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Rekonn 05-10-2013 02:18 PM

Remodel - order of operations
Hello, I just bought an old (1928) house in Arlington MA, and there's a lot of work to be done! I'd like some advice on the order that the projects should be done in. I plan to be in the house for at least 10 years, possibly for good.

1)The house is on oil, has steam radiators for heat, and no AC. I'd like to convert to gas and add central heat and AC, and the ducts necessary for that. Remove oil tank, boiler, steam pipes, radiators, baseboards.
2) It has a kitchen that will be taken down to the studs and built new, electric stove to be replaced with gas.
3) It has a great walkout basement that I'd like to finish someday, and add a half bath. I'd like a separate utility room vs having equipment currently centrally located.
4) The inspector pointed out that most of the copper and brass (yes brass) plumbing is at end of life and should be replaced. I'm thinking PEX for all supply lines
5) main drain stack is cast iron, visible rusting in basement, likely need large section replaced. It vents through the roof, attic section has large rusted out hole, needs replacement. Maybe replace all with PVC?

Basement insulation and framing is something I can do myself over time. Can I start that after ducts are in place? Or should that be done before?

I need a lot of plumbing work that will be done by a pro. Should bathroom framing be up, and should flooring be done before they can add a toilet and drain? I'm thinking 1" rigid foam over concrete, then tile.

Thanks in advance for advice!

ddawg16 05-10-2013 02:53 PM

Welcome least your off to a good more or less know what you want to do....and you got your location in your profile....your doing better than most first time posters...we usually get a "How do I fix this" kind of question.

Pictures would help a lot....

Your list is long and involved. I'm assuming you plan to live in the house while all the work is being done. This will involve some logistics in having a usable bathroom and kitchen while you live there.

Personally...move in...get a fell for what needs to be done first. Obviously you want to do infrastructure stuff plumbing....and during the summer...the really sucks to be without heat in the winter....

So post some pics and we can take it from there....we love helping you spend your money....

sixeightten 05-10-2013 03:33 PM

Here is a quick order.

Plans and permits
Foundation work if any needed
Framing (including windows and doors)
Rough Plumbing
Rough HVAC
Rough Electric
Concrete in basement or garage
Siding including gutters and downspouts
Finish carpentry and flooring
Finish plumbing, hvac, and electric

This should give you a general idea, not written in stone though.

joecaption 05-10-2013 04:01 PM

How's the roof?
If it needs replacing I'd do that first.
Anything below the roof will be trashed if it's not in good shape.
Efficient windows, insulation pay for it's self over time.

SquishyBall 05-10-2013 04:08 PM

Paraphrasing, your item list is...


1)Convert to Gas
2)Kitchen Remodel
3)Finish Basement, add 1/2 bath and utility room
4)Replace plumbing with Pex
5)Replace drains with PVC
I would do them in this order...

Really, 1, 5, 4 can be worked on more or less at once. This is all HVAC and plumbing stuff. You could spend a year or more on just this.

I would do all of this first cuz you want a solid drain, water supply, and heat for the winters before you tackle things like bathrooms and kitchens. (how you gonna hook up the kitchen and baths w/o the water done first?)

2 (kitchen) is something you can probly live with.

3 (basement) should be done absolutely last. Given how much else you have to do, it could be 5 years before you get to this. You're gonna want your basement fully accessible for the other 4 items.

Other things will factor in here. Like how is your oven and dryer powered? Are they gas? If not are you converting them too? You want to stub out all your gas work in one shot. Whether you hook up to it now or in 2 years when you get around to the kitchen or laundry room is secondary.


GBrackins 05-10-2013 06:22 PM

Welcome to the Forum!

I'd start with the exterior and work my way in. Make sure you have a weather tight shell. Spring-Summer-Fall best time for exterior. Dawg has a good point and your heating system, Mass winters can be fun in case you're new to the area. You'll need a licensed plumber for your plumbing and heating system conversion and permits (at least they do in the South Coast area). Ask family and friends for recommendations and make a few appointments and bring them in to access your home.

if you are big time cooks then the kitchen would be a priority, if not get other things to your liking first. switching out electric to gas is not a big deal (need a licensed plumber or pipe fitter) for gas installation. (again at least in my area of Mass).

duct work located within conditioned space does not require insulation or leak testing, if in the unfinished basement it will require both. Finishing your basement is a nice winter project since you can't get out and work in the yard (except with your snow blower).

As other have stated I'd live in the house a few years to figure out what finished space you want in the basement. We're coming up on year 3 and am finally planning out what we want to do in the basement. You'll find out what activities are not easily accomplished in your existing living space. Insulation is easily doable on your part.

Check with your town and find out if they have adopted the Mass Stretch Energy Code, or if it is based upon the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.

Here are links to code requirements, and the Board of Building Regulations and Standards for Mass:

2009 International Residential Code (basis for Mass Residential Code)

Massachusetts Amendments (changes to the above code) you'll have to check both to know what is required

2009 International Energy Conservation Code

Mass Stretch Energy Code

Board of Building Regulations and Standards (people that make the rules)

Town of Alington Building Department/Inspectional Services

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Rekonn 05-11-2013 03:39 PM

Awesome, that's a lot of feedback! I don't have time yet to go through and properly respond, just wanted to say thanks!

fixrite 05-12-2013 10:10 AM

I would choose to use abs vs pvc for my drains.

Rekonn 05-14-2013 09:31 PM

Ok, got some time, pics were requested, here you go:

Rekonn 05-14-2013 10:23 PM

ddawg16 - I've been reading a lot of posts lately, found you can't get any useful info on hvac or insulation without knowing location, so I figured it would be good to put that in. Yup, I'll be living in the house while all work is being done.

sixeightten - thx!

joecaption - Inspector said roof was good, per sellers, it was put on in 2002. I'm happy I don't need to do anything with that that soon. For fun though, I am thinking of some remodels that would involve changing the roofline.

SquishyBall - makes a lot of sense, thx! Yes, the current (severly dated) kitchen is functional and we can live with it for a while. Oven and dryer are electric. I like the idea of putting all gas lines in place in one shot, then hookup when convenient. I definitely want a gas oven/range. Not sure if switch is worth it for dryer, but having the option would be nice.

GBrackins - I moved to Mass during the blizzard filled winter of 2010, when a local newspaper was comparing snowfall totals to Shaquille O'Neal's height (just joined the Celtics then). Baptism by ice, hehe.

I looked into gas conversion, National Grid confirmed my house can get it, but it might take 3 months!

Looks like my town has adopted the Mass Stretch Energy Code and it's in effect. That's a lot of reading material...

fixrite - why abs?

Rekonn 05-14-2013 10:35 PM

I did a radon test during the inspection period, and it came back with a result of 4.0 pCi/L. I bought a radon detector LINK, and it's been showing values between 7 and 8.1 the last 2 days. Is this something that should be addressed before everything else? If it's not safe in the basement, can't really get much done.

Rekonn 05-18-2013 10:23 AM

As a test, I moved the radon detector to the 2nd floor just to make sure I didn't get some defective unit that always showed a high level no matter what. It now shows a level of 1.2. So, definitely looks like there's a radon issue to solve. I've been doing some research, I think I like the idea of putting in an HRV system. The idea of fresh air being brought in and exhausting stale air continuously sounds good.

GBrackins 05-18-2013 10:30 AM

you could also contact your local Board of Health in regards to the Radon.

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