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Thoughts on Addition/renovating our home

 
 
Linkat
 
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 09:30 am
We are in the beginnings of adding/renovating so we have a master bedroom suite. Currently we have 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. We met with one contractor and he suggested we get an architect. We also have other work that should be done on our house (just normal for the age) - painting and fixing the old gutters, replacing our deck and then some "nice to have" stuff if we have enough money.

Just looking for your thoughts on what we should be watching out for. This is the largest type of reno I have gone through so anything thoughts on things to avoid, things to be aware of, anything else you can think of. I figure I rather learn through your mistakes than make too many of my own.

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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 09:45 am
@Linkat,
Well, in my experience (and I have renovated 3 homes, 2 of which were total gut jobs, plus dealt with oodles of contractors as a Strata Agent), I don't think you NEED an architect ($$$), but you might consult a contractor-designer if you're not sure how you'd like it to look. You need to know which are load-bearing walls, etc., and to avoid extra costs relating to wiring and plumbing. Mistaken designs needing fixes can really add up in both time and money.

I always got 3 quotes for everything and I kept a binder and a spreadsheet to keep track of costs and estimates. Also, references, BBB, etc. are a must. Word of mouth referrals can be excellent. And for the bigger jobs, like we had all new custom cabinetry installed in our kitchen, living room and bathroom, I went to visit 2 of his finished homes and called another 2 more customers. Another resource is where you buy your supplies; ie tile outfits know who are good, reliable tilers.

Also, there are a lot of new products out there - fire-resistant materials, for example. And always go with a licensed contractor who gets permits. There are new rules regarding, for example, how high your cupboards must be around the stove (ours is gas) that didn't exist before. Licensed contractors have liability insurance which is crucial if there are defects in the product, workmanship or installation.

If you don't have the time or inclination to be your own general contractor (which I loved doing), then you certainly do need one as they coordinate all the other trades so that the plumbing and electrical are installed in the right order, etc. You do have to pay them, but it saves a lot of headaches and money down the road.

I love renovations! I hope you do before-and-after pics Smile
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 10:11 am
@Mame,
Thanks - yeah so far I did the BBB review for the contractors I selected. The first one (and the one who came over) was actually via word of mouth. A roofer my husband knows personally recommended him and this guy actually knows many of people we know personally so I do not doubt he would do a fair and good job - I think our concern is he is a smaller shop. He was the one after looking at the various spaces and giving his thoughts on what our best options were - to get an architect. He said the architect would be able to design the thoughts he had and deal with the town on the permitting.

I also asked for references via nextdoor and have been in contact with someone that just had some work done here in the same town - I did ask her if an architect was needed for hers and she said yes - and was a local woman that she had good results with and actually fell lower at a cost that what we were given as an estimate from the contractor. I am also reaching out to the contractor she used and she is sending me pix of her renos.

So from what this woman said and from what this first contractor said - the architect will be knowledgeable of those additional type things you mention - lower the surprises. Not sure too if our town would require this depending on the project?

So yeah these contractors we are contacting would be coordinating the plumbers, etc.

We also thought out - if we do this - how do we live with it as it is going on - already determined as long as we have at least the half bath downstairs to use - we could go to the gym for showers (short term) and we would not have use of a bedroom - but depending on the timing we would have one less kid here so we would have an extra bedroom - otherwise we would be sleeping in our downstairs office/sunroom.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 10:26 am
@Linkat,
Is your architect going to be your General Contractor then? It needs to be someone who is familiar with every aspect so that would be a good choice.

So excited for you! I know it's a mess and inconvenient but it's also exciting.

When we did this reno, we had no kitchen for about a month. Kitchen renos are worse than bathrooms!

Good luck!
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 10:39 am
@Mame,
Mame wrote:

Is your architect going to be your General Contractor then? It needs to be someone who is familiar with every aspect so that would be a good choice.

So excited for you! I know it's a mess and inconvenient but it's also exciting.

When we did this reno, we had no kitchen for about a month. Kitchen renos are worse than bathrooms!

Good luck!


No the architect comes up the design; at least that is what I understand.

At least what this one woman I have been IMing about her situation - she used a general contractor that she recommended to me. This contractor recommended a few architects - the architect met with her and went over the idea this woman wanted and also came up with alternative ideas as was explained to me the architect depends on the scope of the work - I think because in my situation of building over our sunroom and requiring some building outward as a result (the sunroom is a bit narrower than the upstairs bedroom so some work would be needed to expand that outward.

She needed one because she had a large reno - about 1,500 square feet upstairs and down. So I think you were to do say a bathroom over utilizing space you already have for example an architect would not be needed, but if you were to build additional space outside your current home, an architect might be needed.

The general contractor will still organize everything else - but will work with the architect's plans. She paid $3k but our plan would be smaller - when you think of paying up to $80k on the addition. Where we live home prices are through the roof - so in reality $80k is not high. Our home now is valued in the $700s with just 1 and 1/2 bathrooms. Add in another full bath and a big master bedroom with walk in closest and some of the other smaller things - and 2 acres of land our value would be much higher.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 10:48 am
@Linkat,
Well, you will need a structural engineer if you're changing any part of the outside structure (here in Canada). Might be a good idea to talk to the City and ask what their requirements are and also for recommendations. Do you have to apply for a permit (you do here when you do structural, gas, electrical and plumbing).

Architects (whom I used to work for) know a bit of this, but they're mainly into design. Structural Engineers are the experts at load requirements, etc., and they often work together. The City could recommend good ones because they approve their plans and would know who's good and who's not.

Off for a dim sum lunch with my neighbour. TTYL.
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 11:27 am
@Linkat,
When you say "renovating", do you mean tearing down walls, adding rooms and stuff like that or more like new flooring, upgrading baths? If you are doing things that could change the structural integrity of your house, an architect might be a good investment.
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 11:50 am
We're getting our porch redone. It was falling down so, heh, we couldn't put it off any longer.

RP can confirm but I believe the guy we're using was the higher estimate. But we went with him because he came well-recommended on Yelp and elsewhere, he asked the right questions, and he kept in excellent communications with us. He also lives a few blocks from us so we know he won't skip town. Of course we're here while he's doing his thing, and we are very favorably impressed.

A few things - licensed and insured are 100% required, as is permitting. If any of those are iffy or missing, they should be deal breakers. Get someone who listens to your concerns and doesn't wave them off, and who works with you if you're hemming and hawing over price or look.

References are terrific and in particular find out if the job was done cleanly. Clean as in they don't leave crap around, they sweep, they don't leave candy wrappers, etc. Dirty jobs cause and exacerbate accidents. You don't want someone tripping over a lunchbox or whatever because it was just left around carelessly.

Go to your town's website and find the contractor lookup. See if/when the guy last got a permit. Check surrounding towns if you don't find anything (or anything more recent than 5 years ago) in your own town, as of course people will work wherever. Doing this gives you an idea of the amount of time someone's been doing the work, their due diligence, and it can also (at times) give you an idea of the size of the jobs they tend to work on. A larger than usual job may mean your guy is out of his depth; a smaller than usual job may mean your guy ignores you in favor of other clients who will pay him more.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 12:31 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

When you say "renovating", do you mean tearing down walls, adding rooms and stuff like that or more like new flooring, upgrading baths? If you are doing things that could change the structural integrity of your house, an architect might be a good investment.


I mean like tearing walls down and building out. So basically we want to add in a master bedroom suite. Currently we have upstairs 3 bedrooms and one full bath - down stairs we have a sunroom, kitchen with another room extending off the kitchen, dining room, living room and an office.

Was thinking at first we could use the office and build out from that - the issue there is the plumbing and also that then there would be additional digging and putting in more cement down, etc. We would also then combine the two smaller bedrooms upstairs as if we add another bedroom we would need to upgrade the septic and that is big money with little reward. Other option expand the current master bedroom - there is nothing built over the sunroom and garage so there is a lot of footage that way and the plumbing issue is solved as you would build the master bath next to the current bathroom so less expensive for plumbing. But then you need to build out the sunroom a little.

After that with what is left over - rebuild a new deck and maybe remove a wall between the extended kitchen area to living room - with the understanding that it is likely we need to add a beam for support.

so that sort of renovation. Talking 100K+
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 12:35 pm
@jespah,
Quote:
Doing this gives you an idea of the amount of time someone's been doing the work, their due diligence, and it can also (at times) give you an idea of the size of the jobs they tend to work on. A larger than usual job may mean your guy is out of his depth; a smaller than usual job may mean your guy ignores you in favor of other clients who will pay him more.


Yeah this is what I was afraid of - is this out of depth for this guy that is the recommended friend and then I am also concerned that I call someone and they really work on building houses from top to bottom or work on head end homes (we live near neighborhoods and wealthy towns so I'd be concerned we get someone used to working on very high end over million dollar homes) - we need someone in between.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 02:01 pm
@Linkat,
Well, choosing your people is the single most important issue on a job this size (or any size, really). The right guy will hire the right people and get timely permits, ensure they have liability insurance and all the rest of it.

Everyone I know has some contractor nightmare stories (contractors who bugger off in the middle of a job, don't show up when they're supposed to, chose inferior materials, etc), so doing your homework now will help you avoid those.
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 02:31 pm
@Linkat,
Then I'd start with an architect and get some recommendations for trades from them. Another option might be to sell your current place and buy something that already meets your needs. 100K can buy a lot of additional house, especially since the kids are older and you don't need to focus on the family parts of the house as much.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2021 02:47 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

Then I'd start with an architect and get some recommendations for trades from them. Another option might be to sell your current place and buy something that already meets your needs. 100K can buy a lot of additional house, especially since the kids are older and you don't need to focus on the family parts of the house as much.


Do you know where I live? There is no way I could buy something that would already meet our needs; meaning would not be a fixer upper. In this area, you cannot get a 3 bedroom home with master bedroom suite, 2 1/2 baths and all updated under $800 if that, in the ideal location we are in. I even looked at a less desirable town and could not believe the prices. That is why my neighbors are building a garage and then adding above it and all their kids are out of college. Its just a great neighborhood and location - tough to find; houses go on sale here and are sold almost immediately.

We will still need the couple of bedrooms probably for at least 4 years or more. My older daughter will be back attending grad school remotely. My other daughter will be home off and on over the next 4 years.

The reason we are adding a master bedroom suite is for the additional space and not to mention the added value. The 100K will also take care of other normal maintenance - house needs to be repainted, deck needs to updated (falling down due age); gutters replaced. Housing is insanely expensive here.

Yeah I have a zoom meeting planned with one of the architects early next week.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2021 08:47 am
Ok this is getting crazy - had two architects come over - the good news they were closely aligned in cost.

Had several builders come by - from someone that seems to be more a carpenter (quoted us 40 - 80K) - to another that quoted us $180k but he got off track and was adding 1,600 square feet whereas we just want to add additional space equal to a master bedroom (whereas our old bedroom would be bathroom and closet and potential washer/.dryer closest depending on price); to one that does additions but also builds luxury homes. Most would not give us a quote without architect plans. The problem - you shell out 5k for architect/structural engineer only to find this falls outside of what you can afford.

So trying to see if it is even feasible for the cost. We have the money now - $120k cash, so it is sitting in various "safer" mutual funds to earn at least a little. The $180 k guy is coming over today to take another look to see what he thinks for the minimum and then our like to have...to see if it falls within the range. Got a hold of another builder who I am now being very frank with everyone - I got x number of dollars and need to know if we can do this. The other guy told me - yep that happens all the time - people hire an architect spend $5k only to find out after sending the plans to the builder they cannot afford it and then the $5k goes out the door. He said they do all that the architect, planning and building so you know ahead of time if you can afford it. And they try to work the plans within your budget - he comes over on Monday.

If this does not work out - plan B - try to add a full bath downstairs (we just have one and a half baths) and then just make everything else really nice and updated like opening up walls and doing a really nice patio outside with a hot tub.

Not sure what will pan out.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2021 11:40 am
@Linkat,
Best of luck to you, Linkat. I actually love all parts of the renovation process and have been my own general contractor all three times. It's a lot of work, but worth it. I've never added anything on to a house, though, and it's smart that you are getting so many quotes.

When doing hardwood floors, I always asked the flooring company for installer recommendations. When choosing appliances, I'd call around appliance repair people and ask which products they do and don't see.

We had a lot of carpentry work done - kitchen cupboards, living room built-ins, 2 credenzas, a kitchen island, and a bathroom vanity, built-ins and tub enclosure. I went and looked at this guy's work in 3 other homes before I hired him. It's worth the time and effort.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2021 12:55 pm
@Mame,
That guy that quoted us the 180k - he was looking to add in 1,600 square feet. He came over today again and I set him straight -- seems he and my husband went a little crazy at first. He did think he could get us back on budget.

the thing is we would have someone good for what you described - he was the one who originally came over and said between 40-80 k = I suspect that was the work he would do. From what I understand he is a really good carpenter, painter and wood worker - not sure if he has done an add on - I would hire him for that sort of thing.

This other guy here - I think he has ADHD - he is so hyper and gets a head of himself. I told him we have a plan B if it is too much but it seems he really wants to do this - of course it would be a bigger project so I understand.

Will see what this other guy says on Monday as well.
We have received lots of pictures of work various people have done so I am now so confused on who did what. The nice thing is - we don't have to do anything at this point so we can just think on it.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2021 08:47 am
@Linkat,
Ok so back to square 1 - we decided to not do the addition or wait a year or so.

Instead there was other stuff we wanted to do if we had the extra money after the addition - so instead we are going to do the other stuff. Basically take care of everything else but an addition.

So starting with the basement - two of our sump pumps are going out with all the rain we are getting water - going to clean out all our crap down there - fix up the pumps and put in good quality ones. Clean out the entire basement. Finish re-doing our half bath - meaning hiring people to do it!! As it has been half completed up to now.

Tearing out the huge deck that has partially collapsed and put in a big stone patio - including fire pit and I am hoping a hot tub. This would be huge as we have a beautiful backyard that is pretty much wooded and private.

Re - do tile in our sun room and office (currently in office I have carpeting) - office has a small deck out to the back so the patio would continue to this door way - and seeing it is an entry way nice tile would be better than the crappy carpet that is in there. Continue the nicer hardwood we have in the kitchen to the family room, dining room and living room and tear out a couple of walls to make it all open.

So our downstairs and outside will be beautiful!
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