Author Topic: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house  (Read 2691 times)

Le North Dreamer

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Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« on: June 05, 2021, 05:16:33 AM »
Hi DIY folks,

I'm in need of a sounding board and this community has provided one for me on various topics so far. Sorry for the long post.

So here's the situation. In 2017, we bought land in the country with a decrepit century-old farmhouse. Our long-term plan is to go live on this land. The initial plan was to tear down the old house and build our dream house on the property. The revised plan, for environmental and monetary (maybe) reasons, is to keep the old house and renovate it as we believe it could definitely, with a lot of love, fill the needs of our growing family as it did for the numerous families that lived there before us. When we bought it in 2017, the house was a sh*tty mess that had been robbed of a portion of its plumbing and electrical wires. We spent a lot of time making it livable again - new roof (the old one was leaky) cleaning up, re-flooring, interior paint job, and a bit of electrical/plumbing work, so that we could use the house as a vacation property for the first couple of years. My father, step-father, and I did most of it by ourselves (except the roof + electrical).

We had the house inspected earlier this year to make sure the foundations and structure are sound. I haven't seen the report yet but the inspector did not see anything alarming over the visit.

Here are the main areas that would require major renovations (we live in a cold and snowy climate):
  • Zonolite/Asbestos removal from the interior walls (outsourced)
  • While the walls are open, full electrical checkup and potential revamp (outsourced)
  • insulate and re-finish interior walls (DIY)
  • redo kitchen (DIY)
  • redo sole bathroom + add vent (DIY)
  • New outdoor siding and insulation (DIY?)
  • New outdoor doors and windows for the whole house (DIY)
  • Transform a cold portion of the house into a four-season livable space (partly DIY)
  • Manage water around the house (DIY)
  • cleanup + insulate + manage water in the basement (DIY)
I will outsource the Zonolite/Asbestos removal and electrical work as there's no way I want to risk my health with both. For the rest, given how expensive labor is and as we have somewhere to live in while the work is being tackled, I'm now thinking about doing it myself (with some help from my father and step-father) over a couple of months or a year, using a mix of vacation from work and weekends, or taking a sabbatical summer to do the work.

My experience with renovation work is still limited. I have a rental that I maintain myself but nothing major had to be done so far. I have no prior experience in most of the work areas I'd like to tackle in this project and am fully aware that it'll be a learning experience and will take me a lot more time to do the work vs hiring someone to do it. That being said, I always approached new projects with a DIY mentality: when I wanted a new computer, I decided to build it from scratch, learned how to do it on the internet, and am typing this post from it. Last year we had pigs and lambs, I decided to learn to do and did the butchering myself. My father and I did a complete landscaping revamp of my rental by ourselves a couple of years back. All that to say - so far I've proven to myself that I'm good at learning and enjoy self-teaching myself into things.

The plan is to take a couple of months to fully plan, prepare and budget for the various parts of the project while self-teaching myself how to do the work (with careful attention to the most critical parts), and then, when we are ready, pull the trigger and have the decontamination work done (very first step). I'm well aware that a century-old house comes with quite a lot of added complexity - the exterior walls are pièce-sur-pièce style, nothing is really level, we may find some or a lot of rotten wood when we open the walls, etc. We will have to avoid pitfalls and adjust a lot during the project, I assume.

Am I crazy to think that I can pull this off? Would you say I am taking a bigger bite than I can chew? Anyone here went through a similar project and has some experience-based feedback to provide?     

former player

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2021, 06:23:41 AM »
There are a lot of things on your side: you are a good candidate for being able to learn and put into practice what you need to do, you have family help you can tap, you are not having to live in the chaos of renovations while they are going on, and you have 4 years of familiarity with the property which reduces the chance of it springing nasty surprises on you.

Issues you haven't discussed are money (what are the chances of your running out of it?), your immediate family circumstances (how strong is your relationship with your partner if you have one, if you have children how will they and your partner cope with you devoting most of your spare time to this project for months or years) and paid work if you have it (doing this work in evenings, weekends and holidays could well reduce your focus on your paid work which may have consequences for earnings and security of employment).

Fishindude

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 07:01:25 AM »
You are describing our house.   A brief list of what we've done here over the last thirty years:
New plumbing
New septic
New well
New wiring
New roof
New windows
Replaced cracked plaster with drywall in many locations
New sub floor and flooring
Complete new kitchen
Complete new bathroom
New windows and siding
Added big glass doors and a deck
Sidewalks
Landscaping
Paved the driveway
Etc., etc. ... you get the idea.

It was a long process, but I'm very happy that we renovated rather than tore down and started over.   Old homes have character you rarely see in new construction and typically they are located on the best site on the property.   

Just pay as you go, remodel a room or two at a time, do what you can do yourself and hire the rest out.   Also, by doing it pay as you go, we never had to increase the original mortgage amount or borrow anything else, it's all paid for now.



Malcat

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 07:51:44 AM »
Are you crazy taking this on?

Perhaps yes, perhaps no.

Because you don't have a lot of experience, you also don't have a good sense of what can go wrong. What happens if you run out of money? Run out of vacation time to take for doing this?

Where are you getting your time estimates for completion? How do you know how long it will take?

I'm doing a very simple DYI job right now: gel staining cabinet doors. It's just exploded from a two week job to a several month job because gel stain apparently can take at least a week to dry between coats, even though it says 8-12 hrs on the can.

I'm talking about the easiest of tasks, really, no skill whatsoever, but my lack of experience set me up for not understanding realistic timelines. That's not a big deal for me though because I both have a ton of time because I'm retired, and can afford to have the whole job fixed by a professional if needed.

So really, it all comes down to how realistically you can assess the possible pitfalls and if you can afford to remedy them.


ysette9

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2021, 08:05:10 AM »
Do you have people close to you who you can lean on who have experience and at skills in remodeling? Are you détail-oriented and committed to learning to doing things right? Then it could work well.

But my opinion after seeing a few DIY jobs on houses recently that range from weird to appalling is that you really shouldn’t do it yourself if you aren’t solidly committed to doing the job correctly. Do it right, do it once.
Don’t leave a bunch of little weird messes that will have to be corrected later by yourself or the next owner.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2021, 09:53:41 AM »
Crazy in terms of being able to do it? Nope, as long as you have a good set of basic skills and are willing to learn how to do new skills right.

It might become crazy if your other commitments, such as a full time job, and you anticipated timeline end up being unrealistic.

Pro-tip: Try and have one nice space untouched by the remodel, or finished quickly, that you can retreat to to relax. It helps to not be constantly surrounded by reminders of all the work to do or how slow you feel the progress is.

Sibley

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2021, 10:52:56 AM »
When you say DIY, if you mean you're going to half-ass it just to get it done - then no. I spend more time UNDOING bad DIY than anything else. A day project can turn into weeks or months because first I have to deconstruct or strip off or dig up or whatever. Do it right or don't do it at all.

If you're going to commit to doing it right, then sure. What everyone else says applies of course re time, etc.

Keep in mind that in old houses, everything takes longer and costs more anyway because it's old and things have changed. Add in that there are building material supply issues so costs are up and I hope you have plenty of money. I would also recommend that you do some watching of the old This Old House shows, because you can learn a ton about how the old houses were built and how they worked.

Malcat

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2021, 11:18:39 AM »
When you say DIY, if you mean you're going to half-ass it just to get it done - then no. I spend more time UNDOING bad DIY than anything else. A day project can turn into weeks or months because first I have to deconstruct or strip off or dig up or whatever. Do it right or don't do it at all.

If you're going to commit to doing it right, then sure. What everyone else says applies of course re time, etc.

Keep in mind that in old houses, everything takes longer and costs more anyway because it's old and things have changed. Add in that there are building material supply issues so costs are up and I hope you have plenty of money. I would also recommend that you do some watching of the old This Old House shows, because you can learn a ton about how the old houses were built and how they worked.

Oh yeah, very good point about old houses. Nothing is bloody standard on them. @marbles4, I believe, has a great journal thread about restoring a similar house.

Many small repairs end up being orders of magnitude more expensive because of things being non standard.

Again, not a reason not to do it, just something that could throw a wrench in your estimates if you don't have the knowledge to assess in advance what kind of resources you will need.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2021, 03:19:54 PM »
When you say DIY, if you mean you're going to half-ass it just to get it done - then no. I spend more time UNDOING bad DIY than anything else. A day project can turn into weeks or months because first I have to deconstruct or strip off or dig up or whatever. Do it right or don't do it at all.

If you're going to commit to doing it right, then sure. What everyone else says applies of course re time, etc.

Keep in mind that in old houses, everything takes longer and costs more anyway because it's old and things have changed. Add in that there are building material supply issues so costs are up and I hope you have plenty of money. I would also recommend that you do some watching of the old This Old House shows, because you can learn a ton about how the old houses were built and how they worked.

Not limited to old houses, but more frequent in old houses ....

Have a reserve budget for the "mushroom factor" (unexpected problems found once the demolition starts or while you are at it additions) including actual mushrooms in the walls.

I've never been able to beat the rule-of-thumb for time/cost, double your first guess of cost and triple the amount of time you think it will take and you will be close.

the_hobbitish

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2021, 03:37:01 PM »
Managing water in the basement is a phrase that sends up caution signs. Depending on what exactly is causing the water this is easy and diy or expensive and not. Ditto on all the suggests to do a lot of research and if possible talk to trades about the work. Some projects are simple if you have the experience to know all the tricks that make it go smoothly, but are a PITA if you're doing it the first time.

chasingthegoodlife

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2021, 05:02:14 PM »
We are doing this, slowly while living in the house, with no regrets.

Our home is a single story weatherboard built in 1915. So far new roof, new stumps, kitchen gutted down to studs and totally replaced (still some finishing touches to go), refloored most rooms to replace rotten floorboards, some new plumbing and electrical (most was ok thankfully) and general painting and decorating.

Got the roof and stumps done professionally and will probably pay for someone to replace all our windows with new double glazed units in one go.

Thus far it has been cheaper than we thought (best to prepare for the worst!) but it always takes longer than you think.

We would also not have done it this way if we had young children living with us as there have been some cold, dirty and uncomfortable moments, thankfully mostly past now. Living in the house, there is also a strong temptation to get 80% done (functional!) then move on to the next project.

My husband had a little experience and is a great problem solver, while I’m the planner and enjoy the detail work, so we make a good team.

While I agree that you need to be prepared to do the work to a professional standard (some of the repairs by the previous owner were hilarious!) I think you also need to accept that old houses are not perfectly square and your result will not look like a new build.

In your shoes, I would cost in having serious things like the basement water issue done professionally in case you find out midway it’s a lot more complicated than you thought.

StashingAway

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2021, 07:12:31 AM »
I've never been able to beat the rule-of-thumb for time/cost, double your first guess of cost and triple the amount of time you think it will take and you will be close.

+1

Take this quote seriously, OP. It sounds like a joke, but it's probably the biggest factor that you haven't calculated. The renovations you listed won't get done in a summer.

Fishindude

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2021, 07:19:58 AM »
I have two buddies that had basically no work history in the building trades that were pretty much all self taught.   One built two new houses from scratch and the other just finished his first new house.

Malcat

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2021, 07:46:25 AM »
I have two buddies that had basically no work history in the building trades that were pretty much all self taught.   One built two new houses from scratch and the other just finished his first new house.

Oh, it can absolutely be done.

I don't think anyone is saying it can't. What we're warning about is the cost and time estimates can be way off, and to factor that in to the plan.

If this depends on being within a certain budget and being done within a vacation period, then that could be an issue. But if OP has ready access to more funds and more time, then it's not nearly as much of an issue. If not...well...

NaN

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2021, 08:13:51 AM »
    What I am concerned about is you bought the house and did a lot of work already so your tolerance for living without the place is very low:

We spent a lot of time making it livable again - new roof (the old one was leaky) cleaning up, re-flooring, interior paint job, and a bit of electrical/plumbing work, so that we could use the house as a vacation property for the first couple of years. My father, step-father, and I did most of it by ourselves (except the roof + electrical).\   

Really, and hind-sight is always 20/20, you should have done all of what you want when you first bought the place.

What you have here is a laundry list of things you want to give to an architect/designer to accomplish what you want, not anywhere close to an understanding what needs to be done. See embedded comments.

  • Zonolite/Asbestos removal from the interior walls (outsourced)
Is this just a full gut job now?
  • While the walls are open, full electrical checkup and potential revamp (outsourced)
Why not also revamp plumbing? What about any kind of modification to the framing/layout?
  • insulate and re-finish interior walls (DIY)
This is one of the easiest jobs in the world. Do you want to put in fiberglass batts, spray in foam, rigid foam? The first is just as nasty as the abatement work. Dry wall is something you can outsource very quickly if you know a good guy. They are super fast. That has at least been the case historically, but the Construction Industry (CI) is changing.
  • redo kitchen (DIY)
OMG, this. Why not just walk into a kitchen remodel store and say this. What does redo the kitchen mean to you? New layout? Just new cabinets? Do you have an idea how this will look? Kitchens are easy DIY, but if there is plumbing or other issues then it gets complicated
  • redo sole bathroom + add vent (DIY)
Again, one of those statements you can make anytime. There could be old plumbing you have to fix. Or rotted wood around toilets, copper pipe that leaked once. What does add vent mean? Do you just want to add a fart fan? Does it have easy access to the outside?
  • New outdoor siding and insulation (DIY?)
Are you wanting to add rigid foam on the outside and then attach siding?
  • New outdoor doors and windows for the whole house (DIY)
Are you expanding any windows? You will have to deal with bringing the framing up to code (well, if you have to follow it). Windows are easy.
  • Transform a cold portion of the house into a four-season livable space (partly DIY)
This is so vague. Is the house on crawl space and this on slab? Is it just a funky addition? Is the addition even worth saving? Will you have to completely rebuild it? If you have to completely rebuild it why not just build it bigger/way you want? Oops, now you might have to hire a concrete guy to expand the foundation
  • Manage water around the house (DIY)
This is interesting. What is not being managed now? No gutters? Your foundation inspection should give in an indication how bad this is.
  • cleanup + insulate + manage water in the basement (DIY)
Gah, I hate basements. Just fill it in with dirt and close it off :). Oh wait, if you live in a tornado area probably worth saving. But this sounds so vague and not really sure you know what you are getting into.
[/list]

Sorry, I am trying to be honest so I am not your "hey go for it!" guy. While I do think your self-learning promotion is valuable it is not really understanding the magnitude of what you are getting into. You would be a great hire in the CI in my city because everyone thinks they know the right way to do things by just seeing how something barely similar was done on a past job site. From my own experience doing things yourself to this magnitude becomes no longer satisfying when it takes x3 as long as @BudgetSlasher points out will likely happen.

If you are okay with the x3 time frame (say about a year without the house) then go for it. If you are not, and money is not an issue, hire a contractor and show him your list. It will be about x2 what you think you are wanting to spend. If money is an issue, and you prefer not to have the house unusable, like when you first bought it, then I am afraid you find yourself in a pickle. If want to DIY and you are okay going backwards on all your labor to make it livable then go for it!

If you do go for it, I recommend getting the DEMO done as fast as possible. As long as you have it 'weather protected' in some way having it gutted will allow for you to assess the status of many things. Your to-do list will undoubtedly grow. You might even see something you want to do that you did not see before. For budget, you can approximate most items. And then give it a rough x2 wag and see if you are comfortable with that number.

 
« Last Edit: June 06, 2021, 08:19:35 AM by NaN »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2021, 08:45:15 AM »
I've never been able to beat the rule-of-thumb for time/cost, double your first guess of cost and triple the amount of time you think it will take and you will be close.

+1

Take this quote seriously, OP. It sounds like a joke, but it's probably the biggest factor that you haven't calculated. The renovations you listed won't get done in a summer.

Yes, very serious.

Honestly, the project description sounds pretty close to a studs up remodel, maybe a bathroom remains intact. Between learning how to do everything right, a doing it for the first time, doing it alone, and if the OP has a full time job and any social commitments on the weekend/other uses for his vacation this could easily be closer to a decade than a summer. (depending of course on the size of the home and how much help one has).

Cyanne

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2021, 09:07:31 AM »
I've never been able to beat the rule-of-thumb for time/cost, double your first guess of cost and triple the amount of time you think it will take and you will be close.

+1

Take this quote seriously, OP. It sounds like a joke, but it's probably the biggest factor that you haven't calculated. The renovations you listed won't get done in a summer.

Yes, very serious.

Honestly, the project description sounds pretty close to a studs up remodel, maybe a bathroom remains intact. Between learning how to do everything right, a doing it for the first time, doing it alone, and if the OP has a full time job and any social commitments on the weekend/other uses for his vacation this could easily be closer to a decade than a summer. (depending of course on the size of the home and how much help one has).

My husband and I have done multiple projects and we came to this conclusion as well. It almost always ended up being double the cost and triple the time we expected. Now we know to account for this when we plan to tackle another project.

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2021, 08:41:12 PM »
Well, quite an interesting list of replies. Here's some feedback to most if not all of you.

Do you have people close to you who you can lean on who have experience and at skills in remodeling? Are you détail-oriented and committed to learning to doing things right? Then it could work well.

But my opinion after seeing a few DIY jobs on houses recently that range from weird to appalling is that you really shouldn’t do it yourself if you aren’t solidly committed to doing the job correctly. Do it right, do it once.
Don’t leave a bunch of little weird messes that will have to be corrected later by yourself or the next owner.

My father self-built his 2 last houses and is retired now so yes, I do have someone from whom I can learn. I consider myself as a detail-oriented person and would be committed to learn how to do whatever I put my mind to doing. I'm also considering outsourcing parts of the job to retain a bit of sanity.

@BudgetSlasher, Pro tip noted, and yes, I will be adding extensive buffer in the time commitment and budget portions of the plan. Doubling and tripling the guest seems like a good start.

@Sibley, yeah we did confirm over the past couple of years that everything in the house was done on the cheap/not necessarily square by the past owners so we expect to have many surprises once we open up the walls. Our planning would include quite a bit of time/budget buffers as mentioned previously to account for this unknown.

@Malcat, very good points - it's always difficult to plan for the unknown, and indeed, the "I have to learn on the go" portion could end up eating a lot of time and money. With all the responses I got, I'm thinking about making this a long-term commitment and break down the project in multiple phases with time and money buffers so we avoid the stress. Good point for the time estimates, I'll have to figure out if I could rely on an experienced builder to bounce ideas. While we do have budget constraints as we don't want all our assets to be spent on this project, the farm is almost paid for and we have access to the capital to support the project.

@the_hobbitish, we do have a bit of ground work to do to correct the slope around the house and avoid having melted snow enter into the unfinished packed dirt basement/crawlspace in the spring, and I'm planning to add a sump and pump, + cover the dirt floor with a vapor barrier to control humidity. It's nothing major but it needs to be done.

@hooplady thanks for the shared experience! And noted for the windows.

@chasingthegoodlife thanks for the shared experience, this is exactly what I was looking for. We do have a young child so we may end up postponing the project or adjusting the timeframe to take that into account. We would most likely get the big-ticket items done while not living there, and could end up live there while we do the finishing touches. Still a lot of things to plan for and a lot of decisions to make at this point!

@NaN, an interesting take, I'm fine with the "I'm not your hey go for it" type of feedback. See some clarifications below for the pleasure of it.

What I am concerned about is you bought the house and did a lot of work already so your tolerance for living without the place is very low.
Really, and hind-sight is always 20/20, you should have done all of what you want when you first bought the place.
Our plans have changed quite a lot since we bought the farm in 2017 - we had originally planned to make the house livable to enjoy it for a couple of years before demolishing and building a new house in 10-15 years. Hence why we only did the basic/cost-efficient work that we did on the house so far to "maintain" it until now.  In addition, we had to put down quite a hefty down payment on the farm (the bank required a 33% downpayment) so we did not have the means to do important renovations at the time, like we will be able to afford in the next couple of months/years.

What you have here is a laundry list of things you want to give to an architect/designer to accomplish what you want, not anywhere close to an understanding what needs to be done. See embedded comments.
The goal of my OP was not to obtain feedback on every single item nor to make a complete detailed list of all the steps and jobs to be done on the house. The list was there to give an idea of the big-ticket items that are considered at the moment, in order to gather past experience and feedback on whether or not trying to DIY most of these steps is a realistic idea. The first step in our plan is to have an architect/designer come up with a plan that we can follow going forward to design the house as we want it (while still keeping a lot of it as is - e.g. the layout is not planed to change much. More detail below.

  • Zonolite/Asbestos removal from the interior walls (outsourced)
Is this just a full gut job now?
The asbestos removal would require a complete gutting of all the exterior walls (from the inside), including the ones in the kitchen and bathroom, hence why we are planning to redo these 2 rooms (I would have kept them as is or limited myself to a facelift otherwise) + it is a good opportunity to correctly isolate the walls of the house and get better heating efficiency in the winter.
  • While the walls are open, full electrical checkup and potential revamp (outsourced)
Why not also revamp plumbing? What about any kind of modification to the framing/layout?
Plumbing is fine (we had to redo most of it in pex as the copper had been stolen when we bought), and we're not planning to change the framing/layout as it is fine as is
  • insulate and re-finish interior walls (DIY)
This is one of the easiest jobs in the world. Do you want to put in fiberglass batts, spray in foam, rigid foam? The first is just as nasty as the abatement work. Dry wall is something you can outsource very quickly if you know a good guy. They are super fast. That has at least been the case historically, but the Construction Industry (CI) is changing.
planning to go for rockwool batts or something similar but still evaluating
  • redo kitchen (DIY)
OMG, this. Why not just walk into a kitchen remodel store and say this. What does redo the kitchen mean to you? New layout? Just new cabinets? Do you have an idea how this will look? Kitchens are easy DIY, but if there is plumbing or other issues then it gets complicated
See above - needed given asbestos removal, plumbing would remain the same, and would have the designer design it first and foremost (with a similar layout as the one we currently have)
  • redo sole bathroom + add vent (DIY)
Again, one of those statements you can make anytime. There could be old plumbing you have to fix. Or rotted wood around toilets, copper pipe that leaked once. What does add vent mean? Do you just want to add a fart fan? Does it have easy access to the outside?
See above - needed given asbestos removal, plumbing and layout would remain the same, floor is fine from what I can see underneath it and I have no issues having to do a bit of repairs + while the wall is open, I'll add a vent with a fan to exhaust humid air (there's none right now) as we have easy access through an exterior wall. It may exhaust farts as well, while we're at it
  • New outdoor siding and insulation (DIY?)
Are you wanting to add rigid foam on the outside and then attach siding?
Given pièce-sur-pièce walls, rockwool panels may be a better match to control humidity in the wall (basically avoiding vapor barrier). I may end up having it done professionally anyway.
  • New outdoor doors and windows for the whole house (DIY)
Are you expanding any windows? You will have to deal with bringing the framing up to code (well, if you have to follow it). Windows are easy.
planning to expand 2 windows but will evaluate based on how the walls look once gutted
  • Transform a cold portion of the house into a four-season livable space (partly DIY)
This is so vague. Is the house on crawl space and this on slab? Is it just a funky addition? Is the addition even worth saving? Will you have to completely rebuild it? If you have to completely rebuild it why not just build it bigger/way you want? Oops, now you might have to hire a concrete guy to expand the foundation
Again, the vagueness stems from the fact that I did not want the OP to be too detailed - a portion of the house is on a concrete slab and serves as a cold entrance + woodshed. It has a second story to it and the roof of the house completes it. It's basically a matter of redoing the slab (professionally) with a heated floor + insulate and finish the interior. Nothing funky, but there's some work to be done and this is not mission-critical so it could wait.
  • Manage water around the house (DIY)
This is interesting. What is not being managed now? No gutters? Your foundation inspection should give in an indication how bad this is.
It's nothing we can't fix, just finish the gutters and do a bit of slope work
  • cleanup + insulate + manage water in the basement (DIY)
Gah, I hate basements. Just fill it in with dirt and close it off :). Oh wait, if you live in a tornado area probably worth saving. But this sounds so vague and not really sure you know what you are getting into.
Well, as a matter of fact I kinda know exactly what I have to do there, again did not want to do a full laundry list. Its a dirt basement / crawlspace that needs a bit of humidity control, that's all.

Sorry, I am trying to be honest so I am not your "hey go for it!" guy. While I do think your self-learning promotion is valuable it is not really understanding the magnitude of what you are getting into. You would be a great hire in the CI in my city because everyone thinks they know the right way to do things by just seeing how something barely similar was done on a past job site. From my own experience doing things yourself to this magnitude becomes no longer satisfying when it takes x3 as long as @BudgetSlasher points out will likely happen.
Well, I do have enough basic common sense to understand that there's a lot I don't know and have to plan for in this project, and I'm keeping an open mind as to hire professionals where I feel like it's the right option. As opposed to the CI people in your city, I don't believe I know the right way to everything I wish to accomplish - I'm just saying that I believe that a lot of it can be learned. I do appreciate that such a big project can grind some gears in the long run and will give more thoughts to this aspect.

If you are okay with the x3 time frame (say about a year without the house) then go for it. If you are not, and money is not an issue, hire a contractor and show him your list. It will be about x2 what you think you are wanting to spend. If money is an issue, and you prefer not to have the house unusable, like when you first bought it, then I am afraid you find yourself in a pickle. If want to DIY and you are okay going backwards on all your labor to make it livable then go for it!
We are fine without the house, it's not our primary residence for now. Money is not an issue nowadays but as mentioned above, we are going to set detailed and buffered budgets for the various steps in this project so that it fits within what we belive is right for our situation.

If you do go for it, I recommend getting the DEMO done as fast as possible. As long as you have it 'weather protected' in some way having it gutted will allow for you to assess the status of many things. Your to-do list will undoubtedly grow. You might even see something you want to do that you did not see before. For budget, you can approximate most items. And then give it a rough x2 wag and see if you are comfortable with that number.
Very good points, and yes, Demo and what we find inside the walls after will be a key pivot point for certain other parts of the project. Worst case scenario? We tear it down after the asbestos removal and build new - that's going to affect the budget quite a bit, but we'll start fresh for our lifetime home.

@BudgetSlasher, @StashingAway, and @Cyanne, very good recommendation re: doubling the budget and tripling the time estimate, I will definitely keep that in mind.

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful feeback, we'll go back to our drawing board keeping all of this in mind. We are also evaluating various other scenarios that would not involve as much renos. Will keep you posted!

Cheers



NaN

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2021, 08:16:10 AM »
Excellent clarifications. I get why you kept the original post simple. But you asked if you are crazy! :P I'm glad you expanded upon many of your points. Whether you are crazy is highly dependent on not just how quickly you can learn but whether you appreciate the intensity of the job ahead of you. I think you get it.

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2021, 09:01:23 AM »
Hehehe yeah no matter how fast I can learn, I believe I am a bit crazy to think about tackling such an intense project. We are now thinking about expanding our timeframe quite a bit (multi-years) and use a piecemeal approach. To be continued!

GuitarStv

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2021, 09:08:03 AM »
If I can offer a suggestion . . . it would be to take on each item one at a time, and slowly over a long period.  If you try to do multiple things at the same time you run a high risk of eventually feeling overwhelmed and then just giving up in a worse state than you started.  Do one thing at a time until it's done properly and to completion, then move on to the next.

The slow, plodding nature of this type of progress also helps to limit expenditure of cash to more reasonable levels and usually ensures that you'll be relaxed enough to take the time to fully read/understand enough about the changes you're making.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 10:41:22 AM by GuitarStv »

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2021, 10:36:57 AM »
Very good suggestion, GuitarStv, it is definitely where my head is at at the moment. Less psychological and financial stress is always better in life!

ysette9

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2021, 03:11:31 PM »
Whatever you do, don't do a DIY remodel like this house we toured recently. It was for rent for a while and when they had no takers they put it on the market. From what I can piece together it was framed, sat for a while, was resold, and the buyers DIYd the rest of the build. It has some real gems.

  • The yard had old construction waste strewn about including boards with rusty nails poking upwards and an old toilet. Before you get ideas about doing your business en plein air,  note it was surrounded by blackberry vines.
  • Uneven concrete (missing decorative tile?) that my kid tripped on
  • 3 different types of wood floors, some finished with gloss, some with semi gloss, sometimes both finishes in one room. No sanding was done in
    between coats and plenty of dust and particulates were entrapped between the layers. Uneven staining and one charming partial shoe print forever memorialized in the living room floor.
  • At least 6 different types of hollow core doors inside, varying styles and colors
  • No bathroom tile or vanity matched room to room
  • One bathroom had double double windows, as in one installed directly in front of the other
  • At least three different types of baseboard, sometimes butted up against each other
  • No insulation or separation between rooms except for hollow core doors. Basically you had 3000 ft^2 of echo chamber
  • To do laundry you'd have to go out the back sliding door (screen hole repaired with duct tape), across the deck, down onto the grass, down a second set of stairs into the basement (if you are over 5 foot 6 inch watch your head!). This being Seattle I could imagine doing that in the rain. Also, the basement had no heat which would be fun in winter.
  • The kitchen cabinets had been salvaged from another job and didn't match the decorative trim pieces, not even the same color. The countertop height was a good 4 inches taller than the stove top.


(https://www.trulia.com/p/wa/seattle/1545-19th-ave-s-seattle-wa-98144--1015654844

yachi

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2021, 03:12:28 PM »
Here are some things to think about:

1.  Estimate how many manhours each portion of the task will take
2.  Figure out how often you'll be able to work on the project
3.  From 1, and 2, figure out how long it would take you, with some help, to finish it
4.  Consider the time value of the money you'll have tied up in the renovation, compared to the cost to outsource parts of the job.

I was shocked by what I was unable to do, by myself over weekends to get a house up to livable condition.  It mostly needed paint, floors, yard work and some small repairs.  My problem was 16 hours of a weekend is not comparable to 40 hour workweeks.  In my case the time value of money won out, as I was trying to get the house up to rentable condition, so every month not rented had a value of over $1000.

Malcat

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2021, 04:06:18 PM »
Just in case you were wondering, my cabinet stain still hadn't dried.
If I were on a timeline for this task, I would be miserable right now.

DIY, always an adventure.

lthenderson

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2021, 07:22:10 AM »
I'm on my third house. Each house has probably averaged around 8 to 10 years to fix up to where I like it. Like others have said, don't try to do too much at once. It looks good on paper to say you'll spend weekends, vacations and sabbaticals working on a house but at least in my case, that is a recipe for getting burnt out. I usually start with a list of things I want to do this year and then try to accomplish it between my vacations and time spent with my family on weekends. It isn't for everyone because it requires living in a torn apart house for long periods of time but I find if I just keep things tidy and clean, even plywood and studs is habitable for awhile.

There are some advantages to doing it this way. I pay cash for everything and since it is so gradual, it is never a burden. Finding people to do small home remodeling projects is extremely hard to do and is very time intensive waiting for them to work you in their schedule and then often at inopportune times in your life. I just like always knowing I'm not waiting on anybody and can do things at my convenience.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2021, 08:37:14 AM »
Hi DIY folks,

[snip]

The initial plan was to tear down the old house and build our dream house on the property. The revised plan, for environmental and monetary (maybe) reasons, is to keep the old house and renovate it as we believe it could definitely, with a lot of love, fill the needs of our growing family as it did for the numerous families that lived there before us.

[snip]


Consider revisiting the building, especially if you can get a good estimate for the cost of both. If you wanted to DIY for $ reasons perhaps you could act as GC and get a the house framed/dried-in and take over from there.

We are 7 years into our current house and between the number of things I have found done wrong, the increased time of working around parts of the house we don't want to tear out, and fitting designs to the space as it is laid out, I have come to prefer that our next house be built to meet our wants/needs.


NaN

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2021, 09:05:54 PM »
(https://www.trulia.com/p/wa/seattle/1545-19th-ave-s-seattle-wa-98144--1015654844

That's a gem! But it is Seattle - and if the plumbing, electrical, and framing are in good shape the rest is a simple reno job for probably less than $100K. That area is nice though!

I second both @BudgetSlasher 's point about revisiting building, but even with that expect to pay 20-30% more at the end from what they quote you up front.

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #28 on: June 16, 2021, 07:40:23 AM »
Thanks again everyone for the feedback.

We are also evaluating the building option as we may have just found a loophole in the municipal bylaws that could allow us to have 2 houses on the property. To be continued!

@Malcat I'm hoping you are now done with your stain job!!

Cheers

Malcat

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #29 on: June 16, 2021, 09:44:35 AM »
Thanks again everyone for the feedback.

We are also evaluating the building option as we may have just found a loophole in the municipal bylaws that could allow us to have 2 houses on the property. To be continued!

@Malcat I'm hoping you are now done with your stain job!!

Cheers

Ha!!  NO!


Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #30 on: June 16, 2021, 05:05:39 PM »
Damn!! Good luck with that, I do hope you'll see the end of it soon.

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2021, 08:16:25 AM »
Nov 2021 update

After months of discussions and planning, we decided to go ahead and have the old house renovated by experienced builders. We are at the stage of having a detailed plan of the current and planned house produced so we can get more detailed quotes from various local builders that were recommended to us and that have already paid us a visit to analyze the work to be done. We looked at potentially tearing down the building and rebuilding new but both the foundation and structure are sound, and we like the size and layout of the house as-is (and the century-old feel), so we opted to gut and renovate the existing building.

We will always have the option to subdivide the property and either rent (Airbnb) or sell the renovated house - we are already planning on renting a room on Airbnb while living there and will see how we like it. Once subdivided, we can build ourselves a new house on the land as we see fit (and DIY a portion of this new build as we would most likely be FIRED by then). I'll also concentrate my DIY efforts on building a small cabin in the middle of our wooded lot when FIRED ;)

Yes, hiring builders to do the job will be costlier than DIY for a lot of items, but after a lot of thinking, peace of mind is worth a lot with our family and work situations.

Thanks again everyone for the feedback, it helped me rethink the whole thing from a different perspective and shift the gears.

iris lily

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2021, 10:12:02 AM »
Nov 2021 update

After months of discussions and planning, we decided to go ahead and have the old house renovated by experienced builders. We are at the stage of having a detailed plan of the current and planned house produced so we can get more detailed quotes from various local builders that were recommended to us and that have already paid us a visit to analyze the work to be done. We looked at potentially tearing down the building and rebuilding new but both the foundation and structure are sound, and we like the size and layout of the house as-is (and the century-old feel), so we opted to gut and renovate the existing building.

We will always have the option to subdivide the property and either rent (Airbnb) or sell the renovated house - we are already planning on renting a room on Airbnb while living there and will see how we like it. Once subdivided, we can build ourselves a new house on the land as we see fit (and DIY a portion of this new build as we would most likely be FIRED by then). I'll also concentrate my DIY efforts on building a small cabin in the middle of our wooded lot when FIRED ;)

Yes, hiring builders to do the job will be costlier than DIY for a lot of items, but after a lot of thinking, peace of mind is worth a lot with our family and work situations.

Thanks again everyone for the feedback, it helped me rethink the whole thing from a different perspective and shift the gears.

Good luck. If you have identified a reputable builder in your area who takes on renovation, those guys are gold. GOLD Jerry! Especially in this environment where everyone in construction is super busy.

I would just caution you to beware of anyone who can take on your job right away. Somebody in construction said this to me and I believe it: if you can find a contractor who can take your work on today, you don’t want that guy!

We are doing a gut rehab on a 1941 bungalow. We have an architect who recommended a particular contractor who does this kind of work all over this town. We waited a year for him to finish up his jobs. Then he fell and broke his back. We waited eight months for him to heal from that. Last March he started in with his crew and has been stellar. He was worth the wait.

As it is he does mostly the big stuff and he subcontracts out finish work. Well he can’t find anyone to do the drywall, so his guys are doing it. After that he is done. We are subcontracting the flooring and then my husband will do all of the tile work and finish carpentry, and painting.

My husband is 67 years old and believe me I did not want to spend three years living in a construction zone while he finishes this house. We are all old! We want this damn construction work done!But there is really no other option since we cannot get people to do it and besides DH is picky about finish carpentry work and painting. He himself did light construction for many years.

Somewhere in the nearly 2 years of wait time for this particular contractor, I almost went with our architect’s initial suggestion which was to “tear it  down and build something nice and new. “ But I, like you, appreciate the bits of this little  old house we will be keeping. And honestly if we built something new it would have a very similar floor plan to what we will have in the end.

I often wonder if  we are making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. We’re ending up with bungalow bedrooms which are small and bungalow bathrooms which are tiny. But I am an old person and honestly I don’t mind those small rooms. The public rooms which are the living room, sunroom, and kitchen/dining are decent size without being overwhelming.

And I will say this about cost, and I understand that we are unique in this: We did not have cost estimates because we have unlimited funds, and we don’t really care how much it costs. DH thought it would be around $150,000 but I knew it would go well over $200,000 and we are well over $200,000 at this point and don’t even have interior finishes.

So, we will have around $400,000 into this property and can get maybe $225,000 for it.

Just be aware that generally speaking it’s cheaper to build new than to renovate. I live currently in a neighborhood of Victorian houses and that has been the truism for the 30+ years we’ve been here. I don’t want to talk you out of renovating an old house because I like the old houses, and anyway it by Far more environmentally friendly to renovate what you have rather than tear it down and build new.


« Last Edit: November 10, 2021, 10:18:29 AM by iris lily »

NaN

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2021, 07:50:34 PM »
I agree with most of what @iris lily said on finding the right contractor. Though I hired a guy to help with my modest room addition (roof and 3-walls already existed) and he was not available immediately. He was a complete disaster once he started. He had no clue what he was doing on certain aspects of my job. He also operated in a really strange way. I should had looked into his prior jobs more. If I ever had to hire someone again I would a) ask for references of their past projects and b) even potentially visit their current job site if they have one. Seeing how they finish work and how they work can be really telling.

One other thing, do not micromanage/arm-chair manage the builder. Set expectations up front and stick to them. Keep an eye on things but don't be bringing up problems every other day. If it is a good builder they will get in touch with you if there is something that needs to be sorted out (i.e. important decision for something). I had a friend who checked in almost daily with their new house. He ended up driving the builder up the wall, and was still left with a lot of things I think just were "throw hands up" and move-on.

I guess this is how willing you are to not DIY anything. Clearly define boundaries. I know one successful build I read online had the builder build the exterior completely and rough-ins inside, but they finished with the dry-wall, tile, cabinetry, switches, etc. That seemed to be a good hand-off point. Not saying that is recommended, but I thought that worked well. Then you have most of the plumbing, venting, and electrical all squared away. Oh, and make sure a) they charge your plumbing lines to test for leaks, b) test out any duct work for leaks, and c) test all circuits before the drywall goes up. An electrician hired by my crappy contractor drove a screw threw two Romex cables and didn't check the circuit before I put the drywall up. Drywall was cut open after to fix and still not happy with the patch.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2021, 07:52:36 PM by NaN »

iris lily

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2021, 11:32:10 AM »
I agree with most of what @iris lily said on finding the right contractor. Though I hired a guy to help with my modest room addition (roof and 3-walls already existed) and he was not available immediately. He was a complete disaster once he started. He had no clue what he was doing on certain aspects of my job. He also operated in a really strange way. I should had looked into his prior jobs more. If I ever had to hire someone again I would a) ask for references of their past projects and b) even potentially visit their current job site if they have one. Seeing how they finish work and how they work can be really telling.

One other thing, do not micromanage/arm-chair manage the builder. Set expectations up front and stick to them. Keep an eye on things but don't be bringing up problems every other day. If it is a good builder they will get in touch with you if there is something that needs to be sorted out (i.e. important decision for something). I had a friend who checked in almost daily with their new house. He ended up driving the builder up the wall, and was still left with a lot of things I think just were "throw hands up" and move-on.

I guess this is how willing you are to not DIY anything. Clearly define boundaries. I know one successful build I read online had the builder build the exterior completely and rough-ins inside, but they finished with the dry-wall, tile, cabinetry, switches, etc. That seemed to be a good hand-off point. Not saying that is recommended, but I thought that worked well. Then you have most of the plumbing, venting, and electrical all squared away. Oh, and make sure a) they charge your plumbing lines to test for leaks, b) test out any duct work for leaks, and c) test all circuits before the drywall goes up. An electrician hired by my crappy contractor drove a screw threw two Romex cables and didn't check the circuit before I put the drywall up. Drywall was cut open after to fix and still not happy with the patch.

I do SO agree with several points here.

We, too, know a couple who had a house built and they were on site every day, pointing out perceived problems and questioning. Finally the builder ordered them off the work site and there might’ve even been a legal document to keep them away. They are smart people and reasonable people, but apparently this project set off some thing in their brains that was not quite reasonable.

Here’s how great our old guy contractor is who is doing the gut rehab of our country house: he worked for many weeks without even asking for any money. He works on a “time and materials” basis and had his crew of 3-5 men there for weeks before giving us a bill.

He was recommended by our architect who lives across the street. I’m pretty sure our architect clued him in that we are old people with money so don’t worry about getting paid, they are good for it.

Our contractor charges the materials to our account at the local lumberyard, so it’s not like he has much material out of pocket.

He also always sub contracts out the interior finish work, so there is no problem with  my husband doing all finish carpentry, tile work, and painting.

But here’s the super great other thing about him: he doesn’t mind that my husband hangs around doing small construction jobs in the house while his crew works there. My husband is there 3 to 4 days a week, doing things like installing electric boxes, tearing out stuff that they will be rebuilding, doing bits of finish carpentry that can be done now, before drywall is in. They all work well together and have mutual respect.

We are  very happy with our contractor, and 3/4 of this job is now done so if he was going to f-up we would have seen it by now.

I want to emphasize that we did not get estimates, we did not shop around, this is a very small town and our contractor was recommended by our architect as the guy who does this kind of work. Since then we’ve learned that this architect/builder team has renovated three houses on our block Everyone agrees they are an excellent team.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2021, 11:39:41 AM by iris lily »

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2021, 02:18:37 PM »
Those are very good points, @iris lily and @NaN, we will definitely make sure that we bring these up to the chosen builder when chosen (and ask for references when getting quotes). Especially noted the importance of testing the mechanicals before finishing the interior - I'll make sure to point that out to the builder.

I was not planning to breathe down the neck of our builder once the work starts, I recognize that they are the experts and once clear expectations are set, I expect to be called for important decision making/problems only.

The only reason the 2 builders we talked too could start the work "right away" (meaning in March/April of next year) is that in our region, concrete work does not start before May/June, so they do have room for a winter project like ours as they can start working on a lot of things (interior) when the snow is still here, and do windows/exterior work as soon as the temperature allows it. Once end of May/June hits, they both confirmed that they had new builds lined up and that they would have to jump on other projects. In any case, we'll confirm timing when getting detailed estimates. As we don't live there, we are ok if a portion of the work has to be moved to later in the year.

As much as I wanted to DIY the finishing work, it'll be hard to do with my current work engagements and I'd rather leave most of it to professionals so we can move in the house sooner than later. I don't like the idea of living in an unfinished house with small children running around so for this project, it's going to be costlier and I'm ok with that

Lily, you seem to have a golden contractor! I cannot speak for the ones that visited us so far, but I'll make sure we discuss all of these points up front (payment, my presence on the site if any, work that can be done by ourselves, etc.). Good luck on finishing the project, I gather it's been a long journey so far!

As for costs, we were lucky enough to buy our property for the value of the land only, not counting the (at the time) decrepit house and huge barn. As such, making a significant investment (200-250k) in the house is a no brainer, it's like buying a 200-250k house, which is quite cheap in today's market. To a certain extent, I'm confident we could easily recuperate most if not all of money we put up on the house should we subdivide the land and sell the house separately. It's not in the plans for now but who knows where life will lead us - keeping an open mind here ;)

Cheers!

NaN

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2021, 05:04:48 PM »
Those are very good points, @iris lily and @NaN, we will definitely make sure that we bring these up to the chosen builder when chosen (and ask for references when getting quotes). Especially noted the importance of testing the mechanicals before finishing the interior - I'll make sure to point that out to the builder.

and

But here’s the super great other thing about him: he doesn’t mind that my husband hangs around doing small construction jobs in the house while his crew works there. My husband is there 3 to 4 days a week, doing things like installing electric boxes, tearing out stuff that they will be rebuilding, doing bits of finish carpentry that can be done now, before drywall is in. They all work well together and have mutual respect.

The last part is exactly it. Respect. It can be a swimmingly easy relationship with respect but wow, @iris lily, that's impressive your husbands could work while crews were there. That's unique.
 
But I caution @Le North Dreamer, just don't point out something the builder should know ahead of time. Just be aware and bring it up in a respectful fashion if it gets missed. Honestly, sounds like you have the right approach. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

lutorm

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2021, 12:18:09 AM »
I haven't seen the words "lead paint" show up yet, and it sounds like there's going to be a lot of that going around. Do make sure this is handled correctly so you don't turn your and your neighbors yards into lead dust bombs.

Quote
Contractors doing work for compensation in homes or child-occupied facilities
built before 1978 must be certified and follow certain work practices.

There are specific EPA rules that contractors must follow when doing work that disturbs lead paint: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2013-11/documents/steps_0.pdf

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2021, 04:21:05 AM »
I haven't seen the words "lead paint" show up yet, and it sounds like there's going to be a lot of that going around. Do make sure this is handled correctly so you don't turn your and your neighbors yards into lead dust bombs.

Quote
Contractors doing work for compensation in homes or child-occupied facilities
built before 1978 must be certified and follow certain work practices.

There are specific EPA rules that contractors must follow when doing work that disturbs lead paint: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2013-11/documents/steps_0.pdf

Thanks for that, @lutorm, I had a look at Canadian equivalent regulations and there are similar care we should use in handling lead paint in Canada. The silver lining here is that most if not all of the interior wall coverings (gypsum, etc.) will be removed by the team handling the asbestos removal, so any lead paint would be treated with even more caution.

Dicey

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2021, 05:50:13 AM »
Wow, all this discussion and no one has mentioned the elephant. You're going to do all this work and still end up with only one bathroom? Why?

Dicey

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #40 on: November 12, 2021, 06:02:53 AM »
Whatever you do, don't do a DIY remodel like this house we toured recently. It was for rent for a while and when they had no takers they put it on the market. From what I can piece together it was framed, sat for a while, was resold, and the buyers DIYd the rest of the build. It has some real gems.

  • The yard had old construction waste strewn about including boards with rusty nails poking upwards and an old toilet. Before you get ideas about doing your business en plein air,  note it was surrounded by blackberry vines.
  • Uneven concrete (missing decorative tile?) that my kid tripped on
  • 3 different types of wood floors, some finished with gloss, some with semi gloss, sometimes both finishes in one room. No sanding was done in
    between coats and plenty of dust and particulates were entrapped between the layers. Uneven staining and one charming partial shoe print forever memorialized in the living room floor.
  • At least 6 different types of hollow core doors inside, varying styles and colors
  • No bathroom tile or vanity matched room to room
  • One bathroom had double double windows, as in one installed directly in front of the other
  • At least three different types of baseboard, sometimes butted up against each other
  • No insulation or separation between rooms except for hollow core doors. Basically you had 3000 ft^2 of echo chamber
  • To do laundry you'd have to go out the back sliding door (screen hole repaired with duct tape), across the deck, down onto the grass, down a second set of stairs into the basement (if you are over 5 foot 6 inch watch your head!). This being Seattle I could imagine doing that in the rain. Also, the basement had no heat which would be fun in winter.
  • The kitchen cabinets had been salvaged from another job and didn't match the decorative trim pieces, not even the same color. The countertop height was a good 4 inches taller than the stove top.


(https://www.trulia.com/p/wa/seattle/1545-19th-ave-s-seattle-wa-98144--1015654844
What a POS! On the market since June in a hot market and and not a single price reduction? Clearly they are delusional.

Le North Dreamer

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2021, 06:56:33 AM »
Wow, all this discussion and no one has mentioned the elephant. You're going to do all this work and still end up with only one bathroom? Why?

Hehehe I should also have pointed out in my update that the floor plans have changed quite a lot since my OP. We will now include one or 2 additional bathroom(s) in the house. We are very happy with where the plans are going, it's going to be quite nice to live there with the new layout.

economista

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #42 on: November 12, 2021, 07:49:30 AM »
I'm interested to see how this goes! I also bought a house with the intention of doing work DIY and then quickly realized that it was worth it to me to have the work done well and quickly by hiring it out instead.

lutorm

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2021, 10:14:46 PM »
The silver lining here is that most if not all of the interior wall coverings (gypsum, etc.) will be removed by the team handling the asbestos removal, so any lead paint would be treated with even more caution.
Perfect, two birds with one stone!

ysette9

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Re: Am I crazy? DIY major renos in old house
« Reply #44 on: November 13, 2021, 09:06:21 AM »
Whatever you do, don't do a DIY remodel like this house we toured recently. It was for rent for a while and when they had no takers they put it on the market. From what I can piece together it was framed, sat for a while, was resold, and the buyers DIYd the rest of the build. It has some real gems.

  • The yard had old construction waste strewn about including boards with rusty nails poking upwards and an old toilet. Before you get ideas about doing your business en plein air,  note it was surrounded by blackberry vines.
  • Uneven concrete (missing decorative tile?) that my kid tripped on
  • 3 different types of wood floors, some finished with gloss, some with semi gloss, sometimes both finishes in one room. No sanding was done in
    between coats and plenty of dust and particulates were entrapped between the layers. Uneven staining and one charming partial shoe print forever memorialized in the living room floor.
  • At least 6 different types of hollow core doors inside, varying styles and colors
  • No bathroom tile or vanity matched room to room
  • One bathroom had double double windows, as in one installed directly in front of the other
  • At least three different types of baseboard, sometimes butted up against each other
  • No insulation or separation between rooms except for hollow core doors. Basically you had 3000 ft^2 of echo chamber
  • To do laundry you'd have to go out the back sliding door (screen hole repaired with duct tape), across the deck, down onto the grass, down a second set of stairs into the basement (if you are over 5 foot 6 inch watch your head!). This being Seattle I could imagine doing that in the rain. Also, the basement had no heat which would be fun in winter.
  • The kitchen cabinets had been salvaged from another job and didn't match the decorative trim pieces, not even the same color. The countertop height was a good 4 inches taller than the stove top.


(https://www.trulia.com/p/wa/seattle/1545-19th-ave-s-seattle-wa-98144--1015654844
What a POS! On the market since June in a hot market and and not a single price reduction? Clearly they are delusional.
Thank you for the reminder on that one! I had let it slip my mind. You are right. The owner is… naive. Apparently they/she owns other rentals in the city, according to what she was telling my husband when we toured the house. Funny that with multiple rentals they don’t seem to have learned much.