Thought it made sense, until I started reading!

kailuamomMay 5, 2012

Hi all - I used to be a regular on the kitchen forum, but that kitchen Reno finished almost five years ago.

Now, I'm on another adventure. I am in contract on the cutest house, on five acres in the country. There is a small 1961 farmhouse on it. It's about 1450 sq ft. It has been updated, new roof, windows and bathrooms. It has another tiny bed / bath, separate structure.

It's almost perfect, but a little small. We are a family of four, our boys 12 & 17. the older guy is on his way out...he won't need as much space as he used to...

The roof extends about 12 ft on one end to create a covered patio, this extension also has the Same vaulted Doug fir ceiling..

My thoughts are to build an addition using the roofline/ceiling, and then add an addition (master bedroom) to that. Taking the house from a long rectangle and making an L.

I have been reading old threads all day, and hear the predominant sentiment of, just tear down and build new. Its not in the budget to build a whole new house. Is this really going to be so expensive that building new would be better? I really like this little one. I don't need it super much bigger, but it would be just lovely if it were just a bit bigger....

I'm linking to some pictures so you can see what I'm talking about.

This is the exterior wall we would knock down, notice the ceiling

This is the covered porch

Btw, bigger homes with similar land are about 200-300 k more than we are buying this. I was hoping to stay to about 100-125. We would also knock Down a few interior walls, and re-do the kitchen. Since I've done a kitchen, I can design and source that piece pretty easily. This has good bones, and shouldn't be too bad.

Thanks for your help.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Sophie Wheeler

In CA, a Master Suite addition will run you about 130K for something mid range. Yours will be higher, because it's splicing new while trying to maintain the old roofline and preserve the ceiling. All of that will have to be retrofitted to seismic requirements. That's more labor intensive than new construction So, maybe 150K for your master suite. Add in the region average kitchen remodel at 65K. (These are all mid range numbers, not upscale projects.) You're up to 215 for your projects, and that's not including the strong likelihood of needing a new electrical service for the new kitchen, nor your "knocking down a few walls". Say 230K. See what that additional money can buy you and shop there. Small and old is great---IF that's how you plan to keep it. Planning to buy small and old when you really want something else isn't a financially sound move.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:24PM
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The kitchen and interior walls, aren't included in my pricing constraints. I'm curious, if we don't have to pay for the roof and ceiling, why is it automatically so high? Those things don't help keep the costs down!?

I'm curious, when is it a good idea to remodel?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:45AM
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"If we don't have to pay for the roof and ceiling, why is it automatically so high? Those things don't help keep the costs down!?"

No, that actually makes it cost more as it's harder to work around and make something new connect to the old. Plus, the possibility of damage to the old is on the table. That all raises costs, not reduces them. Any time paid labor is in the picture, you will end up "losing" money on a remodel. So, you have to be OK with that loss.

It makes sense to remodel if you are buying a great location and the house isn't quite right and you plan to live there fairly long term. It makes sense to remodel if you view it as a hobby to keep you busy, and as an expense, not as a bank you are putting money into that you will one day withdraw. It makes sense to remodel if you are OK with creating comfort to your existence at a price---that you will NOT recuperate. It makes sense to remodel if you are buying a foreclosure at the bottom of the price in a more pricey neighborhood and you can do a great deal of the projects needed DIY.

Any other scenario, and it makes more sense to buy something exiting that is already what you need it to be.

But, with you getting ready to be an empty nester here, why do you need to add so much room? I'd suggest really analyzing your "needs" vs. "wants" here. You may not want to pay for heating and cooling (and taxes!) on all of that additional space down the road. Look at tweaking the functionality of what exists first, and make every bit of room have more than one function. Then and only then should a remodel be in the picture.

Or just pass this one over and buy something at the next level that has what you want already.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:43AM
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Ok -thanks, the why is what I was thinking...the great location is tough to find. Not that where we are buying is the hotbed of real estate markets but it's the right size lot, with beautiful views, some nice mature trees, and the house is cute as can be. They just don't come on the market too often, and I don't want to wait too long, as my husband may not get to chose when he retires. If we wait until he does, then we won't qualify for a second home on just one income. Interest rates and prices are great now, in this area, three houses have sold in the last two years.

Figuring out the need vs. want piece is part of the plan. My plan is to have the house at least a year to get a true feel for what we need/want, and then start making decisions (I wait that long before buying window coverings!). Btw - I'm ok with satisfying wants, not just needs. I just want to assess practicality. Right now we are in the inspection part of the process, and I am trying to figure out the practicality of potential choices.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:17AM
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" I'm curious, if we don't have to pay for the roof and ceiling, why is it automatically so high? Those things don't help keep the costs down!?"

It would appear that some clarification will be in the offing.
"I'm curious, when is it a good idea to remodel?"

It's generally fiscal, either from marketability or from deterioration.

In building under the existing roof of the patio there are some thing to consider;
1) The perimeter of the slab, if it's in good condition and you want to use it as
the floor, creating a step-down, will need to be cut so that a proper
foundation, using red label cement, can be placed. If you want to match
the floor levels, you still need to cut for the foundation, just use common
2) If the architecture of the roof follows over the patio you will be required to
comply with title 24, because that area now becomes habitable space.
So the least expensive way to add insulation is on the inside, ceiling.
3) Comfort heating will need to be addressed.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:24AM
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The patio floor is not in good shape and would need to be replaced.

I'm assuming title 24 is insulation? I will make a note to see if we can figure out if that's already there during the inspection next week. They overimproved in several areas, thinking they would reap more from the sale. Unfortunately for them, fortunately for us, they did not recoup tthe value they had hoped from their investment (we are in contract for 59% of their original asking price). All of that said, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they insulated the etire area when re-roofing in 07.

Heating is interesting, when the house was built, they just used the massive fireplace. Before selling, they plumbed and installed propane and a brand new furnace which has never been used. I'm hopeful that the furnace would be sufficient for the additional square footage, but we certainly would need to address that, and how to get the heat to new space.

With respect to the comment, i"t's generally fiscal either from marketability or deterioration", that's what I thought, but have been surprised that as I've been reading through old posts, I haven't read one where the regular posters said, that makes sense - you should do it.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:50AM
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"you should do it."

Public anonymity has it's upside and after all the suggestions, you pay the mortgage.

Regarding the insulation there is a fairly simple to come to an approximation.
1) If in the disclosure process a resent roofing permit was issued, ask the
roofer about type and R factor.
2) Measure the depth of the ceiling beams then measure from the roof surface
to the lower edge of the facia board at either end of the house and do some
math. Given the beam spacing the sheating/ceiling boards will be 1-1/2"
thick and allow approx. 1" for the built up roofing.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 1:18PM
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About 90% of the people who start planning remodels have been watching entirely too much HGTV where no one ever pays real world labor costs, and every dollar you spend magically gets added to the home in increased "value". That's TV, not real life.

Real life is labor for just about every project they picture will cost more than the materials that they are using. Real life is that if you live in a decent housing market that hasn't had the bottom drop out of it, and you spend a modest amount on a remodel, you'll be darn lucky to get 50% of the money you spend in any type of re-appraisal. Real life is that to even see that 50% ever again, you have to sell the house and move almost right away, as the older a remodel gets, the more used, just like the rest of the house, it becomes. Real life is that "increased value" means you have to sell the house to ever see that value, so in practical terms, it means that 100% of what you are spending is SPENDING.

The only "payback" in any remodel that you will ever see is greater usability and comfort in the home while you are in it. That's it.

It's the difference in owning a classic car that you restore or resto-mod vs. buying something almost new. The amount of money it takes to restore a car will never ever be recouped, even when you go to sell it. You lose money, and you lose a LOT of money if you start adding up your hours spent on it even at minimum wage. You have to be more about the process as a hobby, or all about the result that you drive. It's never a money making venture unless you are the pro charging a customer to do the work.

If you want to drive a head turner, a 71 convertible big block Corvette in Warbonnet Yellow will give you a driving experience you don't get with a new car. But, it's a wonky old car without safety features and comfort features found on new cars, and even a brand new cheap Mustang can out maneuver it on a track. If you're about the biggest bang for the buck, you go for the new Mustang. If you're about interesting old and quirky, you go for the old Vette---but you don't try to take that old Vette and make it into an 2013 one unless you just enjoy the challenge of how much money you can pour into a hole.

So, if the property is unduplicable for 250K more with the better house already sitting on it, and you're OK pouring a lot of money into something and never seeing it again, go for it. Everyone needs a hobby! If you are seeing the eventual result through rose colored glasses and not envisioning the mess, the trouble, the time, and the money, and the more money, that go into getting there, and if you have ideas that remodeling this house will increase it's value as some sort of "investment", then put the brakes on NOW.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 2:50PM
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First off let me say thank you very much for the answers. As I respond, please know that my questions are really questions and I'm not being hard headed on purpose (if that's how I come off, I often doðÂÂÂ).

If homes that have what I want are going for $600k or more (which I can't afford now), and they come on the market rarely, why would I not recoup my investment if my house gets the same features as those homes, and it costs me less in total thank the $600k?

I'm just not getting that part....houses with the larger kitchen / family room and a nice master bedroom do go for a lot more than the little house with the little rooms. Why would we not recoup the difference?

The headache is another story. I like to do the research and planning and we would do this when DH is home more. In addition, we would do it living in our current home, we wouldn't be trying to live there. (we did that with our kitchen remodel, and it was a challenge).

We are still trying to decide the order of things...steel building - garage, fencing, pool then addition??? It's a big list, big$$$.

It has always been a dream to have property that we can do what we want on. So for now, we're dreaming. The inspection is Wed, we will see what our contractor thinks. (long time friend of the family, wouldn't do the actual work, so his opinions should be good.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Are the $600K homes old but updated or are they newer? If they're newer, then your older but updated/remodeled home wouldn't likely ever bring what a newer home would, just because new bones trump old bones even if the finishes match. If they're all remodeled, then you may well be right.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:12PM
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The closest to the 600 I can find is a very nice modular - so hard to compare. There is another that's a new stick built, but right on the freeway, then the prices jump to the 1 mil neighborhood, because they have beautiful homes on larger lots (like 20 acres v. Our 5). I'm not comparing us to those types of homes.

There's another pending, closer to town, 500k built in 1960, 1960 sq ft. But it has a fence and barn - no addition though all orig sq footage, with already dated updating. Beautiful, new 2400 sq ft on 25 acres going for $750, another manufactured home, closer to town on 5 acres is pending at $590.

Because its the country, it's really hard to compare. For instance, some folks wouldn't move into a modular home if it was a castle, and for others, they could consider it newer, right?. That said, while I wouldn't renovate with a profit motive, it seems like if we added square footage smartly, it wouldn't likely be throwing $$ down the toilet. it seems like if we kept it simple we should be able to recoup something.

All of that said.... I want to have it for a while before spending much of anything.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Well, I'm going to say you should definitely consider buying this house and living with it for a while. If you want to remodel the kitchen, within the existing space (and you have experience) it makes sense to do that, as soon as you can.

As for adding have five acres and I'm not convinced that adding on under the roof is the best approach. It would be nice to see more pictures and maybe a quick sketch of the floorplan, with some measurements. You have plenty of space to build and maybe linking some new construction to the original building...through a hall or even a courtyard.

I'm in the minority, but I have checked pricing and unless the original house is falling our area it is not cheaper to build new than to do a smaller remodel. Maybe because we're in eastern Washington and along with Northern Idaho and western Montana...prices are much lower in our area. We also have a lot of regulations and extra expense when it comes to wells, septic, other hookups and foundations. Foundations can also be remodeling is not so easily dismissed.

I suggest you find out what's true for your situation. What is the expense of an addition? How do you want to connect it? Can you live with a kitchen remodel/refresh, until you live in the house for a while? Do you have a well? Septic? What will it cost to hook up power, Internet, phone, cable, etc? Is this house 'grandfathered in' meaning it allows you to have certain things that might not be allowed, with new construction? Is the septic 'grandfathered in' with this house? Lots to research and find out...before you make any decisions. But, don't let a lot of anonymous GWers influence you TOO much. Do your research and make your own decisions...but let us know how things progress :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Location: Los Angeles suburbs.

Motivation: Worn finishes & bad lay-out in kitchen. Leaking & moldy patio "enclosure" used as family room. (This enclosure was permitted, but not included as square footage for tax purposes. The property was still taxed under Prop 13 base: @ $1900/yr.)

Remodel: Began 4/2010. Adding 499 sq' - replacing enclosure & expanding kitchen. ("School Tax" goes into effect @ 500 sq' additions, greatly increasing the property taxes).

We had saved $165K, but to cover any (& all) overages we got a line-of-credit established & were appraised @ $385K.

Cost: Mostly complete 2/2011 @ $210K ("While we're at it..."). Refinanced & now appraised @ $385K!!!

Re-assessed by LA Co @ $465K. Taxes now $3800/yr.

...but I love my new kitchen!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 2:16PM
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If you live in an area where land/lots are in short supply, remodeling may the the only way to get what you really want.

I live near-ish to Boston, and it is hard to find what we were looking for in a yard, view, and commute. In our area if you move 5 miles in the wrong direction your commute can go from 20-25 minutes to 40-45 minutes.

We chose to do a MASSIVE remodel of a 1960's cape ... We removed the second floor and rebuilt it with a higher pitch, more floor space, taller ceilings, and a front porch.

We will NOT make money on this. But, when we compared what it would cost us to list, sell, and move to a new house, we will lose less money this way. And we get to stay in the neighborhood we love, with short commutes, and make fewer compromises (compared to the houses that have been on the market in the last year).

Not everything in life is about making money, though. If you can pay cash for the renovation (we are doing this, which is part of why I'm so sure the likelihood of finding what we want is slim ... I was looking for a long time as we saved the money) and if you are willing to bet a lot of money that you will not have to sell then remodeling can make a lot of sense.

Don't forget that selling a house costs an average of 10% of its sale price when you include realtor fees, transfer taxes, moving costs, and closing costs on the next house. With a second home purchase I'm not sure how that factors into your equation, but for us it was a doozy (trumped only by the dismal housing stock in our preferred locations).

Also, get some ballpark estimates before you put too much faith in numbers you get from online forums. Some people tried to tell me our new second floor would cost 2x the actual cost (and we went with a contractor who was above the median estimate we got). Your actual costs could be half as much or twice as much as you've heard online. Only a decent builder can give you an estimate you can believe.

We are not quite done with our remodel and I'm happy with the decision to stay and renovate. I love this location, and I love it enough that it was/is worth the extra cost to keep it. This isn't a great investment, but it's a damned fine home to live in :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 10:28PM
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Thanks everyone...

We are moving forward with the house. There are some issues which have been uncovered, and we will try to negotiate a split on the repair cost. That said, we really like the location a lot. We really like the Douglas fir beamed ceiling and beautiful views. Ii it turns out that we need additional space, we will add it. My biggest question (to myself) is, do we just enclose the patio (with the big beam and fir ceiling' or extend for a master bed/bath). My sense it that new bed/bath is where the big $$ will end up.

We will begin by adding outbuildings and storage and upgrading the electrical. We will then see how much living space we actually need. Then we will decide on enclosing the patio and doing the kitchen. One way or another we need to do the kitchen soon, as the temp band aids will cost. so I figure we need to decide within a year.

My last kitchen took me a year to decide, six months to plan and another 8 to execute. We were in Hawaii then, and everything is slower there. This time, with an ikea nearby for inexpensive cabinets, we should be able to do much more ourselves and not have to wait 8 weeks every time we need one more cabinet due to a warped board.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:29AM
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