Convert 2nd floor bedroom into a master bath

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Hi there
I live in a 33 yr old, brick, 4br end-unit townhouse in Reston, Virginia (outside DC). In my opinion, this is a little bit of overkill in the bedroom department for a townhouse anyway. Coinciding with that thought is that my bathrooms are all pretty small. TH has two floors above ground, unfinished basement (to stay that way), gable roof with dead attic space. All the work discussed here would be on the second floor.
I am contemplating turning the smallest bedroom into a master bath including nice tile, large jetted tub, etc, and joining it to the master bedroom via new door. The ideal plan is to also extend the height of this bathroom up through the wasted space of the attic to the gable roof and put in skylights.
I have done some exploratory work (cutting drywall/subflooring) and I am sure the plumbing won't be a problem - plenty of space.
Target room is along the exterior wall of the house, between two load bearing walls that run perpendicular from the exterior wall. I am planning on making the adjacent 2x4 load bearing walls into 2x6 and doubling the number of joists where the jetted tub will reside (currently 16" OC, 12" in depth). The load bearing walls are supported by I-beams in the basement - about W8 or so - maybe 4" wide...
I know these questions are regional but from your own experience (site location please):
What permits are typically needed in this type of renovation? Can I submit plans of my own without the help of a Architect/PE? My background is AS in Architecture (can draw clear plans) and a BS in Mechanical Engineering but I am neither RA nor a PE.
Any experience/advice would greatly be appreciated.
Thanks Bob
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check with a real estate pro, you MAY devalue your home. Often the more bedrooms the higher the value.
Before you spend lots of money its something to consider
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You don't need any permits, just get started.
Rather than get misinformation from people around the world, why not just call the local building official's office? They can tell you exactly what you need.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Don't get permits, just get started? Most places in the good old USA you need a building permit when you;re gonna rip out walls and turn a bedroom into a bathroom. It clearly involves new electric work, plumbing, etc. I do agree he should just call the local building inspector.
As for devaluing the house, if you have a 4 bedroom house with small baths, going to 3 bedrooms with a large and luxurious master bath is virtually certain to add considerable value to the house, possibly even beyond what it costs. Most prospective buyers would rather have a luxurious master suite than an extra bedroom beyond 3.
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thanks for the advice.
I agree with the assessment on the value of the house either staying the same or going up. Most people that I would end up selling to would be a couple with a baby or two - no need for 4 brs.
Plus, I personally would really like it a lot.
I will contact permitting / inspections department at my county.
Bob
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He has my permission and I don't think anything more than that is needed. After all, he did ask on a newsgroup that is read world wide so why would he not trust the answers that we give him to local questions ?
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I see your point :)
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

...
I agree it is unlikely to devalue the property.
I'd only note that it is, as a general rule, unwise to have either the most- or least-expensive property in a neighborhood. Given OP has a condo unit, it is unlikely he would be able to get much of a premium above what other units in the unit are going for, irregardless of the actual modifications. Folks just aren't going to pay far beyond the going price so if OP has any ideas of wanting to sell this in the foreseeable future, it would be wise to not invest excessively as probably wouldn't get more than the expense back out. If, otoh, as sounds like, does work himself and does it well, probably will be able to get something of a premium and come out ok....just something to consider.
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In my last municipality, any work like that needed a licensed Architect's signature signing off on the drawings.
My neighbors drew all their own plans and consulted with an architect to make sure they were doing reasonable/safe things, adn the architect signed off on it. They saved a bunch of money doing all the busiwork/drawing themselves and getting the architect to sign off after reviewing their plans for sanity and safety.
The villages absolutely required a permit for this work, and needed signed off drawings as a bare minimum.
As you know, your mileage may vary in your locality, but I would say that it's extremely likely you'll need to involve an architect or structural engineer somewhere along the way, but that doing your own plan and drawings will still save you $'s.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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Todd H. wrote:

In most states in the US, this is against the law. The drawings must be prepared under the *direct supervision* of the design professional. Typically this means someone in their employ, in the same office.
The architect/engineer doing this stands to be fined and lose his/her license. The homeowner could be left with a bunch of expensive toilet paper, and would then have to get a real architect to redo all of the plans at additional cost.
So.... Please check your local codes before hiring a design professional.
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CptDondo wrote:

That is something I've never heard before. I believe that you can indeed draw up plans and put them in front of an engineer/architect. A PE or RA are trusted professionals and can make their own determinations on whether somethings is well designed or not without having overseen the actual design. Please site your references because I am interested to know (in whichever state(s) you speak of).
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Bob wrote:

I am licensed in Oregon, SC, GA, and Texas.... So my statement is based on the licensing process itself, and the state regulations.
See for example <http://landru.leg.state.or.us/ors/672.html and read section 672.020 "Practice of engineering without registration prohibited; seal required." Then look up the definition of "supervision and control" in section 672.002 - "Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 72.325"
It's a fairly common practice, but illegal.
--Yan
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I see you are spot on in what you were saying. Thanks for that.
I just called over to Fairfax County in Virginia and spoke with the Inspections department. They said I could draw up and before and after plan and submit it. They did not promise that I didn't need an engineer but I guess that determination will be made after I submit my plans. It sounds like I won't but time will tell. Wish I got my PE before I switched to software development.
They said I need Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and possibly HVAC permits depending on what I am doing. All makes sense - my confusion was cleared up a little because their permits all look like for new construction but they are the same forms for renovations.
Thanks for the input.
Bob
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Bob wrote:

:-)
Well, I'm a licensed civil doing embedded programming.... Go figure.

Usually there is a threshold of some sort - % of house value, or a fixed dollar amount, or % of square footage, beyond which you need to involve licensed professionals. In some jurisdictions you don't need a design professional as long as everything is done per code, as determined by the building codes people. Sometimes you can purchase pre-engineered products (beams, trusses, etc) that come with a seal. The building codes people can usually tell you all that.
So it helps to be friendly with the the building codes enforcement inspectors, and never, ever give them grief. :-)
--Yan
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Bob wrote:

But if you're doing the work inside - and possibly under the cover of darkness - who's to know?
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wrote:

The poster should use some lights, or he may connect the wiring to the water pipes and the water lines to the breaker box.
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I added a garage onto my house in New York. I made the drawings myself. As long as the construction costs didn't exceed $10K I didn't even need an architect's sign off. The inspector just told me what he wanted to see (*way* more than code required).
The bottom line is that every jurisdiction is different.
--
Keith

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Bob wrote:

...
...
Only possible thing might be getting to exterior drains? One thing to consider would be whether could be feasible to make this one line up over the downstairs bath or kitchen area to consolidate the plumbing.
...

...
Most other suggestions (other than the "go ahead" one :( ) were pretty solid. The one thing I didn't see mentioned is that since it is a townhouse unit, not free-standing, you may have other covenants that apply and required permissions/approvals within the development. If not, you're fortunate. But definitely need to be sure because typically if they exist, such restrictions are the most stringent and most onerous in penalties if don't abide (and get caught).
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Fortunate until the neighbor wants to do something stupid, and he won't need permission either.
Although I wouldnt' say that about my place where the HOA president can't be trusted.

Before I got here someone had some sort of pen in his backyard, made with chicken wire (though no chickens). When he wouldn't remove it, a bunch of neighbors removed it for him. Apparently they had the HOA rules on their side.
(I think they once mowed my lawn when I hadn't for months. I expected a high-end bill, but to be honest, I'm not sure I ever got a bill at all. Maybe someone was being nice to me, and I don't even know who.)
But it has other advantages. If someone doesn't repair their property within a reasonable time, like after a fire, the HOA can repair it and bill the homeowner and if he doesn't pay, foreclose on the lien and sell the house. It's designed to prevent the creation of slums, or slum-like spots in the middle of nice n'hoods. One bad house can really drive down values.
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Think about this no permit suggestions.....
saves bucks on property tax, in allegheny county THATS a big issue, 3 grand tax per year on each $100,000...
But come resale time that lack of documentation may cause all sorts of grief....
hey tax roles say 4 bedrooms.......
you have one less bedroom and a extra bath. does the bath meet codes? with drywall up its hard to know about work quality.......
get a permit!
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