Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Do You Think of 'The Money Pit' as a Nickname for This Project?

Sigh.....we're thinking the house needs a new nickname.  What do you think of The Money Pit?  We knew from the start that there were some big ticket items that needed to be done in this house.  And the previous owners were wonderful about disclosing the issues.  But after having a parade of contractors come through over the last few weeks and adding up all their input, we're still a bit shocked at how much it will really cost.

We knew lots of things needed updating.  We'd already budgeted for an additional bathroom and new kitchen.  We are also converting to gas heat and will put in a brand new, high efficiency furnace.  There are structural issues in the back part of the house that are also part of our plan.  But some of the other items were a lot pricier than we anticipated.

Lead Paint - the paint on the exterior of the house is flaking badly in several areas.  We did a quick lead test and found that in many spots, the old paint is indeed lead.  What does that mean?  Well, under the federal rule from April 2010, firms performing renovation, repair and painting projects that have lead based paint must be EPA - or state-certified - to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.  This requires a painting contractor that has been specially trained to utilize all the lead safe practices.  We'll talk more about that in a later post, but the cost impact is more than double what we budgeted.  That a BIG impact to our budget.

Foundation - this is an old house.  And in 1892, building practices were quite a bit different than they are now.  It looks like the foundation was originally 'laid dry' or with a very soft mortar.  This means that rocks were carefully stacked to hold up the house, with little mortar.  It creates a very wide foundation and was a common building practice, done by skilled craftsman.  But over the last 120 years, practices have changed and most of the original mortar has disintegrated.

As you can see in this photo, the old mortar crumbles at the lightest touch.

Along the long side of the house, there was a large covered front porch.  This porch protected the foundation and kept it in good shape.  But a few years ago, the previous owners removed the porch in order to subdivide the property.  Once that happened, the old foundation was exposed to freezing and thawing cycles with ice getting into the spaces between the rocks.  The bad news......gaps and voids, with some of the foundation rocks starting to fall out.  The good news, this hasn't been happening long and is still good and solid.  But the repairs need to be done quickly.  This entire side of the house needs to be repaired and repointed.

And while these photos and gaps in the foundation look scary, in reality this foundation is still very solid.  And the sills are solid and dry.  As you can see in the basement, the interior walls of the foundation have been repointed and look good.  

The roof - Well, let's just say we need to remove multiple layers of roofing and install a complete new roof.  While there aren't any current leaks, there are many missing shingles and signs that it needs to be redone.  And the skylights have lived through their expected life.  Have you priced skylights lately?  Pricey!!
The garage - as we mentioned in an earlier post, we're still trying to determine if it's economical to save the garage.  We would love to keep it.  But still aren't sure if we can afford to.

What does it all mean?  Well, we'll probably need to scale back some of our initial plans.  As much as we'd like to make lots of changes, getting the foundational elements right is critical.  Spending our budget on these areas will pay off in the long term.  And while I always wonder if future buyers will recognize how important that is, we don't want to skimp on these key elements.

Stay tuned as we take all this input and work it into our go forward plan!

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  1. I would look into solatubes to replace the skylights. They provide tons of light, cost less, and are less prone to leak. They can have a light built into them for night use and can also include a vent fan for bathrooms. Unless you are going for the window look, they just make a lot more sense. Less energy loss too.

    1. It's so funny you mention solatubes. A friend of mine has one and it is awful. The seal is gone, it leaks and it looks terrible. I wondered if that's why we don't hear as much about them anymore! But it sounds like you've had good luck with them.

  2. Sending positive vibes your way. It may seem silly but I hope the home realizes you are trying to save it and it will stop with the money drain. :)

    1. Thanks Terri! Hopefully we've discovered the more expensive issues at this point!

  3. Aww, so sorry! You folks are doing the right thing and I appreciate that, and I know the buyer will too. Good Luck. Mary in NY


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