Help with a wreck?

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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Katastrophy
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:36 pm

Help with a wreck?

Post by Katastrophy »

My husband & I were driving around looking for one of the houses on our house shopping list, and we got lost. Oops! :roll:
But what we did find was an amazing house, for sale by owner. We took down the number, called, and set up an appointment to see it. When I first walked in, my heart sank to my shoes. I was really hoping it was more complete in it's renovation process, but it's nearly a shell. :cry: I had asked if we could take pictures, and boy did I! After going over the whole house from foundation to cupola, even in it's state on undress, I'm passionately in love with it. Obsessed. This house is just screaming at me to take it and love it back to it's former glory.

Things I'm not worried about are: the foundation, the roof, the electric & the plumbing. All of those are new within the last 30 years. The original structure of the main house was built in 1880, the exterior is linseed-soaked cedar. The floors are tight, it doesn't shudder when you walk through it, and there's no insect damage. It also seems to be fairly level.
When the current owner bought it, it had a 4-hole outhouse, and water was from a spring under the barn. That's it, no electric, no plumbing, no heat because the chimneys had collapsed in places. He said it was left vacant for several years before he bought it through inquiring, and it sustained a lot of water damage on the inside. None of the furniture was salvageable. He did the roof first, and most of the interior plaster fell down of it's own accord during the roofing. The foundation has been repaired (or redone) where it was needed. Everything that's been removed (and was salvageable) is numbered & disassembled in the attic, and other various parts of the house. Before he tore the remaining plaster off in the rooms where it had been too damaged to fix, he had an artist come in & make drawings of the frescoes, so that they could be duplicated later.
He really loves his house, and I do too. He won't sell it to just anyone. One person approached him with an offer, and mentioned vinyl siding! Can you believe the nerve of them?

It just feels right to me, but... Cost? Can anyone help with a ballpark figure of basic needs? But, we're not sure if we can afford the renovation as well as it's asking price. If it was just my husband & I living there, it would be do-able, but we have 2 sons- ages 13 & 2, so it needs quite a bit of work to make it safe enough for them. Namely, a real kitchen, an updated bath, and first-floor rooms.
If we were to jump into this money pit, the first floor (at the very least) would have to be made livable. So I guess the major thing I want to know is: how much does an entire kitchen cost? The old kitchen is not workable. It needs a new floor, cabinets, blah blah. Everything, probably. It was originally an out building that just happened to fit right between the barn & main house, and they dragged it over and wedged it in. :lol:
Sorry for the mini-novel, this house kind of deserves it, though! :oops:
House pictures:
http://s1252.photobucket.com/albums/hh5 ... ophyHouse/

Katastrophy
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:36 pm

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by Katastrophy »

Oh, and this is technically not my first old house. I grew up in one of a similar age, so I know the scope of the work involved is massive. Fortunately, most of the hard stuff is already done. :wink:

Tujo
Posts: 1623
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:54 pm
Location: Rural Ontario

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by Tujo »

I'm a survivor of a back to the studs renovation myself. If the structure is solid, and the mechanicals (heat, plumbing, electrical) are done then the cost of what remains depends really heavily on how much work you do yourself. Insulation, drywall, mud and trim (especially reinstalling old trim) are projects where labour is the dominant cost - and it is a lot of labour if you do it yourself. That house looks like about year 2 of 5 of my renovation - the first year or two being demolition, plumbing, heating and electrical. The good part is generally from this point there is a steady sense of progress, rooms begin to be completed, the house looks better every time you complete a job. But it is a lot of work. If you follow the strategy of completing a room or two at a time it makes the project more livable for sure. There is a lot of potential cost in kitchens and bathrooms as well. Again labour can be half or more of the cost of a job.

Some rough cost estimates of what it cost me to do some of these kinds of jobs 5 years ago
Insulation - $1000
Drywall - $3000
Trim - $2000
Basic 3 piece bathroom - $1500
Nice 5 piece bathroom - $4000
Refurbishing existing kitchen (new counters, a few extra knockdown cabinets, paint, backsplash) - $3000
Sanding the floors and refinishing - $1000
I think any of these jobs costs could be doubled or even tripled if I hired them out, and it was a very basic kitchen job, reusing almost all the existing cupboards. My whole renovation cost me somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 000, though a few big ticket items like a new boiler, asbestos removal and exterior painting really added to the cost.
Image

cs
Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:33 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry NY

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by cs »

Looks like an awesome house!

I was going to make exactly the same points as Tujo!

Let me add, though, that kids are pretty resilient - the 13 year old will think it's an adventure, and the two-year-old won't have a good frame of reference for what normal living arrangements "should" be. It will be a great opportunity for your kids to learn how to build a house!

You are correct that you'll need to get a basic "base-camp" together before you move in - a functional bathroom, a place to cook, a place for everyone to sleep, etc. In addition, I'd try to have a hang-out room for the family (and the 13 year old will presumably need a place to do homework). These rooms don't necessarily have to be finished, though... they just need to work (and for sanity's sake, you'll have to resist the urge to work on any of those rooms while you are living in them).

Also, for what it's worth, regarding the kitchen, in the old days a farmer would not go out and buy kitchen cabinets. He'd make 'em. As you can see from your original china cabinet, the design would be simple and functional, and be one that could be made onsite without too much fussing. You could do the same, if you are reasonably handy.

Chris
http://www.saracenihouse.com

Katastrophy
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:36 pm

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by Katastrophy »

Thanks Tujo, that's incredibly helpful to know what the breakdown is. I've been pricing things (fixtures & such) online, and you can indeed spend as much as you want to furnish a bath (or kitchen). :shock: Since nothing is left of it that was able to be saved, except the pass-through china cupboard, we have nowhere to start with in the kitchen.

CS- my main concern with their safety is that the wall frames you see are rough & fuzzy. We had those in our house, and I can tell you from experience that the splinters from it are no fun. They fester like nobody's business, which is to be expected with over 100 years of dirt on them, I suppose.
Another of my safety concerns with this place is the main staircase. The railing is only about knee high. Why did they do that? It seems so odd that they went to such great lengths everywhere else when the house was built to make everything tall, and put in a tiny rail. To make the walls look even taller, maybe? I was wondering if it would be "acceptable" to build a tiny half-wall sort of thing, then put the original rail back on top, to give it some extra height. My 2 year old was very interested in peering over the edge, and it's a pretty long fall.
As for the kitchen, it may just get some deep shelves with curtains to begin with, if my husband continues to be as fussy about the look of the cabinets as he's being. We don't even know if we're going to get it yet, and he's already arguing with me about finish details, lol! The dining room side of the china cabinet is fancier, but it was too dark to get good pictures of it.

Raine
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:05 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by Raine »

WRECK ! you said it. Do not entertain this unless you have unlimited funds and a highly skilled crew. You have a spouse and kids . This alone is a full time job. If you persue this project say goodbye to yourself, you will have no time , no life.
OK sorry . I have lived a lot in my 50 yrs and have learned to recognize too much work when I see it.
Every pic shows that every surface needs attention. Probably even the hidden surfaces. Which equalls work and money. Maybe 10 times what it would take to just put up a new house.
For example . Ok it has real wood clapboards but the nails holding them onto the house could be all rusted . Warping, shrinking can allow leaks. Siding needs to be tight to prevent moisture from the underside , which would cause paint failure. Will a paint job hold ? You never know until you spend $10,000 and wait and see.
I just have to add that there are a lot of openings for rodents. Not safe for families.
This guy is selling cause he has seen the light.
Sorry . Dont hate.
Image

gluby174
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:28 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor,NJ

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by gluby174 »

Lots and lots of factors,will the bank give you a loan with the condition of the house,I dont know were you are located,will you towns builing dept give you a CO,do you need a CO to live there ,can you live in the house while it is under construction,how talanted are you to get the work done to save money
Not to scare you off from buying,our story .When we bought our house it was in very bad shape,it was a weck, no heating system,the house was used as a summer home,bad plumbing and electric was dangerious ,we had to start fresh with all that.Friends,family,realitor all thought we were crazy.
We went with a loan called a 203- K reabilition loan ,the money borrowed + our savings helped with funding the materials and 3 trades,electrical,plumbing,HAVC.I am fortunate,being in the building trades for many years,I did all the woodworking to save.Craigs list was my best friend,found materials saved a ton.
We were not allowed by our towns building dept.to live in the house while it was being worked on.We had to stay in our rented house with our 3 teenagers while we restored the house.It took 2 1/2 years ,it was a full time job,+ my and my wifes fulltime jobs,became very tight financally towards the end ,all most broke us, but we did it,moved in last Feb.,would I do it again hell ya, good luck,Gene
Last edited by gluby174 on Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Katastrophy
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:36 pm

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by Katastrophy »

Thanks Raine,
addressing your concerns;
While I don't have unlimited funds, we're comfortable, and I do have just the crew in mind for things we don't want to tackle ourselves- my uncle is a master carpenter, and his company does beautiful work. I myself am a stay-at-home mother, so while I don't really have "plenty of time", I do have some, and I will certainly have more once the youngest goes to school. I also have experience in a similar home, and I know how to spot trouble. Most of what is left is finish work, which I certainly know how to do. The owner wants to sell because he can't handle the general upkeep as well as his business (restoration mechanic), and is suffering from severe arthritis. He wants to go south. He's also done quite a bit of the exterior repair, and there are only a few minor loose boards as of right now, except where the decorative trim is. It looks worse than it actually is, since I was taking pictures of the damage. It's mostly open on the inside, it was pretty easy to see there's no water damage or leaky spots, and all of the windows have been re-framed & replaced. I didn't think it was worth mentioning that we have an extended furry family, but since you brought up rodents... We did ask about that, and the owner said that since he took out all the soggy furniture, he hasn't seen any, and I didn't notice any droppings or chewed places. We also have the added benefit of owning some excellent mousers. Even in our current home (built in 1990), winter brings them in, and we've yet to find and stop up all the nooks & crannies where they enter. If I see a mouse, I'll just throw a random cat at it (gently, of course).
I do appreciate that you're trying to be the voice of reason, and I don't hate you for it. My mother think's I'm crazy, too, and she hasn't seen pictures yet. What she did see was us growing up in a half-finished house, and she doesn't want that for her grandkids. But, I'm not like my dad, who refused help, worked intermittently without a plan or ultimate goal, and it's still not finished 20-something years later.

Gene; I'm uncertain about the loan part. We haven't inquired about that without knowing how much we're going to need. Yes, we can live there during renovations. Fortunately, there is now heat, and the electric is above average, because the owner relies on it for his business. (Machining new parts for antique cars requires quite a bit of juice & excellent lighting) My husband's uncle is a long-time HVAC technician & electrician, and he might help us get all that in order for a case of beer or two. :wink: Although my husband hasn't really done any sort of renovation work like I have, he's a quick study, and I'm sure I could teach him how to put up sheetrock & molding. I'm a pretty handy creative person- sort of a Jill-Of-All-Trades, if you will. This house was sort of the same- the PO used it as a summer home, but eventually just stopped coming, so it sat vacant for several years & deteriorated until the current one bought it & began restoration.
I know that if we do decide to take on this monumental task, it'll be worth all the blood, sweat & tears to see it whole again.
*Oh, and thanks for the Craigslist tip... Here I was just looking for furniture, lol! I've already found some great (and cheap!) stuff.

gluby174
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:28 am
Location: Little Egg Harbor,NJ

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by gluby174 »

Katastrophy,sorry wrong morgage,guess I was tired from working on the house, :? ,this was the loan we took out,
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src ... k/203kabou

you morgage the asking price of the house plus added expences to fix the house,materials,trades,building permits,demolition,etc,it worked out very well for us.With the loan you will have to hire a HUD loan consulant,cost us $1,000.00 he will work with you ,between the both you and the consulant ,you can come up with a game plan and know how much more you have to borrow to complete the house.It's a good loan for homes in these types of conditions,Gene

PowerMuffin
Posts: 1497
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:42 am

Re: Help with a wreck?

Post by PowerMuffin »

I guess I would be surprised if you could get a CO to live in the house. Gluby was asking not if you could live in the house, but rather would you be allowed to live in the house. And getting a bank loan would seem monumental. I guess those two things will determine the outcome of this adventure.

I can't imagine taking this on with young children. Since you are a sahm, I assume that you are putting them first. I don't know how this would work when the house needs so much attention. Wouldn't it be better all the way around to find a house that isn't quite as demanding of your time as well as your husband's?
Diane

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