Contemplating whole house remodel

houston70sranchAugust 9, 2014

Hello Everyone!

I've lurked here for years and now I am finally at the place where I:

1.) Own a home
2.) Am ready to remodel it.

I really kicked up my research in the past few weeks and we've been talking about what kind of changes must be made in our 1975 2625sqft ranch style house:

1. New Roof within the next 8 years
2. Replace A/C units within the next 2 years
3. Replace old galvanized plumbing
4. New water heater in the next 5 years
5. Make 1 of 3 bathrooms wheelchair accessible
6. Renovate original 1975 bathroom

and what kind of changes we'd like to see:

7. New kitchen
8. All new flooring
9. Renovate all bathrooms

  1. New light fixtures.
  2. Update fireplace.

Our original plan was to use a 203k refinance loan (we've done a streamlined 203K before on another house) to pay for the changes and do it all at once but it appears that the value has gone up enough for us to use a heloc to make the changes, if we go slowly enough.

Specifically, we are thinking that if we get 50K or so in a heloc, we can keep 25K set aside (untouched) for emergencies. We can make a few changes at a time over the course of 10 years or so to finally get the house we can want, paying as we go.

So I guess as I'm writing this I have a few questions for y'all experts.

1. Would you do it all at once or do it slowly over 10 years?

2. I am feeling completely overwhelmed and like I need the help of a designer. What we might like to do is hire a designer to make plans for the entire project, especially if we piece meal it. Then the designer would do each step of the way with us? A project every two years or so? Do you think we could even find a designer to work like that?

Any direction or guidance you could give we be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

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If you are going to take the money and be paying interest on it the whole time anyway, I'd rather do it in one fell swoop (it will be more cost-effective usually to do it all at once too). But, my final answer depends on your financial situation. If you don't hold out the 25k for emergencies, will you still have an emergency fund?

We happened to do ours in 2 phases, and I would have preferred to do it in one. But, we did ours when the market was at the lowest (2010) for our area, so we didn't have enough equity to pull cash out to do it all at once. Worked out well. By 2013, we were able to do phase 2. But, had it all been done at once, we'd have been able to save on permit fees, GC costs, and an entire summer of construction.

And, rather than a HELOC, can you do a cash-out refi? Usually the rates are better on those (although they are mortgaged for the life of the refi and not just a shorter period of time like a HELOC). Then, you won't be subject to the shorter term of a HELOC (can you even get 10 yr HELOCs?)

Whatever you do, before you sign it off, consider posting up the plan so we can give feedback.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:33PM
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Hi Kickball, thanks for the reply. The emergency fund would be house specific. Not our real emergency fund but just in case we decide to do bathrooms first but the roof starts leaking as soon as we finish the bathrooms.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:14AM
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Sophie Wheeler

50 K will not remotely touch the costs of all of those projects. It's a single kitchen redo, with average finishes.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:31AM
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If we do it all at one time the budget would be around 100k

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:41AM
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If we do it all at one time the budget would be around 100k

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:08AM
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When I look at your list - I'm not sure if these are facelifts or knock down walls renovations. In your kitchen - are you looking just to replace cabinets, counters and appliances? Or do you want to knock down walls, change layout, add islands, move windows? Same with bathrooms? Just replacing fixtures and flooring? Or changing layout and moving pipes? With flooring - are you just planning on replacing the carpet? Or do you need to tear out subfloors?

If your looking at a facelift, then it would could be done one at a time. Which would have minimal disruption to your lives. You could go room by room. But if you are talking total gut rehab, do it all at once since you would have to move out of the house.

Also things like roof and water heater and AC - I wouldn't just replace them now because you are renovating. I'd wait and replace them when needed.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 8:35AM
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pixie lou,

Thank you for the advice about waiting until the systems actually fail before replacing them. That is one thing that has hemmed up my plans because couldn't decide if I should go ahead and replace the roof now or wait until it must be done.

We do want to knock down some walls and move some pipes. I'm attaching a picture of my kitchen so you can get an idea of what we're up against.

We have decided on Ikea cabinets because we can get lots of drawers at a price we can afford.

You can see a few more pictures at my album.

The current, original cabinets are in great shape and are solid wood but we are ready for drawers in the bottom and more functionality up top. We cook a lot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our House

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:51AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Better rethink the 100K figure. Especially with structural changes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cost vs. Value

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:30PM
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And, IKEA cabs (in the US) will be changing out sometime this year, we think. They are ditching the akurum line and moving to metod--which has different dimensions and unknown amenities as of now. (fyi)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Thank you kirkhall for the heads up. I had heard it but since we aren't planning on starting until next April, I figured the transition would be done by then. Although I have to admit, I'm worried the quality won't be the same.

We are now thinking about doing one small section of the house at a time, since 100K may not cover the entire remodel at one time.

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Are you guys part or all DIY? Or will all this be hired out?

If the kitchen cabinets are in good shape, consider just buying drawer boxes and retrofitting them in. Buy new drawer fronts and/or doors, paint all to match and voila: an updated kitchen with a budget in mind.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:33PM
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Hi weedyacres

We both work over 50 hours per week so very little DIY.

I'll also be a full time student again (while working full time) in a few weeks.

We would keep the cabinets but we want a full layout change in the kitchen so that it is open to the breakfast area.

At this point we are looking for a good design professional who can basically do all of the work and let us pick the finishes. We'll start with two bathrooms and just do a few things every few years until its all done since we don't want to compromise and this is our forever house.

Since the kitchen is perfectly serviceable as is, it will probably be the last thing we another decade...not to mention that link that hollysprings put up there says a kitchen remodel is 50K?1?1?1?1

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Think comprehensively. Think beyond what you can afford then come back to reality; it is a very useful exercise. You are wise to seek professional services. The best customers are those that know what they don't know.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:01PM
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I would suggest going thru each project thoroughly going down to each little detail and price it all out. I have a feeling along with others that your budget will get eaten up with one or two of those items.

If it was me id prefer to do everything at once. Unless your okay with having work constantly being done.

Reworking all your plumbing is going to be a large chunk. Reshingle the roof is 10k+ easy.
Depending on type of flooring can easily be 15k+ for whole house.
That right there is essentially you entire budget. You might be able to fit in the AC and water heater but you havent even touched the bathroom or your kitchen yet.

And id be cautious of who you hire too. Lots of hacks out there that either do a poor job or can run up the bill fast.
Its good to see you doing some homework before you dive in
Also dontforget to figure in the price of the designer.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:10PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Yeah, an average run of the mill kitchen redo is 50K. A Houzz kitchen is more than double that. An average bath is 16K. Average Houzz bath is more than triple that. The only way to get the numbers down is to DIY portions of the job, or reduce the level of finishes and scope of work. Real life isn't HGTV.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 7:43AM
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