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How would YOU remodel this home?!

Posted by wakefield622 (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 17, 12 at 13:42

We live in a five year *new* ranch home. We wanted to ideally stay here for 5 yrs and buy again. The market is proving this difficult! So, we want to put all options on the table - and that includes remodeling.

I know we can eventually (if need be) turn the garage into a master bedroom and then move around the rooms. Our old master would become our daughters and our son would get her old room and his room could be turned into a small guest room or office.

But, what about building off the back? Is there a way it could be done without being incredibly awkward? Ideas and suggestions welcomed!

We feel like we only use half our our "Great Room" so, there is "wasted space" behind the couch. Almost like the room could be split up into a LR and DR..But, the DR would be small.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

No sure why floor plan didn't post...


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

You need to work out what your reasons are for wanting to make changes. Is your family larger and you need more room? Is someone now working from home and a dedicated office is needed? Or is it just that you viewed this as a "starter" home and are now stuck (like so many people) so feel the need to make changes for the sake of making changes?

My mother has a garden home with a very similar plan, but hers is a bit larger at around 1,550 square feet. But that begs the question: are you in a small-lot garden home community? With an HOA? Because, if so, I think you really need to consider whether you (1) can or (2) should make big changes. Losing the garage means parking in the driveway, which may be against the HOA. And you also lose that storage. You may have lot setbacks that will keep you from effectively adding on. And having a lot of awkward changes may make it more difficult to market in the future.

Although I'm sure you're ready to move on either to a new house or a remodeled one, you may get the biggest bang for your buck by using the reno funds to pay down the mortgage. That would allow you to sell for less eventually and get you to a new house you truly love.

That being said, it sounds like you have a dining table in the breakfast room only. This is what my mom did. She doesn't have a dining table in the "dining room" area. But she knew whe wouldn't put one there, so at the building stage, she opted to close off the passage from the kitchen to the dining room and add additional cabinets in the kitchen. And that gave her a solid wall in the LR/DR area. So now that area serves as her home office. The sofa/love seat backs up to the area and she has an L-shaped desk behind the sofa and against the wall. She can sit at the desk and be on the computer, but still see the TV. I think it is a good use of space that is otherwise quite awkward. Making that change might give you enough "remodel" to keep you happy for a while until the mortgage is paid down and you can move on.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Thank you for the response!

Our family is not larger. But, we would like more space. When we moved in we did have our 1.5 yr old and I was preggo - so, we knew what size our family would be. We viewed this as our "starter" home and we do feel stuck in a way.

We are not in a community with an HOA and are more in the country. So, regulations are pretty minimal. So, also no issues there if we decided with the garage remodel.

One of the main reasons is because our son's room is tiny. It is the Bedroom #2 on the FP. I had the idea if we remodeled the garage into a MB Suite we could then have his room be a office/guest room and he would take Bedroom #3 and my daughter would take our "old" MB. That would give us 4 bedrooms. It took us 5 years to install a garage door opener and actually use the garage. We do have a nice amount of attic space for storage. And with a smaller home we try to keep it minimal as far as storing too much "junk".

I really love your idea for the L-Shape Desk in the awkward area. I really like it. Esp. with the kids and being able to monitor computer usage.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

I'm glad you like the DR-turned-office idea. When mom and I were looking at plans, we thought that long thing room would be difficult, and that's the solution we arrived at. it has worked out perfectly for her.

Mom's house is larger. Her front two bedrooms and bath take up the space that in your plan would also include the Master bath and closet. Then her Master bath and closet are where your MBR is, and her MBR is behind that, accessed from a short hall that is just to the left of the FP, where you have a window. The MBR goes back about 12', and the roofline continues across the back of the LR and DR, which is a screened porch/patio.

Changing your roofline would be expensive, but that could be the way to go for you. Build out the back. If you're on a slab, it could be difficult to add to plumbing, so it might be easier to add a spare bedroom back there rather than another master. But then you'd have tht kiddo having to go through the living room to get to the main bath.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

I'm guessing, but since this is a starter home, and not your ideal home, cost is probably the most important aspect of what you do. I'd clarify exactly what you need/want, what is reasonable to spend, and then problem-solve from there.

Do lot setbacks prohibit you from adding on to the side? I believe you could add a couple of feet onto the bedroom side of house (all bedrooms or just the children's). Often the bump-out may be cantilevered and avoid the cost of a foundation under it. If you can only bump-out to the rear, then at least the master bedroom could be expanded.

There is more involved in converting a garage to living space than you would think -- it's probably more expensive than you would guess. And unless you replace the garage, you will probably lose potential buyers down the road.

If you are in a warm climate, increasing the connection to the outdoors would give you more living space. Adding skylights or vaulting some ceiling area would make things feel more spacious also.

I hope you post some photos too -- (very visual group here)!


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

If you are moving in 5 years, then do NOTHING to this house other than maintain it properly and keep it clean. A starter home in a starter neighborhood will never ever recoup the money you are talking about putting into it here with a remodel. Save that 75-100K to "move up" in 5 years. The market may not have recovered as much as you like by then, but if you are disciplined to put all of that remodeling money (and more) into some money market funds, then you will get enough of a return on that to help you along to the next level. Remodeling will only see you lose all of that money.


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GreenDesigns wrote what I was thinking, but didn't want to say myself! If you really want to make changes, I'd allocate only very small dollars to it. OTOH, I would plant a few trees (maybe 5-ft from lot line). In an area with new starter homes, somewhat mature landscaping can distinguish your home from other blank-slate lots.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

@mjlb: we have already gotten a quote for a MB through our builder for $12k. So, we are aware of the cost..as we want to do it the right way.

I am thinking we will keep it simple. I like the LR/Office idea. We will do loft beds for the kids while we are still here to utilize the space in the best way possible. We are thinking of tiling kitchen/bathroom floors...minimal things. I agree, we need to keep it low cost and we'd also like to add to the landscaping.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

12K is a joke estimate. 112K is more like it. It will take more than 12K worth of plumbing to create a master bath in a garage for a master bathroom. Then there is laying down the sleepers for the floor, properly insulating, running electrical, a new HVAC for the space, and not to mention that now you don't have a garage when everyone else in the neighborhood has one. Don't forget the permits for the project, or when you go to resell, you may just have to pay a bunch of fines to get the work approved after the fact. To do the master bedroom project properly, plus rearrange the other elements, plus construct another garage to be able to keep the same amenities in the home, you are looking more at 75K-100K, even in a low cost labor area of the country.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

@mjlb: we have already gotten a quote for a MB through our builder for $12k. So, we are aware of the cost..as we want to do it the right way.

I am thinking we will keep it simple. I like the LR/Office idea. We will do loft beds for the kids while we are still here to utilize the space in the best way possible. We are thinking of tiling kitchen/bathroom floors...minimal things. I agree, we need to keep it low cost and we'd also like to add to the landscaping.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

$12k was just for the Master Bedroom and no it isn't a joke.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

12k might cover putting carpet down on the slab and filling in the garage doors, but it won't cover doing the job correctly. As previously mentioned, you will need to have a new HVAC system for the space, new electrical, and then there's the master bath situation. It's not a true master bedroom without a master bath.

Someone is seriously lowballing you here, either in the correct way to do the project or in the price for a correctly done renovation. It's not at all realistic.

Losing a garage for a poorly done "master" renovation is likely to actually result in a much lower home value rather than an increased one.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

I won't do it. Your house as-is will be a nice starter home for another young family. Hollysprings makes a good point that a poor quality renovation might even subtract value from a house. Save the money for a move in future.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Somewhat OT - but GreenDesigns - what are sleepers?


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Sleepers go over the cement & support a new floor above. You can't just install wood flooring or carpet directly over the cement.

I'm simplifying it but that's what it is.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Plus, most garages have a slope. So the sleepers are used to level the floor.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Mjlb, although making a property the most it can be is a super thing to do on the right property, this house's location in a "starter" subdivision puts it in a special category.

I was a real estate appraiser for years. These neighborhoods typically have no advantage in location that would help values appreciate--usually quite the contrary--and have uniformly small, inexpensive structures built on them. Thus these neighborhoods in general can be expected to appreciate less than more desirable neighborhoods, often significantly so. For instance, the $15K price difference between this house and its closest competitive subdivision this decade may become $22K in the next little price run up, and $30K by before the end of the decade. If a real estate boom happened, $30K might well turn into $60K in a couple of years.

People who remain in starter subdivisions often end up unable to move up as prices change but the houses just get older and less well maintained. That's the usual syndrome because, as people are earnestly telling you, the typical owners in starter neighborhoods most often save their money for the next home. They do not invest in improvements, but just keep them maintained well enough to sell. Most of those who leave sell what are now used homes to people who can't afford new ones. Other owners remain in the neighborhood because they are satisfied with their homes or because, as life turns out, they can't afford to leave after all. Some fix up their houses a bit, so they become standouts among the plain-jane landscaping around them, but others don't have the money to make noticeable changes.

As for your remodel investment, no one will pay more for your improved home than for other properties for sale in the neighborhood. Those who have the money will put that extra $5K in a house in the slightly better subdivision across the boulevard.

See where this goes? Since you're willing, even eager, to make the most of what you have, save your ambition and almost all your money for a neighborhood, old or fairly new, people are choosing for their destination, dream neighborhood, where they hope to live for many years.

Above all, when looking at this house and for the next, think the old real estate principle of location, location, location. Whether you're buying to make money or to have beautiful tree-lined streets to take your morning strolls on, it's more important than the next 3 factors you can think of put together. Best wishes.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Sorry I was "remembering" the wrong name, MJLB. Wakefield's our eager to get going homeowner.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Rosie, that was a very helpful post and explanation. Thank you for taking the time to write that out. I'm in somewhat of a similar situation as the OP, and your post makes a ton of sense.


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

No problem Rosie. Ah, GreenDesigns, sleepers are sleeper joists -- now I get it!


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RE: How would YOU remodel this home?!

Wakefield... as others have mentioned, you need to think through just 'why' you want to remodel. Is it true need, or just want? So often we hear the cry for more space, but I ask, "space for what?" I have owned many homes in my life, both large and small. I raised 3 kids and have seven grandchildren ages 1-29, and have much life experience. Let me share...

My son and his family, with a 1 and 3 year old, are selling a 2700sf home, looking to purchase a 5000sf home. The rationale... they need more space (because the house is totally FILLED with multi-colored plastic kid stuff). A new house will provide for additions to their ever-growing collection! BTW, these two little girls remain hardly an arms distance away from Mommy... ever.

My daughter's family has 4500sf, including a large main level 'play room', a basement level 'play room' and large second floor bedrooms for both boys. Where do these kids spend time? Why... in the great room close to Mom, of course. They are 9 & 14. Incidentally, these play rooms are sprawling with stuff.

I do not offer my opinion. It makes for a good relationship with grown children. But, I do shake my head and wonder just where did the WANTS for ever increasing space come from. Rosie brought up terrific perspective as to the investment factors. I simply question what is lacking in your current home?

You have an efficient kitchen, garage for two cars, the kids have their own rooms, and the 'dining room' area could be somewhat partitioned and re-purposed. The master is quite large enough for sleeping and bathing purposes. Just what is missing???

My advice... save $$$ now for what you want a bit down the line. I know, patience can be hard when you are young, but money and job security can not be counted on. Wait and plan and dream, just for now...........


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