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Old 02-01-2009, 05:06 PM   #1
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First home - big projects


Ok, I'm looking at buying my first house, and I have this one in mind. But it needs some updating. It was built in the 1950s (so asbestos and lead paint are concerns). Looking to find out if the issues below look like big projects or not. I've worked plenty on my parents house but haven't done a lot of these bigger projects.

1. Air ducts - It's a one-story house so all the ducts are accessible from the basement. But, they have for some reason boxed in a couple of spaces between the joists in what looks to be an attempt to make cheap little ducts (i.e. they put a couple pieces of aluminum glued/taped to two joists so the air inbetween is trapped. Is it easy to install proper ducts?

2. Wood floors - I think I can do this myself in a couple weekends maybe. Is this really as simple as they claim, other than dust control?

3. Kitchen - has old white cabinets. I've read about some DIY cabinets at Home Depot, but they feel kind of flimsy. Anyone ever use these? Do they turn out ok? I think I'd be paying at least several thousand for custom cabinets, not to mention the countertops floors and appliances.

4. Bathroom tile - has been painted white. I don't get it. So the tub is ok and I can paint the walls and such. But, what's it going to run me to have a small bathroom re-tiled around the shower, floor, and on a side wall? Or, better yet, is that easy to do myself? Watching them use grout on This Old House looks tough.

5. Windows - are original I think. I've heard the best bet is to pay someone to do these? I'm guessing about 5k (it's a small ranch house).

Thanks for any input.

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Old 02-01-2009, 05:39 PM   #2
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First home - big projects


Only you can make an assessment of your abilities
Unfortunately, many of us can't do that as we are too close to the "subject" (us)
Lol
But really...all I can do is comment on what you've written and you'll have to decide, or learn, what's "easy" for you
(***WARNING: Most "DIY Home Improvement Shows" on TV are for entertainment only, and not to be trusted as a guide or instructions in any way shape or form****)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman
2. Wood floors - I think I can do this myself in a couple weekends maybe. Is this really as simple as they claim, other than dust control?
Wow....I've never, ever, heard anyone claim refinishing floors is "simple"
I guess on paper, it may look that way
Sand, stain, poly
But in reality it is a labor intensive, yet painfully slow process, in which great care must be taken with minute details

Don't get me wrong, I've done it in a professional capacity
But at least I was getting paid for it
But unless it was just a small project like one-room only, even I would rather go on a long weekend and come back to re-finished floors

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman
3. Kitchen - has old white cabinets. I've read about some DIY cabinets at Home Depot, but they feel kind of flimsy. Anyone ever use these? Do they turn out ok? I think I'd be paying at least several thousand for custom cabinets, not to mention the countertops floors and appliances.
I would much rather have old '50s cabinets than "new" cheapos (or even mid grades)
So much so that if my "update" needed more cabs, I'd spend to have a new one or two made rather than rip out all the cabs and put in all new cheapos
Seriously
I wouldn't even want new premium cabs unless there was absolutely no way to use the old ones
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman
4. Bathroom tile - has been painted white. I don't get it. So the tub is ok and I can paint the walls and such. But, what's it going to run me to have a small bathroom re-tiled around the shower, floor, and on a side wall? Or, better yet, is that easy to do myself? Watching them use grout on This Old House looks tough.
There's no way to get a realistic online estimate over the interweb
But again, it's not "easy", but is in the realm of some DIYers capabilities
*TOH is one of the few realistic HI shows btw
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman
5. Windows - are original I think. I've heard the best bet is to pay someone to do these? I'm guessing about 5k (it's a small ranch house).
Hmmm...funny, I'd say DIY windows over DIY floor refinishing
Lol...that's just me I guess

Windows can be relatively easy, with the proper knowledge (tools and assistants)
BUT....they can also hold surprises that you won't see until the first one goes in...or tries too...and the project can quickly turn nightmarish is the originals were fudged or contain a few of those surprises

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Old 02-01-2009, 06:01 PM   #3
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First home - big projects


hey bro,
good luck on getting your first house. i recently bought my first one last august.

let me just offer some words of advice:

1) don't rush into spending money on frivolous things! you will be broke before you know it and foreclosing on the place. seriously man. whatever you're budgeting for the house, act "as if" you need another 15K. be frugal.

I would forget about the windows and air ducts for now. what is your heating system? chances are the air ducts are no longer even in use.

I would say, from my own experience, that your absolute first priority is insulating the place and in general getting it as efficient as possibly in terms of energy consumption.

Buy a new boiler and insulate before new windows. The upfront cost of new windows will take you probably nearly a lifetime to pay off in energy savings.

The other most important thing: DIY!!! Anything can be learned. Learn to do everything you need to yourself. As a homeowner, if you have to rely on anyone else for anything, you lose. It cuts into your equity very quickly.

wood floors and tiling are well within your ability man. floors are very frustrating, but just a lot of work and huge payoff. the rental drum sanders usually suck, hard not to get "chatter" marks.
absolutely not worth hiring someone to do.

tiling is easy. once you establish your subfloor and underlayment, just a matter of CAREFUL LAYOUT, and making sure you use the right thinset and grout for your tile.


keep your cabinets or build your own. again, this is not a priority.
for the first few months, don't spend a penny on anything you don't absolutely need.
you'll be astonished how quickly the mortgage, taxes, utilities, and other fees consume you.


you're going to find so many things that will need attention, it will quickly overwhelm you. just proceed with caution. save your money for the really important things. wood floors can be done anytime.

good luck man.
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:14 PM   #4
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1. those are probably cold air returns, not ducts. It is common practice to use stud/joist bays as cold air returns. If not enclosed with drywall/plaster, they cover the bay with metal.
2. I assume you are talking about refinishing. If you have never run a drum sander, DO NOT START ON YOUR FLOORS!!!! You can destroy a floor in less than a heartbeat. There are some newer disc sanders that are much more user friendly, and they do a pretty good job. Check big box and rental stores.
3. Those cheapy cabinets at big box are CHEAP. Don't consider them for the long term. I did a kitchen last year for a customer. Semi custom, all plywood box construction, cabinets were $22k, including two large pantry cabinets. Their countertop was $7K. There are less expensive semi custom cabinets, just bracing you for the shock.
4. tile that has been painted is hiding something, often it is only dated colors. But paint does not hold up well on tile. Tile work is expensive done by someone else, but can be a DIY job, with proper knowledge.
5. A quality vinyl replacement window will run $400+, installed. Less than that and you are getting junk.

My best recommendation for a new homeowner with DIY plans, is to get a library of the things you think you can do. Big box and hardware stores have good libraries for the DIY. Basic plumbing and electrical are good places to start, especially in an older home.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:52 PM   #5
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This is a DIY forum, what is the point if everyone says you have to hire the work out. That's not DIY!

Tile is easy, go to the library and check out a book. Dont be intimidated by tiles. That is where I would start.

Windows are easy but expensive to purchase.

The ducts are cold air returns. No worries there, nothing to fix.

The floor would be the most difficult thing. But you didnt say if you were re-finishing or putting down new floors.

Take things slow at first, you will be surprised at how much it costs just to run a house. But dont let that stop you. I am big on a budget, pick one project.. save for it. Pay cash and then move on to the next project.



Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman View Post
Ok, I'm looking at buying my first house, and I have this one in mind. But it needs some updating. It was built in the 1950s (so asbestos and lead paint are concerns). Looking to find out if the issues below look like big projects or not. I've worked plenty on my parents house but haven't done a lot of these bigger projects.

1. Air ducts - It's a one-story house so all the ducts are accessible from the basement. But, they have for some reason boxed in a couple of spaces between the joists in what looks to be an attempt to make cheap little ducts (i.e. they put a couple pieces of aluminum glued/taped to two joists so the air inbetween is trapped. Is it easy to install proper ducts?

2. Wood floors - I think I can do this myself in a couple weekends maybe. Is this really as simple as they claim, other than dust control?

3. Kitchen - has old white cabinets. I've read about some DIY cabinets at Home Depot, but they feel kind of flimsy. Anyone ever use these? Do they turn out ok? I think I'd be paying at least several thousand for custom cabinets, not to mention the countertops floors and appliances.

4. Bathroom tile - has been painted white. I don't get it. So the tub is ok and I can paint the walls and such. But, what's it going to run me to have a small bathroom re-tiled around the shower, floor, and on a side wall? Or, better yet, is that easy to do myself? Watching them use grout on This Old House looks tough.

5. Windows - are original I think. I've heard the best bet is to pay someone to do these? I'm guessing about 5k (it's a small ranch house).

Thanks for any input.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:28 PM   #6
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First home - big projects


1. Possibly cold air ducts as stated, check it out
That said I have seen this in some older houses. If its lasted for 50 years probably not a major problem/priority. Insulating warm air ducts will save you $$ on heating, but basement will be colder. If you are going to finish the basement I wouldn't bother. As long as the ducts are properly sized I don't think it too much of a problem, watch out for sharp edges

2. I did floors at my last house, they were bad & it took some doing. Last owner ONLY did the area that would not be covered by a rug. I eventually planned on redoing the floor - so I wasn't worried about perfect. Big ole drum sander to get the junk up, rented for one weekend. I put area carpet down before winter since crawlspace was unheated

3. Kitchen - I made do with cabinets at 1st. I bought appliances as I found them at a decent price. Stove, microwave etc. Once I had everything I then took the kitchen apart down to the studs/joists, insulated, electric, sub-floor & finished. Cabinets I bought at HD, assembly required. Counter was also HD - they came out & measured. They looked very nice & did the job. I did the floor - vinyl. For this house we are not expecting to move & will go with higher end cabinets & counters. But we are doing the same thing - we have bought a new stove, microwave & fridge to ease the cost (instead of all at once). Possibly paint the cabinets for now?

4. I'd never tiled before, I did my bathroom floor & the entire tub area. 4" tiles are a bit of work, but iot came out OK. I also tiled the kitchen backsplash. At this house I have also tiled the tub surround - 8x10 tiles - much better . I also tiled the floor & the hallway & put down electric radiant heat. I'll be tiling the 2nd bathroom & the sunroom floor



5. I've replaced almost every window (and doors) in this house with new Anderson windows (not replacement windows) - maybe $4500 all told. Also replaced 3 basement windows. With these & insulating the sill plate my heating bill dropped from 3 tanks of oil to 1-1.5 tanks of oil

My last house was from 1905 - anything I did was vast improvement over what was there
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:14 PM   #7
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great advise schmozc
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:12 PM   #8
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thanks you guys are great.

yes, i am refinishing the floors, not replacing them. I've read that it's better to use an orbintal sander than one of the big drum ones. I was first thinking of doing the entire floors in the house before I move furniture in, because of the dust. I can paint and all after I move in. But, I am thinking that just the floors might take too long and it might be better to do one room at a time after I move in.
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Old 09-01-2010, 08:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nkjetman View Post
thanks you guys are great.

yes, i am refinishing the floors, not replacing them. I've read that it's better to use an orbintal sander than one of the big drum ones. I was first thinking of doing the entire floors in the house before I move furniture in, because of the dust. I can paint and all after I move in. But, I am thinking that just the floors might take too long and it might be better to do one room at a time after I move in.
If you have the time do it before you move in so much easier not having to move furniture around.

Have you heard about the new formula they have to lift the floors without sanding?

Have you heard of the new solution they have that strips the floors without sanding?

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