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Greetings! New home owner (of an OLD home)

17263 Views 26 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  CaptnTony
And OLD homes mean DIY projects left and right.

I have purchased a 2 story family home built in 1885 in SE Minnesota (about 100 meters from the Ole Miss herself). She's a nice fixer-upper and I've got many plans over the next 2 or 3 years. She's in a sad state right now, much rotting on the exterior (which means some interior as well I'm sure). She has newer gas furnace (4 years old), a newer central air (about 8 years, but not very good cooling upstairs), a detached cinder block 3 car garage (grandpa was a mechanic in a 'previous life' as he put it).

Step one (completed earlier this year): Replace roof (house and stand alone garage). Contracted it as I'm not much into steep roof and high places.

Step two (completed two weeks ago): Replace ceiling in garage. Grandpa put in drywall ceiling which started collapsing due to water leakage in roof. Got to purchase an air compressor and nail gun :) (I'm now officially armed and dangerous).

Step three (completed last weekend): Trim a 43 year old Maple tree away from the house and garage roof (as well as the power lines). Couldn't find the heart to completely remove it as my grandfather planted it the day I was born. Had to contract this work as it involved heights and steep roofs again, and I don't have access to a cherry picker.

Step four (completed yesterday): Strip, fill, and reseal the basement walls. Made of old rocks with concrete, way old school. What a job that was, but it's now done. (Purchased an air-paint gun but for the life of me couldn't get it to work - thinking the sealer was too thick. Cleaned everything up and will try again when painting garage and wood fence later this summer)

Step five (beginning next weekend): Replacing a 6x15' three season porch with a 12x15' entry way. This poor thing hasn't had anything done to it since I was a little one being babysat by my grandmother at the house. She's so weak I can probably do de-construction with my hands. Have to remove shrubs from front, learn how to build 3 walls, attach those walls to an existing house wall, replace shattering concrete steps with either new concrete or wood, learn to hang 8 windows or come up with some other design, figure out how to put a exterior door in place, lay a wood floor down (grandpa kept the original hardwood flooring in the attic in the garage, so I'll appropriate it and use some of it as the entry way flooring).

Step six (early summer this year): Same thing to back porch, but make this little entry way porch, about 6x5' into a nicer 12x5' mud room (dogs have to come in from the yard somewhere!)

Step seven (early-mid summer): Level off the grounds. It is awful! I get 4-6" of standing water on my sidewalks / icerinks (in winter) whenever I get some rain/melting snow. I have to get the black dirt in and some grass growing ASAP. This will involve removing about 80' of cement sidewalks my grandfather laid around the house and to access points from neighbors (originally the rest of his family members' homes). I've torn up a portion and it looks like he dropped 4-5" of cement down - HEAVY and back breaking.

Step eight (mid summer): Erect some sort of fence around the yard. It has to be more than 5' tall unfortunately as one of my Border Collies can jump the existing 5' cheapo chicken wire fence without even getting a head of steam. I really don't want to have total privacy, just want something that will keep the dogs in their own yard. They are nice dogs, but I don't want to get a visit from the dog catcher either. Ideas of nice fencing is appreciated. I'm thinking about the wood fence that alternates the side it is hung on (tell I'm an expert in fencing no?) so I can at least get a little bit of light into the yard and see out of it. I do dog rescue work, so I'd like to be able to have a design that isolates the front from the back as necessary while providing dog free access to the front door (while having the ability to 'open the whole yard up' to the dogs for the day -- thinking swinging gates or series of open closed gates). Half the fun is designing I guess.

Next year: Remove paneling from walls inside. Tear down any plaster walls that may still exist, tear up carpeting and check sub-flooring where there is currently 'lift'. Put in new carpeting (maybe some wood floor but my dogs really don't like wood floors). Determine if I can put an addition onto the front of the house to increase the size of the living room and an upstairs bedroom. New siding (probably vinyl) after the addition is made or determined to not be needed (price).

Whew huh?

You'll probably be seeing me here often, as I'm not afraid to ask questions and have very little practical experience passed down to me from my father. Grandfather gave me the courage to try though.
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Welcome to the forum CaptnTony. We'll look forward to hearing about your progress. That's pretty neat to own a house that holds so many childhood memories. If you can, post some before, during and after pictures.
Status update (2009-05-12):

The city gov't put the cabosh on my front porch expansion to 12' instead of the 6 it already is. They tell me I can go out two more feet and that's all. I'm going to stick with the original layout and tear apart the inside wall instead and just make it part of the dining room - I've never really been very big into porch sitting anyway.

I'm going to try to attach some images of the progress.

Before Shot 1:

The offending porch:

The shrubs that will be removed:

Closer look at some of the reasons this all has to be done:

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And more:

Let the Destruction Begin!

A floor over a floor over an old deck!? What was grandpa thinking?

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I bought the new front doors (a glass storm door and a fiberglass entry door) last night 36"x80", so the framing starts this weekend after we get the floor setup and in on Thursday.

I'm going to change the joists (are they joists?) that grandpa had running the width of the porch to 2x8s running from the house to the front of the porch instead. I'm going to offset them 18" (I think the code standard is 24" here), but since I will be wanting to have some load put on that area if I tear down that back wall later I want to make sure it can withstand dogs, furniture, etc.

I found a nice 84" flat triple window (with two sliding side windows) to replace the front set of windows with (we had two casualties during destruction). Will purchase just in time to get that tax rebate :) Nice surprise.

Found a place to sell me vinyl siding today too, things are progressing quickly.
Did the city say why they don't want you to build out 12'?

That wood on the front porch looked like it was in good shape, why'djya tear it out? LOL!
A floor over a floor over an old deck!? What was grandpa thinking?
Only 3 floors, BAH!!
My last kitchen had 12 floors !!

Did the city say why they don't want you to build out 12'?
Usually this is due to required setbacks
Yes it was due to setbacks.
Okay, yesterday was a good day!

Our goal was to get the floor laid and buy timber for walls. As you can see, we got a little further than that.

Small issue with the front wall support. Cinder blocks not completely level.

Someone get the Board Stretcher!

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Time for the wall to go up!

that left side was 7" lower than the right when we started this. We'll get it level :)

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Looks good so far
Are you taking the wall down to the rest of the house?
That's the plan right now. Not sure when I'll be undertaking that though, have quite a long list of more major upgrades to do first. I also have to talk to an electrician about getting the walls ready for electrical stuff before I put up the drywall. I don't think I'll put anything up there yet, but it has to be much easier to do it all now. We started peeling that paneling off the wall and found shingle 'siding'. It seems to be all around the house because it was even on the original portion of the house (the 2 story side). I'm not looking forward to having to remove that!
Aye Capt, Lookin good. Thanks for the photos too. A picture IS worth a thousand words.

I like the new window.

If you are opening up the wall into the rest of the house, how are you handling the insulation of the space under the porch (or the floor itself)?
You going to put some type of header and some cripples above the window and door? In fact it doesn't look like you have jack studs on the window or door either. Just wanted to point that out.

Another question for you, what did you do about the cinder blocks not being level? Shim the floor joists?

Looks like it's time for a new set of stairs as well... :)

Good luck with everything, you got a lot of work ahead of you. But kudos to you in undertaking a family heirloom.
I'm not sure what you are referring to as 'cripples' and 'top sill / jack studs', but this isn't the latest picture any longer. I have studs above the door and window resting on double 2x4s above the door and window. I'm not sure they had to be doubled, but now I have double 2x4s around the door and window. Those little bastards were hard to get into that small amount of space :). I also have one short stud at the bottom edges of the window to help support the double 2x4 that is under the window (that may be a jack stud?).

As far as insulation goes for the floor, OOPS! I'll have to come up with something for that if I make it part of the dining room area (behind that paneled wall). I wonder how much it'd be to spray foam under the whole thing :) (I have a loose cinder block currently on the south (left side) of the porch. Right now it's going to act as a 'crawl space' entry point in this sort of emergency (in the event that heating and cooling vents need to be run there etc, though I'd hate to be the one that has to get under there! That is worth paying someone else to do, I know they have to go into the crawl space under the addition when there was some plumbing problems and gas line work to be done.)

I want to put 1/2" plywood up on the outside. Then put up 3:8" foam board around the entire porch. I'd like to then wrap it all in a house wrap material. Should all that have been done before putting in the door and window? Not to late to take them out yet to get it right.

I have to worry about flashing around the windows and door yet too. I was going to put that on after the plywood is put in place, so it's not interfering with the foam wrap. Is that the correct time to do that? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the order for that tin / tape is bottom, sides, top so there are no upward exposed seams correct?

As for the 'sagging' cinder blocks in the middle, we didn't have to do much after the 20' 2x12 was laid across it with the doubled up 20' 20x12 as the front piece. I know, in time, it may be prone to sagging there, so the plan is currently to put shims into the left over space then put the plywood and foam board over it all. when I put all that up, I plan on running another piece of wood (ripped 2x4 to proper width is what I'm thinking atm ?) along the bottom to 'close it all up' nice and neat.

I also have to build a nice set of wood steps up into the house. The plan is to build it right over the top of the existing cement steps (less work :) ) Thinking they will have to be four steps instead of three as that step up into the house is a bit high for my liking right now (a bit higher than the steps on the cement, and mother and father are getting older so I don't want them to have to work too hard to get in when they visit...or do I >:] ... hmm).

I also want to get two lights on the outside of the door, right now the only lighting out there is the two little lamps on the porch, yuk.
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I'm now analyzing the work done so far and found that we can't life the floor up because we ran the 3/4" plywood out to edge of room then put the 2x4 bottom runner down over the top of that - thus making it's removal 'impossible' (nothing is impossible but some things just aren't worth the effort :) )

So to insulate under the floor, what is generally done? There obviously isn't a basement under this and filling the entire space is laughable as I can't have insulation directly on the ground (I hope people didn't think that was serious). I can remove the door and studs between it and the house out, thus gaining access to the 'underworld' of the porch pretty easily (it's rocky down there though so I'd have to get something flat to lay down there to crawl on). I could then get under each of the joists to 'hang' some insulation there.

I'm now going to have to draw straws on who goes under there, but I can see me putting regular insulation between the floor joists, then putting a very thin plywood (1/4" or smallest I can get) to support it and then apply some tyvex wrap outside that plywood to be the vapor barrier. Would that be sufficient. It's always more work (and usually more difficult) to fix issues, but it has to be done if I'm going to take that wall out at some later date). But, as this is my first ever attempt, that isn't bad to fix a boo-boo with that severity.

Any ideas are appreciated? Should I be taking this stuff outside the intro section now?

I will be removing the door and window this weekend so I can get it the 'framed inspection' next week. After that (and fixing whatever the inspector finds wrong) get the plywood, foam and wrap on the outside. Then get the final sitting for the window and door in place. Whew, next few days are going to be busy busy busy! I have to get some plastic tarp to wrap around it too because this weekend is suppose to be wet! Storms until Tuesday around here.
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OK, I found some design specs for framing windows and doors ( Ooops, have to set those top headers on edge instead of flat. That shouldn't be too much of a problem.I will have to change how the jackstuds are done, I think I'll just sawsall the inside stud to the correct height and put the header onto it. Thanks for the catch of that problem. It makes total sense to me now, it will be more difficult to bow on edge rather than flat. I'll get that fixed up tonight or tomorrow.
Yes that's a big window not to have a header
I wasn't sure if one was built into the roof - hidden
Trimmer stud - also called jacking stud

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Thats definally the most common way to do things properly. You can also put a 2x on its side under the header sitting on the trimmers for a nailing edge if you don't want to build out your header flush with the inside wall or want to add rigid insulation like we do up north
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