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Home improvement help reqstd; order in which to do things?

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Home improvement help reqstd; order in which to do things?

Postby VEFF on Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:31 pm

I bought a home, with a closing date in one week.
I would like to get a slight head start with some improvements, by going to the house, if the current owners are willing, in the next few days to estimate what needs to be done (e.g new carpeting or cleaning existing carpet or removal of carpet and H/W refinishing; whether to have a bay window installed now or wait).

Anyway, on to the details of my post:

(1) I am looking for good deals on (I am in northern NJ if it matters) the following four home improvement items:
- bay window and a large window installation in locations where existing (smaller windows) are located.
- hardwood floor refinishing.
- bathroom remodeling (possibly using BathFitters (TM))
- painting (including some wallpaper removal)

I want to get these done before I move in, if possible, so that no furniture needs to be moved etc.
I know that the bathroom remodeling and window installation do not require furniture to be removed, but since they may damage the floors and/or walls for these two jobs, I am including them in my "to be done before moving in" list above.

(I have about 5 - 6 weeks after closing on the home purchase to actually move my furniture and other posessions in, since my sale is closing that much later than my purchase).

(2) In which order, in your opinion, should the above four items listed in part (1) above be done?

Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks!
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Postby JamieW on Thu Jun 10, 2004 4:23 pm

First of all, all of that can be done yourself.

The bay window and bathroom should probably be done first. Perhaps concurrently. Keep in mind that when you cut out that big portion of wall, that you are cutting out a load bearing header and may need some form of temporary support. Through this gaping hole in the side of your house may be a good way to bring bathtubs and such in.

You will want to do this stuff before painting and flooring because your walls and floor may get scratched or dinged. I would patch and paint next. This way if anything gets on your floor that requires some elbow grease or even sanding to really get up, you will catch it when you refinish the floors.
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Postby burninfool on Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:55 pm

1.Windows
2.Bathroom
3.Painting
4.Floors
One time I carpeted first and then painted...big mistake...paint everywhere.
After you finish can you do my house? :D
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Postby VEFF on Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:15 pm

burninfool wrote:1.Windows
2.Bathroom
3.Painting
4.Floors
One time I carpeted first and then painted...big mistake...paint everywhere.


Thanks!


burninfool wrote:After you finish can you do my house? :D


After I finish I am going to take a week off and go to the beach every day and lie down and take it easy.
With the house on my mind and my gf and I on the verge of breaking up, albeit very amicably, it will be nice to just relax!! I can't wait to move in and play a nice movie in the family room :)
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Postby VEFF on Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:19 pm

JamieW wrote:First of all, all of that can be done yourself.

The bay window and bathroom should probably be done first. Perhaps concurrently. Keep in mind that when you cut out that big portion of wall, that you are cutting out a load bearing header and may need some form of temporary support. Through this gaping hole in the side of your house may be a good way to bring bathtubs and such in.

You will want to do this stuff before painting and flooring because your walls and floor may get scratched or dinged. I would patch and paint next. This way if anything gets on your floor that requires some elbow grease or even sanding to really get up, you will catch it when you refinish the floors.


Thanks Jamie.
Yes, I assumed I should probably do the other stuff before painting and carpeting; it will also depend somewhat on the schedule of the contractors.

I might try my hand at painting, although I may jusy pay up and get professionals to do it, since they are 10 times as quick.
In addition there is at least one room where wallaper will need to be removed.

I wonder how much notice they will need before being able to install the custom windows.
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Postby socheat on Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:24 pm

I agree with JamieW. Bathroom improvements generally raise the value of a house much more than any other improvement. Bay windows are also a feature a lot of home buyers look for. I know you're just moving in to the house, so you're first priority probably isn't raising the resale value just yet, but if you're going to do these improvements anyway, it's a nice side benefit.
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Postby eliminator on Fri Jun 11, 2004 7:19 am

congrats veff, hope all goes well & you get a nice break after the work is done 8)
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Postby VEFF on Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:30 am

Socheat wrote:I agree with JamieW. Bathroom improvements generally raise the value of a house much more than any other improvement. Bay windows are also a feature a lot of home buyers look for. I know you're just moving in to the house, so you're first priority probably isn't raising the resale value just yet, but if you're going to do these improvements anyway, it's a nice side benefit.


Thanks socheat.
I made an appt to see the house Monday evening, so I can determine what needs to be done; I forgot the (exact) condition of the carpets and walls.
I also want to see the bathroom again, to see what should be done.

My biggest decision is whether to have the existing 1 1/2 bathrooms (adjoining) upgraded into 2 now - a huge job - although space is a concern.
The low number of bathrooms is by far the biggest deficiency for resale in the house, since it has most of the other features home buyers would look for. I guess that is why it got so many offers - 7 in just 2 days on the market.
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Postby VEFF on Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:31 am

eliminator wrote:congrats veff, hope all goes well & you get a nice break after the work is done 8)


Thanks a lot eliminator!
I can't wait :)
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Postby JamieW on Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:55 am

Do you have room for an addition? Adding a bathroom isn't hard. Depending on the set backs and lot size and arrangement of your house, you can do a whole hell of a lot with small additions. Got a link or a floorplan that I can get a look at?
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Postby VEFF on Fri Jun 11, 2004 11:11 am

JamieW wrote:Do you have room for an addition? Adding a bathroom isn't hard. Depending on the set backs and lot size and arrangement of your house, you can do a whole hell of a lot with small additions. Got a link or a floorplan that I can get a look at?


Sorry, no link or floorplan, but I can post some details after I go there Monday night.
Would any of the township's departments normally have floorplans of existing homes?

The house is a bi-level (i.e. no basement).
It does have a laundry room/area right next to the garage, but it unfortunately also houses the hot water heater and furnace (as well as an electronic air cleaner and electronic humidifers); I am therefore not sure if it could serve as another FULL bathroom. If so, it would make it 2 1/2 baths, which would be nice...
I have to see the house again to see where it would best fit.

There is room to expand, if desired or necessary, due to the decent size lot 100x125.
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Postby JamieW on Fri Jun 11, 2004 11:25 am

I imagine at that lot size you are on sewer as opposed to septic. Still you will need to make sure how many bathrooms you are permitted to have. But you can consider doing something like adding a bathroom/closet.

Assuming your master bedroom is on the upper floor, add a bathroom to the lower floor of decent size and a nice sized walk in closet on the upper or little sitting area to the master bedroom. You can then open up your master bedroom closet to the rest of the room or if it backs up to another bathroom, expand that bathroom into the closet. If you make it what amounts to a large bay, it will look very nice and add dimension to your house. With the ability to add on to the house, your options are pretty substantial.

Even an MS-Paint general layout of the house would help out here.
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Postby VEFF on Fri Jun 11, 2004 1:52 pm

Thanks a lot for the suggestions JamieW!
Yes, it is sewer, thankfully!

I am sure the house can have another bathroom; I, or the builder/contractor would simply have to get the proper permit of course.
The master bedroom and the other two BRs are all on the 2nd floor.
The family room (quite large) is next to the laundry room on the lower level, which also includes a 2 car garage with a small "work area".

I suppose, if I wanted to, I could have them use the part of the FR that is next to the laundry area to make another bathroom, at least the pipes are there, so the plumbing wouldn't be too expensive or too much of a hassle in terms of getting lines installed...

I have read mixed reviews about BathFitters (TM).
I think it all depends on the contractor you get, since they simply use subcontractors, so the service can vary dramatically from one location to another...
I like the fact that they are, I believe, reasonably-priced and don't have to break down or remove existing bathroom tubs and fixtures.

I suppose I could try painting the place myself, but it will take a long time, especially in rooms where wallpaper has to first be removed, which means the surfaces will have to be prepped, after removing the wallpaper, prior to painting.

I am also curious how I would know whether the floor is hardwood everywhere, without removing the existing carpet first.
The master BR has H/W flooring, which would lead me to believe
that the rest of the house is also H/W underneath the W/W carpeting.


With respect to the bathroom, I guess I need to see the place again this Monday, to get some ideas and take some measurements.

In the meantime, the layout is as follows:
There is an entrance foyer, then some steps up to the living room. Adjacent is a dining room, with a kitchen adjoining both rooms. Then the hallway leads to the 3 BRs and 1 1/2 bathrooms (the bathroom and 1/2 bath share a wall, which would make it easier to make it into 2 bathrooms, by knocking the wall down, and resizing the two rooms, so that 2 full baths are possible.
The biggest problem is that neither bathroom is (very) large, so it would take careful planning to make it into 2 bathrooms.

My mother is great at this stuff; she was essentially the architect of her current house (she had the original very small house leveled and built a new home; all the plans were done by her).
The only thing is that she likes to do things her way, and if she thinks I am doing something "wrong" (e.g. regular window as opposed to a bay window, although I have now decided on a bay window *), she would rather leave it to me.


* Just need to find a good window installer.
I believe both Sears and Home Depot (HD) do this...
I'll do some more research...
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Postby JamieW on Fri Jun 11, 2004 3:02 pm

It is easy to check for hardwood flooring on second floor. Pull up the floor HVAC grills and look there. You'll see either carpet and floor board, or carpet, hardwood, and floor board. Alternatively, any place there is carpet going to hardwood there may be a screwed down strip, unscrew the strip and look.

What exactly are you trying to do to your bathroom? I may have misunderstood.

Painting an empty house is easy. A friend or two and you can do it one reasonable weekend. There are spray on items which really make pulling wall paper very very easy.

It may be easier and possibly cheaper to add a bathroom to the house. You may save some money from avoiding demolition/removal of existing. If both of your bathrooms are on one floor, you will gain much convenience and more value by putting a new bathroom on the other floor. This would also allow you to turn the basement area into a mother-in-law suite if you so chose since you will be adding plumbing. You could also add a sink and put in a small kitchen or bar or whatever.
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Postby JamieW on Fri Jun 11, 2004 3:07 pm

By the way, you really can do any of this stuff. It isn't difficult to frame a bay window or finish it. Painting is quick and easy. Bathrooms are just a bit of time. Tile, grout, whatever. It is all easy after you figure it out. The most difficult thing about bathrooms is figuring out the slope of the pipe and where/how it can be run.

Bay windows are not hard. You either cantilever the floor or extend the foundation. Floor joists, wall studs, headers, roof truss or rafter. Roof it, shell it, wrap it. Put the windows in, shim, confirm square and level, nail the flanges. Put the siding on, trim around the windows, run electric if you want/need any there. Gypsum, extend hardwood, tile, or carpet, window and floor moulding. Paint it, done. Seriously, with a friend helping, 2 days.
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Postby VEFF on Fri Jun 11, 2004 3:47 pm

Thanks JamieW.

Regarding the floor HVAC grills; I believe they are wall-mounted (of the forced air variety).
I will check for H/W flooring in an inconspicuous area, or in a room, if any, where I know I want new carpeting regardless.

I wanted to resize the area (by knocking the dividing wall down) containing the bathroom and adjoining 1/2 bath room, so that it could become 2 bathrooms.
However, it may make more sense to make a new bathroom on the main floor, if feasible (due to space constraints etc.)

I don't know if I would try installing a new (bay) window on my own, especially since I want it to extend down further than the existing window, which isn't 'tall'.

I know I could manage painting and stripping wallpaper myself, but i am not sure whether I'll go professional instead.
I did install a sink, faucet, water lines (flexible), stopper etc. and the part of the piping that goes into the elbow. After 7 years or so, it still looks and works great.
All that because of a small chip in the original sink; I know, I was crazy!
It was actually a rewarding, albeit relatively small, project.

I would like to strip and treat/varnish (whatever you call it) the deck myself.
Someone decided to paint it an ugly brown, and the paint is peeling.

I also need to decide about mowing the lawn myself or getting a contract for a landscaping company to do it.
I also need to decide about the weeding and maintenance of the grass etc. I know people have annual contracts to have this work performed.
I think I could read up on it and do it myself.
I will definitely buy a good snowblower for the drive. Luckily my new street has no sidewalks :)
I am not paying someone to do it each time it snows.
The only thing might be neighbors w/o snowblowers asking for a favor, which could get out of hand, if it starts to occur too frequently.
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