Sunday, May 20, 2012

Preview through new doorway 

Planning and Budget
I want to go into a bit of detail about the restoration, repair and renovation process we have undertaken.  As previously described, we bought this place in rather rough shape, as it sat empty for several years and before that with an owner in declining health for a number of years. Not that he let things fall around his head, but things did coast for quite awhile. Neighbors tell me all the time what a wonderful lawn Bill had, beautiful grass, with lush roses and azaleas lining the front of the house.  Nothing remains of Bill's meticulous landscaping now.

We knew at the outset we were going to have to have a new roof, HVAC, plumbing and electrical work.just to be able to live in the house and get homeowners insurance.  Beyond that, we wanted to tile all the floors, take out a wall to open up the kitchen and living room, build an en suite bath off the front bedroom, demo two bed and bath units in the garage, put in two new garage doors, including an 11 foot high one for RV access.  We set an initial budget of $30,000 for the work necessary to get insurance and be able to live in the house.  The rest would be extra, but we wanted to be careful not to improve more than the value of similar houses in the same neighborhood.

We looked at two houses of similar size within two blocks, neither with direct river view.  Both houses had been updated with new flooring and all new kitchens. One had a lap pool added to the side yard making a beautiful indoor-outdoor sitting area next to the pool.  Both of these houses sold for less than $120,000.  We figured, with the cost of our house plus the $30,000 we put into bringing it to livable standards, we would still have $20-30G spending range before we were putting in more than we could reasonably get back if we re-sold the house.  We decided to do the things that we would enjoy most:  

  • Take out kitchen-living room wall and rearrange kitchen
  • Tear out carpet and tile all floors
  • Clear garage and carport, put in new garage doors (bonus, lots of good lumber and plumbing parts salvaged for other projects)
  • Build en suite bath for new master bedroom
  • Paint house
  • Work on landscaping
  • Get Lexan hurricane covers for all windows (replacing plywood)

Garage and Master Bath
The garage is oversized two car size, with a 13 foot tall ceiling. On one side there is attic storage built in above the open floor area, with access via pull-down stairs.  All along the side that faces the tall open part of the garage are awning style windows for heat management.  Once we have this restored, it will take an RV that is 10.5 feet tall and 28 feet long.  On the RV side there were two bed and bath units built in. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the units, but both baths had beautiful fully tiled walk in showers, one yellow, one blue.  I wished there was a way to just use the baths, but they were not in the right place. The blue bath had the only working toilet in the house.  

Listing photo of only working toilet in the house, 
in bed & bath unit in garage

Below the attic storage, the owners had put in a family room.  The existing garage door could be opened to show a screened wall with screen door.  This side of the garage contained a beautiful Brunswick Gold Crown pool table and, after the clearance of the two bed and bath units, lots of salvaged materials and other stuff.  The floor is tiled with some kind of vinyl tile, and the walls are plastered and painted.  On the house end, there was a bump out into the garage space for a half bath and a transitional closet, also the large oil furnace, and a clothes dryer with no vent to outside.  (The washer was outside on the patio, rusted through on the sides.)  The owners had put in a large carport for shaded parking.  My Dad fell in love with the carport but it really was in poor condition.

The driveway side of the house, as it was, shows the chalky white and brown paint, the filled in part where the RV door had been, and the capacious but dilapidated carport.

This is the outdoor laundry, washer was
completely rusted out.  Dryer was inside by 
the furnace, and not vented to outside

Demolishing the two bed and bath units yielded some lovely wood planks and some good plywood, which was saved for the master bath construction.  The shower doors, toilets, sinks, faucets and some of the tiled in fixtures were also saved for use in other projects.  We were not able to salvage much tile, unfortunately.  It was all the salt and pepper pale white or gray 4" tile with blue or yellow bullnose trim.  

Once the demo project was complete, we got in the new matching garage doors at a cost of $6,000.  Greg, our builder, used some of the recycled timbers to build a door frame for the RV door.   I am satisfied with the job but mystified why the garage door contractor left the extra two door openers on top of the unit on the RV side, 13 feet up, also he did not put lightbulbs into the units.  Required city inspection cleared the job and we are in business. Greg retrieved the door openers and put in the lightbulbs.  I <3 Greg ValDyke, general contractor:  321-863-9520 in Titusville, FL.

The Hobbit Room to Master Bath Metamorphosis -- The Beginning
With that out of the way, we could start figuring out how to upgrade the odd Hobbit room plus garage half bath into a full master bath.  Originally, there was one hall bath in the house.  A half bath was added in the garage, then at some point, the owners decided to connect the front bedroom to the half bath in the garage by adding a square closet like passageway that I called the Hobbit Room because the doorway from the bedroom into this room was tiny.  It was cut through the concrete block wall and was only about 20" wide and barely 6' tall.  On the left just inside the doorway was the 50 gallon water heater and all the hookups for the washer and dryer that had been in that spot in the garage.  The floor was down about three inches from the floor in the house, and the plain cement was covered by a scrap of rug.  The walls on two sides were paneled to match the bedroom paneling.  Just on the other side of the water heater was the door to a nicely tiled half bath with blue fixtures.  

 Post demolition of closet, showing door 
to half bath, water heater, and on the left
the Hobbit door.

We decided to move the water heater and plumbing and extend the new part of the room to the same size as the original half bath. You can see the color difference of the wall where the original Hobbit room ended.

Construction begins, using salvaged wood 

A view of the Hobbit door

Of course, we all know that construction requires coordination and patience.  The room construction had to wait for the new furnace as that would go on the outside of the new wall opposite the half bath door.  Once the furnace was in, the water heater was moved next to it, then the wall could be built.  Then we had our room size and could start planning the laundry and shower that will go inside it. 

Now we discovered a plumbing problem, with water coming up through the newly exposed floor.  Greg had to break up the concrete floor and discovered the cast iron pipe (4" pipe?) was riddled with holes, just rotten.  So, we had more plumbing to fix, new pipe from the toilet to the yard.  It was lucky to find it at this point.  The toilet was also not working and needed repair.  

My goal was to salvage the tile and fixtures from the original half bath and find some great tile for the shower and floor that would pull everything together.  Planning was pretty flexible. Greg is great to work with, doesn't mind at all working to a point and then maybe changing plans.  He really tries to keep costs down.  We decided to take the half bath walls down to half height to let light into the shower and laundry part of the room, while preserving a bit of privacy.  Greg needed to mix, pour and level new cement floor to match level of house. With all this done, we could start on the decor part of the shower and laundry part of the room.

 Bigger view of room under construction, walls of half bath 
taken down to half height

Original tile detail, floor filled in and tiled, leaving 
one inch of original trim showing 

More next time, when I will tell you about the tile we chose, the shower fixtures, lighting, medicine cabinet and vanity, plus the artistic blending of the new and old tile in the half bath area.