Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shop Tour!

Ring the Bell
The front door at my business used to have a stained glass transom window above it.  It was lovely, as it faced West and the setting sun would shine in through the glass.  My wife, Kristen made it, back in the "hippie" days and it really gave the front room class.

However, two things conspired to change that.  First of all, the transom was held in place with a chain, which allowed us to open it and let the air in.  One day that chain came loose and the window fell completely open, hitting me on the head.  Of course, I fixed it, but the bump left a mark.

The real reason was that KFC built a "restaurant" across the street, some 30 years ago, and connected their sewer line to the main line which runs directly in front of my shop.  Before KFC, my business was the first building on the end of the line, and there were no problems.  As soon as KFC began to operate, I found large quantities of "effluent" bubbling up out of my front toilet.  In fact the front room, which was full of antique furniture, had 6" of standing sewage when I arrived the next day.

Of course, KFC denied any involvement, and the city inspector accused me of putting "something" down the toilet, threatening to shut me down.  My damage claims were denied, and I had to clean up the mess.  The only good news was that KFC quietly relocated their drain to the larger commercial sewer directly in front of their store, instead of the smaller residential line in front of mine.

The city inspector determined that, since the sewer line had a very shallow slope, and that the front toilet was on a slab at ground level, it was easier for overflow to come out the toilet instead of lifting the manhole cover.  That was the news that signaled the end of the stained glass transom.

At that time there was news that a contractor in Los Angeles had laid a new basketball court improperly, and it had buckled severely and needed to be replaced.  This floor was made of 3/4" T/G hard maple, and finished with all the basketball lines and such.  The contractor had taken a saw and simply cut the floor into 12' x 8' chunks and piled them outside.  They were free for the taking.

Several of us guys (the ones with trucks) drove up there in a caravan and loaded up as much flooring as we could lift.  I remember my truck sitting on the axle, as I drove home with my headlights pointing to the sky.

Soon, I had a beautiful new hardwood floor in the front room, which raised the floor (and the toilet) over 6" (more than enough to solve the overflow problem).  The result was that I now hit my head on the transom window, which needed to be removed.  That meant I had to build a new front door, which ended up nearly 8 feet tall.
3815 Utah Street

That was over 35 years ago, and I still miss the light coming through the window.

The rest of the building has been changed and adapted to my uses over the years.  Thanks to Asa, at Fine Woodworking, I can invite you to take a tour.  This link will take you to a short presentation.

3815 Utah Street Shop Tour

I hope you enjoy it, and if you are ever in San Diego, please ring the bell and visit.


Anonymous said...

I know all about the too gentle sewer slope as my shop is right near sea level by SF bay.
How many square feet is your place?
Someday I'll make it down there for one of your classes.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

The front half of my business is a 1926 Craftsman residence which I converted to a business by removing all the walls, including the load bearing wall. I had to do some creative structural engineering to keep the roof up...

That building sits on a 50 x 100 foot CN1 zone commercial lot, and the original size of the house was about 2000 square feet, one story. In the back yard I added a 2 story modern building, which was 40 x 50 feet, making the total floor space of the business around 5,000 square feet.

If I can get enough money in the future, my plan is to remove the original front house, and add a two or three story commercial building, bringing the final total to around 10,000 square feet.

The good news about my location is that I am not limited by any height restriction or FAR (floor to area ratio) so I can build property line to property line as tall as I want, without any on site parking requirement.

Also, my local historic commercial district is very desirable these days, and it would be easy to find commercial tenants to lease parts of such a design. At that point, I could still run my business in the back and rent out the front.

We will see what the next decades bring.