Author Topic: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip  (Read 5269 times)

Mesmoiselle

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Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« on: November 30, 2014, 08:26:17 AM »
It's our primary residence since 2013. I want to make it sell worthy by Spring 2016 because husband can't find the high paying job he got qualified for in our area. I'm staying behind to finish up some classes and the house.

Bought for 51.5k with 20% down @3.5% 15 year term. It's a fixer upper, built 1920, 1 BR 1 Bath 1900 sqft. Half of that footage is on the first floor, the other half in a completely unfinished basement. I want to make it a 4 BR 2 Bath.

Why do I think I will come out at least even (on materials) on this endeavor:

  • Comps in the neighborhood for 4BR2B are from 80-110k.
  • I'm already renting out the first floor to in laws to offset costs.
  • I'll be volunteering at Habitat for Humanity to learn my skills, although I've already hung drywall.
  • Willing to do all work myself with carpentry/electrician inclined boyfriend.
  • a whole 18 months to do this.

Why do I even bother if I'm only going to come out even? Well, this house sat on the market as is for almost two years before the old lady off loaded it to me at a very low price. It'd been in her family since it's creation and it was part of an estate she was trying to sell of her mothers. She just wanted to leave and go live with her son. However, during her parent's illness she'd done things like make a 2BR into a 1BR- so most people didn't bother looking at it, as this is a family neighborhood. The kitchen and only bathroom are tiny and she also never bothered clearing the place of all knickknacks and extra furniture. The hallway was barn yard red. I don't even think they listed the basement sq footage, just that it had one. The only thing she did right was the nice landscaping. I think she received awful advice from her friend the "real estate agent," and I offered 16k under asked price for all the issues as well as the fact that I didn't want to spend more than 50k on any house (reluctant buyer)

I'm glad I did though. I then spent 5k in Waterproofing the basement she "didn't know" flooded after every big rain. The AC died within a month and, as I was not MMM at the time, bought an entirely new one. With another $500+ to miscellaneous tools, paint, and a small reno in the bathroom to add a towel closet, I feel I've sank about 10k into this house at this point. And I haven't even gotten to the stuff that will actually give me some return on my money.  But I know if I leave it as is, it will sit on the market far longer than we want it to. We don't have a hot market, so I expect to list in February 2016 and off load by late summer 2016 if I do everything right.

So that brings me to the reason I am posting. I know I need to make some phone calls about permits and what kind of build plans they want submitted, cuz obviously I want everything above board with the local government so I can hike the price up come sell time without an inspector telling me to rip everything out again.

Furnace:The basement has one third of the space above ground. I want to put two fire escape egress windows in on one side for the two bedrooms. I was going to jack and jill a bathroom between these two rooms due to Furnace placement. But, We're going to have to replace and add on more pipes/tubes of the HVAC system to include the basement and to reduce their ridiculous size. If we are already tearing down the tubing and re routing it so it doesn't hang in your face, how difficult is it to move a furnace? I at least want to give it a 180 degree turn so that I can make it more accessible to the living space rather than cramped in the bathroom.

Stairs:These stairs aren't to code and they certainly aren't inviting you to think about the basement as another living space. There current placement is in the kitchen, eating up what I consider to be valuable kitchen space as well as making it impossible to move any but medium sized furniture down here. In their current position, it makes the kitchen an awkward L shape and opening the dishwasher or oven door takes up the entire work space. But I don't know where they would move TO. I've thought of flipping the location so that there is a wide safe staircase taking up some of the living space to the left of the front door???

basement Ceiling Height: Is grandfathered in but I still want to keep "saving vertical space" at the forefront of my mind. It varies from 7'.3"-7'9". I'm pondering leaving the the joists exposed and stained to a very light wooden color with a layer of insulation/drywall in between so you stop seeing the flooring of the first floor.

Dead Chimney: I want to demo this, but need to come up with other venting methods for the water heater.

First Floor: I'm intent on nixing the hallway entirely, extending the tiny bathroom into medium bathroom territory. But if I do that, the bedrooms doors will be straight off the first floor living space just as the basement bedrooms will be. In my head, it looks kind of weird, but there's no doubt that
the hallway just wastes space.

No Master Suite: My plan doesn't have a suite. With only two bedrooms and one bathroom per floor, I don't think it can happen. Who knows how that'll hurt the numbers, but a third bathroom just won't go anywhere. This is kind of a working class neighborhood so I think "looks nice" and "has enough rooms for the kids in an orderly sensible fashion" will go a long way.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like I've watched too much HGTV.

I've attached the current floor plan of the basement. I'll be digging around for the first floor plan and attaching in a bit. May have to make one from scratch. Have attached the current first floor plan. Should help with stairs choice. Also added current vision of what first floor could be with comments made thus far.

Any input gladly appreciated!

« Last Edit: December 03, 2014, 05:54:42 PM by Mesmoiselle »

The Architect

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 12:07:04 PM »
Furnace:.... If we are already tearing down the tubing and re routing it so it doesn't hang in your face, how difficult is it to move a furnace? I at least want to give it a 180 degree turn so that I can make it more accessible to the living space rather than cramped in the bathroom.

If you're ripping the ducting out already, flipping the furnace shouldn't be hard. If you're going for it, do that before any other work downstairs, as you'd need to rip up your ceiling to put the ducts back in. You might need to move a gas/electrical line and vent - those could be cost-issues as you'd want someone qualified to do it.

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Stairs:But I don't know where they would move TO. I've thought of flipping the location so that there is a wide safe staircase taking up some of the living space to the left of the front door???

Figure out where you want those stairs and plan to put them there when making your design. You'll probably need 14-15 steps and have a run of 12'-10" or 13'-9". 36" should be a minimum width goal. If you can stick a bath or your furnace or other equipment beneath the stairs that might help with the lost space - you'll basically loose all that space on both floors.

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basement Ceiling Height: Is grandfathered in but I still want to keep "saving vertical space" at the forefront of my mind. It varies from 7'.3"-7'9". I'm pondering leaving the the joists exposed and stained to a very light wooden color with a layer of insulation/drywall in between so you stop seeing the flooring of the first floor.

Yikes. 7'-0" is minimum ceiling height, so take care to keep that. Leaving the joists exposed is a bad idea - you need the sheetrock to cover them for fire protection.

Quote
Dead Chimney: I want to demo this, but need to come up with other venting methods for the water heater.

A vent pipe run out the wall or up to the roof per your contractor will suffice. Chimneys aren't necessary in modern home building.

Quote
First Floor: I'm intent on nixing the hallway entirely, extending the tiny bathroom into medium bathroom territory. But if I do that, the bedrooms doors will be straight off the first floor living space just as the basement bedrooms will be. In my head, it looks kind of weird, but there's no doubt that
the hallway just wastes space.

The basement bedrooms opening into a rec space aren't an issue, but the main floor bedrooms shouldn't open to the living space. Put in an alcove or closet or something if you can so the doors aren't in the main living space.

Quote
No Master Suite: My plan doesn't have a suite.

If your stair is near the bedrooms, you could maybe have a main-floor master with a jack & jill watercloset. The 2nd main-floor bedroom can then go downstairs.

This all sounds like a ton of not-easy-to-DIY work though, you might be better off adding a wall for a 2nd bedroom and dumping the place or renting it.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 08:33:20 AM »
Furnace:.... If we are already tearing down the tubing and re routing it so it doesn't hang in your face, how difficult is it to move a furnace? I at least want to give it a 180 degree turn so that I can make it more accessible to the living space rather than cramped in the bathroom.

If you're ripping the ducting out already, flipping the furnace shouldn't be hard. If you're going for it, do that before any other work downstairs, as you'd need to rip up your ceiling to put the ducts back in. You might need to move a gas/electrical line and vent - those could be cost-issues as you'd want someone qualified to do it.


I plan on doing a lot of moving of electrical lines, will bring in a plumber for the gas lines to be moved. The basement is completely unfinished in every way at the moment. Concrete floor, no insulation, single pane windows. The plan was to move ALL the lines to the places we want them, add the additional lines we need, update the windows to proper size and egress, and THEN start framing and insulating. Right order?

Quote
Stairs:But I don't know where they would move TO. I've thought of flipping the location so that there is a wide safe staircase taking up some of the living space to the left of the front door???

Figure out where you want those stairs and plan to put them there when making your design. You'll probably need 14-15 steps and have a run of 12'-10" or 13'-9". 36" should be a minimum width goal. If you can stick a bath or your furnace or other equipment beneath the stairs that might help with the lost space - you'll basically loose all that space on both floors.

Hmmm. The side of the house with the bathroom plumbing, the main electrical panel, the venting for the furnace and water heater, the sump pump piping is all on the North side where the first floor has bedrooms. So stairs can't be on the North Side, they have to be on the South side of the house. Although I was planning on "tidying" and raising the lines to inside the joists this entire time... The Furnace is like floor to ceiling height though... I think the plan of putting it under the stairs would only work if I bought an entirely new furnace? not in my budget for a home with intent to sell.

Quote
basement Ceiling Height: Is grandfathered in but I still want to keep "saving vertical space" at the forefront of my mind. It varies from 7'.3"-7'9". I'm pondering leaving the the joists exposed and stained to a very light wooden color with a layer of insulation/drywall in between so you stop seeing the flooring of the first floor.

Yikes. 7'-0" is minimum ceiling height, so take care to keep that. Leaving the joists exposed is a bad idea - you need the sheetrock to cover them for fire protection.

Ah. Exposed stained joists are only for fancy homes with vaulted ceilings huh?

Quote
First Floor: I'm intent on nixing the hallway entirely, extending the tiny bathroom into medium bathroom territory. But if I do that, the bedrooms doors will be straight off the first floor living space just as the basement bedrooms will be. In my head, it looks kind of weird, but there's no doubt that the hallway just wastes space.

The basement bedrooms opening into a rec space aren't an issue, but the main floor bedrooms shouldn't open to the living space. Put in an alcove or closet or something if you can so the doors aren't in the main living space.

Hmmm. Something like this-> br\___/br <- with just enough space for doors instead of it's current state br[__   __]br.

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No Master Suite: My plan doesn't have a suite.

If your stair is near the bedrooms, you could maybe have a main-floor master with a jack & jill watercloset. The 2nd main-floor bedroom can then go downstairs.

You're saying a Master Suite will trump a fourth bedroom? Or that there should be three bedrooms downstairs, perhaps in place of a devoted laundry area and the end result of smaller recreation space? Guess eating up the 2nd first floor bedroom would give an area for stairs and would place an "under the stairs" on the correct side of the house but then I'm still not seeing how three bedrooms could be in basement.
Quote
This all sounds like a ton of not-easy-to-DIY work though, you might be better off adding a wall for a 2nd bedroom and dumping the place or renting it.

I think I would lose money on "dumping" it and if we end up living in California when the house is in Kentucky, I wouldn't be too interested in renting it either. Being a Landlord only works if you can drop by easily to check up on and fix things. There is also the fact that I wish to learn all these skills and I have a pretty good raw space and 18 months to learn them. If I come out ahead of material costs in the sale, then the fact that I got paid chump change to learn great reusable skills is okay with me.

EDIT ADD: As I played with the original floor plan in paint, I remembered the other reason the basement bedrooms had to be on the north side of the house. On the south side of the house is a narrow sidewalk and a row of bushes. I'm not entirely remembering rules of egress windows, but I think there has to be so much clear space around the egress window. Moving bedrooms to the south  of the house in basement would necessitate the removal of the sidewalk and the bushes. Lot of work for what I would consider a minus on the investment as I just tore up all the attractive greenery.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 08:45:07 AM by Mesmoiselle »

The Architect

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 11:21:49 AM »
You're saying a Master Suite will trump a fourth bedroom? Or that there should be three bedrooms downstairs, perhaps in place of a devoted laundry area and the end result of smaller recreation space? Guess eating up the 2nd first floor bedroom would give an area for stairs and would place an "under the stairs" on the correct side of the house but then I'm still not seeing how three bedrooms could be in basement.

Eh, maybe; I don't know your market so talk to a realtor and find out. Personally, I'd rather have 3 beds with one of those a master. But what I was saying was that you can have a master suite if your 2nd bed can easily use the basement bathroom (i.e.: can go down the stairs without going through public space) as long as you have at least a public powder room upstairs. A split bath of some sort would probably suffice.


Quote
Quote
This all sounds like a ton of not-easy-to-DIY work though, you might be better off adding a wall for a 2nd bedroom and dumping the place or renting it.

I think I would lose money on "dumping" it and if we end up living in California when the house is in Kentucky, I wouldn't be too interested in renting it either. Being a Landlord only works if you can drop by easily to check up on and fix things. There is also the fact that I wish to learn all these skills and I have a pretty good raw space and 18 months to learn them. If I come out ahead of material costs in the sale, then the fact that I got paid chump change to learn great reusable skills is okay with me.

I'm not sure whether you'd even make your money back. These are some big-time changes, and will require installing drains, water lines, moving ductwork, loads of materials, and on and on. If it was a few small things or a single bigger thing as a first project where you were projecting a return, it might be worthwhile. As you've described, it might make more sense to just slap a second bedroom in there and try to move it with as little work as possible.

Goldielocks

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 03:16:50 PM »
An Idea --
Think about just creating a really nice main floor, only -- with 2 bedrooms, kitchen update, bathroom, maybe a mini ensuite if you can, --> move the stairs if feasible to open up living space.  Do not fix any more utilities unless they are a safety hazard.


Downstairs - think paint! Lots of creamy white paint.
Clean, bright, add lighting if needed,  floors repaired, dry,  all nice and tidy, fresh smelling --  but nothing else.   If there is a laundry, you could add drywall and paint to that corner, to make it feel nicer.

I would do nothing, but draw up the potential changes with a nice 3d "plan" veiw.  "unblemished, dry basement suitable for 2 bedrooms"  would be the tag line. 

Let the next buyer finish it after seeing the inspiration of the main floor.

GizmoTX

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 03:52:05 PM »
Have you talked to a realtor about what the house could sell for as is?
Or, as Goldielocks says, clean, bright, floors repaired, dry, fresh smelling -- but nothing else. This reno sounds like a money pit, not a flip.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 04:42:35 PM »
Have you talked to a realtor about what the house could sell for as is?

Do I really need to? I bought it 18 months ago not ten years ago and other than a bathroom closet addition, I've simply maintained it. I think I can safely assume that it'd go for what I bought it for.

I found the "spruce it all up, throw up a wall" idea appealing, if lazy.

GizmoTX

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 04:50:48 PM »
It depends on what your local real estate market is doing. A lot can change even in 18 months.

The worst case scenario involves tearing it all up & then not being able to finish due to lack of money, missing an opportunity elsewhere because you have to stay to put it back together, or then taking a huge loss on it so you can move on.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2014, 05:10:31 PM »
So I went to Lowe's and priced some things. Flooring, drywall, recessed lighting units, paint, insulation. I came up with an estimate of 6k to finish a basement. I feel this is absurdly low, so I will just say 8k to err on side of caution.

The local trends seem to be a very gradual up tick in house sales

Using zillow for comparables, if we finished the basement we could sell for 80k. So,8-12k (spruce up first floor, don't move stairs) spent on 52k house. 28k gain, -22k of expenses, equals 6k gain  completely eaten up by real estate agent fees but a very easily sold house, IMO, and a return of 15k in equity.

Just 2k for sprucing the place, overall sunk cost of 14k, list for 65k, 4k in agent fees, maybe 2k in closing,a slower sale, maybe get our 15k in equity back but probably a loss. Lot less effort.

I dunno. Either way feels like a gamble.

The Architect

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2014, 05:21:02 PM »
So I went to Lowe's and priced some things. Flooring, drywall, recessed lighting units, paint, insulation. I came up with an estimate of 6k to finish a basement. I feel this is absurdly low, so I will just say 8k to err on side of caution.

Recheck this. Quick Google says $10,000+ easy as a DIY. With the HVAC, it's saying more like $65,000. Don't forget that in a basement you need to waterproof in addition to making it livable. Is that 80K finished as 'a room' or as you plan?

It sounds like you're running too narrow margins and any cost overrun would cost you big time. Scenario #2 may be a loss, but it's a loss with a lot less risk of overrun.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2014, 05:48:34 PM »
So I went to Lowe's and priced some things. Flooring, drywall, recessed lighting units, paint, insulation. I came up with an estimate of 6k to finish a basement. I feel this is absurdly low, so I will just say 8k to err on side of caution.

Recheck this. Quick Google says $10,000+ easy as a DIY. With the HVAC, it's saying more like $65,000. Don't forget that in a basement you need to waterproof in addition to making it livable. Is that 80K finished as 'a room' or as you plan?

It sounds like you're running too narrow margins and any cost overrun would cost you big time. Scenario #2 may be a loss, but it's a loss with a lot less risk of overrun.

The basement is already dry. That was the $5200 expense I paid cash for in March 2014 and is included in my numbers above.

For someone else to do the HVAC, I was quoted 3k. So if I do it myself, it should be half that right?

Add on 2nd bathroom downstairs will have the sink/toilet from first floor plus a $500 stand shower.

The only professional I plan on paying is the plumber for the bathroom. So 6k plus 1.5k HVAC plus plumber equals8-9k. Plus 2k to spruce first floor and then I rounded that up to 12k. 12k plus the 10k I already spent on dry basement and AC and misc =22k spent.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2014, 05:56:10 PM »
That 10k counted furnishings in the 10k price? I'm not providing free furniture

The Architect

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2014, 06:04:26 PM »
That 10k counted furnishings in the 10k price? I'm not providing free furniture

It was a quick googling...

Still, make sure your numbers are sound before proceeding and add 15% as a contingency. If it still makes sense, go for it.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2014, 06:10:20 PM »
That 10k counted furnishings in the 10k price? I'm not providing free furniture

It was a quick googling...

Still, make sure your numbers are sound before proceeding and add 15% as a contingency. If it still makes sense, go for it.

Lol about the quick googling. It's just that HGTV never tries to save money. It's all about wow factor and doing EVERY thing as quickly as possible with a troupe of contractors.

When I read "this old house" and another DIY blog, they said 3k on an additional bathroom in an area with comparable costs of materials. But he was also going for high end tiling and a fancy toilet shower, whereas I'm shooting for clean and basic to change the "stats" of the house in my favor.

I will investigate further and also not do the basement until the husband definitely has a job offer elsewhere.

Goldielocks

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2014, 08:18:13 PM »
Don't forget about wastage when you have several rooms.  One big room, the waste materials are about 10% to 15%.  Small rooms and the waste goes up a lot.  Up to 30%, depending on your choices.

It is hard to get that per sqft cost.


MC

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2014, 07:18:04 AM »
I second/third/whatever goldielocks' position on your project scope.  I think it is too ambitious for the amount of potential profit on the sale.  If 4BR/2BA would put you in the 150-200K neighborhood, I'd be more inclined to support your design.  Especially considering that your basement has a low clear height, I would be very concerned about getting the appropriate return for your money on this space.  I would definitely move the laundry to the basement so you can maximize the first floor, but would cap your basement scope there.

Have you spoken with a contractor or someone with knowledge of local building code?  It is very important that you are knowledgeable of all potential code violations for the current property, because as you go to make improvements, the inspectors you bring in for that work will want existing issues brought up to code.  Violations could be thousands of dollars per issue even if you DIY.  You will need to properly permit all of the changes in order to get your property to assess at the higher value you hope to reach through the final sale.

Not trying to be a downer here, but trying to help make sure you are making a good investment.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2014, 07:07:42 AM »
So I went to Lowe's and priced some things. Flooring, drywall, recessed lighting units, paint, insulation. I came up with an estimate of 6k to finish a basement. I feel this is absurdly low, so I will just say 8k to err on side of caution.

You're right, this is absurdly low.  Didn't you say you were going to put 3 bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement?  Here are some materials that aren't in your list above:
-lumber to frame the walls
-framing nails, drywall screws, drywall tape and mud
-wire and electrical supplies (switches, outlets, boxes)
-plumbing changes: are there even drain stub-ups for the bathroom, or will you need to dig up the concrete floor to put them in?  Is there a clear route for the exhaust fan duct and the plumbing vent?
-plumbing supplies: PVC, pex, copper, all the fittings
-doors for each of the rooms and closets
-window trim, baseboards
-closet shelving
-bathroom: tub/shower, vanity, toilet, faucets, mirror, towel bar, TP holder
-flooring: what are you planning to use?  Sheet vinyl might only run you $1/sf.  But if you go with carpet, laminate, or tile, it'll be more than that.  Most flooring needs underlayment of some kind...is that in your budget?

Budget frame of reference #1: we DIY-ed a project where we took 2 upstairs bedrooms, ~500 sf, removed all the interior walls, and changed the floorplan to be 2 bedrooms and 1 bath.  No change in windows, exterior walls were already in, electrical already nearby, just added/rearranged.  Total materials cost was $10K.  Your scope is bigger than this, both in square footage and in work needing to be done (exterior walls, ceiling, etc.).

Budget frame of reference #2:  in our current house, we gutted our tiny 5x7 bathroom.  Super low-budget DIY still cost us $2800 in materials. 

On the surface, if you could sell the place for $50K now and $80K with a fully finished basement, I don't see a good ROI, because I think you'll end up at $20K for all materials for both floors (plus something for the new tools you'll need to buy), and 18 months worth of sweat equity doesn't sound like a great payback.  If you're going to need to hire out plumbing, electrical or drywall (pretty simple to hang, PITA to finish), that'll eat up money in big chunks at a time.

If you want to do the work so that you can learn how to do stuff and develop skills, that would be ok.  But don't expect to get a flip-worthy return on it, if the max it'll be worth is $80K. 

A couple houses ago, a realtor told me that the best ROI for basements was a very basic fix:  paint the walls, put in lighting, and install commercial grade carpet.  Then it's usable without spending much. 

Weedy Acres

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Re: Beginner House Reno for a Slow? Flip
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2014, 08:30:57 AM »
I just went back and read your OP, looking at the floor plans.  No change in the advice I just posted, but some additional thoughts on the upstairs:

First of all, you've got nearly the exact same layout we have in our current home that we're rehabbing.  I'd suggest reworking the bedroom doors so they're more like ours.  It's very functional, and the small "hallway" provides some privacy for the bedrooms.  See attached, but note that the laundry room/office is a planned addition, not currently part of the house.

I would not move the stairs.  It's likely that in your current house they don't meet code.  If you move them, first of all there's some significant structural work you need to do, to frame out the joists for the hole you'll cut.  Secondly, new stairs will have to meet current code.  So they will likely require a bigger footprint (longer treads, shorter risers, bigger hole in LR floor to accommodate adequate headroom) and you'll lose prime living space.   What is the issue of awkwardness with your current stairs?  Can you post a few photos?

On your kitchen redesign, I highly highly recommend posting your plans here:  http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath/ where there are some extremely skilled and helpful layout people that can help you accomplish what you need in a small space.  The remodeling forum on the same board can help with general layout stuff.