New addition to house - Did you live there during reno?

jenswrensNovember 11, 2009

We're in the planning stages of either a large 2-story addition or a complete knock-down and new build. There are many factors to consider, obviously, but one is where we would live in the meantime if we do a tear-down.

The addition we're planning is quite large and extensive and involves two entire exterior walls. I think it may be less expensive to just start over with a new build, but DH says maybe not when you factor in the cost of our having to rent someplace for a year or more while we build. And yes, we're going to hire an architect whom we will ask all these questions, but right now I'm interested in your experiences.

So, if you put on a large addition to your home, did you live there during the reno? Was it comfortable or miserable? Pros, cons, advice? Would you do it again? When we did a whole-house interior remodel of our MN house, we lived in a hotel for 6 months and it was nice, but then, insurance was paying for it. I can't imagine what it would have been like if we had had to live in the midst of that. Will you please share your experiences?


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See the post adjacent to this - ByeByeTinySadKitchen. We're in the midst of a large 2nd floor addition with bump out in the back as well. Since our old electrical panel was on the rear and now it's gone...

For a huge reno like that, really doesn't make sense to live in the house. We have close friends who invited us to take over their other bedroom, but not everyone is so lucky. As for comfort vs misery... honestly, how would anyone be comfortable in a war zone. Assuming you have a contractor you trust, get out of their way.

In the end, days before demo, my contractor called and asked that we get EVERYTHING out of the house. Originally, we had left large furniture in the house and moved it all to the front where the work was not taking place. But he rethought this. With all the traffic in and out, dust, equipment... Our house is tiny so he thought it made more sense to move it out. He offered his team to do the move, we just rented the storage unit.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 1:55PM
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Hi there, we did not do an addition but we did completely rip the roof and ceiling off our house and continued to live in it, luckily it was during the summer but it did rain once. We have 2 boys, 6 and 12, and they enjoyed "camping" all summer long. I will say, the lack of roof was not a problem but boy did I miss my sink and dishwasher when they had to go. We bbqed everything- I even baked brownies in the bbq!

We were also fortunate to have the power and plumbing work the whole time.

I don't know if I suggested it for everyone-but it can be done, we managed to survive without any fights or thoughts of divorce. I live in the bay area and renting costs plus a mortgage are out of the question for us.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 2:55PM
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We lived in during the remodel. Fortunately, we always had a bedroom to sleep in and a working full bathroom and kitchen, and a nice neighbor let us use her laundry room.
It was good to be on site during the remodel because we were able to answer questions and get issues resolved immediately.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 4:27PM
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Our house had second story added on many years ago. If we had to do it again, we would have torn down and built new. Unfortunately, because of budget issues that was not what happened. If I had the budget for either scenario, I would definitely plug for building new!

This sounds not quite intuitive but your cost per square foot to build is much MORE expensive to remodel than to build new. I think in the long run, you will get a better house with only a fraction more if you build new. If you are taking out a mortgage to make this huge remodel happen, over the course of the mortgage, the difference is NOT that much.

A few reasons why you get a better house:
1. you are not limited by the floor plan of the house if you build new.
2. it allows you to site the house as well as it can be on the lot by not being limited to the original siting.
3. you do not inherit things that were not done well if you build new.

One of the exercise that you can do to help you in making your mind about building new versus adding on is to draw a floor plan of how you would build new on the site that you have. Then draw a floor plan of the remodel. Compare the two and list what you would NOT get out of the remodel versus new. This will help you make your decision.

Good luck...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 5:45PM
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The complete rebuild, vs building new can vary extremely based upon where you live. Building new by me costs are very high.

What we are planning on doing (possibly) is buying a cape, popping the top for a full 2nd story additon while completely gutting the downstairs for a full reworking of the interior.

I'll save on framing costs, foundation costs, plumbing to the house, electric to the house.

I won't be living there for this. Living through remodels suck for kitchens or bathrooms. a full house one is worse.

If I wasn't "fixing" the downstairs, I might consider it, but even then, it will be very dusty/messy until your in the trim stage.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 2:34PM
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We will be living here during the addition on one side and the two story addition on the rear. I've done it before and know while it will be messy, noisy and inconvenient, it is the only way for us. I do not want to pack up and live elsewhere. I need to be on site and available. The first time I did it was when my oldest child was an infant, the second time was about ten years later. Now, we are empty nesters and starting to do it again.

You have to be able to resign yourself to living with strangers around, dust in the cupboards and on everything sometimes, lots of banging and crashing, loud music, some off color language when people don't realize you are in earshot and parking problems. On the other hand, it's a fascinating process to watch.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 1:01AM
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WOW at mommawolfe's pic!!!! : )

I think a lot depends on if you are also remodeling the existing house at all.

We lived through our last renovation which involved removing the back exterior wall (of a row home) and building a two story addition.

It was no fun for about 9 months. We lived out of one bedroom with a blow up bed, our patio furniture and a tv. All other furniture was in storage.
We washed clothes at a friend's house and ate out for every meal. I gained 25 lbs misery eating.

We then had a family of mice move into the one bedroom we were living in with us so we waged a two week war against the mice which has probably taken at least a year off my life. : )

We shared the one (white) bathroom with all the workers and I was happy to be short sighted so I didn't have to see where I was showering in the morning.

Honestly I look back on it fondly now, and it makes for some funny stories, but don't do it if you have any other choice. Especially with kids.

We have a small white dog who was permanently grey and we were all freezing and miserable. Renovating over winter didn't help.
I can't imagine doing it with kids.

Good luck, remodeling is fun and totally worth it, but try and make it as easy on yourselves as you can. Having somewhere clean and warm to go at night really could make all the difference to your sanity! : )

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 12:07PM
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we took our house (mostly) down to the studs and added 1500 sq feet. I was there nearly everyday and the air quality alone on a 50 year old house (dust, asbestos(?) insulation) was horrible. we had a 2 year old at the time so it was a no brainer. my GC said living in and them working around us would have added 2 months to the 9 month project. No doubt about that, it was a huge job and having a 'decent' place to go home to and not worry about your wife and kid was worth the extra cost to rent

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 10:48PM
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We are completely remodeling a 1950s rancher, not adding another story, but adding about 900 sq ft to 2600. In the end we kept the foundation and some of the walls, but the majority of everything was taken down. We could not possibly live there during the process. Before:
From Menlo Farmhouse

Today (from backyard side):
From Menlo Farmhouse

And hopefully, June 2010 (from backyard again):
From Menlo Farmhouse

Even after a huge number of surprises that were found in the ground and related to the leveling of the house, we think we saved about $50-$70K in foundation cement/building/labor, keeping what we did (basically 80% of the foundation). Our City would have charged us double for the permit ($10K more) and would have made us go through a design process that would have cost us about $10K more if had built new. In addition, it would have added another 6 mos to our project (mostly in review process)--think about rent for another 6 mos. So, basically, by trying to work with what we had, but stripping the house down, we saved about $80k. That's a lot! Your city might be different. Also, our California taxes were different with a remodel versus the new home.

Good Luck! Sounds like a fun and big project!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:49AM
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Well, its been 2 1/2 years -don't ask :) :)! and for heaven's sake don't hire your friends even if they are contractors :)

L shaped ranch house. completely demolished the long side of the L - living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, bedroom, bathroom, & garage. The only thing left standing was a rock fireplace that we wanted to save.

short side of L (now fondly called the "west wing") we planned on leaving until we finished the other part of the house. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and laundry in this part of the house.

Contractor got a "little" carried away and removed all the siding and insulation in the west wing at the same time he did the planned remodel area.

luckily we have a finished basement. We didn't want to spend a fortune heating the outdoors so we kept the heat in the west wing to a bare minimum and moved into the basement.

Our plan was to add on about 1400 sq ft and a third garage bay.

1st year we slept on cots in the basement during the winter (we live in snow country) and in a 5th wheel trailer in the driveway in the summer (unless we had company---which we did a few times--and then we slept in the yard under the apple tree). We had no electricity in the remodel area so we used flashlights to find our way around through the mess upstairs and down to the basement. We cooked on the outside grill and had a microwave, crockpot and coffee pot in the basement. Luckily,we had an old beer fridge down there too.

We moved everything we could to a rental storage unit but basement took the over flow with boxes stacked everywhere.

Periodically the police would show up in the middle of the night saying they gotten a 911 call. Our phone lines got cut early on and the phones liked to do their own thing. No joke!!!

We hung one of our old patio doors in the doorway to close off the upstairs as much as we could. I spent a lot of time duct taping around the jam to control the dust and dirt but, believe me, a lot made it through.

When we finally got a sub floor we cooked pizza in our new wood fired pizza oven for 50 or 60 people and a few of their 4 legged friends. We strung contractors lights from the ceiling, built a huge fire in the old fireplace and put out some folding tables and lawn chairs. We didn't have to worry about damaging anything or the mess and it was great.

Second year I insisted on adding some insulation to the west wing so we at least got to turn the heat up a little and go back to our bedroom.

Still cooking outside---have learned more and more dutch oven cooking and cooking over a campfire. We have a great firepit that we sit around in the evening summer and winter.

Still under a couple of down comforters at night but as soon as we finish the first part of the house we'll get started on the west wing and hopefully it won't take as long.

To tell you the truth it isn't all that bad and we have loads of stories. For me the worst part is cleaning and cleaning and cleaning to try to control the spread of dust and dirt that's constant. For my DH the worst part is lack of privacy and the commotion and noise level.

If I had it all to do over I would really think about demolishing the whole house and starting from scratch instead of trying to make an old house new. We didn't do that originally because DH didn't want to move out. He felt it would be easier and cheaper to stay in the house. It wasn't easier and it sure hasn't been cheaper but we're surviving and maybe we respect and appreciate each other more now. We still laugh a lot. So who's to say what's best?

Having a shower, toilet, washer/dryer and fridge made all the differnce. Don't think I could have survived going to the laundramat all the time. Silly but true. You might want to think about those things that you can't live without.

Long narrative but hopefully thought provoking. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 7:31PM
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We are in the middle of a major renovation and it would have been impossible to live in the house while the work was going on. It would have slowed down the work (our contractor works 12 hour days), not to mention there was no roof on half the house. We also have a baby and a toddler and it would have been very unsafe... impossible really.

We moved in with my parents, which isn't too bad considering the alternatives but it is still hard. All of our possessions are in boxes. I needed a humidifier last night (sick baby), can't find it. I still can't find my winter boots?? I still can't find my sons snowsuit. Well... you get the picture.

I also know that our contractor said it would have been easier to build new because they had to do a lot of rework. The original house had a lot of issues!! Nothing was done properly, it was not level or square (foundation issue), the electrical was not up to code, etc.

For us, we loved the property and in the end, I think we never would have found a completely renovated house for the price we have paid.

I don't know if it helps, but that has been our experience.
Good luck in your decision.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 10:28PM
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We're making plans for a large renovation that will be pretty extensive, and fairly slow due to budget issues. Today I was trying to find campers or a yurt to live in while we do it. Option one would keep our bathroom while we work on the rest. Option two would include ripping it all out at once, bathroom included, and living in an outdoor structure (trailer, RV or yurt) while we work on it. I favor the all-at-once version: I think it'd be more tolerable to make the project horrible all at once, and get it over with.

The remodel will include removal of a shed roof and replacement with a new roofline, new floor on that side of the house with a bedroom (upstairs), and new walls and exposed beams for the downstairs in the living room and kitchen. Our house is fairly small, so this revamping will pretty much take up 2/3 of our house.

We'll be doing much of the work ourselves, but hiring out parts of it as the budget allows -- my learning curve is huge here, but he knows how to do a lot of it. If we live in the house while we do it, we'll have to store the fridge and toaster oven in the living room in order to make this happen. We don't have the budget to rent another place, and remodel the one we have (believe me, if we did, we wouldn't be doing any of the work ourselves, because I don't really enjoy it -- DH does).

The previous builders had a nonstandard way of building, so we'll probably find more than we bargained for when we dig into it. So, I'm also interested in hearing more stories about "new vs. remodel" -- I don't want to give up what we have done upstairs, but I'm concerned about what the costs will be like once we dig into the rest of it.

We've already started a number of other projects separate from this big remodel, including replacement of windows upstairs, ripping off the siding and replacing it with new as we replace windows, new drywall where a window was unneeded, and spackle over the top of a popcorn ceiling. Outside, we've put in sandstone stairs leading to the front door. We're trying to create "anchors" and work out from there, but our fixer is such a huge to-do list, that new projects keep prioritizing themselves. There are ladders, spackle buckets, tools and materials in various parts of the house and on the deck. I'm ready to scream, daily.

I actually have wanted to throw in the towel many times in the course of living in this fixer and move (he got the fixer before he got me -- I actually wouldn't have wanted to buy a fixer). The monetary loss in this housing market, from selling a fixer, is causing me to suck it up while we do our "sweat equity" thing.

DH is very optimistic and very skilled at all this, but he is the one with the busy job. I work part-time, but I can only paint, spackle -- I can do all of the low-skill stuff, but I'm not skilled in other areas.

I have a lot of trouble maintaining motivation and a sunny disposition with this abyss of projects, and this mess. Any input on how people have coped with remodels? We maintain two home-office jobs, we have kids, a dog, and exercise equipment to contend with (that part helps, because without my exercise equipment, I may have snapped by now)?

I am at my wit's end, I'm tired of stepping over, reaching over, and working around messes, and we haven't even started on the biggest part of it.

Pictures to come. Either a nicer house, or me literally pulling my hair out and throwing it on the floor.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 8:31PM
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We're in the middle of a remodel, and we're living in the home. Although our issues have been fairly low key (I've heard worse horror stories), I wouldn't necessary suggest living in the home. This contractor didn't say we couldn't stay, but other contractors did. We didn't want to board our cat; my husband didn't want to move our stuff to a storage unit, and we were afraid we'd run out of money.

Our house is about 820 sq. feet, and we're adding another 525 feet (building to the back to enlarge a the living room to add a dining room), building a modest master bedroom, and turning a tiny (really tiny) bedroom into a 2nd bathroom, and reconfiguring a laundry/storage room. We started around the 1st of Sept. (it's now Dec. 1), and the job is expected to last into January. Fortunately it has snowed only once, and we've had fairly mild weather for winter. We still don't have siding or ceiling in the new part, a quarter of the windows still need to go in, and within a couple weeks the old living room will be a construction zone so that they can rip down the ceiling (there's a gap between the ceiling and new trusses so we've been living with having the ceilings redone in all the rooms except kitchen, which will occur if we even get kitchen remodeling money, and the bathroom.

Our small kitchen is packed to the ceiling with boxes, we've spent the week sleeping on the LR floor - we can sleep in our office this weekend but then we have to give up the bed again. We've moved more stuff to the new bedroom, but we don't have drywall up or ceilings or the new flooring. They just moved the electrical box, and the new bathroom has a spot for the toilet and shower pipes. My husband is afraid to leave on the non-work days in case someone steals our stuff (I'm assuming they'll target th contractor's equipment first), and we're concerned as there is a board screwed in daily (on the outside) to keep burglars from entering through our new construction. They still have to move our doors from the old part to the new part. So far we've been able to do laundry every day but two, and although we've occasionally been without pockets of power, we usually have some heat and lights. However, I'd really like to have ceiling insulation and siding (plus wall insulation in the rooms without insulation)!

If you can live somewhere else, I would. The things floating around due to ripping open walls are bad, there's dust and chunks of drywall every day, and strange men using our bathroom (not to mention having to try to remember to hide my drying unmentionables). I want it to get finished soon, and my husband doesn't do well when he thinks a plan is in place then something changes. However, knock on wood, it's hasn't been as bad as I've heard from others.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 9:33PM
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I'm also in the planning stages for the big remodel, we only did one bathroom so far. But from what I've read, it depends on two things.

A) how resilient your family is, and whether dirt/dust/change bothers them. We have ADHD, and had trouble finding things. I also have allergies, and fumes bothered me.

B) how much you have done - is there a boundary, and the rest of the house will be static, or is every room affected?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 3:25PM
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We've had smaller jobs, and the contractor's barrier stopped the dust. However, for us on this job, the dust is everywhere (including in items that we've covered) even when they put up a plastic barrier or tarp between rooms. I'd strongly suggest if you have a large job that you find another living space. (Posted as I'm sitting freezing as the temperature has dropped - it's winter of course, our living room is a large very cold open space that will be closed off and used only as an exit to outside and our kitchen, and our tiny office is now our living room while our bedroom is back and used as bedroom/office. Oh - and the sofa futon that is supposed to be a bed for my mom is stuck in the living room (which is scheduled for demo tomorrow) because we can't move it to the old part of the house due to it won't fit thru doorways or down the hall, and we'll need to figure out how to store it in the new construction where the workmen have to keep moving our stuff to put up the new ceiling drywall -- also a difficult move as the contractor's giant heavy awkward saw is in front of the door, and the other doorways are partially blocked by sheets of drywall. My cat is having a hard time with the changes too. My husband - the one who hates the inevitable changes to his plans - keeps telling me to think about the new space. Sorry - wah, wah, wah - and tiny violins.)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Sorry - my intention is not to deviate into whininess but to advocate that you seriously think about what you could experience then add a little more to the downside. There are many things that we didn't realize could occur, and we don't have a family or other issues to consider; even so, we might have made some changes to our operations. Good luck to everyone who reads these posts.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:52AM
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