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girlbuttough 09-15-2013 10:21 AM

Need to Fix Just Everything; Know Enough to Be Dangerous
I have skimmed through the posts and decided to go on and start a new one, since this is gonna take a bit. The start date for my project is actually uncertain-awaiting the funding to arrive and hiring contractors and whatnot. My remodel will be in my parents' home and I want to make this great, great for them; they have worked very hard and now they are elderly and have health problems. I want them to love their home and be proud to have family and visitors in and for it to be functional in the event that they need wheelchairs, etc. As my title indicates, there is quite a lot we must do and there are a few things we want to do. Ultimately, the house will become a duplex and the remodel will accomplish the major changes for that: electrical wiring will be separate for the two parts of the house, with 2 breaker boxes, 2 water heaters, so forth. The house was built around 1970 and my parents have always lived here and my mother has hated the kitchen and dining area since 1971. So the kitchen will be a major area of attention, as will the back entry to the house. The bathroom is tiny and we are going to sacrifice some closet space to make it substantially larger, with a shower that is way more accessible. I have been under the house, and thank God, it appears to be structurally sound-the floor joists are in good shape, the floors are even, the doors and windows hang okay. I think we may have to do some electrical stuff, as I think the "juice" is insufficient in the house. My question, finally, concerns something a plumber told my parents: the bathroom sink worked for many years and then it stopped working and the plumber says that some type of vent was not installed at the time of construction and a wall needs to be opened up and this vent installed and run to the roof. I do not understand why the sink worked, then didn't and it is important to know because my parents like this man and want to use him for the remodel. Thank all of you who do know your craft for taking the time to advise those of us who need your help, and for being patient and kind in your posts-I checked before opening my mouth! I look forward to engaging with you as this process begins.

girlbuttough 09-15-2013 10:42 AM

I will add that the house is just a small ranch-style tract house with four bedrooms (the carport was boxed in) and one bath. I guess there is about 1000 square feet or less. As I indicated in my previous post we will gut and remodel the kitchen and dining area with replacement of everything. There is a utility area at the present back entrance and the entrance to the 4th bedroom is there. The W/D will be moved across this area and be against the outer wall and this will yield a lot of useable space to the kitchen. The entrance to the 4th br will be moved so that it and the back entrance to the house are side by side along the back wall of the house. There will be a water heater, small bathroom and very small kitchenette installed in the 4th bedroom and paint, trim, flooring will be the extent of the work there. Two more questions occur: how can I tell if a wall is load-bearing, and, if it is, will the removal of some of it require a post or something to replace it? My second question is about the water heater for the rest of the house: it is currently in the utility area and I want to move it to the center of the house, near the bathroom. Is that okay? I know it should be vented, but can it be placed in a former linen closet with a vented door? The water heater in the 4th BR will supply the kitchen. Thanks again, and I will try to get pics when it seems germane to the question.

joecaption 09-15-2013 11:34 AM

How do you plan on making a 1000 Sq. ft. house into a duplex is my first thought.
Going to me might cramp.
With all that major remodeling that needs to be done I'd keep buying a different house an option. None of those suggest repairs are cheap.
All plumbing fixtures need a vent of some type, if not there going to at least run slow, back up into other fixtures, suck the water out of the traps. At some point there going to just plug up.
You really need people on site to come up with prices and how to do all this not a web site.
Not trying to run you off, just no one here can see your home and the big picture of how to do it all.

DannyT 09-15-2013 11:40 AM

if you want it to be right then you need to check out all of the contractors thoroughly before letting them do any work. just because they have been in business 25 years doesn't mean they do things right or do a good job. ask for references and if possible see some of their previous work and talk to previous clients. good luck

wkearney99 09-15-2013 12:51 PM

One BIG question, are your parents going to live somewhere else during this ordeal? Because when you mention elderly and replacing a kitchen, that's not the easiest thing to live through while it's being done.

You'd do VERY well to get this planned out ahead of time with the aid of a licensed architect. You don't need fancy design, but you DO need a plan that considers the WHOLE approach. If you want to set it up for rentals ahead of time then you need to make sure your plan for that will actually meet code and local regulations. It would be a tragedy to have all the work done and then find out there were key things missing and it can't be rented out legally because of them. Working with an actual architect is important, and not just some contractor that pretends to know what they're doing. They're not all expensive, shop around. And make sure you understand how the plan fulfills the actual local requirements for a rental unit. DO NOT JUST ASSUME or go on faith that contractors will figure it out for you. They won't and you'll be stuck with having to pay to get it redone.

girlbuttough 09-16-2013 05:46 AM

Thanks, all of you. Yeah, I know that I cannot do this via website, but I would like to avail myself of any and all advice from experts whom I don't have to pay, and, really, who do not have a financial or any other interest in the outcome, other than being helpful. I am afraid that, as a woman, I might seem like easy prey to some contractors, for one thing. But for another, I just wanted to have a resource if something does not seem right. Thanks for not running me off and I will get some pics to send with specific questions. I am going to make a list of a dozen or so possibles and pare it down to a short list. I am also going to consider that architect, especially if they are not all terribly expensive. Regarding the cost, I am hoping to have a budget of about $30,000 with a little cushion, though I will keep that to myself. Since it will be a cash thing, I hope I can get a discount for that. I am hoping to go cheap on the things that don't matter (such as purchasing ugly, overstock ceramic tile for the bathroom)and mid range on the things that do. I am really thinking about those solar water heaters, for example. Anyway, thanks again for your generosity and, again, for not running me off. I won't be really pesty, I promise.

oh'mike 09-16-2013 07:17 AM

Welcome---You have gotten some sound advice--the most important is a plan---

That project is best done on paper before a single nail is driven or a contractor is called.

Without a plan,you are asking for a lot of heart ache.

joecaption 09-16-2013 07:45 AM

If that's all you have for a budget you might want to start with a list to prioritize your needs not want's.
A simple pad of graft paper with your floor plan you have to work with and some cut outs of items such as appliances, plumbing fixtures, furniture ECT. can be a cheap aid to see how things will flow.
With that small a budget I'd get the solar water heater idea out of my mind.
Whenever possible try to design around where the plumbing already is, may seem simple enough to "just move" a toilet over a few ft. but there's way more to it then that. That one simple move may involve not only the plumbing but now you have to redo the whole floor system, may have to do some reframing or move the ducts, add a vent ECT.
Someone doing all this on there own might get by with $30,000 but since your having to hire it all out just redoing the wiring, kitchen and one bathroom without moving any thing could cost that much.

wkearney99 09-16-2013 12:49 PM

$30k ain't a lot if you're talking about more than just a kitchen. It all adds up.

As Joe points out, moving things can get EXPENSIVE. There are ways to be creative about it, but doing so requires becoming VERY familiar with the structure of everything involved.

Once you know where all the plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems are then you can think about ways to rearrange the floorplan to manage costs. Not the other way around. Trouble is this level of familiarity is going to require some demolition to see what's where. Or getting to know someone that has the exact same house floorplan that's already been through a remodel of it. This is well worth pursuing if you're in a neighborhood that's had many homes built using the same models.

As for older folks, the idea of 'aging-in-place' is great, but structuring rooms and doorways for it isn't always easy. It's hard to make a door wider when there's structural bearing walls in the way (or plumbing, electrical or HVAC). At a certain point it's more cost-effective to move into a space that's already designed for their needs.

RoyalAcresRod 09-16-2013 01:31 PM

Girlbuttough: your intentions are certainly commendable, and speak to your character and integrity. As I've read through this, I keep thinking the same thing: how can one possibly divide 1000 sq ft into a duplex? I would have a huge concern about zoning requirements, and resale possibilities.

Your parents have been used to living in 1000 sq ft. Even if the result was luxurious...would they be able to live in half that much?

Those who are counseling you to look at other properties, I believe, have your best interest at heart. At a minimum, your parents would have to temporarily relocate while all this work was occurring. And I'm concerned the outcome might not be satisfying to them, or you. Using your limited funds to repair what must be done to make the house sale-ready, and the balance to help with the purchase of a different property might be a better solution. Just IMHO.

I've been through big remodels like this...and it's a lot more work and $$$ than what we think at the beginning.

girlbuttough 09-16-2013 05:43 PM

Thanks so much, everyone. I am going to make a list of the things I need to familiarize myself with-the location of electrical stuff, etc., and start making changes to the plan that are superfluous. I think the house plans are around here somewhere, even. My parents will not consider moving. The house will become a duplex much later and they will not have to worry with that. Resale doesn't really concern me so much; the house will be passed on by me to my neice and nephew. I am very willing to do portions of the work that I am able (have own health issues) to do-I did replace portions of the subfloor and floor here once after the washer line broke and flooded, and it went okay. I could also paint and put up trim myself. I really appreciate you guys helping me put this in perspective and point me in the direction of a more reasonable goal. It is very generous of you to weigh in; being kind and tactful about it is just gravy!

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