Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Removal of the fireplace?

Novel idea:

You've got a 144 year old home with two fireplaces. One has been used recently (on the West wall) although probably shouldn't have been, and the second is in the center of the home, sealed up for probably 50 years or so, unworkable and unusable. So why keep it?

Very exciting recommendation from our architect: if you're gutting the place, why not take down the fireplace bricks, fix the roof, and use the 144 year old bricks on another project? Since the basement access is currently ONLY from the exterior of the house, could we maybe use this new unused space where the fireplace WAS on the first floor to access the basement from inside the house? Hubby thinks a trap door concept would be cool, and I tend to agree, if it's workable.

It could also open up the second floor quite a bit, (see image) where we plan on having the Master Bed, Bath and office space.

The real question is whether or not this is a structural load bearing wall. If so, plans may be of naught. The green outline in the image is of the original construction. The addition to the North (3 floors of an addition) were added on later on (not sure how much later) but it's clear that the wall that the second fireplace is on was once an exterior wall.

I'd love to clear out the whole area, but not sure if we can do it.

In other news, it looks like we've got a deal on the rehab loan. After many weeks of negotiating with our banker, we've finally come to a meeting of the minds... and wallets. M is thrilled.

Update: We did take down the fireplace... partially, but the design we went with is NOT the one from above. We moved the bathroom from the West side of the house to the East side of the house, so as to have a straight hallway down the west wall, instead of the 'rabbit warren' hallway hubby referred to it as.

It's a minor adjustment I didn;t think we'd be able to make at first due to the plumbing, but our plumber assured us he could do it, so we did.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rehab....No no no

It's just TOO appropriate.
Love Amy Winehouse-- wooot!

In other news, we heard back from our HVAC guy and our plumber and it looks like we're still on. If we get the floorplans by Monday we'll get together and start the REAL planning process for routing the ductwork and pvc pipes together.

Then the demo.... but we still need to PAY for the place and get permits for demo before we can start knocking it down. Darn paperwork.


Why rehab and not buy new II

Here's more reasons to rehab and not buy new.

Over the past 15 years, the real estate market has been in an unprecedented boom. Historically, it is very rare for standard residential real estate to appreciate much more than the rate of inflation, plus a little. And that's over time. Yet until last year, even slap-dash subdivision new construction has been appreciating as well as or better than the stock market (depending upon your market).

That wasn't sustainable. Now, the folks who mistook an extremely rare and powerful real estate bull market for genius are learning that "Trump they ain't".

From here into the foreseeable future, the only real estate that is likely to appreciate much more than GDP will be improvable, location-specific, special situation properties. New construction is not "improvable", but rather "improved" and notably NOT special. That's reason number one.

In most cases, one can buy a rehab for less than what it would cost to build something comparable from scratch. That's reason number two.

Reason number 3 for rehabbing vs. buying new is that you cut out the middle men. When you buy things for your rehab, you're getting them at the best possible price that you can find. You are not paying a marked up price. Additionally, you aren't paying for the mark up on subcontractors labor and you aren't paying for a builders profit. All those factors have to be overcome when you buy new before you can make $0.01 one. Those factors also increase your risk when or if you want to refinance--if you don't have enough real equity, you can't refinance.

Reason number 4 for rehabbing vs. buying new is that things get to be the way you want them. Not the way some cookie cutter designer/builder wants them. If we want to have 2 stoves, we can design our kitchen that way. That won't fly in new construction (at least not without major cost).

Reason number 5 for rehabbing vs. buying new is that you KNOW the property is well-built because it has been there for a century and a half. With new construction, they're often experimenting on you. Many new building products fail within the first 10 years. The windows in a rehab might have lasted 100 years and with a little love and care will last another 100 years.

Do I sound like I'm selling myself?

If so, it's probably because we need ongoing validation of this decision. :O

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why rehab and not buy new

My In-laws are nervous about us doing a rehab instead of buying a new, or relatively new home. Ahem...they moved into theirs about three years ago and we've already been over to fix their vinyl siding. Oh, yeah, and there's THIS: (Dow Jones Home Builders in the Dumper)

(click to enlarge)

Keeping it real

Click the image to enlarge.

Loan Applications and Lead Paint

The City is pending the sale of *our* home (I guess I can call it that now) on a loan application from the city for the Rehab. Looks pretty straight forward, but you never know. We need to get it to them last Friday, apparently.

Using the estimated value of when it will be completed, we're thinking the value might be significant. Of course, after the roof caves in and the river floods, that number is subject to change. Right now, I can't see it valued at much at all. The stench of kitty makes that seem a little high. More pictures to come.

We were supposed to have the floor plans started today, but there's a hang up with our guy's current employer. We should have those started by Wednesday. Then we need to contact the Plumber, the Electrician and the HVAC guys to make sure they still have time scheduled for us and that the estimates we've gotten over the past year still are applicable. Otherwise, we'll be looking for new contractors.

Oh and does anyone know what a hassle lead paint REALLY is? Apparently, before we can start on demo, we have to make sure our general contractor has taken a lead paint class (Free to the public, but takes 8 hours) so they know about lead removal practices and what your children will look like if they chew on it. How much lead to you really have to ingest before you loose a brain cell.... anyone?...Anyone...? And anyway, the city does a "risk assessment" of the property for $750 and if it looks like there might be lead (and there probably will be) they'll do a lead paint test which will cost about $500. This will tell us what we already know, and that we'll have to be uber-careful and wear masks lest we rot our brains and revert to tick-picking apelike creatures.

Good news: Hubby M agreed to take the lead paint class so I don't.
Bad news; It's on his Birthday.

Wifey H

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's official.

After first looking at "our" home, I knew I wanted it. None of those carbon-copy-paper-thin walled homes for us. Newer houses give me the Ugh-shivers. I wanted a home that had already stood the test of time, and we found one. A three story ~2400 square foot brick home built between 1865-1868.

We found it a year ago.
Why the delay? Well, the City owns it.

But on July 17th, 2007 the City Council officially agreed to sell it to us in a 5-0 vote. Actually, it probably was an event free vote because of all the time the housing department took to get things right. In any case, it's uninhabitable, needs new plumbing, new electric, a new HVAC system, and maybe a new roof and smells strongly of cat urine. ---What have we done??!?!