Coordinating repairs on old house

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Old house, 2 story craftsman, 1925 square foot, built in 1910. Had roof replaced last November (a must!), but there are many things that need doing:
1. Foundation replacement. Current foundation is conglomeration of stone and mortar, some concrete, some brick. The house is not bolted to the foundation, a big problem in Berkeley, CA, where it's 1.5 miles from the most dangerous earthquake fault in the USA (the Hayward fault), in terms of the estimated damages and likelihood of serious rupture (up to 7.3 on Richter Scale 70% likely within the next 30 years). Considerable settling in the middle of house, especially noticeable downstairs. Unmistakable to anyone but a sleepwalker.
2. Removal of brick and stone cosmetic siding from all 4 sides, first story (they tell me that will have to be done before the foundation job, in order to protect the workers). The current brick, besides being dangerous to workers replacing the foundation has mortar like sand (mostly you can remove it with your finger nails!).
3. Obviously, the removed siding needs to be replaced with some type of siding, probably after installation of sheer and insulation. I'm thinking I might be able to do that myself - cedar shingles, if I rent scaffolding.
4. Replumb entire house - remove the old galvanized hot and cold water pipes (the ones I've seen are very badly corroded inside, and give off a LOT of rust when unused for a few days).
5. Replumb all the drains. I assume all the drains should be replaced. I had the drain to the upstairs bathroom sink bust a couple of weeks ago (water poured out of the downstairs ceiling!) and can't use that sink nor the tub in that bathroom (because it's clogged).
6. New electrical service. In the attic you can see knob and tube wiring (much of it blatantly illegal) and none of the outlets are grounded.
7. Exterior paint badly needed.
8. There's no central heating, so I'd like to install.
OK, so I have a neat deal where the town will give me a no-interest loan of $50,000 I don't have to pay back until I either sell the house or 30 years passes. I qualify because of my age and income.
$50,000 won't pay for even just the foundation and siding. I got a quote for $64,000 for that, but the contractor didn't plan to have drainage for his new reinforced concrete foundation. If I want that, I'll have to pay more. His bid includes removal of current siding and replacement with board-like concrete horizontal lap-siding.
I have some money, but it's invested and is my only source of income, currently and hate to tap into it. I'm hoping I will get a job.
I'm wondering if it's reasonably practical to put off the foundation, leveling and siding work and do the other stuff now. Would it make more sense to do it all now? I was going to ask this question of contractors, but think I may get a more unbiased response posting here. I asked the woman I'm dealing with for the loan monies yesterday (she works for the city, but has a degree in architecture) and she said she thought it didn't matter. I'm not sure I trust her opinion on this. She has her own perspective on things. I've heard some talk that electrical is best done when the plumbing is done, etc. When the exterior brick and stone (all 4 sides of the house, on the first story) is removed, wouldn't that make it easier and more economical to replace the plumbing, do the new wiring and install central heating?
There's a lot of other stuff that needs doing, but I've only mentioned the crucial stuff. Things like remodeling the bathrooms, interior painting, window replacement (well, some of it should maybe be done when the siding is done), refinishing floors, replace garage roof and replace one wall of garage, removing an upstairs wall, etc. can all wait until I can afford to do them.
If I put off the foundation work and can do just the plumbing, electrical, heating and exterior painting, I figure I can maybe do it with the loan money and not spend my own, for now.
I'm thinking I should find a real good general contractor to coordinate this stuff, especially if I do the foundation and siding now (that will all be a lot to coordinate). How important is it to coordinate these things or are they pretty independent?
I know a few general contractors who seem to have very good reputations, and plan to start making calls in a couple of days (Monday). These are guys who I've talked to in the past who have been here. I have to act soon, because the loan money has to be used within a year or so, I believe. Thanks for considered advice!
Dan
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

Ok, so I've also been in foundation hell myself this summer. Why so expensive for a foundation? I've completely replaced my sill plates around my entire 2000 sq ft foundation for $4000. Once your house is jacked up, replacing whatever foundation needs help should be really cheap (a few thousand if that), then just drop (ok, gently lower) the house back on the sill plate (with newly reinforced/replaced foundation) . Bolt or don't bolt onto the foundation. I don't get the cost. My house is built on stacked stone, with brick and mortar used between the studs for insulation (house built around/before 1800), so it's not exactly simple/easy to jack. Why so expensive where you are? Am I just missing something about CA? I'm in upstate NY farm country.
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On 30 Sep 2006 17:27:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@fashionsintime.com wrote:
:Ok, so I've also been in foundation hell myself this summer. Why so :expensive for a foundation? I've completely replaced my sill plates :around my entire 2000 sq ft foundation for $4000. Once your house is :jacked up, replacing whatever foundation needs help should be really :cheap (a few thousand if that), then just drop (ok, gently lower) the :house back on the sill plate (with newly reinforced/replaced :foundation) . Bolt or don't bolt onto the foundation. I don't get the :cost. My house is built on stacked stone, with brick and mortar used :between the studs for insulation (house built around/before 1800), so :it's not exactly simple/easy to jack. Why so expensive where you are? :Am I just missing something about CA? I'm in upstate NY farm country.
I'll need a lot more than replacement sill plates. They have to jack up the house, remove the current foundation, excavate for a new foundation, place rebar and pour concrete. Then new sill plates, lower house and bolt to the foundation.
The bid for $64,000 included one day devoted to leveling the house as far as they reasonably can. It didn't include provisions for drainage, and I think that could be a serious mistake. He said I could have drainage installed later if it was determined to be advisable. I don't know how practical that position is. We do get rainfall normally about 22"/year around here. The lot is pretty level (from side to side), maybe some back to front slope.
If that bid is high, well, I can get some more bids. I did have one guy over to bid on the foundation and in talking to him I mentioned the $64,000 quote I already had and the guy just said "jump on it. I'm telling you as one homeowner to another, you should get all over that one. We couldn't come anywhere close to that" and he left. He seemed sincere. That was a year ago. The housing market has cooled considerably since, and I don't doubt that I could do better now. How much better, I don't know, but hope to find out in the coming weeks.
Dan
PS I got another bid for close to $80,000 a year ago for similar work on the foundation, siding and front porch and steps. He was going to install stucco where the bricks and stone had come off. The guy who made the $64,000 bid was going to install concrete lap-siding.
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In my case, a single story house with a crawl space, the way my foundation contractor replaced the foundation didn't involve any jacking or moving the house. The floor joists were independently supported on two long beams sitting on cribbing inside and outside the crawl space. Then the existing foundation was demolished, leaving a trench for worker access. The sill plate was replaced and nailed into the cripple studs from below, and the form work and bolts for the new stem wall were hung from the new sill plate and the existing cripple wall, respectively. Of course the cavity between the forms was thick with rebar. The inverted T-shape foundation was done in a single pour, with the footing portion just poured against the earth the width of the trench. After the pour, the forms were stripped, the drainage system was installed on the outside, and the trench was filled.
Cheers, Wayne
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On Mon, 02 Oct 2006 22:23:39 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> I'll need a lot more than replacement sill plates. They have to jack up :> the house, remove the current foundation, excavate for a new foundation, :> place rebar and pour concrete. Then new sill plates, lower house and :> bolt to the foundation.: :In my case, a single story house with a crawl space, the way my :foundation contractor replaced the foundation didn't involve any :jacking or moving the house. The floor joists were independently :supported on two long beams sitting on cribbing inside and outside the :crawl space. Then the existing foundation was demolished, leaving a :trench for worker access. The sill plate was replaced and nailed into :the cripple studs from below, and the form work and bolts for the new :stem wall were hung from the new sill plate and the existing cripple :wall, respectively. Of course the cavity between the forms was thick :with rebar. The inverted T-shape foundation was done in a single :pour, with the footing portion just poured against the earth the width :of the trench. After the pour, the forms were stripped, the drainage :system was installed on the outside, and the trench was filled. : :Cheers, Wayne
Yes, when I said the house would be jacked up, I really didn't mean that they would elevate it, just that it would be supported by jacks until support beams (2 parallel, possibly 3, I'm not sure) could be placed and the house _lowered_ down from the jacks onto the beams. It would rest there until the foundation was poured and ready for attachment, presumably to be lowered a tad in the process. Thanks, Wayne.
Dan
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wrote:

replacement, they usually do lift, but only a tiny bit, an inch or so. But that is so they utilities don't break. Since you are changing all those anyway, it sounds like, that isn't a worry. Once the jacks are there, an extra six inches only means one more layer of cribbing under the needle beams, and that extra six inches makes it a lot easier on the mason.
Your place is on a crawl, right? Replacing the foundation is a convenient time to gain a little extra clearance to make working down there easier. If you had a basement, it is a good chance to change a head-banger cellar into a usable basement.
aem sends...
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:
: wrote::> :(snip) :> :> Yes, when I said the house would be jacked up, I really didn't mean that :> they would elevate it, just that it would be supported by jacks until :> support beams (2 parallel, possibly 3, I'm not sure) could be placed and :> the house _lowered_ down from the jacks onto the beams. It would rest :> there until the foundation was poured and ready for attachment, :> presumably to be lowered a tad in the process. Thanks, Wayne.:> :You almost never want a house sitting lower on the lot. For a foundation :replacement, they usually do lift, but only a tiny bit, an inch or so. But :that is so they utilities don't break. Since you are changing all those :anyway, it sounds like, that isn't a worry. Once the jacks are there, an :extra six inches only means one more layer of cribbing under the needle :beams, and that extra six inches makes it a lot easier on the mason. : :Your place is on a crawl, right? Replacing the foundation is a convenient :time to gain a little extra clearance to make working down there easier. If :you had a basement, it is a good chance to change a head-banger cellar into :a usable basement. : :aem sends...
The crawl space isn't the tightest, but it is a definite crawl. I don't believe you could do more that sit on your ass in there with your head up, and maybe not even that in a lot of places. In truth, it isn't entirely level under there. The worst part is that it's all dirt. The book I'm reading ("Renovating Old Houses" by George Nash, 2003 edition) suggests that this is a problem because moisture inevitably enters the house due to evaporation of moisture from the soil coming up from the ground table water. I've had problems over the years during rainy season with excess humidity in the house. Now, there's no central heating, so that's certainly a factor. But the condensation I typically get in the winter months is certainly a problem and there's a certain amount of fungus activity evidenced by the odors in certain rooms, especially at certain times. I don't see it on the walls, but I can smell it. I do all I can in practical terms to reduce the humidity. I've given up cooking soupy concoctions for long period on the stove, for the most part, and I try to get things as dry as I can in practical terms in my bathroom after taking a shower.
Maybe something can be done to reduce moisture in the house when the new foundation is placed. Of course, a drainage system can be installed, but in addition to that, perhaps something can be done to prevent evaporation from the ground water from entering the house. Obviously, it's not impossible to excavate and create a true basement. At the very least, a layer of polyethelene could be put down and covered with gravel or some other substance.
One foundation contractor said he could make additional space under the house to accommodate a central heating system. Someone else said there is already plenty of space for that. I don't know who's view was the wiser. Truthfully, I've had a few experts take a good look but I'm not confident in the information I've gotten. Everyone has had a different take on things. I wish I could get George Nash under the house. He said he was formerly a "foundation doctor."
As you say, there's a real advantage in lifting the house when replacing the foundation so that it isn't so hard on the workers. I presume that would render my plumbing inoperative for a while. The electricity comes in at the roof level, so I assume it wouldn't be affected.
Dan
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No, I don't think there would be any net lowering at all. The temporary beams and cribbing would be tight against the floor joists, and the new foundation would be poured right to the underside of the new mudsill.
Cheers, Wayne
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On Wed, 04 Oct 2006 04:04:47 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> Yes, when I said the house would be jacked up, I really didn't mean that :> they would elevate it, just that it would be supported by jacks until :> support beams (2 parallel, possibly 3, I'm not sure) could be placed and :> the house _lowered_ down from the jacks onto the beams. It would rest :> there until the foundation was poured and ready for attachment, :> presumably to be lowered a tad in the process. : :No, I don't think there would be any net lowering at all. The :temporary beams and cribbing would be tight against the floor joists, :and the new foundation would be poured right to the underside of the :new mudsill. : :Cheers, Wayne
I haven't an idea how it's done, I was just guessing. I've heard that it would be supported on parallel beams, that's all I know. I suppose the can manage that with very little movement, and also little movement when the house is bolted to the new foundation. Obviously zero movement is impossible. Anyway, to get the weight on the beams, there has to be a transferance of load and a means of determining (I would think) that the beams are indeed bearing all the load before they start tearing out the old foundation!
Dan
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No, that's my point, zero movement is possible. The temporary beams are wedged up tight to the floor joists, and the new foundation is poured right up to the new mud sill, with the bolts hanging in place from the mud sill before the pour. The foundation is wider than the mud sill, so that provides an opening between the top of the forms for the concrete to be pumped in.
Cheers, Wayne
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I've been going through the same thing with a 1901-or-so (records disagree) 1600 square foot 2-story in Washington State. Obviously construction costs differ regionally, but even so, it cost us less than $20,000 to jack up the house, have the old foundation torn out, and install a new foundation that exceeds seismic codes for Alaska and California.
If you can get your trades coordinated, there's never an easier time for replumbing, rewiring, or rot replacement than when the house is up on blocks with no foundation walls in the way. We figure that cut many days' labor off our other renovations.
Getting the new foundation in definitely goes before almost anything else -- if you do siding, doors, windows, etc. before the new foundation, things won't be level when you get the foundation done.
--
snipped-for-privacy@phred.org is Joshua Putnam
<http://www.phred.org/~josh/
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A 1600 square foot 2-story has a footprint of 800 square feet, which is maybe 25 by 32, for a perimeter of 116 feet, call it 120 and it's $166/foot. Sounds like a good price, I think costs are a bit higher here in California, maybe $200/foot, not sure lately.
Cheers, Wayne
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On Mon, 02 Oct 2006 22:26:31 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> I've been going through the same thing with a 1901-or-so (records :> disagree) 1600 square foot 2-story in Washington State. Obviously :> construction costs differ regionally, but even so, it cost us less :> than $20,000 to jack up the house, have the old foundation torn out, :> and install a new foundation that exceeds seismic codes for Alaska :> and California.: :A 1600 square foot 2-story has a footprint of 800 square feet, which :is maybe 25 by 32, for a perimeter of 116 feet, call it 120 and it's :$166/foot. Sounds like a good price, I think costs are a bit higher :here in California, maybe $200/foot, not sure lately. : :Cheers, Wayne
In my case the costs associated with a foundation removal/replacement will be higher because of the necessity of first removing all the brick (3 sides of the bottom floor) and stone (the other side of the first floor), and the subsequent installation of new siding of some kind. That factored into the figures I stated. The two bids I've gotten included all that.
Dan
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

Dan-
DTBT.......I own a 1930 classic home in Santa Ana. Luckily I have a concrete foundation & I don't have nearly the seismic exposure that you have.
Honestly the commericial restoration of a old home is not an easy or inexpensive project.
IMO you've either got to be really handy (& have the time & desire to do the work) OR have a fairly long time frame OR have sizeable chunk of $'s
I'd do the foundation work first or concurrently with the other work.......you'd be pretty bad off if you did all the work (less foundation) on the house & it got destroyed by an e/q before you got to foundation!
If the siding is coming off; that's a good time to do the electrical, plumbing & insulation. I have stucco, so my "siding" most likely won't be coming off (at least in my lifetime) so my plumbing & lectrical will be soemwhat more trouble if I want to preserve (& I do) my artist textured plaster intact.
Do you have the experience / skills to act as your own GC?
Search through this newsgroup....there is a fellow in Berkeley who posted (& got answered) a ton of questions about old house work. He's in Berkeley as well
I think this is one of his first posts....
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/1d2a7f6ce9f51a6c/40b8b720acc0c967?lnk=gst&q rkeley&rnum3#40b8b720acc0c967
My suggestion would be to look him up, he's got a whole lot of experience under his belt by know & he's put a lot of thought into the process
cheers Bob
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

I'm cheap, and handy, and usually try to salvage things that almost no-one else wants because of my "don't waste" philosophy. But your house sounds like maybe it would be better off just starting over. I mean, really, what exactly are you salvaging here? Just the frame and roof. Or, parts of it anyway -- you mention taking out some walls, and a new garage roof.
But if you do have some other reason to restore (that loan, or historical value, etc.)... I would guess you need to do that foundation first. The drain side of plumbing can't be done until the house is level, if it really is as out-of-level as bad as you say. The electrical can be done while the siding is off, too.
And just to be sure: you aren't planning on living in this house while the work is going to be done are you? There will be no electricity, water, or plumbing for likely many days or weeks. At some point, you will basically have just a frame (raised in the air, no less).
-Kevin
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: :Dan_Musicant wrote: :> Old house, 2 story craftsman, 1925 square foot, built in 1910. Had roof :> replaced last November (a must!), but there are many things that need :> doing:: :I'm cheap, and handy, and usually try to salvage things that almost :no-one else wants because of my "don't waste" philosophy. But your :house sounds like maybe it would be better off just starting over. I :mean, really, what exactly are you salvaging here? Just the frame and :roof. Or, parts of it anyway -- you mention taking out some walls, and :a new garage roof. : :But if you do have some other reason to restore (that loan, or :historical value, etc.)... I would guess you need to do that foundation :first. The drain side of plumbing can't be done until the house is :level, if it really is as out-of-level as bad as you say. The :electrical can be done while the siding is off, too. : :And just to be sure: you aren't planning on living in this house while :the work is going to be done are you? There will be no electricity, :water, or plumbing for likely many days or weeks. At some point, you :will basically have just a frame (raised in the air, no less). : :-Kevin I don't know about living in the house during the dark ages of its renovation. I guess maybe I could live with my sister for a few weeks.
I'm also cheap and handy (The "new" sinks I installed in the bathrooms a month or so ago are ~55 years old (American Standard), but this work is far beyond my resources. I can't do my own foundation. I don't have the expertise to do my electricity, although I suppose that isn't impossible if I do the homework.
Starting over? That was the foremost question in my mind when I first considered buying the house. I was already a tenant. I knew the owner had to sell it, and I had the house evaluated by an experienced GC I knew. Later in the day he gave me a tentative bid to fix "everything" (well, all the major stuff... not including the garage). $150,000, beginning of 2000. Of course, it would cost a lot more now. How much more, I'd like to know and I'm going to call him and see if I can get him interested. He wasn't last year, but the housing market is cooling off FAST and I hear he's not too busy, so who knows? He may be willing to change his mind and do some GC instead of the mostly window installation work he's been doing the last few years. His take was that the house is very solidly constructed, much more so than today's houses. He said there is old growth redwood in the main supports (I'm not too sure of that. It might really be Douglas Fir). Anyway, the house does have a lot of character. The question is how expensive it will/would be to restore it to its former glory, or some semblance of that? I'm not a preservationist. The house has been seriously altered and I have no aspirations to maintain an authentic architectural statement, assuming that's even possible at this point. I don't want to make it into an absurd combination of architectural/stylistic elements, but I want to be practical. Residing with brick and stone would be prohibitively expensive, certainly.
I'm told that living in the house while they are doing the foundation won't be a real problem (by Wayne Whitney, discussed elsewhere in this thread), but if the electricity and plumbing will be unusable for any length of time, I will probably be living elsewhere temporarily.
Thanks for everyone's comments!
Dan
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:Dan- : :DTBT..
Done that been there?
:.....I own a 1930 classic home in Santa Ana. Luckily I have a :concrete foundation & I don't have nearly the seismic exposure that you :have. : :Honestly the commericial restoration of a old home is not an easy or :inexpensive project. : :IMO you've either got to be really handy (& have the time & desire to :do the work) :OR :have a fairly long time frame :OR :have sizeable chunk of $'s
I have some of all those, but not in spades. : :I'd do the foundation work first or concurrently with the other :work.......you'd be pretty bad off if you did all the work (less :foundation) on the house & it got destroyed by an e/q before you got to :foundation!
Yes, I'm gambling if I roll the dice and just hope a devestating earthquake doesn't upset my apple cart. Am I mixing my metaphors? Well, the meaning's there.
: :If the siding is coming off; that's a good time to do the electrical, :plumbing & insulation. I have stucco, so my "siding" most likely won't :be coming off (at least in my lifetime) so my plumbing & lectrical will :be soemwhat more trouble if I want to preserve (& I do) my artist :textured plaster intact.
The siding is most definitely coming off. I have stucco on 2nd floor. Half of the upper floor siding is shingles. Those are painted, some in poor condition and ideally they would all be replaced... especially if I install shingles on the first floor. Maybe the stucco can remain. : :Do you have the experience / skills to act as your own GC?
It would be a stretch, a huge stretch. Yes, I could, but I'm afraid I'd make serious mistakes. I know several GC's (3, at least) who could probably do a much better job. : :Search through this newsgroup....there is a fellow in Berkeley who :posted (& got answered) a ton of questions about old house work. He's :in Berkeley as well : :I think this is one of his first posts.... : :http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/1d2a7f6ce9f51a6c/40b8b720acc0c967?lnk=gst&q rkeley&rnum3#40b8b720acc0c967
I've made friends with him - Wayne Whitney. We've helped each other a bit and visited each other's house several times. He's quite impressive, a very bright guy and very level headed. His posts here tend to be informed and well worth reading. The work he's done (and is doing) on his house is top notch.
: :My suggestion would be to look him up, he's got a whole lot of :experience under his belt by know & he's put a lot of thought into the :process
I couldn't agree more. We've done a lot of email correspondence.
One of the guys I'm considering to do my foundation (and maybe act as my GC) is the guy who did Wayne's foundation and new basement. That contractor gave me literally hundreds of local references! Talk about experience!
Dan
:cheers :Bob
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Aw shucks, I think you are giving me a little too much credit too soon, I'm still in the middle of my rehabing my house, I'll feel more confident when I've completed this house.
Cheers, Wayne
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

Sorry Wayne :)
but I put a great deal of faith in planning & thoughtfulness tempered by experience
cheers Bob
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On Mon, 02 Oct 2006 22:27:45 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> My suggestion would be to look him up, he's got a whole lot of :> experience under his belt by know & he's put a lot of thought into :> the process : :Aw shucks, I think you are giving me a little too much credit too :soon, I'm still in the middle of my rehabing my house, I'll feel more :confident when I've completed this house. : :Cheers, Wayne
I can vouche for Wayne. He can talk the talk but he can do and has done considerable impressive work on his house. He researches his subjects thoroughly and is elequent in discussing them. I haven't seen him cutting corners. I want to see what he does with his kitchen. I'm confident he will do a great job on it. He's currently residing with cedar shingles, and I'm sure it will come out great.
Dan
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