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Old 01-07-2012, 10:50 AM   #16
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Way in over my head


First of all, every old house has warts. As you progress through repairs and updates to it they will start to seem less daunting as you gain skill and insight. How handy are you? Are you posting here because you're working on the house yourself or planning to, or just trying to get some feed back on what's important to tackle first? There is a real pleasure to working on an old house and fixing it up yourself. You just need to have patience and have confidence in the fact that you'll get there.

When tackling repairs to an old house like this you usually move in sequence, from structural/mechanical issues that you need to address to make the dwelling safe and weather proof. Then you move to those things that will increase your comfort and the efficiency of the house, and then you move on to aesthetic things.

Clearly you started in the right place with the roof. It sounds like your next step should be the structural issues in the basement, depending on their severity. Repairing joists and other structural wood is not that difficult provided you have the right plan and the right tools. Posting a few pictures of the areas in question would help us to provide you with advice and guidance. Regarding the attic, you said cathedral ceilings...do you actually mean eaves, in that the attic was (partially) converted into livable space and you now have knee walls (low @ 3' walls) that meet the roofline which becomes your ceiling? If that is the case your options are limited. Ideally you'd rip out the drywall and do foam insulation but foam is expensive and so is the removal and replacement of the drywall. All your good options, as far as effective insulation that allows allows the roof to vent, are going to require you to remove the drywall for installation. A couple of pictures of the space would really help us to make recommendations that are actually applicable to your situation. One thing to consider, and perhaps you already experienced it...converted attics like that in a three story house can turn into furnaces in the summer. Another reason to consider proper insulation and venting.

As far as the ceiling downstairs goes, sounds like that is largely aesthetic, depending on the extent of the damage. You should have a piece of the ceiling tested to confirm whether it contains asbestos as the cost difference for removal of that will be considerable. Your home is built right around the time they were using asbestos in the walls but there were other fibers that were used to reinforce plaster on top of lathe so you really ought to have it tested so you know for sure what you're dealing with. You said "they found asbestos throughout the entire home". I assume that was a seller's disclosure? Was it specific about location? Certainly not unusual to find it used as insulation in various places, like pipe wraps in the basement. And yes, if you don't touch asbestos it can be harmless. Another option is sealing it up. In your case, you might consider putting a new drywall ceiling right on the existing ceiling. This is commonly done and is a fairly straightforward project, even if your existing ceiling is detached from the joists above and sagging

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Old 01-07-2012, 01:39 PM   #17
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The important thing is that white asbestos is harmless!
It will not do anything to make you or your family develop lung cancer!
Blue asbestos used in ships and factories is dangerous and must be left alone, it must be removed by one of the licensed companies who specialize in its removal.

The rules regarding asbestos are aimed at people who work with asbestos on a daily basis.

Your exposure, when you come to remove it will be very short.

May I mention that the world is covered in air that contains asbestos, we all breath it every day and come to no harm.
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Old 01-07-2012, 01:43 PM   #18
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Overwhelmed is something many people experience, including some contractors, if they look at the over all picture at once. The one room at a time is good advice and you can go on living in the rest of the house and remodel as you want.

There is no magic to renovating an older home, it is work, sometimes dirty work and done systematic. If you start doing a little here and a little there your house will be torn up in a lot of places and you will really get frustrated, don't jump around, start one room and finish it. One thing you will learn in an older home is patience, like it or not. One thing to remember is, you can do this, if you don't know how, there is the internet and books out there with all kinds of information, then we are here also. Make this a fun project and it will go faster for you.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry525 View Post
The important thing is that white asbestos is harmless!
It will not do anything to make you or your family develop lung cancer!
Blue asbestos used in ships and factories is dangerous and must be left alone, it must be removed by one of the licensed companies who specialize in its removal.
It's not true that chrysotile, or "white" asbestos is harmless. It is simply less toxic than the more dangerous varieties. There are documented cases of occupational exposure to chrysotile linked to mesothelioma.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry525 View Post
The rules regarding asbestos are aimed at people who work with asbestos on a daily basis.

Your exposure, when you come to remove it will be very short.
This is in fact true although I'm loathe to mention it here on these forums for fear of getting jumped on for advocating taking risks.

There are in fact NO documented cases of mesothelioma caused by asbestos in people who did not work occupationally with asbestos. In other words, no home owner ever got sick from yanking out some asbestos.

All that said, if there is asbestos in your home you should approach it's removal with a healthy dose of education, caution and adequate safety preparations. There may be local regulations regarding what you can do yourself, disposal, etc. that you should be sure to educate yourself on as a first step if you decide to remove it.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:26 AM   #20
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Ironlight thanks for your comments. I am working on posting photos. I have a minimal experience but have quite a few family and friends with varing skill levels to help as well. I have searched foam insulation in depth. I believe that is what I am going to go with. The part of the attic I am concerned with has 20 foot from floor to joists and is bare bones. the wall is framed for 10 foot ceiling but I would like to continue it past and reframe as needed. I will post pics in the next couple of days. I started the post on a morning after being up all night searching and "thinking" so I guess I was looking for some guidance and reassurance. Which I did get! Also being a female in my experience lately I have had some "professionals" who have tried to take advantage. I was in a bad place mentally that morning.
My friends often joke that I am the "power tool queen" I have built, refinished remodeled furniture and various parts of homes before. I know I am capable. I'm just looking for advice and encouragement.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:02 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abracaboom View Post
You can drywall a ceiling over the existing lath and plaster. Just take the time to locate the joists and mark their position on the top of the walls.
This ^^^^ = For the ceiling plaster repair.

As suggested. This would be the way to go. Use 3/8" Sheetrock (1/4" tends to show old ceiling ripples, humps, dips, etc. - more).
We have done this so many times, I cannot remember how many ceilings....

If you have chunks, or areas of old plaster that fell-out, simply install same sized (and same thickness sheetrock) into the area(s), before overlaying the ceiling.

Its a permanant repair process. BTW = it works with old plaster walls too (again = done it many, many, many times.....)


No tear off, no dust, no additional labor or old ceiling debris.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:08 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by fessner View Post
Ironlight thanks for your comments. I am working on posting photos. I have a minimal experience but have quite a few family and friends with varing skill levels to help as well. I have searched foam insulation in depth. I believe that is what I am going to go with. The part of the attic I am concerned with has 20 foot from floor to joists and is bare bones. the wall is framed for 10 foot ceiling but I would like to continue it past and reframe as needed. I will post pics in the next couple of days. I started the post on a morning after being up all night searching and "thinking" so I guess I was looking for some guidance and reassurance. Which I did get! Also being a female in my experience lately I have had some "professionals" who have tried to take advantage. I was in a bad place mentally that morning.
My friends often joke that I am the "power tool queen" I have built, refinished remodeled furniture and various parts of homes before. I know I am capable. I'm just looking for advice and encouragement.
Snav where are you! Fessner, if you think gender is any impediment you should check out Snav's thread on her renovations to her home. Lately she's been building kitchen cabinets from scratch with limited tools and making them look fantastic. She's an inspiration.

I would caution you about making a cathedral ceiling on the third floor of an old house, or at least thinking hard about it and understanding the pros and cons. Leaving an unconditioned space above your living area has it's benefits with respect to insulation. We had no attic in our last house, the previous owners having opened it up to make a cathedral ceiling. It made the house very hot in summer up there, and you're also going to lose more heat in the winter. In addition, if the house does not have central air and you ever intend to add it, having an attic where you can run ducting and place an air handler will make it much MUCH less costly to install. If you're not going to add central air then it is the logical place for a whole house fan as well. I'm sure others might chime in with other factors that will bear on your decision.

All this stuff may seem overwhelming to you, but at the end of the day it's not rocket science. It's simply knowledge and experience, both of which can be acquired. And these boards are a fabulous resource for learning and getting advice. All of the issues that you've mentioned thus far are fairly pedestrian (i.e. commonly encountered and relatively straight-forward to deal with).

And pictures help a huge amount. The quality of useful feedback and advice you get will go up exponentially. So bring 'em on!
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:09 AM   #23
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I feel bad for the children having to go thru this.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:13 PM   #24
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Please don't feel bad for my kids. They are the only ones that have bedrooms and a bathroom that are complete. Of course that was the very first thing I did. Lol Plus they are super excited about helping me and the fact they don't have to bunk together is enough. I have to elaborate again the house is huge and most of it is outdated but livable. We just don't access the problem areas and that's my problem I want to. Currently my bedroom is in the library so I want to finish the attic so I can actually have a bedroom. And rearrage the other rooms to suit me better.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:26 PM   #25
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:28 PM   #26
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Pics of what is hopefully going to be the masterbed/bath in the attic. I don't know if I took the right angles?? Need to insulate then drywall. Thinking now maybe a tray ceiling??
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:47 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fessner View Post
Pics of what is hopefully going to be the masterbed/bath in the attic.
Very cool space!
Will you be including a master bathroom up there as well?

Quote:
Need to insulate then drywall.
Be CERTAIN that you provide airflow from the eaves
(behind the insulation) to the space up above the new room.

And be sure that whatever work the roof needs...
as well as whatever you might consider adding or changing (like DWV vents and exhaust duct outlets, etc) is done before closing in the new space.

ps your pics are fine.
Start a webpage and photobucket them too.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:57 PM   #28
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fessner those are very helpful, thanks a bunch for posting them.

So, the top of that new framing is at 10'? You mentioned something to that effect earlier and I wanted to confirm what we are looking at. If so, I would definitely consider NOT putting in cathedral ceilings for the reasons that I mentioned earlier. But it really comes down to what kind of space you want and your willingness to live with various compromises either way. It would certainly be less expensive to do a tray ceiling...both in terms of the construction as well as the insulation as you could then simply insulate the ceiling joists with much less expensive roxul or fiberglass batts, or cellulose for a bit more.

I'm a little uneasy with what I see with that insulation stuff hard up against the underside of the roof in the first picture. There needs to be room for air to circulate back there. If it were me I would pull the insulation off and then just insulate the new walls and ceiling. Otherwise you'll be heating unfinished spaces that you don't even have access to (eaves between roof and walls).

Looks like a very cool house even just from those photos. It must be enormous if that is the third floor/attic. Would love to see photos of the rest of it at some point.

You might want to consider consulting with an architect as they specialize in making good use of space and they'll be able to outline (very roughly) the relative expense of various options. It may seem like an unnecessary expense but a good plan gets you off to a good start.

Make sure you put a pull-down stair up to the attic so you can access it. If you do plan on putting in central air at some point you might lay some groundwork for that in terms of chases for venting and making sure the attic is accessible to a crew installing an air handler.

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Old 01-10-2012, 04:40 AM   #29
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Yes the house is large. Those pics are part of what will be the master badroom. The master bath is off the other side. The insulation was already there and I am still working on pulling it and replacing it. There are four other rooms up there that someone attempted to complete with somekind of flimsy wall covering. I am tempted to gut the whole thing and start over. I was going to just drywall but the layout is kind of odd. I said I am a little overwhelmed being so many parts to complete.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:41 AM   #30
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Ironlight are you saying put in a pull down staincase to get above the "new" attic?

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