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Hi everybody,

Forgive the probably very simple question, but I hoped you'd be able to help! I am completely new to all things building and construction.

We're currently looking to buy a house and have found one that mostly seems lovely. It needs some decor updates which we're happy to take on. Our one concern with the property is that the kitchen is currently quite small. It shares a wall with an adjoining dining room and we love the idea of knocking through to create a larger kitchen dining room, potentially also removing the "lean to" buildings on the side of the property and adding a side extension to make this room a real large living space. There is a large corner chimney breast between the two rooms, and knocking through/creating a side extension might have to involve removing the chimney and the load bearing side wall of the house.

It's a bit of a dealbreaker for us, we wouldn't buy the house if we couldn't join these two rooms together in a successful way.

We are thinking of requesting a second viewing and taking a professional with us who could advise us on the feasibility of our ideas. My question is - who do we ask? A builder? An architect? A structural engineer? I don't have a clear enough understanding of what each of these roles entails when it comes to planning a project to know who would be the best person to give us an overall opinion. My first guess was a builder, but after reading about load-bearing steel joists I wonder if a structural engineer would be a better bet?

Anyway, thanks all in advance for your help and feel free to have a good laugh at my cluelessness!

Rachel
 

· retired framer
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A builder or home inspector is just giving an opinion. You would need and engineer to figure out what you need for a beam for the addition anyway and maybe the other wall so his visit should be set up like his first visit so if buy it you don't need him to come out again for more money. An architect could likely do all the same work, you might need him to draw the plans.
 

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You said you are brand new to all this, and it is very difficult for even experienced project home buyers to catch everything on the first viewing.

I might first go with a building inspector, to be sure that you have identified all the potential major issues that the house might suffer from.

A retired contractor or builder would be another good choice for an advisor.

Who knows, an inspection might identify some things that would break the deal before you even look at the structural changed you want tot make.

Good luck!
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Sweat equity is what it's called and that needs experience. If a pro does all the work, it probably will cost more to renovate. That is the usual wisdom. One thing I try to remind people looking for a home is that they must also have money - maybe money burning a hole in their pocket. Just be careful.



For you it may be better to keep looking for a house that has the sizes you want and just make it look better with paint and such. Landscaping is another thing you can do. For that house, you already have some ideas. Then you should go with a contractor who can build it for you. Contractor also can give you a ball park cost estimate. This will be a rough estimate only and you should commit yourself to more money. The house owner may not like somebody crawling all over the house. Also you and the contractor shouldn't talk negatively about parts of the house when the owner is with you in the house.:smile: Also, showing how much you like the house, the owner probably will not negotiate on the house.
 

· Usually Confused
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If whoever you take plans to crawl up the attic, take pics, etc. in order to do their thing, make sure the homeowner or their agent is clear on that. Some folks get antsy when third parties attend and start poking around.
 

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Hi rachel,
Buying a home, especially your first can be difficult complicated by your lack of experience. I have done walk through inspections for people, not an engineer just a skeptical contractor. But there are some basic red flags that I consider even before visiting a home.

1. Take off the rose colored glasses and don't fall in love with appearances, they can easily change.
2. Date house was built? Lead based paint, asbestos, knob and tube wiring, aluminum wire, lead based solder used for plumbing, improvements made without permits, appliance age, don't believe your real estate agent, hire your own inspector not one that frequently does work for the real estate agency, radon, termites, foundation, insulation and related energy costs, energy bills owner has been paying, and more. Then you can worry about modifications.
3. Home prices look to be in a free fall, whatever you pay now may be worth less a few years from now, may?

Lacking the experience to DIY an entire house can be an overwhelming and expensive start.

Remember I called myself a skeptic.

Bud
 

· Hammered Thumb
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You can go back to revisit a house multiple times without concern. Usually I see most people go a 2nd time before making an offer (normalcy, not hot real estate areas) as they saw dozens of houses and would like a refresh and last comparison.

I have spent hours doing as-built drawings on walk-throughs, I have witnessed potential buyers hanging out for an hour trying to picture themselves in the house/backyard, so there is no standard except sellers want to sell the house and how much time your realtor can wait. Many also revisit with a fine tooth comb to justify a lower bid or have items ready to negotiate a lower bid.

You haven't even bid, so no need for an engineer, or really even an architect. Spoiler: you will be able to remodel to practically anything you dream up, your budget is the controlling factor and the rest is detailing at that time. It sounds like what you need is someone who can visualize spacially, and that could be a designer, a friend/family member, or even an experienced real estate agent.

If your bid depends solely on removing one wall, then you probably need a trusted second opinion (e.g. parents) on the entire real estate purchase more than the nitty gritty details of how the joists run and the size of what a beam would be.
 

· Usually Confused
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Meh. If you're selling a house you should get used to it. It's gonna get inspected at some point!


The reason I mentioned that was an experience we had during a purchase. It was the only time we have ever used a house inspector but it was an 1890s farm house and I wanted a second opinion. I assumed that I could accompany the inspector but the seller refused, stating that the offer to purchase only stipulated the inspector. Folks can be funny sometimes.
 
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