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Can this house be saved?

Posted by COtoOKhome (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 11:57

What we want-- a 1 story 3 bed, 2 or 3 bath + office with nice-size rooms, mud room and laundry for a family on acreage, a kitchen worthy of family time and baking, a dining area for existing dining room table, and some porch space for enjoying spring and Fall in our Zone 7 region.

What we have-- a 60's vintage 2 bed/ 2 bath that is short on space and has some strange quirks but does have some nice features- good size rooms, nice big windows, and cool brick wall with fireplace. No lot size restrictions (we can expand in any direction).

Can you see a way to invest in the current house and make it into the house we can live in long-term? Our choice is a "home makeover" on the current house or ground-up new build. I've racked my brain, and I'm not seeing "outside the box" enough! I know there is a great idea that makes you go "wow!"... but I could use some ideas to get there.

(We've already been through the "can we live in the current house as-is" discussion, so, although I know there are a lot of folks with passionate thoughts on down-sizing let's assume that's a secondary question.)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Can this house be saved?

What you have I'm sure could be used but going from 60's vintage construction to current, I'm not sure you really want to. A lot has changed and with a much larger home, reusing the older construction could be a drain on the efficiency of your larger square footage. Maybe you should rebuild ground up with the intention to reclaim as much in materials that you can?

I'm sure greater minds than I will have suggestions to work with what you have there, Good luck!

This post was edited by niteshadepromises on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 13:02


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RE: Can this house be saved?

My house was built in the 60s, an I agree with NightShadePromises -- things have changed since these houses were built, and it may be pretty expensive to do this work. Specifically, my house "seems old" in that it isn't open floor plan (which some people would call a plus, others would call a negative). The single place where my house is lacking, though, is in electrical outlets. I have TWO in my kitchen. And the microwave and toaster oven are permanently plugged into one . . . so I really only have one single outlet in my kitchen. The other place my house really "looks old" is the windows: They're small, "up high" windows" because the idea in the 60s was to conserve energy and allow for furniture placement. Yes, the windows could be enlarged, but it would require cutting of bricks, which is difficult and expensive.

If I were trying to decide between a new build and a renovation, I'd want cold, hard facts. I'd get a builder to come in and give you rough estimates for both.


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RE: Can this house be saved?

I'd interview a few architects and see if they have any useful ideas. I may be biased--I'm about to put a large addition onto a house built in the '50s, leaving as much of the original intact as I can.

I think you can expand that--I don't know if it would be wise economically, but you can get what you want working off that. I'd start by removing the carport and sticking the garage (3 car, please, and attached!) on the back or side...


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RE: Can this house be saved?

We spent 8 years trying to rehab our former home before finally tearing it down and building what we really wanted in 2012. My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner! Additions are tough to incorporate well onto existing structures and it just isn't going to be as good as an entirely new build, IMO.


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RE: Can this house be saved?

We're doing the same thing. We have a 1972 ranch that brings up visions of the Brady Bunch. The pluses: It's a great neighborhood in a suburb of San Diego, the house actually has a pretty open floor plan, especially for 1972 and it's a house where the layout feels comfortable to us.

It's 4 bedrooms with 2 small baths. I work from home, so 1 bedroom automatically goes away. 1608sf. (Tearing the house down would not only mean finding a place for us to live in a tight rental market, but also having to rent an office for my business)

My mother is selling her house and wants to add onto our house and live with us.

We have decided to add a second floor (expanding the first floor is not an option)

We found a house on a builder's website where the first floor plan is similar to our lay out and didn't look like someone just stuck an after thought onto the house.

My husband is building a foam board model so that we can play with moving walls so that we will go to the designer having a pretty firm idea of what we're looking for.

So, I totally get where you're coming from. We're doing the addition.


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RE: Can this house be saved?

I think it depends upon how much you want to change the original part of the house. If you are happy with much of the original house (ie the kitchen could be improved by removing the wall between it and the dining room), and you would be happy to add another bedroom and bath, that would certainly be cheaper than a tear-down, but if you want to change a lot it may be as cheap to start over.

One thing about adding onto a single story house by expanding the footprint is that you can live in the house while it is being done, while if you tear down you need another house to live in during the process.

I have been through both processes with a client. They decided they wanted to do so much to the original house that it made sense to tear the old one down. They got a great house out of it, but they also ended up getting a divorce, and the house was sold at a loss because the market tanked. The wife bought another house in the development and renovated it much along the lines of what they originally set out to do before the project snowballed.
The wife has said to me "I wonder if we had just done this the first time if we would still be married?"

The divorce can't be blamed entirely on the pressures of the new build but it was surely a factor. And of course there was the financial loss of neither being able to afford the new house alone and having to sell in a bad market.

What happens when you add on is that you are willing to accept a set of parameters as "givens" and you may end up being a bit more conservative while still getting what you really need, whereas if you are starting over, there is a lot of "while we are at it". I actually hate to read "we are building our Dream House /Forever House" because not all dreams are good and nothing lasts forever --and if they do at the end so much the better for you, but I wouldn't attach all this to a building.

I think the right answer for you will require a lot of analysis, both financial and personal.


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