architect, surveyor, contracror?

glycerineJuly 1, 2010

We have been thinking about remodeling our 1902 Bungalow style house. I like the woodwork, big wide baseboards, crown molding, the 10 foot ceilings, generous living room size, our porch, and I have alot of sentimental value attached to this house. The major downside to our house is that it is to small for our family of four and the bathroom and kitchen layout is horrible.

We are in a flood zone (We were out of the zone, but they recently reconfigured the maps and now we are back in) The flood zone we are in has no determined base flood levels. we live in the country and our addition would be near the property line of a neighbor's cow pasture. Also because we are in a flood zone we can either bring the whole house up to flood zone codes and add on as much as we want to, or keep the house as is, and we are allowed to add on 51% of what it is valued at. We think we can keep the addition under the 51%, and do much of the remodeling on the inside part of the house, but the cost of everything totaled will be like buying a new house. It will be a major renovation requiring us to move while it is being done. What it comes down to is somebody who can tell us if this is doable and if it's worth it.

1. Who do we start with? A surveyor who can determine exact property lines, correct flood levels for our elevation?

2. Do we have a contractor come look at the house and will they be able to determine costs without any plans of what needs to be done.

3. Do we get an architect to draw up plans telling them what our budget range is, and then go to a contractor?

I have been mulling this over for two months and I would appreciate any advice! Thank you!

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macv

First, document all existing conditions, then develop a written list of your needs, desires and limitations, then develop a schematic design, then a final design. A contractor can be involved at any point in the design process. Early gives you cost input, late allows competitive bidding.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 7:41AM
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brickeyee

You can also ask for a specif review of the flood zone ruling.

The maps do not take into account every hill in the landscape, and if you are on even a slight rise can get a specific ruling that you are above the flood line.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 1:53PM
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bill_g_web

I'd start with an architect, looking for one with experience in the areas of concern you have, such as the flood zone issue and a design that does justice to your beloved bungalow. I recenlty wrote an article about choosing a contractor and am working on one about hiring an architect which is there too, in draft form. (I'm a computer programmer and a remodeler so of course I have a web site.)

http://www.homeduover.com/Articles/Choosing-a-Contractor/19

Bill

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 3:22PM
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dilettante_gw

The first thing to do is to find out what the building restrictions are for your specific location and what the flood zone rules are. The building inspector or department in your town should be able to tell you what your setback restrictions are. See if the town has a survey of your property and a copy of your septic plan on record. (I'm assuming that you're on septic since you're in the country.) You'll need to know exactly where your septic tank and leach field are because there are restrictions on how close you can build. If you're too close, you may have to move your septic system, which can be a big expense. If you can locate the boundary markers on your property, you may be able to save on the cost of surveying your property. (You'll probably still need to do an elevations survey.)

Next, try to focus in on exactly what you need to do to make your house functional for your family. You may not need as much space as you think. Bungalows are very popular right now, so there are tons of resources out there. Look at Bungalow Kitchens and Bungalow Bathrooms (both by Jane Powell) and Updating Classic America Bungalows by by M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman, and other books, for ideas. If you live in an area with a lot of bungalows, drive around and see how other homeowners have modified theirs. Open houses (and house tours, if you can catch one) are a great way to pick up remodeling ideas.

Before talking to an architect or contractor (who are likely to tell you that remodeling is the right course), talk to a realtor in your area. He or she should be able to tell you what your property is worth as is and to give you an idea of how much you can invest without losing money when you sell.

Given that you'd have to move out of your house during the renovation, I really think you should also look at properties in your area to see if you might be able to find something you could love that fits your family without remodeling (and isn't in a flood zone).

If you do decide to go forward with remodeling, it would be good to have an architect involved. The _typical_ contractor doesn't have a great deal of architectural sensitivity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Updating Classic America Bungalows: Design Ideas for Renovating, Remodeling, and Building New

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 4:06PM
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live_wire_oak

Better also throw real estate agent into the mix. Get an assessment from a local realtor as to your home's current market value and have her give you ideas as to what the amount of money you propose spending could buy you elsewhere. Make sure she knows that you are now located in a flood zone and that the property has restrictions on it.

I doubt seriously if 51% of a home's value spent will make a small bungalow into a spacious surburban abode unless that home is priced in the mid 600s and above. Additions are always more expensive than you think, and what if you go over that 51%? What happens then? Will you have to spend another 100% to satisfy local codes? What if worst case scenario occurs and you have to bring the whole home up to modern code? Can you afford that? Would you ever get any of the remodel money back in added home value, even if you "only" spent 51% of the home's value? How much in debt will you have to go to spend 51% or 100% or more?

The simplest and least expensive scenario would be to move, or to a teardown and rebuilt--if the property wasn't in a flood zone. The flood zone thing really takes a whack out of current and future market value--even if the entire home is renovated to be up to current code.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 6:48PM
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turtles226_yahoo_com

Hi...I was wondering what you decided to do...my husband and I are in the same situation. We would like to take off about 6 feet of our house (the part that's in a flood zone) and add on to the other side.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 3:54PM
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