Q's About Renovating A Massachusetts Condo - Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 11-28-2009, 01:22 AM   #1
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Q's about renovating a Massachusetts condo

Hello all!
I am a new forum member here, after spending several days lurking about and reading through the back posts. Like many Americans, I took advantage of the federal tax credit this year and purchased my first home (actually a condo...).

Simple background of the property:
160 years old. Formerly a carriage house to the adjacent home. Condo association is 4 owners (me +3) who each own half of a house. We share a driveway between the two and have garages out back (I have 3!) The carriage house was converted in the mid-80's, so the primary structure is post-and-beam, secondary is stick built. Foundation is cut granite block. The property is not part of the historic society (thank goodness)

Built into a hill, so it looks like a 2 story from the front, 3 story from the back. I have 3 habitable, finshed levels with the main entrace on the middle level (living room/kitchen), a ground level door out of the basement (utilities/tv room/extra bed/.5 bath), and 2 bedrooms with a full bath upstairs.

Desires and question:
I want to open the top floor up into a loft/master suite. My plan will require relocating the bathroom and fixtures to combine 2 bedrooms into 1.
I recently saw this done in a This Old House feature:
I guess I'm wondering what I'm really getting into here - is it even reasonable to attempt this? I think the association won't mind. Will Mass code updates make the project financially unreasonable? I have long blocks of time off from work and want to do as much of the labor as possible (I used to do basic carpentry labor), but no real dealings with the legal/regulatory parts.

Anybody have any war stories to share about changing condos and builing things in Massachusetts?

Pictures coming shortly...

this is a neat built in bookcase from the TOH feature

another shot from the TOH house

this is from my house, one of the 2 mirror-image bedrooms

this kitchen is directly below the bed in the previous photo.

this is the 1st floor, which I don't plan on changing much (except for paint and furniture- yuck!)
yes, that is me in the picture. It was taken the one and only time I got to see the place before bidding on it. It was summer and I was on my motorcycle.

the front of my little castle. ;-)



Last edited by Regan006; 11-28-2009 at 02:44 AM. Reason: pictures
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:32 AM   #2
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embedding pictures

This is a google sketchup I found. My current configuration is similar to the top drawing, with a full bath between the two bedrooms on either end.

I would like to create somthing more along the lines of the bottom drawing, combining the 2 bedrooms into a master suite and moving the bathroom to the far end.


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Old 11-28-2009, 08:11 AM   #3
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1st check with the Condo rules & other owners
In some cases Condo ownership requires that a Pro does the work
That is usually larger Condo's, so you may not have a problem

Updated MA codes (& others) that I know of:
Hard wired smoke & CO detectors
Dedicated GFCI protected circuit to bathroom
Bedrooms & other areas need AFCI protection now
I haven't had any problems with my construction - updating 1950's Cape
Good time to update windows & insulation

Opening up the area like you want will mean structural changes
If you can have support beams going to the roof from the staircase area that would help
And engineer/architect would probably be needed to size loads

Do you know what size rafters you have ?
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:45 PM   #4
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You would need to add a structural ridge beam over the clear span area. Adding bearing posts in the walls below all the way down to the basement and installing bigger footings under the slab at both ends of beam locations. Then new raters of correct size for insulation and span required in sloped ceiling. Larger window in bedroom for egress: http://www.taunton.com/finehomebuild...s-windows.aspx Page 45: http://books.google.com/books?id=iwS...raming&f=false

Be safe, Gary
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:54 AM   #5
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Please take my advice. Spend a few dollars with an architect in this situation. And find one that know local building codes. Get a youngster if you want. You both will enjoy the experience. Such pros are beyond your means? Really? You sure?

Of course the condo people will not mind until you make the first saw cut or you start drilling on a common wall. You need some drawings to cover your ass and for permits anyhow. Been through this too many times. A good architect will also counsel you on how much you should, or LEGALLY CAN, do yourself.

And please trust me again? Unless you are lucky and have good ones like mine? Architects are more festive to work with, and generally much, much cheaper than lawyers and definitely more interesting at parties than accountants. They can help sail you through permit processes and keep your project on track and will know contractors in your area for most things. Money well spent in my opinion in your situation.

Last edited by user1007; 11-30-2009 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 06:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Regan006 View Post

This is a google sketchup I found. My current configuration is similar to the top drawing, with a full bath between the two bedrooms on either end.

I would like to create somthing more along the lines of the bottom drawing, combining the 2 bedrooms into a master suite and moving the bathroom to the far end.
Hey Regan,

In my opinion,you are planning a major structural reform. This may even lead to issues with local building codes that place restrictions on Boston condos. If you are a newbie to legal aspects, take the advice of legal professionals. Conversely, you may hire an architect to guide your actions in the right direction. It is worth paying fees to an architect than to spend money on lawsuits. However, you’re a better judge of your circumstances and needs…

Martina Rose
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:43 AM   #7
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Is this the home you plan to die in? If so, then go for it but take sdsester's advice. If you plan to sell it eventually, eliminating a bedroom probably isn't such a good idea.


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