My house is 100 years old. Obviously, with a structure of this
vintage, it is bound to have some issues. Here is the one that stands
The kitchen used to be a back deck. I have no idea at what point it
was enclosed and made a part of the interior, but I know they didn't
do the best job at it. This part of the house, which also includes
the one bathroom, sits over a crawl space. The perimeter masonry work
around the crawl space wasn't meant to support anything bigger than a
deck and wasn't reinforced when the kitchen was built. In fact, there
is no frost footing. It is just cement and stone sitting on the
surface of the dirt. *This is where you begin laughing*
Obviously, I wasn't aware of this when I bought the house. It is now
a growing concern of mine and I'm thinking I need to fix it. My pipe
dream is to rip off the back end of the house (kitchen and bathroom)
and dig out a basement or at least pour a proper frost footing (I do
live in Minnesota, so frost is a given). My dream continues to
include a larger kitchen. It would also allow me to continue the
second floor over the kitchen, as it doesn't currently do this, which
would allow me to expand the upstairs bedrooms as well.
As you can see, my best-case scenario is a pretty lofty dream.
Realistically, I can't live even temporarily in a house that doesn't
have a bathroom or a kitchen so arrangements would need to be made
there. I also shouldn't be allowed anywhere near cement. Other than
the masonry work, I'm golden, but what a cost!
Does anyone have any better ideas of a more realistic solution?
Seems like the best approach is to either move or do the job right. It was
fairly common to build additions on ground such as you have. If you like
the rest of the house, make the investment.
As for a bathroom, you can get by with a camping type potty or a rental.
Good to have while you are working there anyway. Microwave and toaster
ovens can do a lot of cooking. Most of us have survived for some time
without at least one of those rooms.
My only advice is to find out ahead where you think things will really stop.
You know h ow these projects start by a simple fix of a doorknob and next
thing you know, the house is gutted. Figure you cost then at 30% for all
the unseen problems and you may come close.
Good luck with your adventure.
Comments so far are " do it right ".
What is "right"?
There is a ripple effect to changes of the scale you are considering.
Circulation paths, windows, structure, and so on.
I suggest you pay an architect who does residential projects and has
experience in renovations.
Yes, architects cost money, and if you choose carefully they are a
I do a lot of this kind of work in South Carolina, (even though my
family has roots in Frontenac and Bloomington Min).
There is a lot to be gained from consulting someone trained and
experienced in residential design.
Many times I have headed to the river with a bar of soap after dark. One of
my favorite tricks is to put the new bathroom/kitchen in a new location so
that the old one can continue to be used. For instance I would want to
locate the bathroom near the master bedroom. I would want the master
bedroom to suitably large with adequate closet space. A large kitchen may
be nice if there are a lot of cooks in it otherwise a small one saves a lot
If you're going to redo the house, one of your considerations should be to
have more than one bathroom -- if it's a two-story, one upstairs and one
down, at least. The downstairs one could also be accessible from the
outside, so that you can use it while doing yard work or car repairs,
without tracking dirt throught the house. (I know Minnesota has nine months
of hard winter followed by three months of poor skiing, but you still may
want the bathroom access --)
Our hurricane prep kit includes a temporary kitchen with a hot plate, small
microwave and small refrigerator, all of which can be powered by our
generator, and we could probably use those supplies for a few weeks during
renovations or power outages working out of our garage. Overall, however,
trying to renovate a house while you're living in it is about like trying to
change the bedlinens while you're still sleeping in the bed. Maintain your
sense of humor and eat out a lot.
Well get estimates, go to architect. If you need a loan, find out how much
the payments will be. Either you can afford it or you can't.
Also I suppose you can drop the basement or upstairs to reduce cost. Or
design for adding upstairs later, but just 1st floor for now. Then add on
upstairs down the road.
Then get a port-a-potty during construction. A funnel with a hose leading
outside works great for #1. Flush with milk jug filled with water. Get
membership at health club for showers. You can live for years with just a
hot plate, toaster oven, and a microwave - paper plates, plastic
forks/spoons. Summer do the camping thing - Coleman stove, BBQ, etc.
"jkroschel" wrote in message
As someone else pointed out, it all depends on what the immediate
problem is and what you want to do. It's not clear there is an
immediate problem, other than you bought a house like this without
knowing about it. I take it you did not have an inspection before
buying it? Seems any reasonably competent house inspector should have
caught this. I'd try to determine if this hack job was done by the
seller. If you can prove that it was done while they owned the home,
that they didn't get necessary permits, inspections, etc., you may
have a good legal case against the seller.
In any case, you do have a bit of a sticky wicket now because it's
pretty likely whenever you sell it, the next buyer will have an
inspection and find it. In which case, it's a big problem.
And as others have suggested, I'd do it right, by getting an
architect. If it's done right, it may add enough value to the house
that you come out even or actually ahead.
An option I considered before starting my kitchen renovation was
building a 2nd kitchen in the basement (in my case). Just a tiny one,
but with a fridge, stove and sink. Now, this wasn't just to tide me
over during the renovation, but would've been handy to have down there
for either (future) entertainment purposes or if I ever decided to
rent out the basement space. Already had the fridge, could run the
plumbing myself, but would've needed a short gas line run.
In the end I decided not to take the time to do it because, being
single, I can get by w/out a real kitchen (the bathroom sink,
microwave and a fridge that got moved around in the kitchen worked out
Depending on your specific circumstances (# people in household, is
there a space that could be utilized for 2nd kitchen, would it be of
any value/use later, etc.) that's another option.
Not having a bathroom AND kitchen is going to be a pain in the
keester. The more people in the household, the worse it's gonna be.
Plus, renovations ALWAYS take longer than expected. You can decide
if you can live w/an outhouse, no sink in the house, etc., then
consider alternatives. Personally, I wouldn't get rid of an only bath
and kitchen at the same time.
Just my 1.2 cents.
Is there room on the lot to place a trailer to live in, while construction
is going on? Used trailers, including FEMA trailers, are available pretty
cheap. Even areas where trailers are banned by code sometimes have an
exception for temporary use during remodeling. If you don't trash the
trailer, you can usually resell for a good chunk of what you paid for it.
If there is a SWMBO and kids involved, I'd rent a house or apartment
elsewhere for the duration. The 'money pit' horror stories of marriages that
go in dumper during live-in remodel projects are not myths.
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