Remodeling - increasing exterior wall thickness?

I am looking to remodel my condo unit, which was originally built as cheap apartments for factory workers and college students. You can imagine the shortcuts the builders took... the unit was built in 1970. Anyway, I am planning on replacing windows, doors, and the HVAC system. All (or most) of the walls will be completely opened up anyway, and I may end up rewiring and replumbing, too. (I've got friends who are licensed in these areas!) The exterior walls (not the party walls shared with adjoining units) are usually cold in winter and very warm in summer (upstate NY). There is insulation, but the unit only has 2x4 walls. I was wondering... is there a relatively painless way to increase the wall thickness? Is it worth it? What are the issues with doing this? Thanks in advance, Mike
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Before you start -- read your condominium contract -- in most condos you cannot individually change doors, windows and open the walls as the structure and exterior are not owned by the condo owner but by the condo corporation. In many areas everything under the interior coat of paint is part of the condo corporation and can only be changed by the board running the condo.

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The way to do this is to sister 2X6s to the 2X4s. But I don't think you are allowed to change the basic footprint of the living space. As far as opening the wall goes, it entirely depends on your condo contract. If you are allowed to open the wall, but no change the footprint, then installing higher R value insulation will certainly help. Chance are you can get better insulation now than was available or used back then.
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On Nov 16, 5:43 pm, " snipped-for-privacy@paetec.com"

Depends on your definition of pain... You would basically be framing an exact duplicate of the outside wall inside the room. 2x4s are the smallest pieces of lumber you can get these days relatively straight, so you'll end up with a 7" thick wall cavity and R25 insulation on the exterior walls. That's more than the normal 5-1/2" wall cavity with R19 insulation that's typical in upstate NY. Of course you can rip all the 2x4s down to 2", but then they'll probably twist and warp, and you'll have lots of slightly undersize 2x2s to throw away.
If you're going to rewire anyway, it's not so bad. Moving the existing wiring to the new inner stud wall might be very painful.
For ultimate in noise and insulating properties, leave 1/2" in between the two stud walls.
All the windows and doors will need special extension jambs for the extra-thick exterior walls. They'll need to be custom made, most likely.
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On Nov 16, 7:07 pm, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

I'm wondering why to change doors, windows and the HVAC system, which sounds logical, requires opening up most or all of the walls. A few things with this project come to mind:
As already suggested, make sure you understand where your individual unit ends and the condo association responsibility begins. This is spelled out in your Master Deed and Bylaws. In most cases, the exterior walls are the associations responsibility. In some cases doors, etc are too, or at least the choices as to what they look like are controlled. I'd be very surprised if you could build out exterior walls at a condo without association approval, which usually wouldn't be given.
With some walls shared, I wouldn't expect making the walls thicker and better insulated would result in enough energy savings to make it economically feasible.
Before you sink a lot of money into this place, you should realize that no matter how much you spend, there is a limit to how much more your unit is going to be worth when you go to sell it as compared to other units. Yes, you can get some premium, but if the other units are selling for $200K, you're not likely to get $300K because you spent a lot of money doing extra upgrades.
And when it comes time to sell, buyers are likely going to be a lot more interested in what the kitchen looks like, which they will see, than how many inchs of extra insulation you have in the walls.
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wrote:

What I'm going to do to increase R Factor in my 2X4 walls(R11) is ripping a half inch off 2X3 KD studs with my table saw and glueing and screwing them to existing studs making them 2X6 walls and using 5 1/2" R 19 insulation and poly vapor barrier.Was already re-wiring anyways....Total reno...
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I remodelled a house once by firring the 2x4 walls out by nailing a 2x2 on top of each stud. Worked great, and yes it was worth it. It yielded a stud cavity of 5" instead of 5 1/2, so I did lose a little R value there, but the 2x2 is a painless way to add some thickness. If I was doing it again, however, I'd add a layer of rigid insulation instead of firring the studs. You will have to extend your window jambs, move electrical boxes, potentially move radiators (if any), etc.

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5.5 inches of closed cell foam in place is R6 per inch R 36 total and requires no vapor barrier. plus it expands and fills behind and around stuff, seals great which leads to no air infiltration thus much quieter home.
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wrote:

5.5 inches of closed cell foam in place is R6 per inch R 36 total and requires no vapor barrier. plus it expands and fills behind and around stuff, seals great which leads to no air infiltration thus much quieter home.
Yep , closed cell foam is VERY good (the best even) and also VERY expensive to have installed. It's out of my price range plus I'm doing a room or two at a time and living in the house so fumes would be an issue but it would solve the OP problem the easiest and quickest way if money and fumes weren't an issue.....
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snipped-for-privacy@paetec.com wrote:

Hmmm, You can do things like on a condo unit. Talk to condo board first. Living in condo is different from living own detached house.
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" snipped-for-privacy@paetec.com" wrote:

As everyone else noted, check the condo regulations. Also consider the cost of the remodel, how long you expect to live there, falling market values, and the small percentage of the investment you will likely recover upon sale.
As for what I would do in that situation, I would go a simpler route and install a layer of 2" rigid extruded polystyrene insulation board on the inside before installing the new sheetrock. You gain the insulation value of the 2" board, a thermal break from all the wall framing, and an improved vapor barrier. You should be able to extend the electrical forward using extension rings for the electrical boxes, which will be a lot easier than relocating the boxes to new studs. I think it would give you the greatest bang for the buck.
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Thanks for all the replies... As far as the condo board and regulations go - yes, I need approval from the association, and I'll file a "variance" request outlining the work, etc. However, I don't see a real problem here; I expect it will be approved. I could be wrong, but I know the association fairly well (people and rules), and I would be surprised if the request(s) were rejected. There's nothing in the bylaws that explicitly prohibit the work I'm looking to do (provided I get the variance approvals). I will submit all the project request(s) at one time, though - that way, I don't get working into my project plan only to find out along the way that one part of it is not going to be permitted. I appreciate the comments about payback - strictly speaking, this project would be a "loser" financially. However, when I asked whether such an endeavor was "worth it", I wasn't thinking in financial terms; rather, I am interested in the amount of effort vs. comfort level (and maintenance) of living in the unit. It is nice to see that I'm not the only one who has faced this situation. I'm going to look at using the rigid insulation board, as well as talking to two contractors I know about building the walls "in" (reducing the living area by a bit). The possibility of having to use custom jambs is not exciting to me - but, I'm redoing the doors and windows anyway, so if I must fashion custom openings/jambs, it'll be done. Regarding the "shared walls" - they're block walls with drywall glued to them. They don't seem to be significant in the energy/comfort problem at the moment, but I figure I can always build them in, too, if necessary. I guess I'll want to determine whether I want to do this before I finish the interior, though; this one remodeling (rebuilding?) project is enough! Thanks again for the feedback. - Mike
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insulating building in shared walls will be rewarded with quiet:)
although closed cell foam at R6 per inch can probably get you a much improved R value without adding wall thickness. changing wall thickness may cause headaches with bathrooms and kitchens.
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