What to do first?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by albionjessica, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. albionjessica

    albionjessica Hiccoughs after eating

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    Ok, so the reason I haven't been posting very often these past couple weeks is because my husband and I just purchased our first house. We close on Wednesday, the 3rd, and we'll be moving in Saturday. It's a beautiful 1920's home in northern Indiana, with just over 1600 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, two covered porches, a 6o x 7o back yard already fenced in, a woodshop/garage, and tons of beautiful woodwork everywhere. We are so excited!

    The house does need a bit of work, and we are trying to figure out where to start. Here are some of the things we would like to tackle in the next few years:

    1.There is carpet everywhere, even in the bathroom, but when we pulled up sections on our walk-throughs we found gorgeous hardwood floors... even in the closets. The kitchen has an old, cheap linoleum, and we don't know what's below that. We'd like to take out the carpet and restore the wood floors.
    2. Electricity. None of the outlets are grounded, even though the previous owner installed a couple covers that made it look like they were. The light switches are all two-button switches high up on the walls that have a lot of charm, but we would rather update those.
    3. The windows are all single pane, and some of them don't open or close properly, which will make for uncomfortably cold winters and hot summers. We would like to install double pane windows.
    4. The walls are lathe and plaster. I actually have experience dealing with this one, since my parents purchased a house that was built in 1901 and we tore out all the walls and rebuilt/drywalled them in about two weeks. (And that was possible because my uncle down the road and our neighbor were both in residential construction, and I had a lot of burly guy friends that wouldn't even accept payment for helping because they thought it was fun weilding sledgehammers and learning to hang drywall.) This time it will be just Matt and I, so it will probably take a lot longer. We really don't want to have to hire anyone out, but may have to if we run into a snag where we don't know what to do.
    5. The current (gas) furnace is on the fritz (for which we have already socked away a couple thousand, just in case), but there is a wood-burning furnace in the basement that is in good working condition. The only problem is that the law prohibits us from hooking up the wood furnace to the floo that is already there for the gas furnace, so we'd have to build up a second chimney in order to use it. We don't know whether to build the chimney or just get another gas furnace, and when we should do this.
    6. The roof is exactly 10 years old, but the previous owner used the cheapest materials and hired the cheapest person to install it. He admitted this plainly, so we could do something about it if we felt inclined. Some of the shingles are peeling, but there aren't any leaks in the ceilings. How does one know when a new roof is necessary? We're contemplating switching to a metal roof, but we don't want to re-do the roof unless or until it's necessary.

    Ok, homesteaders! Now I am ready to hear your opinions on all of this. Where should we start? Any helpful hints for these projects?
     
  2. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on your new home, it sounds really nice.

    IMHO, I'd say safety and comfort first. So electricity, then windows, then heat (since we're heading on to summer), then drywall, then floors. And plant some pretty flowers and put in a small garden!

    Good luck with it,

    Beaux
     

  3. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Forget safety and comfort, plant fruit trees and berries NOW! (and make a garden) they take time to grow and you will not regret it later don't put them off a year!
     
  4. sewsilly

    sewsilly Well-Known Member

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    I agree, electricity, windows, perhaps insulation, heat (but before crunch-time in the fall). I'd do floors over the summer, as floor refinishing, IMHO can't be done in the winter when the house is closed up. A couple of checks under the carpet, now, can tell you what you're up against. Beautiful floors can make you not notice a lot of other stuff, like the walls. Will you have to change out the plaster now, or can that wait a while?

    I'd get estimates on anything/everything and make a list. Sometimes, prices surprise you, good or bad and I would NOT wait until there was a roof leak to address that issue. Get an estimate on the chimney building costs/vs/ the furnace. Take into consideration the running costs/wood availability/cost/vs fuel.

    Often , when you write it all down, it becomes really clear what is most feasible/possible and which order to go in.

    dawn
     
  5. albionjessica

    albionjessica Hiccoughs after eating

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    Oh we'll do a couple fruit trees, and we already have a couple vegetable and herb gardens planned. The back yard gets sun almost all day long, so it's perfect for a good garden. We'll probably rent a tiller and buy some compost locally, and hopefully that will ensure us a decent crop. I haven't checked the soil yet, so it may be another year before we can get down to some serious gardening. We'll mulch heavily this fall, as well as get a compost bin started this summer.

    We'll garden, but that's a given. It's easy to hop into, and doesn't take as much budgeting as all the home repairs as we already have most of the neccessary tools.
     
  6. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Forgot to say congratulations! sounds like a nice place to be while you save for your real homestead your work is cut out for you there hope you got a good deal on it and sell it for a lot when it is time to escape the rat race. Can you keep a few chickens there?
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds wonderful! :dance: :dance: I am jealous.

    You are getting good advice. Electric first. Depending on how the electric was installed, you may be able to pull the new wires in while pulling the old wires out. Check the attic where you will be able to see evidence of wet wood or cirtters, and make any repairs needed to the roof or attic. Cheap now, expensive later. If you haven't already had a professional inspector examine the house, do it now. How new is the plumbing? Old galvanized steel will need to be replaced, but you can do it over time.

    Floors can wait. The carpeting has kept the floors in good shape. Carpeting also helps to insulate the house and cut down on the heating bill. When you do get around to finishing the floors, use runners in the pathways to help protect the floors.

    Repair the walls if you can, rather than redoing. If you do put up drywall, get the kind you can plaster over. You basicly just paint the drywall with a plaster mix. Can you have a wood burner or maize burner outside? I'd be willing to wager that your insurance company would look more favorably on a wood or maize burner out rather than in. In any event, contact your agent and discuss the matter before buying anything.

    For windows, many older homes have leaky windows. Those commercials that show you how much money is saved on modern windows don't give you the information that ANY window replacement on an old house, including single pane, will save on heat. The wood around the windows has shrunk and the air just flows through. Pella and Anderson, while widely publicized are medium grade windows. Polar is much better and not any more expensive. In the meantime, you can hang heavy curtains to act as insulation.

    My preferance for the kitchen floor would be tile.
     
  8. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Mine to
     
  9. albionjessica

    albionjessica Hiccoughs after eating

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    We did get a great deal on it, as it's just about the only house in this kind of shape in the neighborhood. All the same-sized houses around it sell for at least $40k more.

    We would love to have a small flock of hens, maybe 3-5. There is already a very attractive 6'x10' animal pen made of chicken wire and lumber that would be perfect to attach a small coop to. The only drawback is that "livestock and fowl" are not permitted in town. I think that is just total crap because dogs, cats, and potbelly pigs are allowed... and they make more of a stink and ruckus than chickens. So I plan to either have chickens and hide them well, or go down to city hall and duke it out with the doofs that uphold that law. I usually get my way eventually... so I'm not too worried. :)
     
  10. almostthere

    almostthere Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations! I love love love old houses. I prefer 1920's or earlier, and then 1970's era houses, they seem to be so well built...I know there are exceptions but Ive only seen things I like.

    If you are going to do the walls anyway(complete tear out) then you can redo the electric while the studs are exposed. Same for plumbing issues, if there is any. Theres no point in making the job any harder than it is. And with a house that old, chances are you will be finding a LOT of stuff behind those walls you would rather not be breathing. The floors can wait, but not until the dead of winter. If they look nice enough, if you out of money/time, could you live with them(uncarpeted) until next spring?
     
  11. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    I would just keep them underground if you duke it out and lose they may send bobk or morrisonscorner to check up on you and make sure your not breaking the law.And the the feds will not be able to kill them when the flu hits that way.Remember their is a good reason for all laws LOL... Definitely better just keep them well concealed, I guess Roosters are out unless you can sugically remove the crow part?
     
  12. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Jess, Did you wind up in Marshal County? The only thing you mentioned that is a must in the first year is the heat thing. A new block chimney with an 8 inch flue liner up the outside of the house wouldn't take long to put up and pay for itself long before winter was over. Heating an older house that large with gas could break the bank. Still good to have it sometimes. A little clear plastic over the windows will make it heatable until your ship comes in. A new metal roof will cost about as much as a cheaper new car. Figure about $500 apiece for new insulated double glass windows.
    If your husband is working with Amish in the factory, he might get some good leads on saving dollars upgrading your new home.
    Welcome home neighbor. Unk
     
  13. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    $500 each for double pane windows! Jiminey cricket I guess the new windows I put on with obser1 next year will be single pane unless I find some used double pane on free cycle.
     
  14. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

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    Ha!
    I guess we have different priorities, but the first thing we did when we bought our house was I ripped out the carpeting and while DH change the door locks!

    The carpeting looked okay, but it was so full of dust that we were allergic to it plus the carpet backing was also falling apart - making even more dust.

    New door locks? Yup, our house had been owned by the same family for 140 years, but it had been rented out for the last 40 years and we didn't want to find out how many of the previous renters had kept their keys.

    DH also put in deadbolts on the exterior doors. It does make the house a bit more secure and we also get a discount on the cost of our house insurance for having them.

    If the plaster walls are in good shape I would leave them alone. You've got a lot on your plate, so don't add any extra expenses right now.

    Have the gas furnace inspected first, If it is deemed safe, then have it serviced. You may find out it works just fine, but hasn't had any maintenance done for years!

    Install new smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Better safe then sorry!

    I would have a licensed electrician survey your current electrical system and give you a written quote for the rewiring cost.

    If you can't have an electrician do that right away, then install compact fluorescent bulbs before you move in.

    Along with the older light switches, you probably have old wiring which really isn't up to providing electricity for all of our modern lights, appliances & toys. Old single bulb light fixtures in houses were frequently replaced with newer fixtures that require more bulbs that draw more power. Switching to compact fluorescents at this point will reduce the electrical load on your wiring, reduce your electric bill and let you have nice bright rooms.

    Hope this helps
    Deb
    in wi
     
  15. baddogbad

    baddogbad Active Member

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    congratulations.

    since no one has mentioned it, go to the library and get a book on plumbing. throughly inspect your existing system to understand exactly what you've got before you do any work on walls in the kitchen or bathroom(s).

    i was joyfully making repairs here before i discovered that i had a major venting problem in the plumbing system (plumbing was/is the least of my skills.) as i installed sinks, drains and the toilet, i tightened things up and the venting problem became very apparent. now to properly fix the problem i will need to rip out a section of a beautiful new wall and install another roof vent.

    there are no building code inspections in my county and i learned the hard way what that can mean to a homeowner down the road.

    don't make my mistake. and good luck.
     
  16. pistolsmom

    pistolsmom Well-Known Member

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    To be on the safe side take care of the electric. Yucky carpeting and old windows don't cause fires......but old wiring can! [ But just because wiring is old doesn't mean it's not safe.....get a professional opinion.] Make sure you save the pushbutton light switches and sell them on Ebay [ or advertise in ur local penny saver].....we made some decent $ off ours from people restoring their McMansions. On the woodburner....we switched the process......we put the woodburner into the existing block chimney and then ran the furnace vent out thru the wall on it's own, saved a pile of $ and satisfied the insurance company. Lathe & Plaster is in our whole house.....we bought spackling and patched the holes/cracks, sanded, and painted over it. Looks like new and much easier/cheaper than redoing with drywall. Only advice on the windows is that alot of brands [ Certainteed is the one we bought] have a big sale on good double pane windows during the months of Jan/Feb with a REALLY big savings because nobody buys windows then. We bought ours in Jan. and actually saved enough on every 2 windows to pay for a third one! [The windows are still sitting in the garage waiting on nice weather to install them!] Hope the info helps!!!
     
  17. jessimeredith

    jessimeredith That's relativity. Supporter

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    I'm telling ya, the timing of this thread couldn't be more perfect! We're putting in an offer (which will most likely be accepted) tomorrow on a house that is in close to the same condition as yours (except the walls and electrical). The only difference is you have more yard and I have more house, lol.

    Our plans for flooring, if the carpet isn't hiding wood floors as nice as yours, is plywood tiles. In other words, we're gonna by plywood and cut it into tongue and groove squares, stain it and lay it. I still get my wood floors, but they are cheaper than any of the others I've priced. I'm putting it down in the kitchen as well even though I would rather have tile, lol.
     
  18. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    If you decide to tear out the walls to it all at once. The whole thing. One mess at one time. That dust is hell. Do the wiring, the windows and the insulation at the same time too. See a pattern developing? One thing unfortunately leads to another. The house is most likely uninsulated and is going to be hideously expensive to heat. By ripping out all the walls you can put in new insulation preferably the sprayed in foam type that will go a long way into stopping air infiltration without a house wrap and the like. It's more expensive that the fiberglass bats but you'll soon make it up in energy savings. Also with the walls open you can replace the wiring which is probably still the old knob and tube. You will also be able to replace with windows which will be able to be easily accessed and the spaces around them sealed up well.

    Also run any new plumbing, pipes and vents while the walls are open.

    I'd leave the carpets down to protect the floors from the construction traffic.

    Again, do all that plaster at once because all that dust is going to go everywhere. That dust is hellish stuff and will get everywhere no matter how well you seal, mask and tape. It goes everywhere and is terrible to live with. You don't want to deal with it more than once. Once all that nasty work is done, then rip up the carpets and do your floors.

    Oh, and when you do the electrical put in more power outlets than you would think you would ever possibly need.

    Congratulations on the house. Hope you guys are happy and have a wonderful life there.
     
  19. MomOf4

    MomOf4 Well-Known Member

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    Our house had all the same issues...here is what we did...

    1) First, we had someone come in and rewire electrical because of safety...cost $2500
    2) No AC, so we used a window unit for one summer, then furnace went out the following fall, so we replaced it and got central AC. Cost...$7000. (We were on propane, and paying $500 a month for heating in the winter due to lack of insulation. Switched to natural gas, now pay $163/mo. on budget. Wood or corn burning is down the road due to rising prices though).
    3) Old windows were OK for a couple years, we just sealed with shrinking plastic and covered with blankets for a few years until they began leaking when it rained, so we replaced those later...cost $7500. Waiting as long as we did cost us even more since we had to replace a foundation beam that had rotted.
    4) Roof was in pretty bad shape, but not leaking, so we held off for 2 years, and had metal panels that look like cedar shake (lifetime warranty). Tear off of 3 layers of asphalt, decking and roof installation...cost $10,000 (same or less than some other asphalt bids we got)
    5) Plaster and lathe walls had blown insulation over 30 years ago, which has shrunk and fallen out. After 9 years, we are trying to go room to room and gut/insulate and drywall. A coat of paint up front made it look nicer though. We have calculated a cost of $600 per room to gut, insulate and drywall, and only have one room done so far.
    6) Carpets were nasty, but we couldn't afford new, so we replaced with gently used carpet that was given to us. Over the years, that has been replaced with other free carpet that looks nicer (try dumpsters behind carpet stores). We have nice, wide plank wood floors, but that is the subfloor, and there is no insulation under it which is why we keep carpet, so keep that in mind.
    7) Kitchen was less than efficient, with only 2 upper cabinets, 2 lower cabinets and a sink base. We replaced after 3 years with unfinished cabinets with 22' of counters, and did all the work ourselves for $2500 (including lighting, counters, flooring, sink, faucet and a couple of appliances - all purchased on sale).
    8) We have been blessed with the fact that there is a rich-soiled garden that has been fed with manure and plant matter for over 100 years. We have just kept up on adding to it each year, and it produces well.
    9) chicken house has been converted to a garage, but plans are in the works this summer to turn a small portion back into a chicken house...hope to have chickens again before fall.

    It's been over 9 years, and we're not there yet, so know that it will take time, especially if money is an issue. We refinanced several times to pay for improvements, but if I had to do all over again, I'd pay cash for improvements, and stick with the mortgage we had on the original purchase price, which was cheap since it was bought from my father. Now we're trying to dig our way out of the debts, as we continue to make more improvements.

    Congratulations! Good luck fellow Hoosier!
     
  20. LiL OHNNL

    LiL OHNNL Well-Known Member

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    Congratz on the new place.

    The order for what you want to do can work out in your favor. 1st cahnge the windows. Being that you plan on sheetrocking now is the best time to make windows bigger smaller ect. You would not have to worry about damageing the inside as you are going to fix it anyway. Then rip down the plaster , rewire the house which will be alot easier with no walls in the way. resheetrock and finish the floors last as any damage can be repaired and you dont have to worry about protecting them as you work. Then you can worry about the heat if you do this all before winter. You can also have the heat done at anytime so its not priority right now.
    Just my 2cents
    John