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View Poll Results: Should I do all of my home maintenance and improvements at once?
Do it now, then enjoy the summer. 27 64.29%
Are you kidding, wait till the stuff falls apart then fix. 15 35.71%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-30-2008, 09:28 PM   #21
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Some thoughts:
Roof: This is (obviously) very important. You've got time since it's not leaking yet, but don't wait until it starts leaking (lots more damage after it starts leaking. What type of attic insulation? Cellulose is great stuff, but will absorb a lot of water before it shows through on the ceiling--yech). Since you are going to be in the house for a long time and the shingles are guaranteed for up to 50 years, you know you'll be paying for a roof sometime, might as well get it done before it leaks. But--get a good contractor to do the job, and get (in writing) that their installation procedures are in accordance with the mfgrs instructions and will maintain the shingle warranty.

Front door: Will any of the other work necessitate taking bulky stuff through it (and possibly gouging it?) If so, wait until that other work is done before putting on a new door/sidelights. A double-cylinder deadbolt can be a good stopgap if it will help you sleep at night.

HVAC: Obviously, have the AC and furnace done at the same time, and during moderate weather. Read up on duct cleaning--maay folks choose to do it when the equipment is out. Other people think most duct-cleaning jobs are unnecessary.

Landscaping: Wait if there's any potential that you'll need to have heavy trucks/equipment in the yard. For example, are you planning to pour a patio in the back, etc. You might find out that you need to dig up another sewer pipe, that a French drain would stop the basement flooding, etc
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:33 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by saluki9 View Post
I guess I should add that my Golden really likes the broken pipe coming out of the sump pump.


Oh man what a great dog!
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:12 AM   #23
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Saluki, are you sure that your house is in such terrible shape? Most homeowners can't even accomplish your first step of identifying what needs to be done, let alone what's broke or how to execute the punch list. Yours sounds like a pretty typical group of projects for that age of home.

Here's some thoughts that don't have as much to do with what needs to be done as they do with what's available.

We triage our contractor projects by who answers our phone calls. The first contractor to show up helps us decide whether we're working on the floors or the yard.

Another option is the time of the year. Most contractors have slow times when they'll flex on price or options. Others have seasonal clearances where they're getting rid of "last year's" materials.

A third option is to tell your list to all your friends & neighbors to see who comes back with recommended names. A really good roof contractor who's available now might be worth spending the money instead of waiting.

You could also think about what you want to do as long as you're tackling the project. HVAC is a great opportunity to make major upgrades in energy efficiency and to suck up a few credits (if they're not already expired). Does the contractor also offer new high-velocity insulated ductwork or the latest-tech furnace/fan? Remote-control personal thermostats? Window tinting or extra wall/attic insulation? Humidifier/air cleaner? Or do you want to stick with just the basics?

Replace the roof, sure. Do you want to add major improvements like heat/cold insulation or exotic materials like standing-seam metal or slate? Or just traditional composition shingles? Add a photovoltaic system of your dreams? Hurricane upgrades? Put in a new attic-storage system while the sheathing's off? If there's no sign of trouble yet then you could put it on your list for a couple years down the road and plan it to death.

How bad are the cabinets? If the boxes are crumpling under the weight of the granite then you have a more urgent problem than if the doors are yucky. Refacing doors & cabinets might cost a lot less than replacing the boxes. Rigid thermofoil replacement doors are available in just about any design that are made in the factory, only need a day to install, and last practically forever.

The door-- when the weather is in your favor. You'll want to spend top dollar on the world's most reliable contractor who will show up and get the job done right the first time. This might actually be the most painful project because of the security issues and the "small" job size. In the meantime, what about a two-cylinder keyed deadbolt?

I don't know how much of a home-improvement junkie you are, but it's also worth watching HGTV and attending home shows. They can give you a bad case of the great green galloping gimmes, but they also help you decide what's important to you and what's not. That's crucial for your discussions with a contractor and can really cut down on the number of visits/estimates. When you know what can be done and what you want to do, you can work through the sales guys a lot faster...

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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
... along with many other energy-conserving devices like photovoltaic arrays. (Nords, do you still need to add to your collection?).
Well, "need" is such a touchy word. As an engineer I always need more power, but I seem to have run out of roof. I've been seriously considering putting PV panels on top of our water panels (plenty of sunshine for both) but electrical equipment on a water system... bad practice. A city sewage pumping station next door has several thousand square feet of prime rooftop going to waste but they'd probably object to me "borrowing" their airspace. As a taxpayer we just used the last of our credits ($3300) and I "need" more of them, but that's just spending money to use a coupon.

Between our use reduction, EnergyStar improvements, and last November's 300-watt upgrade I'm probably done. Despite it being one of the worst times of the year, last month's electric bill was $21. Summer's bills should be HECO's minimum $13 "connected to the grid" fee.

Our next "use reduction" will be launching our teen in just 870 days. But I guess if we convert a Prius to a plug-in then we're going back to the PV drawing board with a new plan.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:36 AM   #24
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OK, this does come from experience: I lived in my house in Houston for 22 years, put off making alot of cosmetic repairs using all sorts of excuses as didn't want to bother with construction guys in the house, didn't want to cut into work time getting bids and the usual b.s. excuses.
Well, 2001 the house flooded in one room, so had to repair that room totally (new sheetrock, new tile, new countertops, new doors, totally new landscaping, trimmed trees, new carpeting in the parts not hardwood, the whole shebang); so, while the construction guy was there, I had him put in new louvered doors, fix windows, put in new ceiling fans, new lights, etc. etc. etc. $7,000 plus the cost of matrials worth of repairs, which, surely made the figure up to $12,000 or so. I never kept track, so it could be much, much more?
Then I decided to sell in 2003. "I" could have ENJOYED those repairs for the time I was there if I hadn't been so stupid and (dare I say) lazy about it--instead of the brief 2 years I did enjoy it all.
I really regret my decision not to make all the cosmetic repairs I had always wanted earlier.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have done the repairs after settling in, making some more money, and redone it all around the 11th year or so at latest I was there. There was no excuse for not doing it then, and I really, really regret it now.
You live and you learn the hard way at times....sigh. I vote do it now unhesitatingly.
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Old 03-31-2008, 11:20 AM   #25
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It sounds like you bought a great house in a great area from the OP--it sounds lovely and you seem to have gotten a good price even factoring in the work that you want to get done.

If you have the money now I would say just get it all done at once--Orchidflower is right about having things fixed so you can enjoy them. And it will doubtless not be cheaper to do them later.

Otherwise, if you do the work in stages, I agree with the HVAC first and right away--it will save you money in energy costs and be a big worry off your mind.

Are you sure you need a new roof right now? We had a minor chimney area problem and the roofer who repaired it said the 20 year old roof was good for another 5 to 10 (and he was right). It was our second reroofing--the first was a tearoff and then this was a reshingle. Both were done quickly and neither one disrupted the rest of the house.

The other things are more or less cosmetic so you could do the ones that drive you craziest first--replacing the kitchen cabinets could lead to a whole kitchen remodel (existing floor might not continue under the existing cabinets, for example) but the tv remodeling shows all say you get back 100 percent of a kitchen remodel. You can always just paint those yucky cabinets....

Anyway, it sounds like a lovely house!
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Old 03-31-2008, 11:25 AM   #26
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What/How much can you reasonably cash flow?

Unless it's a leaking roof, etc - I would cash flow the expenses.

I might cut other areas in the budget to make it work out sooner rather than later.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:18 PM   #27
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The kitchen rehab will be the most disruptive to every day life. We actually moved out for 3 months to rehab ours (a wall, ceiling and chimney were removed). If you need to minimize the day-to-day impact (for DW/kids), that's where to start.

As other's say if the roof is not leaking, hold off.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:45 PM   #28
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Yeah, the roof isn't an immediate item, then again I don't want to wait until it actually does start to leak.

The kitchen cabinets and front door are the things my wife mentions EVERY DAY. I was amazed at the lack of price difference in replacing cabinets vs refacing them. I figured refacing would be a lot cheaper than it is.

I can pay for these things out of cash flow, it will just be a little painful.
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:47 PM   #29
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Many times the facing and doors are hardwood, whereas the boxes are particle board or MDF...
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:58 PM   #30
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Given cash flow - I'd do it
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:09 PM   #31
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Yeah, you bought a fixer. The seller might have liability if they failed to disclose something they knew about. The inspector might have liability as well.
Per caveat emptor, the seller will only be liable if you can prove that they deliberately failed to disclose latent defects. A flimsy glass front door and sidelights, an old roof, and "disgusting old kitchen cabinets" are at best patent defects, which you or your inspector should have noticed. Unless your state has some unusual legislation on point, I don't see much chance of successfully suing the vendor.

I don't know about the furnace or the plumbing situation, but assuming that they were operating when you took possession, the subsequent problems are probably not the vendor's responsibility. After all, it's an older house, and the agreement of purchase and sale almost certainly didn't warrant the continued post-sale functioning of the heating, plumping, or other systems.

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I'd be pissed at both of them, but in my experience, there's not much recourse other than just making the fixes on your own dime.
True. Suing the home inspector is more plausible than suing the vendor, but they usually have all sorts of exculpatory language in their written contracts. It's unusual to win against a home inspector, unless you can prove fraud or truly gross negligence.

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If you feel that there were misrepresentations, it's fairly cheap to have a lawyer write a letter....
Fairly cheap, and fairly ineffective. Most people who receive a demand letter will take it to their own lawyer, who will tell them to ignore it.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:21 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidflower View Post
OK, this does come from experience: I lived in my house in Houston for 22 years, put off making alot of cosmetic repairs using all sorts of excuses as didn't want to bother with construction guys in the house, didn't want to cut into work time getting bids and the usual b.s. excuses.
Well, 2001 the house flooded in one room, so had to repair that room totally (new sheetrock, new tile, new countertops, new doors, totally new landscaping, trimmed trees, new carpeting in the parts not hardwood, the whole shebang); so, while the construction guy was there, I had him put in new louvered doors, fix windows, put in new ceiling fans, new lights, etc. etc. etc. $7,000 plus the cost of matrials worth of repairs, which, surely made the figure up to $12,000 or so. I never kept track, so it could be much, much more?
Then I decided to sell in 2003. "I" could have ENJOYED those repairs for the time I was there if I hadn't been so stupid and (dare I say) lazy about it--instead of the brief 2 years I did enjoy it all.
I really regret my decision not to make all the cosmetic repairs I had always wanted earlier.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have done the repairs after settling in, making some more money, and redone it all around the 11th year or so at latest I was there. There was no excuse for not doing it then, and I really, really regret it now.
You live and you learn the hard way at times....sigh. I vote do it now unhesitatingly.
Agree completely. I'm seeing this too, as I'm fixing things up getting ready to sell after living with them for 5 years. I put off some things that I could've enjoyed having all along. And this isn't the first time I've done this. Anything you can afford to do, do now or as soon as you can.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:30 PM   #33
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Agree with the two above. I have bought and sold 6 houses. It will cost you (approximately) the same to fix it up later when you are ready to sell. Fix it up now and enjoy the improvements.
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