Raising a ceiling in a house?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by JWH123, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

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    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    I posted yesterday asking about the cesspool in a house we're considering buying.

    New day, new problem. Next, I'd like to know if anyone has ever raised a ceiling.

    This house has ceilings that are about 6'3" or so, in the second floor. A full-size, walk-up attic above. House built in 1910, wood frame. Plaster walls and ceilings. Some know & tube wiring is still visible in the attic, I do not know if it's live or not. The house has been rewired with romex at some point. I want to believe that the k&t is dead.

    I thought that raising the ceiling would be impossible, but my brother in law said, why don't you just build a new set of joists for the attic a foot above the ones that are there, build the walls a foot higher, and then cut out the old, low joists? Sounds pretty simple on paper. You would just end up with a sloped ceiling the last foot or so, closest to the wall.

    I'm seriously thinking this through, and realizing that to build the walls a foot higher, it would probably be better to completely re-frame the bedroom walls, so I don't end up with a kink in the walls for the top foot. Plus that would give me a reason to tear out the plaster and put drywall upstairs. So, now I'm completely re-building the second floor of this house from the floor up. Oh, and while I'm at it, why don't I change some walls around, add a few closets.....

    Now, I was seriously thinking about re-wiring the place anyhow. And probably changing from electric baseboard heaters and putting in hot water baseboard heat, with an oil burner in the basement. Tearing out the walls would make those projects a whole lot easier.

    I consider myself pretty handy with a tool belt. I've worked on some remodeling framing and wiring on my brother in law's house. Rewired the upstairs of my house. Have sweated a few pipes together. Granted, these projects I have in mind are orders of magnitude bigger than what I've done before. I know this will be different also because I will be working around a toddler and a newborn, which I'm concerned about. Leaving half of the house unoccupiable for an extended period of time will be a hard sell to the wife.

    I think I know what the practical minds here are going to tell me.

    Now, hear me out. This house is on the market for $75,000. Other similar houses in the area, which all have their own problems, sell for $100-115,000. If we're going to spend $30,000 fixing problems in these houses, I'd rather start with at $75,000 one than a $115,000 one. All of these houses could use replacement windows, a good coat of exterior paint at the very least, insulation wherever I can stuff it, etc. Typical stuff for a hundred-year-old house. Granted, this house may have more issues than others, but the lower cost is really sucking me in. This house has been on the market for 5 months already, that should be a warning to me also that others have passed on this 'great deal'. But the area is so nice, the property is decent and has a big garage/barn that we could park 3 cars in if we wanted.

    Well, what do you think?

    Stay tuned for tomorrow's problem with this house. Here's a teaser - water....

    Thanks for your input.
    John
     
  2. if u "want" the house u should go for it provided the other considerations aren't too impractical. (i'd love to fix up a century old home. hope i get to someday). if u already have some experience at this kind of work, IMHO u will find it's the same. only more. a big job is just a series of little jobs. could be a mighty LONG series, tho.

    drywall isn't inherently superior to lath and plaster. i'd only replace plaster for a good reason.

    the biggest hurdle sounds like living in it while working on it. in my experience (and i've had some) it's a lot harder to work on a house while living there. and the little kids adds to the problem.

    tearing out the old ceiling is gonna be a messy process, and living there for that will be very difficult. unless the house is roomy enough to live in one portion while working on the other.

    sounds like the numbers could justify it, on the whole. provided u can get to the work fairly quickly, and do nearly all the work yourself.

    good luck with it!
     

  3. RANDEL

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

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    Dec 10, 2003
    also, if u don't stress the fact that u intend doing a lot of the work ur self, but instead call attention to how much the work will cost to have done, u might gain consideration of a much lower offer. a lower price would improve the numbers even more!
     
  4. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    If you can live on the first floor whild doing the second then go for it, then reverse the process. Put a temporary kitchen next to the upstairs bath then plug the holes when complete. If you spend more time thinking, Measuring and planning than working for the first few weeks it mat be easier than it seems.


    mikell
     
  5. JWH123

    JWH123 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    USA
    Yes, the idea of living in the house may get to be a problem. One possible solution would be to relocate the family to the family room. The man in the house right now is ill and it's hard for him to get up the stairs, and has converted the family room into a bedroom. Even set up a shower stall outside the half-bath down there. Maybe we could ask him to leave it.

    I've heard that plaster isn't inherently bad. I have a hard time believing it. Maybe I have a bitter taste in my mouth because my 1947 house has the following, from the studs out:
    (inside of wall cavity)
    sheet of what looks like drywall. about 3/8 to half inch thick. Brown paper on both sides.
    half to maybe 3/4 of an inch of concrete. Not plaster, this looks like honest-to-goodness portland cement concrete, with sand only (no coarse aggregate). Yes, it's that thick. Dark grey color. Dulls drill bits and saw blades like nobody's business.
    skim coat of white plaster. maximum 1/8" thick
    paint.

    I keep a chunk of this that I cut out for an outlet box to show people.

    I'd prefer working with drywall, fiberglass joint tape, joint compound and the stupid 'hollow wall anchors' any day over this concrete stuff that spalls an inch and a half diameter area if you try to drive or screw into the wall. URGH! :mad:

    John
     
  6. Leigh*

    Leigh* Member

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    Jul 30, 2003
    Generally, older houses were built better than ours. However, there are some exceptions. Houses with ceilings that low (less than 8'), built at that time (1910) were generally built for poor folks--farm hands, sharecroppers, and such--and were often not built that well. (Earlier homes--say pre-1850--are another issue.) Some of these are jest lil' ol' shacks. In this crazy real estate market, someone will probably buy it, but before YOU do, take a good long look at the foundation, the size of the rafters and joists, and so on. Be careful. Always look for solid construction and quality.
     
  7. june02bug

    june02bug Well-Known Member

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    North Carolina
    I'd have it inspected before I decided if it was worth it or not. That way at least you have a to do list if you do buy.
     
  8. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    If you are to raise the ceiling raise it to a full eight foot. Might be worth the cost to remove the second floor and start over. Perhaps a dormer in the middle section leaving the house lines in the front and back will work. Whatever you do make it look nice. A seven foot ceiling looks bad. Going cheap on the windows looks bad. Must have curb appeal when complete to get the most bang for your buck. Drive around and look at other houses and see what will work. I would wait to move in until construction is complete. If that is not an option do the dirty work and get it dried in before moving in. To much dust, lead paint and who knows what to bring family in to breath.