Need advice on thrifty renovations

boysnoise210August 11, 2010

Hi, all! I'm a remodeling newbie, homesteading on half an acre in a tiny little old house that's never been fancy and hasn't been well cared-for. Our remodeling budget has been eaten away by septic woes, but we have a lot left to do, so I'm asking for any and all advice on thrifty renovations I can do myself. My father and I have already knocked out a couple of walls (he's a builder, so it was done right!) to open up the living room and moved the washer and dryer to a new laundry room in the garage (they were in the kitchen). Next I'll be putting in French doors from the dining area (open to the kitchen) to the backyard, to provide access to the outside directly from the house instead of through the garage. My specific concerns are:

1. Insulation. I'd like to hear thoughts on increasing R-value in the attic, best products for insulating the unfinished west wall in the garage and improving the existing single-pane windows, since we can't buy new.

2. Siding. Has anyone ever heard of stucco or COB re-finishes on pier & beam, stick-built homes? I'd like to move away from the damaged and patched hardi plank siding to something more seamless, inexpensive and yet still appropriate for a garden cottage.

3. Skirting. We've got to have ventilation and access, and are correcting the grade around the house, but I'm leaning toward a rock half-wall if I can find some rock on Freecycle. Would there be settling issues if attached to the house, or should the wall be free-standing?

4. Flooring. The house was carpeted COMPLETELY, so we ripped that out before we moved in. We're living on plywood subfloor and what's left of some old linoleum, but I'd like permanent flooring by winter. Does anyone have experience with tiled plywood flooring? I'm thinking 18" squares, with grain at 90-degree angles for interest, stained and polyurethaned. What would I need to put between the new floor and the subfloor, roofing felt or blue underlayment? And, does anyone have ideas on how to attach the plywood?

Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions would be helpful. I realize I have LOTS of questions, but these are only the most important ones for all you wise GWebbers.

Thanks!

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bluezette

For the windows, I can highly recommend interior storms. They are easy to make and very effective. They helped a lot while we saved the money to have our windows professionally restored, and we still use them with the restored windows to prevent condensation damage.

Here are some instructions:

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=6
http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/energy/conservation/basics_1/window_cover.htm

I based mine primarily on the Historic Homeworks instructions, but added the loop handles from the hammerzone version.

Here is a link that might be useful: Instructions to make interior storm windows

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 5:21PM
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Carol_from_ny

If your dad is a builder I'd be asking him these questions he probably knows more about what is out there material and cost wise for your area then anyone on this board.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 7:51PM
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krycek1984

In the winter, we use that weather-proofing shrink wrap stuff over our single-pane windows. We are adding replacement windows one by one, I'm guessing you are in the same boat.

You can get cheap laminate hardwood flooring for under like .79 cents a square foot. I'm not sure how much the plywood planks are but the cheap laminate hardwood floors would last you a long, long time and I'm sure look better.

The other stuff, I don't know about.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:01PM
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kashka_kat

Most heat loss is thru the attic -address that first - once you stop the updraft effect, cold air is no longer pulled in via the windows/side openings. Much warmer house. A good top of the line storm window with good sealing is going to give you the air-tightness and benefit of new window but without the cost, and you can still enjoy the beauty of the original wood window (if thats what youve got.)

Skip the laminate - find some good vintage salvage wood flooring. As someone who LOVES the old house esthetic - isnt that the whole point to having an actual old house vs a new one? - I would not be happy with the fake wood - If I couldnt afford real wood right now Id much rather paint the subfloor with epoxy porch floor paint or something for now, and then come back to it later... sometimes with vintage old house parts you have to wait for the right thing to come along - and then eventually it does.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 4:01PM
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