Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rehabbing an Old House Step 3: Estimating

Rehabbing an Old House Step 3: Estimating

This installment follows Step 2: Selecting


and Rehabbing Manual Step 1

So, you've found a place that you like and that's in decent shape. Time to make an offer, right? Not so fast! You've got more work to do.

You can't make a responsible offer until you know how much money it's going to cost you to make it livable or the way you want it. Also, if you're getting a rehab loan, you're going to have to have good estimates for the bank too, even for things you intend to do yourself.

There's more to it than you'd think. You don't want to under-estimate, either, as you'll end up with a place that you're paying a mortgage on but that hasn't been painted or carpeted or which ends up looking crummy because you had to cheap-out on your finish.

First off, you're going to have some demo expense. If it's a major gut job, don't do this yourself. It's hard, it's nasty, and it's dangerous, and you don't save all that much money. Typically, demolition will run $1.50-$2.50 per sq. ft. You may have to add in dumpster expense ($250-$700) and any materials.

You're also going to have some soft costs like permits, closing costs, and architect (though if you aren't changing things much, you may not need a pro).

You'll need to secure the building from the elements and from miscreants. That means get several roof estimates, as well as estimates for windows and doors. New windows should be ordered a bit later in the process if you want to avoid potential damage, but it's nice to have a warm, safe place. Windows can be expensive, though if you have more time than money, repairing them is not a huge deal. There are many books on this. Doors are easy to find on Craigs list, and don't forget any basement access door that might need to be replaced.

If the electrical system is old knob and tube you're going to want to replace it. It's dangerous. Get several estimates from credible electricians. You can probably do a good bit of wiring yourself but you're going to want to bring in a pro to hook things up to the breaker box and to consult with you. Do your homework and remember that electricity is dangerous.

If the plumbing is iffy (and you'll want to have a plumber check it out if you don't intend to replace it), you can do much of the PVC work yourself, but a good plumber can move mighty quickly. Also, you pay a plumber for what he knows more than what he does.

If the HVAC system is old, you'll probably want to replace this, too. Get a couple estimates. You can find cheap furnaces sometimes, but most of the time, your HVAC guy can get this stuff more cheaply than you can.

Study the foundation from the outside and look for any potential drainage issues. You'll want to address those quickly and some might require a pro so don't forget to estimate for that, if necessary.

What about insulation? You'll probably want to add insulation. Much you can do yourself but not all. Will you be using spray foam? Some you can do yourself, but others require professional help.

If you're going to have the walls opened up, you might want to consider a central vac system. They aren't too expensive, and you can do it yourself, but they still need to be budgeted for.

You'll want to visualize the place as if it were done and list things you'll need to price out. Drywall and all that goes with it (mud, tape, screws, etc.). Trim (doors, windows, baseboards). Window treatments. Primer and Paint (remember, don't skimp on the paint--labor is the expensive part--you don't want to paint any sooner than you have to). Stains. Electrical fixtures.

Will you be sanding the floors or covering them over? Get a bid on sanding, unless you've had experience or have an option to practice somewhere. Don't forget carpet or any laminate flooring too.

Don't forget appliances. You may need new washer and dryer, oven, stove, fridge, range hood, and the like. Maybe you already have these, but if not, you'll need to add this into your estimate.

Cabinetry for bathrooms and kitchen? That can get expensive, but it can also be done reasonably affordably. Don't forget drawer pulls and handles too. Ikea has some great planning tools, if you want a starting place. Just don't forget to get estimates.

You're going to want to spend some time and money on landscaping too, in all likelihood. If it's more than a few pansies, you'll want to include a budget for that too. While you're outside, make sure that you don't need to paint.

You'll need some tools, too. A rehab should NOT be an excuse to go on a buying spree at Home Depot. Some tools you'll need and you should buy them new. Other tools you may not need, or you may not need to use much. Those are tools that you might want to borrow or rent. Other tools you might want to snag off Ebay, Craig's List, and even pawn shops. Don't forget yard sales. You can blow $2000 in a heart beat buying new tools and you don't have to. Plan early, be creative, and accumulate the tools that you'll need. There are books on this, including the one recommended in Step 1, so we won't belabor the issue, but rather offer the things we KNOW you'll want to have.

(Pretty Much) Imperative tool list:

Circular Saw
Cordless Drill
Bits: Spade, Masonry, etc.
3' Level
Framing Square
Pull Saw
Wood Chisels
Wide, 25' Tape Measure
Utility Knives
Work Gloves
3' Sledge
Pry Bar(s)
Safety Glasses
Steel Toe Work Boots
N100 or P100 Respirator
Miter Box/Saw

Don't gloss over all the nails and screws and fasteners and glue that you may need. This, too, adds up.

Once you've got your budget, you're going to want to add 10%-15% contingency. Plan on discovering things that you have to do or things that you'll really want to do. Plan on time delays. You may want to have two sets of estimates, one for the bank and one for your own use, especially if you're going to be doing a lot of work yourself or bartering with tradespeople. In any case, once you have your estimates, then it's time to make your final determination and make an offer. Even then, you may want to arrange financing first.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Had to move the wall.

OK, playing catch up here.

We met with our HVAC guru, (www.PeakHVAC.com) and we'd been trying to figure out the best way to heat and cool the house. We at first thought we'd head a vent and return on each side of the dining room fireplace, but it turns out we'd need a lot more space for a second vent to carry air to the 3rd floor and it would make the dining room all.... wonky. Also, it would mean branching out in the basement and taking half of the vent-age (my word, not Chuck Phaeler's from Peak HVAC, heh heh) to the north side of the house and half to the rear, and we'd be talking uber-soffets like an encompassing, but warm, octopus.

So we determined we could fit the HVAC main ductwork up from the basement, up through the northeast corner of the kitchen (practically unused space), into the northeast corner of the bath/laundry room, and then into the 3rd floor. This way, the ductwork stays in a central location, and only branches out from the 'trunk' at the level it is needed.

There was one problem though with the return that was planned for the kitchen wetwall.


Well, we planned the location of the kitchen wetwall ever so carefully, making sure that the wetwalls on the second and third floor would all like up and even distribute some weight. I'm, not kidding, we spent HOURS trying to determine the exact location for premium placement and ease of use. But did we go into the basement and check out the ceiling to make sure that the joists that ran throughout the house also matched up in the basement? Nooooo, that would have been way too smart. Way.


So we built the kitchen wetwall not only right on top of a joist, but to make it all the more painful, it was a double joist.

The plumbing that we so carefully planned for had to come up through the wetwall on the west, then back across over the kitchen to the east, then back up through the floor to meet the bathroom on the second floor. OK, plumbing disaster averted... but the HVAC? Not so easy.

A few days after we made the plumbing work-around, Chuck (the HVAC boss) made the call that we'd have to either move the wall, or we'd have to have an angled return in the dining room that stuck out about 3" on the floor and sloped back to the wall to get around the joist screw up.

We moved the wall.

Now I'm halfway tempted to tell the plumbers that we can now run the PVC up the wetwall the way it was supposed to go in the first place-- just to see the looks on their faces.

Today's agenda: Replace last two rotted floor joists on the first floor with 2x12" PTL (Pressure treated lumber), and start pulling up the rest of the old tongue and groove 1" flooring (wearing a mask this time so as not to kill myself by inhaling the mold on the underside THIS time.) Then overlay with two full sheets of 1/2" OSB ( laid out so as to overlap and not have the edges on the second layer line up with the edge of the sheets underneath, aka staggered layout) and finish sistering 2x6's to the rotted joists on the 2nd floor for floor supports, fix the holes with OSB, then laying single sheets of OSB for the final subfloor prep.

Unless I have to move another wall.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Copy Cat?

If what we're doing sounds like fun, you might find a project for yourself in our very happening area. You can follow our lead.

Here's one great resource Covington Properties.

Of course, just driving around Covington can give you some options too.

There may be financing incentives and low interest loans for owner-occupied properties. I suspect that prices are negotiable in the current environment, too. In fact, I'm confident that many properties can be purchased for less than one could build them.

If you need a contact person, just ask.

Oh, and note well, many of the properties are in better shape than ours was.

If you're looking for step-by step guidance, you might want to start with our Rehab Manual entries.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fixed the downspout.

No, it wasn't clogged with a soda bottle or a glove. There was a "strainer" installed in the downspout near the top of the pipe, with six small holes the size of a pencil eraser cut in it. It rained and small debris from the roof immediately filled the little holes, hence the clog and the overflow.

We had to have the whole thing cut out.

I'd call that a poor choice in strainers considering the amount of water the boxgutter is designed to move, but at least now (crossing fingers) we can keep the rain off of the house, not in the second floor, not in the basement and away from the house and into the storm drains.

I hope.

We'll see. It's supposed to rain for the next three days.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Box gutter or wading pool? -- You Decide.

This is the view from our third floor facing North. You can Cincinnati in the background through the wispy clouds and rain. It's a great view at night when the visibility is better.

By the way, the house at the end of the alley behind us with the red tin roof has been for sale for a while now. It's a great looking place but as far as I'm concerned, needs new electric (still has knob and tube setup.) I think they're asking $189K.
If you're interested, you may want to check it out.

Anyway, what you CAN see a lot clearer from this vantage point is our brand new boxgutter, the one that was leaking for so long that we had to have the 'water feature' underneath because it was pouring water into the house when Benchmark Roofing came and started the box gutter, but didn't get back to finish it for a few weeks.

Here it is in all of its glory, still unpainted, and hey-- wait--- Isn't a box gutter supposed to move the water into the downspout and out to the storm drain?

Sure, that's what they're SUPPOSED to do, but what the heck is happening here?

Oh, yeah, it's flooding and pouring over the side.

Again, while working on the wetwall for the upstairs bath/laundry room, we thought we MUST be hearing the next door neighbor's gutter. It couldn't possibly be the gutter or the downspout. No way.


My guess is that something the roofers left on the roof... a glove, a bottle, a cup, SOMETHING is clogging the downspout. There is no water going through it, just over the side. We just spent a bundle unclogging and replacing the cast iron pipe at the foot of the downspout, so we know it's not that, and it's not like there are any leaves on the trees...

Damn damn damn. When we will ever get (and keep) the water out of the house??? I'm wet, I'm dusty, and I need a shower. And I'm very disappointed right now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wetwalls going up

First, as mentioned before, we blocked in the walls and the ceiling joists in between the furring strips and the ceiling joists where the wet wall was to be located. (We're planning on having the wet wall continue above onto the second floor for the second floor bath as well, to make things easier.)

These blocking areas are to help support the freestanding wall that we are putting in. The blocking will act as nailers and the sucker shouldn't move a millimeter once it's up.

I measured the length of the wall from our floorplans, double checking that we'll have enough room for the kitchen counter tops, double sink, dishwasher, etc... then cut the 2 lengths of 2x6's for the top and the bottom.

I measured each distance from the ceiling joist to the floor, then subtracted 3" for the boards at the top and the bottom of the frame, then I subtracted another quarter of an inch for maneuverability when raising the wall from horizontal to vertical. (You will need that extra 1/4" for room to set it up, otherwise, it won't fit.)

Then I cut each length and marked each board with its position and the measurement for layout on the floor.

Since the length of the wall was not a multiple of 16" but we needed to have the 16"OC measurements for the drywallers, we just started the measurements from the open end of the wall (the right side in these pictures) and measured in 16" towards the attached wall, then marked both the header board and the footer. Then I lined up each board on the floor and nailed it into place at the top and bottom, according to the 16" mark.

There's an extra 7" space away from the attaching wall where we had leftover space from the last 16" measurement. No problem.

Then we raised the wall up, maneuvered it into placed with a little jostling and kicking, then secured it to a ceiling joist with a single screw.

Since this wall is going to be attached to a full 2x4 framing wall in the kitchen and we're going to hang kitchen cabinets on both of these walls, it is imperative that these two walls be square with each other in order to avoid shimming and a lot of cursing down the road.

We're already building the framing wall in the kitchen, but I don't have any pictures yet. Maybe it has something to do with that bottle of wine in the last picture... heh heh. Okay, so we toasted our first built wall. It was a long day.