OK I am ready to roll...finally...

I just took possession of a property I purchased in Miami.
It is a single story CBS construction, 1 great room, 1 dinning room, 1 living room, 4 bed rooms 4 bath rooms, 2 car garage about 3300 SF of living space.
It is VERY dated (built 1972). It needs major work. Some of the work I can deal with such as upgrading the rooms and baths.
But it has some problems I need to solve.
(1) It has very few exterior windows. The house is a wrapped around house with an interior courtyard with a pool in the middle covered with an overhead enclosure. Most of the rooms open into this courtyard. I believe the original design is for the rooms to receive light from the courtyard instead and therefore there are very few windows (and they are tall and narrow) on the actual exterior side of the rooms. Most of the rooms are very dark.
(2) The rooms are disjointed. There is no way to go from the kitchen to the great room without crossing the courtyard. There is no way to go from the master bedroom to the living room without crossing the courtyard. May be the intent was to include the courtyard as a part of the living space, but when it rains it's a real issue.
(3) There are a lot of weird contraption about the house I am trying to find out. The previous owner is an elderly man who had a stroke and does not remember much details. There are no plans in the city (I checked and they had a parasite that ate all plans prior to 1972 on microfilms). The house has a lot of hidden gadgets. Inside the kitchen there is a in-wall toaster oven that "springs out", there is a blender that flips up from the kitchen counter, an in-wall steamer and recessed ironing board with some weird electrical fittings, a burglar alarm triggered by extra weight on the entrance of some of the rooms, an in floor safe that has no combinations, an in-wall 8 track player and record player that is wired to every room with speakers and intercom...I am discovering weird stuff each day, but those are so dated and non-functional I think I have to rip them all out. I can see in 1972 it was probably state of the arts. What do I do with these old junk? Ebay them or throw them out?
I am not sure where to go from here. I think I need some design help to solve problems 1 and 2. I have a specific budget in mind for the whole job. I don't know if I need to hire an architect for the whole job, or to hire someone to just provide some advise then I will be the one to execute the job. Of course I want to save money. Any advise on which way to go?
The fact that there is no plans available, probably means any minor work I would have to survey the house and submit existing conditions, that in itself would cost some $...
Thanks for any advise,
MC
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To do a nice job in a reno, you've got to have accurate 'as-built' drawings. All decisions are based on those drawings, so do it right.
The house sounds interesting....pocket toasters? Maybe you can post some pictures to give us a mental picture?
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MichaelB
www.michaelbulatovich.ca
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As Michael & Don suggest, I think you need an architect - one who is experienced with houses and with your kind of construction if possible. Don't be shy about asking for references and for examples of work. An architect can be cheap insurance that the time and effort spent on construction is sound and produces a functional and pleasing result. TB
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