Renovation 2007: Postpone?

As of this morning I’m thinking of postponing the project till Fall. Maybe during Spring and Summer I can deal with the permits, getting rid of stuff, some demo so that certain things won’t be a complete surprise, and work on the garden. I am determined to do this project this year, that’s the one thing I’m certain of, even if I’m getting cold feet about a bunch of other things. One of the reasons I’m mentioning the renovation and my thoughts on the blog is so that I have some pressure outside myself to get this thing going. But I woke up this morning and I just did not feel good about my choices, where I am in the planning, and a bunch of other things. I can’t postpone too long as I can hear the house moving and slowly falling apart and that needs to be addressed soon.
Let’s see what I feel like tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep and church.

7 thoughts on “Renovation 2007: Postpone?”

  1. Where are you in the planning process? Are you going to get an architect to draw plans? Do you know what you want done? Are you going to go green or not go green? Are you going to gut the structure or not? Are you going to rewire the electrical or not? Have you spoken with a few contractors? Depending on the size and magnitude of the job it might make sense to have an architect draw plans and get an estimate as to what it should cost.

  2. I have my own drawings, a list of things I need to have done and from one contractor a line by line list of material and labor costs of things to be done.
    As far as green goes, there are some things I have learned from The Eco-Guy. Keeping things out of landfills is ecofriendly. Even when going for the green product, recycling the not-so green but good enough product is a good thing. He surprised me when he told me I didn’t need to replace my windows. They are fine they just need squaring and insulating. Because the water heater is a basement thing, and I’m just considering 1&2nd floor things, it’s been taken off the list. So I’m not considering replacing it with the tankless. The Eco-guy, when pressed, suggested the Space-Pac or Mr. Slim. AC is expensive, I could buy a small compact car for the amount of money it costs. And I really don’t want to pour money into a system that will essentially replace one huge and two little window units, that did a good job. I guess the cheap eco-friendly solution would be to stay with the window units because I don’t need to cool the whole house, at the same time. But dragging the damned things up every year, installing them and later taking them out, is getting on my nerves. Spacepak estimated cost of installing in my house $15K. Conventional AC, a little more than half that, and I only use it for 2 months out of the year. Contractor #1 said Mr. Slim was ugly. Even Eco-guy guy said Mr. Slim’s negative was its appearance. And some of my close friends have expressed their opinion that I really should go with conventional CAC, for when I sell…..(argh!). A neighbor in the building industry mentioned a possibility of lack of maintenance choices with the alternative AC. So I’ll probably fold on the AC, either not installing, or going with the conventional type.
    Another thing from the wisdom of The Eco-guy, was to spend time saving energy. My house is tiny, compared to some of his other projects, and so there really wasn’t too much to be done to make it more energy efficient, except create a insulation envelope. He did consider the possibility of some cool cellulose insulation, but was very worried about trapping moisture and mold in my tiny crawlspace, and so further communications focused on R-values. Listening to co-workers and friends talk about electric & gas bills, the crappy old house is energy efficient in it’s current crappy state. I have yet to see a $200 light bill. The worst electric bill, even when I was using the heater fans, the worst bill, $150. Best bill? Less than $20. My typical electric bill is somewhere between $30-$50. Changing the lights to florescent bulbs and trying to remember to turn off unused lights, helped a lot. I’m not sure how much more energy efficient I can get.

    As far as size goes the 1st and 2nd floors for renovation total less than 900 square feet, more like 840 sq ft but I’m not counting the kitchen. The vibe I have gotten from several building industry folks is that my house and my project is small. Maybe too small. IT was nice enough to offer his architect-guy services at a discounted price, but during our conversations, he didn’t make it seem that I really, really needed his services. So I’m seeing how far I can get sans architect, because I’m not putting on an addition, I’m not moving the staircase, I’m not doing anything really major. Just fixing what is broken, insulating, and moving a bathroom 4ft and another bathroom from the front to the middle of the house.

  3. fyi i installed space pak & it cost 15k, but my house is @ 2200 sq ft/3 levels. i do like it a lot but have yet to see what the AC will do. for a small house traditional may be better, tho.

  4. The only reason I wondered about an architect is that if you are moving stuff you will need drawings to submit to the DCRA. It sounds like you will need to pull a plumbing permit, an electrical permit and a mechanical permit. AC will be great not only for summer but for when you sell the place.

    Dealing with the DCRA is a painful experience. I wish you the best of luck with your renovation.

  5. There are two pieces of advice that I will offer. One, above all else, get really clear about what materials you plan to use for your job — particularly finish materials — and make sure that your contractor has experience with those materials. That will ensure that you are getting an accurate quote and a good finish. Two, create a schedule of meetings with the contractors to go over concerns and to make periodic payments if everything is to your satisfaction. Ideallly, you or someone you trust will also appear on the jobsite unannounced — not to get in the way or impede progress, but to see if things are being done correctly. You would be amazed at what folks will try to get away with. It’s good to let them know you are paying attention. Many homeowners can’t or won’t be bothered with the supervision piece. That’s a big mistake.

    I can’t remember. Why are you considering SpacePak or Mr Slim? Are you trying to avoid bulkheads? We have a similiar issue (and a complicated house design). So far we’re sticking with window units. I bought smaller more energy efficient units to avoid lugging those things from the basement. During the winter, we store them on the floor of each room’s closet.

  6. The AC concerns were because 3 AC units cooled the house off fine. I didn’t see the need to cool the whole house off, when I only cooled the floor I was on, thus saving energy. Mr. Slim and Spacepak allowed for just cooling off sections of the house and not the whole house. Also they sounded cool.
    As far as clarity and communication with Contractor #1, the man communicates… a lot. Can’t get him to shut up sometimes. That’s one of the reasons why I picked him over Contractor #2 where I had a little trouble understanding him.
    The contractor I’m going with did my kitchen so we have that experience and I chose and directly bought the cabinets, the floors, the appliances, the lighting, etc. He either picked them up or was at the house for their delivery.

  7. wow – this is a great blog because it’s very real. My dad had a favorite quote from a car manual, which began: “after removing the motor…”
    Your blog is good because it doesn’t assume we all know how to do these things. And helpful people write in with advice.
    I’m new to this whole thing too, but the advice from my contractor is: 1)do the demolition yourself to save 20-30%; and 2)do not live in the house during the project. These tips are rarely possible, but I just thought I’d mention them.

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