Author Topic: Structural maconery building  (Read 486 times)

Le Barbu

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Structural maconery building
« on: September 11, 2019, 04:56:35 AM »
We found a 3 storeys/units building for sale in a mixed uses neighborood. Built back in 1865, it’s a structural maconery bulding (4 bricks wythes) with a flat rooftop. Each unit is about 1,200 sq.ft. and the biggest caveats are energy costs and some exterior features demanding extra maintenance (wooden openings, trims, old brick walls etc)

Overall, the spot is nearly perfect, the price is fair (lower than average) and the lot is large enough (backyard). This place is actually rented as long term and Airbnb so, we can move in and have some income (get closer to FI). I figured almost 100k$ more than our actual house to buy and remodel (update) this place. Operating cost would be 5k$ more/year and income can range from 15k$ to 25k$/year depending how we rent the 2 units.

Does anyone have experience with that kind of old building in cold (Quebec) climate? It seems you cannot improve insulation much without affecting the building integrity so, convertion from electricity to water radiator (gaz) or heat pump looks appealing.

What do you think?


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Re: Structural maconery building
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 06:06:04 AM »
About the only way to effectively insulate those old brick buildings is on the inside faces of the walls.   You could stud out and insulate a new wall on the inside face of brick and / or use furring and foam.   Of course, these will conceal the brick from view on the inside.     You could also insulate the ceilings fairly easily.

You will generally run into surprises anytime you do something with one of these old buildings, and nothing will be plumb or straight.

Jon Bon

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Re: Structural maconery building
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 08:28:21 AM »
A few things come to mind.

1. Inspect the hell out of this property, hire a contractor or someone else who actually does work to be your contractor rather then a "home inspector" Matter of fact hire two or three of them. Become an expert in 1800's masonry building techniques.
2. Historical Building? This building feels ripe for other folks telling you what you are allowed to do with it. Because "preserving the historical character" Just means its gonna cost a hell of a lot of money to do normal things to the house. I'd start with calling the building department and investigating from there.
3. Water, how does the house look in terms of water management. Stuff is gonna be unlevel which is fine. But id be looking for big cracks, bad grades, crumbling mortar, poor draining. Visit the house in the rain, the heavier the better. Walk around the outside, get yourself soaked this is time well spent. Stand in the basement during a storm and see what happens.
4. Yes would cost a fortune to heat and cool. Yes you can insulate a house but it has to be done correctly or you can really damage the masonry walls. Also see point number 2, it might be easy to do in a normal home but absolutely forbidden in this one due to its age. The type of heating you use is irreverent if it all just seeps out the walls and roof.
5. Lead/Asbestous/bogeyman - yeah its gonna have this. Lots of houses do its not the end of the world just be prepared.

I am not down on old buildings, I actually like them over new builds way the hell out in the boring burbs. I think the quote is something like "An old house is not something that we own, its something that we do" Good luck and let us know how it turns out.