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The Home Ownership Thread

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Douglas, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Medwed

    Medwed Senior member

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    +1000 Kudos to him for doing it right.
     
  2. idfnl

    idfnl Senior member

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    +1

    When I did my addition an architect was trying to convince me to fake the wood beams, right there I knew that guy wasn't for me.

    Another instance was when I poked thru a wall to open up 2 rooms, I found these really nice antque french doors and when they guy started to frame them in he tried to use some cheap ass wood and told me they would match the stain. No, buddy.

    Stuff costs a lot more this way but you end up with something that looks real.

    Conversely, I used barn wood to construct a stereo cabinet and the guy was awesome. He brought his tools to my garage and we built it right there together in 2 days. Every little detail I wanted he gladly accomodated and made some great suggestions of his own. You could tell he was enjoying the project and we thought alike. I went to The Brass Knob in DC and found some great hinges and a red door handle, came out great.
     
  3. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Finished handrail, best the iphone can do closeup

    [​IMG]

    and my favorite tread, sorry for the yellowing. I wish I could change something about this phone to avoid that....or maybe I should buy a real camera.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Medwed

    Medwed Senior member

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    Impressive. Would you be able to guesstimate what the market price of this job would be including material? I am curious if something like this even feasible aside from DIY project.
     
  5. Connemara

    Connemara Senior member

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    Our water heater cracked last night. It was 14 years old, so not at all surprising. I helped my father cut the pipes and drain the tank, and my grandfather (a retired commercial plumber) came over this morning to install the new heater. Instead of copper pipes we used Shark Bite connectors. They were so easy to attach, it took literally 2 minutes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  6. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Thank you!

    I'm commissioned for projects on occasion, so I'd like not to get into what I would charge. I'm not sure your location, but if you are near me I can recommend some lumber mills. However I'm not posting this to advertise, just thought it would be interesting content.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  7. Samurai-5

    Samurai-5 Member

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    Las Vegas
    Love my house (Had it since 1999) I found the easiest way to make it better looking was to Paint, Change lighting, change Door hardware and the Wall plates. :)
     
  8. imatlas

    imatlas Senior member

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    Beautiful wood, SG. I can't recall if you've posted what you used?

    We're working with an architect to remodel our kitchen and add a bathroom to the flat. She delivered preliminary plans and elevations over the weekend, now it's on to getting estimates. I have to say I'm a little bit scared to hear what they'll come up with - in particular, she thinks we should raise the ceiling of the kitchen back to its original 13' height, which will involve raising the roof-line over a section of the kitchen that was "bumped out" 50 years ago, at the same time that they lowered the ceiling height across the whole room to 10'6". I'd hate to see our budget blown up by that, but if we can afford it it will make a big difference to the feel of the room.

    Sadly, we've decided that we will not be keeping our circa 1953 O'Keefe and Merritt oven/range in the new kitchen, even though it was a major selling feature when we bought the place. Restoring it would run into the thousands, and I think a new range-top and wall oven combo will be more usable and have better resale value in the long run - the old stove is a bit battered, very inefficient, and the oven is pretty small.

    For anyone who cares to chime in: Any advice for a rank newbie getting ready to do his first remodel? What should be top-of-mind at this stage of the project?
     
  9. otc

    otc Senior member

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    14 years seems pretty short for a water heater....I would be unhappy.
     
  10. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    San Francisco is a huge pain in the ass for somebody remodeling. Cheap bids and expensive bids often end up reversed when you are actually paying the bills. You need to decide whether you are remodeling for your lifestyle or because you think you are going to get your money back (you won't.) Finishes are much more expensive than mechanical. Maintenance is everything.
     
  11. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    Thanks Imatlas! It is black walnut.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  12. imatlas

    imatlas Senior member

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    ..
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  13. imatlas

    imatlas Senior member

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    Thanks. We've already gotten our feet wet enough to know how frustrating and expensive it is to do work in SF - our downstairs neighbors did some work that resulted in their having to replace our roof deck (long story). We went around and around with the building inspector on whether we could use Trex (no because it is over a structure), epay (only if it was 3" thick, which is not available and would have resulted in a dead load that would exceed the design limits of the building), or redwood (what we wound up with).

    I'm interpreting your comment about cheap vs expensive bids as: beware the cheap bid, because you're more likely to hit cost overruns when the rubber hits the road. The expensive bid may take into account more of the actual costs. Is that what you mean, or do you mean "cheap work is expensive to fix"?

    We watch some of those shows on HGTV where they cheerily imply that 150% return on remodeling investment is normal and we just scoff at them. We're planning to live here for at least 10 years, so we're doing it for ourselves more than for resale. That probably means we'll spend more on it than we would if we were more strictly concerned with ROI, but we're still concerned about keeping the costs within reason (to the degree that is possible).
     
  14. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    I'm feeling kind of dumb atlas because I just did a huge remodel and I don't really have anything particularly brilliant, but here's some kitchen-specific stuff to think about:

    1 - It's great to do this in reality if you have the time or inclination, but at least in your mind, go through every drawer and cabinet in your current kitchen, imagine taking out the contents and putting them on the counter, and then putting them back in storage in your new kitchen/concept. I can virtually guarantee that amongst all the improvements you've no doubt made, there's something you forgot about and won't have a place for if you don't do this inventory exercise.

    2 - This may not be an issue for you, but we entertain a fair bit, and we splurged on two dishwashers, and I swear I don't know how people survive with one anymore. Best splurge ever.

    3 - We had a fucking huge variation in cabinet pricing. In the end, we settled on custom, though manufactured, cabinets from an economy line from a major maker, and I'm not sure why anyone would do much different. Sure, we have veneered kickboards and such but we have all the soft-close bells and whistles and saved thousands over custom stuff. Obviously you can get wonderful hand-done stuff and you won't mistake our cabinets for works of art but I literally saved a midsize sedan going my route. And I couldn't tell the difference between the economy manufactured line and their regular line in terms of workmanship.

    I'll try to think of more and jot them down as I remember.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  15. imatlas

    imatlas Senior member

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    Thanks Douglas! Our architect swears that "her guy" can do custom cabinets for the price of manufactured semi-custom. I'm skeptical, but will get an estimate from him.

    BTW iammatt and other San Franciscans: do you have a contractor that you'd recommend?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  16. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    I heard lefty's got a paint guy but he's outrageously expensive.

    :D
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    More the former, but I am sure the latter is true as well. Nobody really gives a hard bid around here for remodels, they are all estimates, and good estimators know that in old structures, once you open something up, you never know what you are going to find, and what was done over what was original etc. You want somebody who understands this because it means that he understands his job. There are always cost overruns, you hope that they were accounted for in the estimate. Also, of course, people who are good enough to be busy don't generally need to low ball to get work.
     
  18. idfnl

    idfnl Senior member

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    You can manage the project yourself. Nobody will care more, and why pay a premium to someone who is looking to rip you off anyway? I never managed a build before and did it.

    Contractors can be the worst. They're sloppy, skim subcontractors, disappear without notice, and order more materials than you need to use it on other jobs.

    For my addition, I was getting bids of 110k and I brought the project in myself for 65k by hiring guys myself, and along with the architect, watching them carefully. The only place I'll say I got fucked was the cement guy. We agreed he'd do fixed price if I paid materials. So instead of framing the footers, he framed the top and filled the base with cement. The inspector told me it was a big enough footer for a 4 story building. Ya its solid, but I got fucked for $1500 in extra cement where he saved a few hours framing. This is how they think. I had to argue with him a few times because he was trying to tell me the architect was wrong and take shortcuts, I almost fired him and told him he follows the drawings or fucks off.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  19. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    When you interview the cabinetmaker, ask him which type of materials he is going to use for the carcasses and also which types of hinges he plans to use.

    I'm curious as to what choices you made for the kitchen materials and what style you would like to it built in?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  20. imatlas

    imatlas Senior member

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    Materials are still under review :) The kitchen has hardwood floors, so we're hoping to keep costs down by keeping them. We're looking into quartz countertops, they seem to offer a good balance of cost, durability and appeal. We may go with a granite or marble countertop for the island, some friends of ours did that - grey quartz counters and a really stunning waterfall style island in a greenish marble. The jury is completely out on the back-splash - wife is lobbying for painting most of it (and may win based on cost). I'd like for most of the appliances to be integrated, but again, cost may prevent that. Plumbing fixtures will be brushed nickel in a contemporary style. We're talking about hanging a contemporary chandelier over the island to really take advantage of the high ceiling and large skylight (the chandelier will be suspended from a beam across the center of the skylight).

    We want to respect the Victorian style of the rest of the apartment while giving it a modern look. My wife prefers shaker style cabinet doors, I'd like something with more complex moldings, but all the moldings around the house are a PITA to keep clean as it is so shaker works for me. Upper cabinets will be a lighter shade than the lowers, probably in gray. I've got my eye on some stools from Thomas Moser for the island, and they may drive some of our other design decisions.

    One of the changes we made when we first moved in was to open the wall between the kitchen and the rear room of the house, giving us a 4'6" opening that reaches to the ceiling of the back room. Unfortunately, there is a huge change in the ceiling height, which will only get more dramatic if we raise the kitchen ceiling. Raising the roof of the back room is really out of the question, so we're trying to figure out how to make the transition less jarring. The architect basically wants us to frame it in as a large doorway, but we want to preserve the scale of the opening. My wife's idea is to put in a lintel with the same molding as the rest of the apartment but not frame in the opening - I like this approach, as it preserves the opening while bringing the style back in line.
     

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