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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%
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Experienced home owners. should I spend the money?
Old 03-30-2008, 05:28 PM   #1
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Experienced home owners. should I spend the money?

Ok, I have another questions for our forum members with a little more life experience than I.

Last year my wife and I purchased a nice 4 bedroom 2.5 bedroom colonial in a great area, all should be perfect right? Well, it turned out that in the 39 years since this house was completed a lot of maintenance was uh, deferred.

I thought about creating a poll to decide if I should shoot my home inspector, I decided this was more constructive.

Anyway, after a $4,000 plumbing bill in our first two weeks and the furnace dying on the second night in the house we're now a full year into our "stay" and the wife and I wondering what to do from here on out. The house needs some improvements, some more urgent than others. We can't decide whether to just bite the bullet and do them all in one orgy of home improvement, or do the most urgent and do the rest as they become more urgent.

Here is what we need to do

New HVAC everything from furnace to coil to AC ($8,000)

New front door and sidelights. (original was designed I suppose when it was a good idea to put flimsy glass right next to the door knob, ahh the safe good old days ($1K - $2K)

Regrade and re-sod of back yard which was totally destroyed by previously mentioned plumbing problems. ($1500)

Disgusting old kitchen cabinets which for some reason the previous owners decided to install $4K of granite on top of. ($6,000?)

Roof ( $10,000)

I hate the process of going through all of this, getting bids, setting appts, etc. Do I just do it all at once or wait? I guess I should add that this is THE house. We aren't moving unless we win the Powerball.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:36 PM   #2
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Don't be affraid to put money into your home, after all you do live there. You'll always have something in need of repair so this is normal in a house that's almost 40 years old.

If it fit's into your budget I say just get it done. When your done with this stuff you'll find other things that have to or that you want to change.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:42 PM   #3
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Ah yes, the money pit! Been there, done that. You plan to live there long term, right? No flipping? Then pace yourselves and your finances. IMHO, start with the structural stuff and finish with the cosmetic. The front door is small potatoes and is a security measure, so I would put that high on the list. If you do decide to sell, the kitchen will add value, so if you get to that in X years and sell in X+1, it will still be relatively new.

Here's how I would prioritize:
1. Roof (if leaking)
2. Front door
3. HVAC (could be #1 if roof is OK for another few years; will save money)
4. Kitchen
5. Sod

The poll needs another option: schedule jobs over next 2-3 years.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:42 PM   #4
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I guess I should add that my Golden really likes the broken pipe coming out of the sump pump.

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Old 03-30-2008, 05:46 PM   #5
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So you're looking at spending $30K or so. How much did you pay for the house? If it was, say, $600K, then just go for the repairs and consider it part of the purchase price.

If you paid, say, $100K for the house, then sue your inspector.

Also, consider refacing your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #6
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I'd prioritize the list in order of 'need to do' (roof, HVAC) down to 'nice to do' (sod, cabinets) in whatever time frame I was comfortable with. My preference would be sooner rather than later if I wanted my marriage to survive. ;)

What Meadbh said...
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #7
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Why not budget a specific amount per year for improvements and repair. Each year, determine roughly how much is left over after subtracting the repairs. That will give you some idea of about how much you can plan to use on improvements that year.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #8
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So you're looking at spending $30K or so. How much did you pay for the house? If it was, say, $600K, then just go for the repairs and consider it part of the purchase price.

If you paid, say, $100K for the house, then sue your inspector.

Also, consider refacing your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.
We paid $510 when comparable houses were going for $600K, I guess now we know why
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:01 PM   #9
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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.

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. If you feel that there were misrepresentations, it's fairly cheap to have a lawyer write a letter....
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:02 PM   #10
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If you can wait, labor will be getting cheaper as the economy "adjusts". As far as materials...well that depends of if you're a deflationista or inflationista. Don't know myself, but I'd guess overall the repairs will be less expensive going forward.

Heck, in three or four years you might be able to hire a yardfull of engineers & architects (maybe even from this blog) for pennies on the dollar. Go for a massive redesign!

The roof might not hold on though.
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:05 PM   #11
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There may be lower cost alternatives. For instance, put in laminated security glass in sidelight. Reface cabinets. Plant grass seed instead of resodding. Roof may just need flashing repairs if shingles are not shot.

You never know what life will throw at you - if you dump all that money into it at once, you will not likely get it back if you need to resell quickly.
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:47 PM   #12
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Not sure how much blame to put on the home inspector....probably none. I agree with the posters suggesting to create a budget/spending plan, prioritize the work and pace yourself. As a new homeowner you will gain valuable experience in selecting and dealing with contractors. It may violate your priority scheme, but consider selecting a contractor to do a small job to see how they perform before authorizing them to do a major project. Doing everything at once is asking for problems.

Many major home expenses like the roof and heating generally run in 20 yr cycles give or take, esp if they are builder grade materials. While its entirely possible you have a 39 yr old hvac system, its likely on borrowed time. In any event 8K and some of your other estimates look pretty high. How many layers of shingles are on the roof?
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:08 PM   #13
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New HVAC everything from furnace to coil to AC ($8,000)
While I was driving around earlier today, someone on the radio was talking about income taxes. They said something about being able to deduct the costs of new HVAC, along with many other energy-conserving devices like photovoltaic arrays. (Nords, do you still need to add to your collection?).

It just might be worth checking into this. If it's still 'claimable' in 2008 or 2009, that might help establish an installation deadline for the HVAC system.

omni
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:11 PM   #14
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We were in a similar position with the house we bought in '92 although we did know it was a fixer-upper and bought it under auction as it had been a forclosure.

We prioritized but still did it as quickly as we could. First year we did HVAC, roof and exterior repairs and painting. Next year was kitchen etc.

Since we were living there and planned to be there for many years we wanted to get it repaired and done up asap. (ended up living there for 11 years).
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:15 PM   #15
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If you can afford to, just do it. We are heading into year 6 at our place and finally getting everything done. Insulation, water heater, sump pump plumbing, kitchen, bathroom... Now doing the landscaping and that should be it for a while, I hope.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:05 PM   #16
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While I was driving around earlier today, someone on the radio was talking about income taxes. They said something about being able to deduct the costs of new HVAC, along with many other energy-conserving devices like photovoltaic arrays. (Nords, do you still need to add to your collection?).

It just might be worth checking into this. If it's still 'claimable' in 2008 or 2009, that might help establish an installation deadline for the HVAC system.

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Thanks, but the credit isn't huge. I think it's $400 or so this year max. It's better than nothing!
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:07 PM   #17
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Many major home expenses like the roof and heating generally run in 20 yr cycles give or take, esp if they are builder grade materials. While its entirely possible you have a 39 yr old hvac system, its likely on borrowed time. In any event 8K and some of your other estimates look pretty high. How many layers of shingles are on the roof?
Two layers on right now, and no leaks yet. I was told they can't add another layer and would have to strip them all off.

I was being conservative on the expense side, it will probably be less.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:28 PM   #18
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Two layers on right now, and no leaks yet. I was told they can't add another layer and would have to strip them all off.

I was being conservative on the expense side, it will probably be less.
Both of those sound about right. Two layers is max assuming asphalt shingles. The new ones will probably be 'guaranteed' for anywhere between 20 and 50 yrs, and I think 25 is probably average. I would think you'll learn to get pretty handy on items like re-seeding vs. sodding.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:44 PM   #19
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Both of those sound about right. Two layers is max assuming asphalt shingles. The new ones will probably be 'guaranteed' for anywhere between 20 and 50 yrs, and I think 25 is probably average. I would think you'll learn to get pretty handy on items like re-seeding vs. sodding.
Oh, I'm already handy with the sodding. Too bad it doesn't help me at my place, please see picture of Golden Retriever above, no grass seed will be left alone on her watch.
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:27 PM   #20
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I personally like to have one project complete before starting another. One reason is that several contractors working at the same time can get in each others way......another is that I like to keep an eye on how well a job is being done and watching the progress of one job instead of several is easier.
I'd start with whatever you think is most urgent and work down the list.
Getting the house secure (front door) would be the first on my list. You could install a double key deadbolt until you choose a new door. Even if the glass is broken it still takes a key to open it.
Next would be the HVAC or roof....roof is first if it's actually leaking.
The sodding and cabinets would come last. Just my opinion..

Cool looking dog.....
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