Author Topic: Advice for remodeling  (Read 1503 times)

texastumbleweed

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Advice for remodeling
« on: April 02, 2017, 08:34:01 PM »
We are about to add on a few rooms (for our growing family) to our (very small) house and I was was wondering if anyone had some tips.  Here are a few questions off the top of my head:
1.  is it worth hiring an architect versus a designer?  i'd love to save the money there as it should be relatively simple
2. should we go up or out or both?  we need to add one or two bedrooms and a bathroom, at least.  we are considering a screened in porch too.
3. while we are building, should we consider adding a rental apartment?  i'm not crazy about having someone else share our property, but if you think it is the best thing ever, i'd like to know.
4.general tips from those who have been through it?

NV Teacher

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Re: Advice for remodeling
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2017, 11:17:45 PM »
We are about to add on a few rooms (for our growing family) to our (very small) house and I was was wondering if anyone had some tips.  Here are a few questions off the top of my head:
1.  is it worth hiring an architect versus a designer?  i'd love to save the money there as it should be relatively simple
2. should we go up or out or both?  we need to add one or two bedrooms and a bathroom, at least.  we are considering a screened in porch too.
3. while we are building, should we consider adding a rental apartment?  i'm not crazy about having someone else share our property, but if you think it is the best thing ever, i'd like to know.
4.general tips from those who have been through it?

Not that this is very helpful, but plan on it taking longer than you think it will and cost more than you think it will.  One thing to think about since it sounds like you will be making major changes is doing things now that will allow you to age in the home.  Things like wider halls and doors, a bathroom that is walker or wheelchair friendly, an easy way into and out of the house, and everything you need on the main level so you don't have to go up and down stairs to do laundry and such.

Laura33

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Re: Advice for remodeling
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 07:48:47 AM »
We are about to add on a few rooms (for our growing family) to our (very small) house and I was was wondering if anyone had some tips.  Here are a few questions off the top of my head:
1.  is it worth hiring an architect versus a designer?  i'd love to save the money there as it should be relatively simple
2. should we go up or out or both?  we need to add one or two bedrooms and a bathroom, at least.  we are considering a screened in porch too.
3. while we are building, should we consider adding a rental apartment?  i'm not crazy about having someone else share our property, but if you think it is the best thing ever, i'd like to know.
4.general tips from those who have been through it?

The fact that you are asking question 2 answers question 1.  You need an architect. 

My rule is that anything that F's with the structure of the house requires someone who is trained/licensed to manage those issues appropriately.  Architects are; designers and builders are not.  End of story.

Beyond that, architects are awesome at space planning.  Builders tend to be good at certain things that they do over and over.  A good architect, OTOH, is more likely to have the skill set and experience to look at your specific house, as it is currently built, and figure out how to get the most usable space and amenities from the most minimal, cost-effective* addition.  They will also think of ridiculous numbers of things that would never occur to you until it was too late. 

On 3, why consider it if you don't want/need to earn the money?  Are you in a neighborhood where everyone else has Granny flats or basement apartments and there's a huge demand?  Are they allowed under your existing zoning?  If you would more than make your money back, either through rentals or through increased value in the home, then sure, go for it.  But not sure why otherwise you'd devote limited budget to something you have no interest in.  OTOH, if you are looking at a Granny flat as an aging-in-place option, that might make a ton of sense.

4.  What NV Teacher said.  Also: if you have laundry in the basement, this is a good time to move it to a more useful/accessible place.  Think hard about what other future changes you may want -- i.e., don't do a second-floor remodel if you plan to do the kitchen in 5 years and will end up ripping out the wall with all that new plumbing in it [note that this is how our kitchen remodel morhped into doing the entire back half of the house].  Invest in the things you can't see, like quality windows and insulation; e.g., if you have to choose between good cabinets and granite counters, well, you can replace a Formica countertop easily and quickly in 5 years when you have the $, but you can't rip out and re-do the cabinets below it without losing the lovely granite slab on top.  Realize that your budget is going to get you only about half of what you really want, and that there will come a time when everything feels like one huge expensive compromise (it will pass).  Beware the curse of "while we're at it."  If it is an older house, have the areas inspected/tested for lead paint and asbestos (there are health concerns and federal requirements you don't want to screw up by accident, and asbestos isn't just around pipes).  Confirm your electric service and water supply are sufficient for the new space; having to drop another subpanel or run a new water line to the street jacks up the cost.  If you are going up, take a hard look at the foundations and framing of the basement/first floor to make sure you don't need to shore that up.  And always, always make sure your builder pulls all required permits, because you are still on the hook if they screw up.  Etc.

*Some architects suck at paying attention to cost.  Choose carefully.

Del Griffith

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Re: Advice for remodeling
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 02:01:13 PM »
The fact that you are asking question 2 answers question 1.  You need an architect. 

My rule is that anything that F's with the structure of the house requires someone who is trained/licensed to manage those issues appropriately.  Architects are; designers and builders are not.  End of story.

Beyond that, architects are awesome at space planning.  Builders tend to be good at certain things that they do over and over.  A good architect, OTOH, is more likely to have the skill set and experience to look at your specific house, as it is currently built, and figure out how to get the most usable space and amenities from the most minimal, cost-effective* addition.  They will also think of ridiculous numbers of things that would never occur to you until it was too late. 

Agreed. We are in the process of remodeling and were asking ourselves similar 'what comes next?' questions. We knew what we sort-of wanted but weren't sure what made the most sense or what was even allowable by code. We decided to bring an architect in for some help. So glad we did this. He took his time getting a feel for the home and the flow of it. He gave us suggestions of the most practical ways to use our limited space in a way that would suit us and make sense long-term. He was really knowledgeable all-around when it came to different facets of layout and confirmed a lot for us. Depending on your situation, he/she could also likely make up detailed drawings that he/she signs off on for you to provide when you submit permits if that is needed (I imagine it would be for your project). I vote architect.

ysette9

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Re: Advice for remodeling
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2017, 02:16:50 PM »
I second the others on hiring an architect. I live in a neighborhood full of little 2/1 1950s houses that lots of people have expanded. Those who did it on the cheap look awful, like a little house got cancer and sprouted this extra box off to the side. Those that do it will update the entire roof line to take into account the additional space and end up with something that is in harmony with the original house and the lot. And for goodness' sake, please don't build right up to the required setback on all sides and end up with a monstrosity that doesn't fit the neighborhood! I doubt you as a mustachian would, but it happens all the time where I am at because land is so expensive.

Fishindude

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Re: Advice for remodeling
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 07:23:34 AM »
I would look for a general contractor that handles everything turnkey; design work, permitting, all construction, mechanical, electrical, finishes, etc.
Buying everything from a single source eliminates a lot of confusion, and the possibility for an adversarial relationship between designer & builder, different trades, etc.