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Old 04-04-2013, 12:57 PM   #1
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


Are there things we should check/fix first? Our inspection is Monday and there are lots of things on our todo list but I'm curious if there are things people usually tackle first. We're thinking of redoing the floors and painting before we move in since that would be a pain once our stuff is there. Any tips?

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Old 04-04-2013, 06:50 PM   #2
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


Do the important stuff first.
Start at the roof and work your way down on the outside.
Shingles, flashing, siding, foundation.
Next insulation, windows, HVAC system, electrical, if the water heater is over 15 years old replace it.

Not going to do anyone any good if you do all the fofo stuff first and have no mony left to fix the items that are going to save you money and keep the inside of the home from getting wet or worst.

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Old 04-04-2013, 07:25 PM   #3
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


You're right. Doing the flooring before you move in would simplify things. On the other hand everyone's to-do list is a little different.

Actually, I'd suggest making two lists. Label one "Have to's". This may include structural issues, electrical problems, etc. Your home inspection will help in making this list. Be there for the inspection and ask TONS of questions. "Why is this a problem?" "Does this need to be fixed right away or can it wait?"

The other list is the "Want to's"; new flooring, cabinets, paint, etc.
I'm not saying you should finish the first list before starting on the second, just keep your antique furnace in mind while you are figuring how much you can spend on that flooring.
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:46 PM   #4
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


Joecaption and Blondsense hit everything right on the head. I faced similar tasks with my house when I bought it 20 years ago. First and foremost, roofing repair. Gotta keep the house dry. Electrical repair - safety issue, followed by plumbing. Keep in mind, things like insulation /wiring / plumbing should be done before painting or new drywall. While it is convenient to have new flooring done before you move in, it is easier to paint, etc with old flooring that will be repaired. If windows need replaced, there again, it is easier to do before wall repairs are done. Hopefully you don't have any major issues with your house, and just have cosmetic things to deal with. Please post back with the inspection results, and if you can pictures of things you would like to do.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:55 PM   #5
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Is this an inspector the realtor suggested? If so tell them thanks but no thanks.
Hire your own, got a contractor friend? Let them look it over and slip them a few bucks.
Amazing how many right there in plan site things that sometimes get missed that get found out as soon as you sign on the dotted line.

I've driven up to old houses that someone had installed vinyl siding on years ago and it's sagging in the middle of the house. Not a good sign because the siding at one time was straight.
The main beam in the middle of the house was cracked and the outside rim joist were gone from water damage. Nothing was noted on the inspection.

New shingles installed over rotten sheathing.

Water line mark in a basement.
Three differant types of supply plumbing in one run of pipe.
Missing shingles.
Rusted roof flashing.
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:12 AM   #6
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


I think one of the most common mistakes new homeowners make is to want to fix all the cosmetic stuff first. Why? Especially if your roof is at the end of it's life?

Move in....find out what is broke or almost broke.....fix it...make the house livable.....

Then....after you have been there for at least 6 months to a year....you will have a realistic idea of what you really want.

You just might find that those floors don't look so bad after all.....but that roof? Or....the insulation?
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:00 AM   #7
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I think one of the most common mistakes new homeowners make is to want to fix all the cosmetic stuff first.
If you do not address infrastructure musts like the roof, HVAC, plumbing and electrical you will end up ripping out the cosmetic fixes and risking the finish on a sanded floor. That said, it is much easier to do the floors and painting before you move in if you have that option.

If there are insect or other pest problems it would be nice to resolve thoughs before you have to breath all the fumes---harmless or not. You might want to consider bringing in a cleaning company that will do all the walls, ceilings and so forth so you are ready to paint.

Once you get a to do list you can handle, do try to start and finish one project before going on to the next or you may find much unfinished. With an old house be prepared for surprises you will not see until you demolish one wall or something fun like that. Many an old house has challenged a marriage. Be honest about how much time, even more than money, you want to put into it. Also be fair to yourself and decide which of your projects are to be DIY and which ones you should hire outside help to accomplish. In some cases---plumbing and electrical come to mind---you will need pros in most places. One of your lists should have the people you need to line up for your projects realizing good ones can stay very busy and might not fit into the schedule you had in mind.

I would also suggest you get your own independent inspector. Money well spent in the long run. A licensed one cannot really lie about things but one you hire will have different loyalties. One hopes.

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Old 04-05-2013, 07:57 AM   #8
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


I must say I admire you for this approach. So many jump in and the pretty work first then regret it later. You have received some very good advice so far. Just go room to room and make the list. Say you have a room with 2 outlets and you want or need more, or you want another cable plug installed, and have things like this done before the walls are finished. And yea it may be a pain to move the furniture but not as much as having to do the work twice. GOOD LUCK and enjoy your new home.
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:16 AM   #9
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The house needs a lot of TCL but most of it appears to be cosmetic, we'll know for sure Monday when we have the inspector over. We picked him off a list based off reviews so our realtor didn't pick him. Will the inspector point out potential bug issues, how about electrical or plumbing? Should we get a specialty heating/fireplace guy in to check out the two flumes?
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:37 AM   #10
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The house needs a lot of TCL but most of it appears to be cosmetic, we'll know for sure Monday when we have the inspector over. We picked him off a list based off reviews so our realtor didn't pick him. Will the inspector point out potential bug issues, how about electrical or plumbing? Should we get a specialty heating/fireplace guy in to check out the two flumes?
Flumes? You mean flues?
Not 100% sure it works in the great white north but around here before the banks going to lend you any money you have to get the home inspected and hire an exterminator to do an insect and moisture damage report.
A home inspection should at least include plumbing, HVAC, electrical, roofing, siding, foundation, windows, insulation, condition of the trim.
If there's old fireplaces and you plan to use them I would hire my own sweep to inspect and clean them.
Depending on how old the house is what you you may look like some TLC but things like old steel pipes, cast iron drains, knob and tube wiring, still has a 60 amp. fuse panel, 1 or 2 outlets per room, ungrounded outlets, can get real expensive real quick to replace.

Places I'd be looking for insect damage is if there's an attached porch, deck or stoop on the back side under the house.
Around any driping outside faucets, near anyplace there's a crack in the foundation.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:47 AM   #11
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If you do not address infrastructure musts like the roof, HVAC, plumbing and electrical you will end up ripping out the cosmetic fixes and risking the finish on a sanded floor. That said, it is much easier to do the floors and painting before you move in if you have that option.
Real good point....

It should be noted that it's cheaper and more fun to live in the house while you fix it up....if you have kids...well, that throws a wrench in the works....but only a small one...

When your living in the house while working on it....you can work longer hours in the evening...because you don't have to pack up and go to your 'other' house.

And it makes for some fond memories....

When we moved into our house....we gutted the kitchen....never even cooked in it....look at the pic below and you will understand....

Ok....so out 'kitchen' consisted of table with microwave, electric skillet, and a George Foreman grill....canned goods were stacked on the floor and we washed the dishes in the bathroom sink for 6 months....and, yes....we went through a lot of wine and beer.....but it was some good times...

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Old 04-05-2013, 11:44 AM   #12
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It varies from place to place but you may need a separate bug inspection---especially for termites, carpenter ants and so forth---or there should be paper in your packet of closing materials suggesting what an honest termite inspector signed off on. Things like this are a good reason to pay a few bucks to a closing attorney, in my opinion, although in a title company closing state you should not be mandated to have one. There should also be lead and asbestos disclosure statements most anywhere in the country now. There can be a big difference if you are buying the home with major problems disclosed or as is.

You definitely want the chimneys and fireboxes inspected before you use them. Your overall inspector should be able to spot anything totally out of wack (like them needing to be relined to make them safe) but not like a chimney sweep can.

Independent home inspectors here and in most places I have lived are licensed so should not be able to skimp on the basic checklists. Like any respectable contractors their licenses could be in trouble if they cut too many corners. I've often wondered about the termite inspectors but mine came with great credentials and reputation I doubt he would have risked. They can hold up closings almost more than any others though and I suspect some know it.

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Old 04-05-2013, 12:43 PM   #13
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New house, first renovations or priorities?


You might check out this thread.

How to avoid surprises when buying a house
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:11 AM   #14
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You're right. Doing the flooring before you move in would simplify things. On the other hand everyone's to-do list is a little different.

Actually, I'd suggest making two lists. Label one "Have to's". This may include structural issues, electrical problems, etc. Your home inspection will help in making this list. Be there for the inspection and ask TONS of questions. "Why is this a problem?" "Does this need to be fixed right away or can it wait?"

The other list is the "Want to's"; new flooring, cabinets, paint, etc.
I'm not saying you should finish the first list before starting on the second, just keep your antique furnace in mind while you are figuring how much you can spend on that flooring.

I did a very similar thing when I moved in. I made 3 columns on a sheet of paper. Safety, Reliability, Cosmetic.
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:32 AM   #15
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If the inspection reveals any serious issues, be sure to use them as bargaining chips to reduce the price of the house. I have successfully done that a couple of times.

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