioners from the San Francisco Building Commission with the entire neighborhood protesting against us because they would lose significant views; and,
- It will cost a lot of money — cold hard cash was my sister’s requirement — no loans or credit cards — all cash.
The Trinity definitely helped us by breathing a lot of luck our way; because, it only took two hearings for the San Francisco Building Commission to approve our project, which is unheard when considering the large scale and scope of our building and the politics surrounding it.
One of the commissioners said to the 200 despicable anti-capitalists protestors in one of the televised hearings, after I made my closing argument:
“Listen, I had enough! I don’t care what all of you say, this building is going up!”
This made the news, and this was a major win for me and my family — in opposition of over 200 neighborhood despicable anti-capitalists protestors, we won! I give thanks to the Trinity for guiding us through that event and through completion of building our compound.
After the approval from the San Francisco Building Commission, we were at full-speed to get our family compound under-way. The first part of phase one: get a contractor!
We interviewed many contractors, and all the contractors we interviewed put in their bids for the project. This was an important project for the winning bidder because of the exposure they would get by building a brand new structure in one of San Francisco’s most historical and prestigious neighborhoods.
PJ Hegarty Construction got the winning bid:
General Contractor: PJ Hegarty Construction: PJ Hegarty (His company is a one-stop shop, handling construction, electrical, plumbing, sheet-rock, and all the stuff associated to construction — his company will also maintain the property after it is built.
PJ Hegarty also used these vendors for our construction project:
(You need to have a contractor and vendors that are professional, trustworthy, honest, ethical, and provide great advice without sacrificing quality and project time. Selecting a contractor and vendors are crucial — if you don’t wisely select your contractor and vendors, your project will be in jeopardy, and you will not sleep at nights, and you will lose your money and time.)
- Kitchen and Bathroom Design Construction: Timeless Kitchen: Caroline Sain
- Doors and Windows: South City Lumber & Supply: Dave
- Tiles: Galleria Tile: Glenn Stark
- Bathroom Tile Installation: Ramirez Tile: Jose Ramirez
- Garage Doors & Installation: Sousa’s Overhead Doors: 1-408-248-0782
- Movers: CareMore Movers and Storage: David (Owner): 1-415-699-5176
- Door-locks: Markus Supplies: Jeff: 1-510-832-6532
- Custom Shower Glass Doors & Enclosures: Markus Supplies: Dan: 1-510-832-6532
- Crane & Rigging: B & S: Sean Wanlass: 1-415-564-7591
- Wood Repairs and Restoration: Wood Wizard: Darrell Stimson: 1-925-370-1489
Here are the specs of our home:
- Five stories
- 7 1/2 baths
- 8 Bedrooms
- 3-car paddock (or four small compact cars)
- 3 distinct units with three different addresses but can be converted back to single family dwelling
- 1 penthouse with views of the Coit Tower, Angel Island, Trans America Pyramid, and Bay Bridge
- 1 penthouse deck with views of the Trans American Pyramid and Bay Bridge
- 1 roof-deck with views of Coit Tower, Angel Island, Trans America Pyramid, and Bay Bridge
- One man-cave — this is my Elvis & James Bond 007 retreat
- One garden
- Elevator shaft that can accommodate the installation of an elevator
- Roof was built to sustain the landing of a 520N-class helicopter for medical emergencies
In 2012, we knocked down the old house to the dirt, and PJ Hegarty constructed a brand new seismic-rated foundation with the latest and greatest technology and materials.
One of the many professional qualities we appreciated about PJ Hegarty was his interest in making sure that we didn’t unnecessarily spend money in redundant or non essential stuff, as it related to our new construction project. For instance, PJ, through his experience, suggested electrical changes that minimized our costs without sacrificing lumens and keeping to city regulations.
We had to find a person to create and design three beautiful and functional kitchens; and, Caroline Sain, from Timeless Kitchens, won the bid for the project — she, like PJ Hegarty is extremely smart, experienced, professional, creative, and honest. She is from England, so she has tons of design experiences in designing and creating European kitchens that fit into the Italian Tuscany-style theme for our house. She and PJ Hegarty worked well together, which is a great thing for all of us. In the following pictures, she made an on-site visit to start her design process for all three kitchens in our house. The pictures in this section show the penthouse kitchen.
The following is pictures and activities of the progress that took place at different phases of our new construction. When I look back at these pictures, I think to myself, “Daaang…we sure did come a long friggin’ way — how did we do this?” Then, I thank the Trinity for His guidance every step of the way; because, the entire new construction of our compound was smooth as silk.
PHASES OF CONSTRUCTION
4-January-2014, @ 1400 hours PDT:
Sousa’s Overhead Garage Doors created and installed the new doors to our paddock.
No more 9-1-1 to the San Francisco Fire Department — this box is a direct line communication system to the San Francisco Fire Department’s dispatching office. We have one dedicated phone line directly to the San Francisco Fire Department — they can contact us, and we can directly contact them. This control box gives the San Francisco Fire Department a electrical read-out of every single floor of our home, and they have blue-prints of our home, so they know every nook and cranny of our home in the event an emergency happens.
We installed Bison tiles to the deck in the penthouse. This is the latest and greatest technology in tiles. How?
Well, each tile sits on a platform that rests on the actual deck flooring.
Then, each tile is laid on the platform. Each tile can be removed by lifting it if cleaning or deck repairs are needed; but, the main feature is the fact that water drains from the deck — in other words, no sitting water; and, no sitting water means not potential of water damage or wood rot to the deck.
So, what do we do when our European refrigerator and stove do not fit along the staircase in our house that leads to the penthouse?
Well…we contacted B & S Crane & Rigging : Sean Wanlass: 1-415-564-7591, and he did his magic.
Wo-la! Mission accomplished! Custom-made European refrigerator and stove are now in the penthouse waiting for PJ Hegarty Construction’s team to install and turn on.
26-September-2013, @ 1430 Hours PDT:
The driveway is under construction, as well as the paddock. Concrete was poured and paved today, and I put some of my sweat-equity into our new house. The guys taught me the way to shovel concrete from the concrete mixer truck. I had a lot of fun.
All the power is on; so, my mum, sister, and I decided to do a night tour. Tonight, San Francisco was clear and warm; and, it was a magical evening, as we turned on the power to our beautiful new home for the first time. We are all so grateful for our good fortune; and, we thank the Trinity every single day for our wonderful home. Thank You, Lord!
13-September-2013, @ 1330 Hours PDT:
PG&E worked on installing and turning on the gas and electricity.
ComCast xfinity installed and turned on the Wi-Fi, cable, phone, and security systems.
The paddock is getting close to completion — all the lights have been installed, and they will light up the paddock like daylight.
All the door locks and handles have been installed to all the doors. Gas, electricity, and water have been installed and all operational. Interior painting is done to all the units; and the staircase to the roof has been created and installed.
25-August-2013, @ 1100 hours PDT:
The front door is in from South City Lumber Supply, and it will be stained next week. The locks to all the doors have been ordered and should be arriving real soon.
The appliances arrived and will be installed to all three kitchens next week or so.
The interior painting will be done next week or so — the glass on the railings to the third unit and penthouse are all done, too.
I’m very excited that all the bathrooms will have turbo-flush toilets — no Lincoln-Log are gonna jam up the water flow with these new state-of-the-art turbo-flush toilets. Yeah — I’m a happy camper.
All the hard-wood floors have been laid and stained; all the railings have been installed; all the appliances to all kitchens, except for my mother’s kitchen, have been installed. My mother’s kitchen appliances are special order from Europe; hence, it takes about 6 weeks to arrive, which is also another contributing factor to the delivery date of completion being changed to end of August 2013.
PJ Hegarty Construction and his team are laying down the hardwood floors — the borders and hardwood floors arrived today. The wood my sister selected is oak. It smells so amazing. No nails will be used in the installation of the hardwood. The process used will enhance the radiant heating, coming up through all the floors throughout the house, and increase the sound-proofing throughout the house. Each floor, including all the bathrooms, will be heated and provide heat throughout the house.
27-June-2013, @ 1000 Hours PDT:
Jose Ramirez is working on the installation of the bathroom Italian tiles we ordered from Glenn Stark at Galleria Tile. These tiles are special-order from Italy and of the highest caliber. We have 7.5 bathrooms that will benefit from Jose’s tile-work.
12-June-2013, @ 1030 Hours PDT:
Scaffolds are off — the exterior construction of the house is complete — the copper rain-gutters running down the left-side of the house in the picture are still being worked on.
11-June-2013, @ 1430 Hours PDT:
Countertops are all installed to all three kitchens as are the cabinets, shelves, and drawers. All the counter-tops in all three kitchens are rare Italian Quartz containing blends of white onyx and other quartz minerals.
The exterior paint, stucco, and trim to the front of the house are done. The architecture and colors were inspired by our visits to Tuscany, Italy. Many of the homes in Tuscany and Florence are of these colors and form.
21-May-2013, @ 1530 Hours PDT:
Today, we drove by the house to check out the application of golden harvest stucco; and, we are so jazzed and impressed with the color. We are getting closer and closer to completion.
9-May-2013, @ 1300 Hours PDT:
We visited PJ Hegarty to check out the brown-level process before the application of the Golden Harvest stucco.
6-May-2013, @ 1100 Hours PDT:
We are in stucco phase now; and, PJ Hegarty showed us the colors and textures that interest my sister and me. We want more to view two other colors; hence, Fin, PJ Hegarty’s stucco guy, will show them to us on Wednesday, 8-May-2013.
This picture shows the brown-level. The brown-level is the concrete-looking material that goes onto the front, sides, and rear of the house. The stucco will be placed on the brown level.
All the walls are all set up and all three fireplaces are installed.
29-April-2013, @ 1130 Hours PDT:
I visited our new-house-to-be and met up with PJ Hegarty. The framing for the stucco is almost done; and, the paddock is coming together quite nicely.
NEW CONSTRUCTION COMPLETED
13-November-2014, 1200 – 1700 Hours PST: When you build a brand new house, there are some post-construction stuff that needs to be done because the house begins to settle; so, stuff like the doors need to be adjust, cracks in the walls need to be repaired, and so on.
Today, our Sonos speakers arrived — all nine of them were installed throughout the compound; after they were install into the walls, I hooked up Sonos Amplifiers in my sister and mum’s homes.
Now, we can play music off our mobile devices throughout the entire complex independent of each other! Most groovy!
23-January-2014: Some pictures of our new home, neighborhood, and views from our penthouse. We had our home blessed.
The only thing remaining from our 1904 house is the staircase. The marble used back at that time is of high-quality and presently no company manufactures this type of marble; so, we kept it.
Many pedestrians stop to read the plaque bolted to our house; and, I’m proud to have PJ Hegarty Construction’s name on it. He did amazing, creative, state-of-the-art, and artistic work.
View from penthouse: New Year’s Eve 2014.
I love the views from the penthouse. In the picture above, it shows the 2014 New Year’s Eve fireworks and the San Francisco skyline.
Afternoon view from penthouse kitchen: San Francisco Fleet Week 2015.
Evening view from penthouse kitchen: San Francisco Fleet Week 2015.
Afternoon view from penthouse: San Francisco Fleet Week 2015.
The most grooviest thing I dig about the location of my home is that it is located in the flight path of the US Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. Here are some shots I took from my penthouse deck during the 2015 San Francisco Fleet Week: 9-10-11-October-2015. I took these shots with my Apple iPhone 6S Plus.
Huntington Park and Huntington Hotel are around the corner from my house.
The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco is a block away from my house.
My house is two blocks away from the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Mark’s brother founded a well-know school in the east coast called, Johns Hopkins.
Grace Cathedral is around the corner from my house.
The Flood Mansion, now the Pacific Union Club is a block away from my house.
My neighborhood is the safe, whereby my mother, sister, and I can go walking or jogging any time of the day or night; it is convenient, so we don’t need a car — we can walk to Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Financial District, Chinatown, and North Beach.
If we don’t feel like walking, we can hitch a ride on the cable car or MUNI. Getting a cab is just as easy as living in New York City’s Manhattan.
All types of foods are available to us in walking distance; and, 90% of the time, the weather is sunny or clear; we are not part of the fog-belt — I HATE the fog almost as much as progressives, socialists, and liberals!
With the guidance of the Trinity, the construction of this brand new home was a major accomplishment for my sister and me. It was challenging, but we had a lot of fun executing this major endeavor; and, we would do it all again because of our awesome and ethical contractor, PJ Hegarty Construction and his team. My family and I slept well at nights knowing he was at the helm.
Thanks for dropping by and for all your nice emails and telephone calls regarding the construction of our brand new house.
/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)