1967 House, untouched, where to start?

dmwbccApril 25, 2010

We will be closing on a 1967 home in a couple weeks. The entire interior has never been touched. We have plans to pull up the split pea colored carpet upon moving in. Other than that... we're really wondering where to start.

Our first thought is kitchen, we feel like the kitchen can/will be the heartbeat of the home and that style/feel should filter out into the house. However, while the kitchen is original to 1967, it's not in bad shape.

The master bath is however, in bad shape. Just alot of neglect.

Would it be silly to have some fabulous bath with a not so fabulous kitchen?

We actually figure we'll do trim and doors last, the floors need refinishing, the stairs are the only place in the house that doesn't have original wood floors- so those will need to be addressed- there is alot of painting in our future! The roof, gutters, siding, windows are all new- so we're lucky to get to start on the interior stuff.

Our budget allows for continual investment over the next few to 6 years, it doesn't allow for an all at once remodel.

Where did you start? Why?

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Start with the infrastructure. What does the HVAC look like? What size electrical panel do you have? WHat type of plumbing (both supply and drain)? How is the foundation? Does the basement leak or need french drains? What type of water heater and how old?

You will be unable to do either a bathroom or a kitchen if you have old galvanized pipe that's about to let go or if putting in that new jacuzzi tub will take the last slot in your electrical panel and your water heater will barely supply a single shower. It's not sexy or exciting to spend money on "invisible" objects, but those are the items that will allow the pretty finishes to function.

Anything damaged, especially water damaged, takes project priority. That's not renovation, that's repair! Bathrooms that have visible water damage usually have a lot that's invisible as well, and that needs to be stopped in it's tracks before it affects other areas of the home. I wouldn't blow the budget on a master bath redo though. It's possible to do a beautiful and functional bath if you use stock white fixtures and plain white ceramic tile that gets it's "bling" from different sizes and patterns used rather than $50 a square foot marble. It's all about creativity and honing your DIY skills to stretch your budget.

If the kitchen is servicable but dated, you'd be amazed at what some paint and new knobs can do for it. Add in some new laminate countertops self installed and you can have a "new" kitchen under $1000 that will hold you until you can live in it a while and really figure out what you need to do to improve it and have the bucks to actually do it!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 9:36PM
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We bought a 1962 untouched ranch, complete with pink tile bath and pink shag carpet. The first thing we did was pull out all the carpet and have the hardwood floors refinished. Also updated the HVAC and duct system, and painted. That gave us a good, clean "base" to start with and figure out what we wanted to do. For us, the visions we had for our house changed after we started living in it and saw how we really used the spaces. Everything was functional, just outdated so we lived with things until we figured out what we wanted. We have since taken down a wall, replaced windows, replaced 16' of glass doors, replaced appliances and painted kitchen cabinets and gutted the masterbath. For us, living with it for a while helped prioritize things and helped with decisions.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 11:11PM
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Be aware most of the paint may be a lead based variety. You can buy an inexpensive test kit at home improvement stores. A new law pertaining to working with lead based materials just went into effect on the 22d of April. That law requires contractors/remodelers to take training and use specific remediation techniques to remove/deal with materials containing lead.

I am retired, so did not read the law to find out if it applies to home owners/DIYers. It would be virtually impossible to oversee those folks, but the possible dangers of exposing yourself, family, and visitors to lead contamination is there.

There is a small risk for asbestos as well. Popcorn ceilings had asbestos in the material at one time. Some HVAC insulating coverings did as well.

My point is not to be an alarmist, but to get you to first test for both materials before starting work. If either is present, at least educate your self on how to more safely remove and dispose of the materials containing them.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 11:32PM
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livewireoak- thanks! I had to laugh, once I started answering these questions in my head, I realize I shouldn't have called it untouched! I appreciate your detailed list, I added a couple things to ours. Here is the rundown:

What does the HVAC look like? Absolutely great according to our HVAC contractor! We've been lucky here. It has a boiler which was routinely serviced and we had them certify it as well. The hot water heater is just over 5 years old. No Central AC. We'll add an evaporative cooler one day (like the day after!)

What size electrical panel do you have? Electrical panel was updated/upgraded in 1998.

WHat type of plumbing (both supply and drain)? It's all copper piping (appropriate term?) Inspector said that it all looked in great shape. I am not overly familiar with this part as my husband seemed to take over this area!

How is the foundation? It appears all settling is done according to the inspector who brought out a structural engineer just based on some front sidewalk sloping.

Does the basement leak or need french drains? Basement showed no signs of water penetration. Is there more to look for there?

What type of water heater and how old? See above. We ACTUALLY wished it wasn't so new so we could have installed a tankless.

Anything damaged, especially water damaged, takes project priority- I think this is why we're anxious to get to the master bath, I think there is something lurking under there.

"It's possible to do a beautiful and functional bath if you use stock white fixtures and plain white ceramic tile that gets it's "bling" from different sizes and patterns used rather than $50 a square foot marble. It's all about creativity and honing your DIY skills to stretch your budget." - MUCHO agreed. We find beauty in the simplicity. We also do want to honor the age of the home with very clean and simple fixtures and trim.

Thanks so much for your thoughts. They do mirror ours and we're just hoping we're not the only ones who think there is more to it than slapping on paint!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 12:11AM
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wickedgrace- ah... that sounds like such a great idea. We really felt like we could give it some time, see how the house "lived" before we just tore it apart!

handymac- thank you! We are very interested in keeping our family safe of course and had intended to take precautions before we did just about anything! I didn't realize that we could run the tests ourselves. Perfect, I'll do some research on that. We figure if we remove the kids from the home when we tear anything out- properly ventilate, wear appropriate masks, ect, we'd be okay... do you know of a great websites that could really inform me on how to do this best with our safety in mind?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 12:15AM
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I closed last week on a 1963 home purchased after a ten minute walk through, largely because I fell in love with the treed lot and neighbourhood.

On reflection, I realize there's so much I want to change that I'm trying to rent it out for six months+ till I get an architectural plan, permits and contractors in place, redo it and move in when it's done. If not, we're in for six months, then move out, then back in six months from then. I'm tired already!

My first changes will be to replace the two outdated furnaces and upgrade the electrical service from 100 to 200 AMPs.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:59AM
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You need to check with local code office for specific local requirements. Here are a couple of basic procedures.

For lead:


For asbestos:


    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 4:41PM
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Do the floors before you move in. This is one thing that is hard to do while you live in it. Depending on how many times the floors have been sanded, you may not have much more life left in them. Usually, you can get about 3 sandings to the floor before you have to replace all the wood. Do the research and find out about various floor finishes.

We have had Swedish floors for 20 years with 2 sandings in that time. They don't wear that well with 2 kids and dogs. The finish is not spot repairable. We are switching to spot repairable type, ie oil and wax floor finish; Osmo is the brand. We felt that we can't afford another sanding on the floor.

Look at architectural styles, decor styles etc and have a long term vision of how you want the house to look architecturally. Then don't deviate stylistically from the initial vision even if there are new and better things that come out. If you have on going remodel for many years, it is easy to get on the band wagon of what is current for different phases of remodel. The house will lose cohesiveness and things will not tie nicely together. Make sure everything ties together. I have been watching the remodel/decorating thing evolve for the past decade or more. It is interesting how quickly things become passe. 10 to 15 years, slate and stone floors were really in. Now porcelain tile floors that look like wood, laid out in brick pattern are in. Go figure. Whatever you do, think about the longevity, cohesiveness, and integrity of the style rather than the trend. Read and teach yourself about mid century modern architecture (not just decorating magazines but architectural professional books and magazines), which I think the house may have that type of architecture. Knowledge can be a good thing.

The kitchen is the most expensive part of the house to remodel. I would wait until you live in it and find out how the house lives.

We have a rental house about that era. It is expensive to just maintain it. We spend a few thousand $ every couple years just to keep it in good working order. It seems like all the expensive stuff has been done in your house. You are lucky. Even so, make sure you have reserve for the unexpected, ie leaky roof, plugged plumbing, dead appliances.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 8:55PM
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You could do like we did and just think about projects until your house catches on fire and then you have to gut the whole thing and implement all of your fantasies in 6 months. heh.

One question I have is do you have a basement, where are the drain lines and what are the soil conditions? If your house was built in 1967, are your plumbing drains cast iron? If so, they are reaching the end of their useful life. If they are buried beneath your foundation that is something to think about.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 1:42PM
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We bought our untouched 1969 house in 8/2008. I just finished my upstairs remodel this month (it's a split-level so we just focused on the upstairs for now.) The first thing we did was ripped out the carpet throughout. We were doing this on a budget and were just going to make it "liveable" but ended up redoing the kitchen and master bath entirely. We also replaced all the trim and doors (upstairs only so far) with a nice lighter color trim. We got new carpeting and painted throughout. We had to remove a lot of wallpaper--some fuzzy, some shiny, some black and gold, some red--in the process.
It is very rewarding when you're done. You get to have the house the way YOU want it. Pick a room and just do it. I would do the kitchen then the bathroom if I were you (that's how we did it.) Once we started, the projects just started rolling.
Take good before and after pics :)

Here is a link that might be useful: house reno pics

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:01PM
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All posts above contain great advice...please remember that although much of the now known to be bad stuff was in the process of being removed from the market around that time, inventories on hand in the warehouse continued to be sold for quite some time. Years in some cases.So when you mention boiler I read asbestos! Please be careful.

We have picked up many homes such as yours, elderly couple or surviving single moving on after 30-40 years in the home.

The thing we have found is it is less expensive in terms of time and money for us to do a gut on the bathrooms/kitchens and start out fresh. Mind you we rent these out so we want it done sooner rather than later.

The point is already made but a pretty and serviceable kitchen or bathroom can be placed for far less money than most folks chose to spend. The modular stuff from IKEA, not looking too far into the fixture catalog and shopping hard for flooring goes a long way.

Not moving your water, waste and electrical lines lowers cost big time.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 12:50PM
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