retrofitting an old house in the suburbs

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Cobby, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    It looks fairly likely that we might be buying a small 2 bedroom post-war timber home in the suburbs of Ipswich. It's on a 1/4 acre.
    The plan is to put in a vegge garden in the front and around the house, with a native garden on the nature stip. In the back we hope to put in a food forest with chooks in a paddock shift system.
    The house has been lived in by the same lady up until she died - I suspect possibly from when it was built! There is a tiny bathroom up one side and the toilet is on the other side down 3 steps into the laundry at the back. The poor dear must have found it hard going when she died in her 90's!
    Here's a Googlesketch of the basic layout now...
    View attachment 1335
    The toilet is in the far top left corner and the bathroom is the middle room along the bottom wall. I've put a deck on the back although there isn't one yet! The bottom left corner at a 45% angle is North.
    The plan is to move the 2nd bedroom in to the front room, open up the back wall from the kitchen/dining, and have the back half of the house opening onto a big (4m x 5m) covered deck. Also to extend the bathroom by about a metre and move the main bedroom entry to the hallway, and open up the hallway out in to the entranceway. The deck is to have 2 sets of sliding doors out onto it. Of course we'll have to find out if we can remove the wall between the kitchen and the 2nd bedroom.
    This is what we HOPE to do!
    View attachment 1336
    Hope this works!
    Anyway, can anyone suggest what would be a better senario? We've got very limited funds, in fact we'll be doing things as we can afford them. Once we've got the shed up (1st and most vital as we've got 5 bedrooms worth of stuff going into 2!) We plan eventually to insulate the walls and replace the panels with Modakboard, add to the roof insulation, insulate the floors, probably add to the windows to make them double glazed - add a tank/s up to 20k litres and put in a wastewater treatment unit and solar panels. Not much really :sweat: !
     

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  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Cobby,

    Oh what fun! You're going to learn a lot, and hopefully have fun doing it too. Good job on the sketch-up drawings. Sketch-up is a great planning tool and free too!

    It would seem that with the toilet already separate from the bathroom, a greywater system would be fairly easy to implement (if your council allows it).

    Depending on your codes again and ceiling heights, even a bearing wall can be "opened up" with some headers over the opening (just like you'd put headers over a door or window to provide continuity of support for the ceiling joists). It's fairly easy to identify a bearing wall: the ceiling/roof weight being supported by the wall must be transferred through the floor directly to the ground, via a post to a pier block or footing. Bearing walls don't sit on the floor without something underneath to support them (unless your floor is concrete slab-on-grade, in which case it's already directly coupled to the earth).
     
  3. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Beware of lead paint and asbestos.
     
  4. xelly

    xelly Junior Member

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    hey Cobby.
    To see if you can remove the walls just pop your head in the man hole. Ours all the structual walls (apart from the outter ones) are just the ones that make the hallway I think? which allowed us to knock one out at one end (because it was at the end of the hallway - the one between the kids rooms) and another one that ran at right angle off the hallway.
    Ours doesn't have asbestos and it's probably the same age. My mum & partner helping - her partner made us remove everything at a snails pace to ensure we didn't break anything as we may need the skirting boards/wall caps? whatever you call those strips. Good idea tho ;)
    DEFINITELY agree get the shed done first. ours is quite neglected - we had a 4 bedroom house + a double garage full of stuff so now in a 3 bedroom with 1 garage it's a bit crazy!
    As I was telling your hubby - we pulled the carpet up in the hallway but at the moment I'm keen to leave the kids rooms carpeted (ours is as well but it's newer carpet) cause we aren't ready/can't afford the floors to be done yet but rugs help and you may be able to get some through freecycle?
    We got our insulation from bunnings and my hubby laid it down (he's not very handy but learning LOL!) so it's not been too bad (we moved in here last June/July)
    I would love to replace our walls but atm they are OK so just painting the cruddy things ;) blue walls with blue ceiling in one room and our room is cream with a pink ceiling!! ARGH! lol!

    where would you put your water tank? I was thinking of one near my daughters window (I'll try do a sketch to show you the floor plan) but now wondering if a bladder one under the house would be better- not sure.
    I also want to put a deck on. and we had to redo our kitchen! it was lacking... WAY lacking. 2 doors & 2 sets of drawers :( had all the food on shelves I already had till I got a second hand one on ebay thank goodness! saved alot of money thanks again to mum & her partner. It's very exciting. We have done alot in a short time I've been told but for me I want everything done yesterday ;)

    Goodluck!!
     
  5. TheDirtSurgeon

    TheDirtSurgeon Junior Member

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    A word on bearing walls... ask a carpenter. I have seen a bearing wall removed by homeowners with no knowledge of what they were doing. Roof damn near caved in.

    And I was told once of a guy who sawed out all the webs in his roof trusses to make an attic.

    I'm not saying you have to pay a fortune for an expert engineer; just get the eyes of a guy who knows his shit.
     
  6. xelly

    xelly Junior Member

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    oh know :( saw the trusses! kinda funny but really sad at the same time. in my roof it's easy to see and I assume Cobby's house would be similar after speaking with her today. my mum's partner isn't a carpenter by trade but as a hobby - I googled images to help identify the trusses before I looked in the roof lol. had no idea still till I looked and mum's partner double checked my assessment ;) (I'm a math teacher he was an engineer in the DF)
    - supposed to refer to my not being very practical in comparison lol
     
  7. TheDirtSurgeon

    TheDirtSurgeon Junior Member

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    Aw, don't say that! Math is highly practical. The world is a better place for the more people who can handle it. One can't be a carpenter or engineer without it.
     
  8. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Looks good, great sketches on sketchup - Im just starting to learn how to use it.
     
  9. xelly

    xelly Junior Member

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    hehe it is but I'm not with regards to home reno's ;) learning as I go
     
  10. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Thanks 9anda1f - I'm really looking forward to it!
    I love sketch-up, found it incredibly easy. My brother has just downloaded Sweet Home 3D for me, and it looks alot more complicated! (It's free too.)
    We are hoping to add another toilet into the revamped bathroom.
    Good point about the headers, I hadn't thought of that. No it's all on stumps, bar the small laundry at the back.



     
  11. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Yes, thank you, that is a concern. We intend to completely remove and replace the wall and ceiling panels, so there shouldn't be a problem there. I'm aware we need to remove it using certain protocols. The builder who did the building inspection said there wasn't any asbestos, hoping he's right!

     
  12. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Yep will do that - should know by early next week if it's ours! I'm a little concerned to be going into winter without the carpets - we may have to get some rugs. Although we would prefer the cold, I think, the whole house smells of old stale smoke... For the tank I was thinking on the bathroom side, between the bathroom and what is now the 2nd bedroom window on that side of the house. I really only like the galvanised tanks, so the decision is easy. Our kitchen is remarkably good - old and I'd like to replace the benches with a nice natural edge wood, but it's quite useable for now. You can see pics of the inside if you put 48 Chubb St, One Mile, into Real Estate.com.



     
  13. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Oh for sure! I don't have the experience and neither does my partner. But he works in a large organisation where someone is sure to know someone who knows their shit!


     
  14. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Jumping the gun a bit considering you hadn't bought the house when you posted, but...
    I'm broke and my place is old and cold. In the medium-term, I think good curtains with pelmets are a great investment. To get the most out of them, the curtains must be heavy fabric, touch the floor and have separate lining.
    I have an asbestos roof, which, from what I can find out, is pretty much indestructable as long as no-one ever tries to stand on it, cut it, etc. Anywhere else, I'd have been way more nervous!
    I've had my soil out the front lead-tested and it was very contaminated near the houses' dripline. But my place is over 100 years old, so there's more probably been more repainting, which is a major factor in moving the lead around. Maybe your place hasn't even been repainted?
    I was planning to plant edibles out the front and did lots of research after getting the lead results. Lead apparently has no effect on plants and is relatively inert. The main danger is ingesting lead from the soil, so I only grow fruiting plants and mulch the area really heavily.
     
  15. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Still waiting on finance...
    Heat is more of a problem here, and the house is fitted with outside 'venetian' style blinds that you can wind open or closed according to the sun direction. Admittedly winter is cold albeit breif. We do plan to pull op the carpet (stale smoke pong) and polish the floorboards too, after we level the floors! The lead testing is a good idea, definitely something I will be doing before I plant in it.

     
  16. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    Well a month and 3 (failed) contracts on other houses later...!
    We are at the same stage (bar the building and pest, haven't done that yet) that we were last time I posted, with another (the fourth!) property. The bank vetoed the first one, said the house was in such poor condition (not according to the building inspection?) that they would only loan on the value of the land, leaving us thousands short! So we halted that. THEN we went into a multiple bid on a nice highset Qlder nearer the centre of town - but the other guy got it as he had cash. The third one was another nice lowset Qlder on a bit over 1/4 acre near the first place. The owner came down $5k but we could only get within $5k below that, and he wouldn't budge, so there went THAT one! Now we are waiting on buiding and pest report, and finance, then HOPEFULLY we will have ourselves a house! It's a small 5 bedroom place (one beddy is tiny) on nearly 1/3 acre, with a secret orchard full of different fruit trees up the back! We are offering more than we have for any of the others (they started out asking $30K more than we had!) but we've compromised in the middle, and this one is PERFECT. I've stopped believing we are going to actially get one, though, lol! Time will tell. I WON'T do a sketch-up of it until it's ours! But the first one at least taught me how to use it - knowledge gained is never wasted!
    Adie
     
  17. Cobby

    Cobby Junior Member

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    A quick update on the above contract - we GOT IT! Moved in in April 2012 and it's coming up 2 years we've been here.
    Love the place, have got a pemie from the Sunshine Coast to come down and do a plan on it for us, and am in the process of implementing it. We've done very little to the house as in August '12 my job was terminated when the business I worked in closed down. So no money to speak of. BUT I've had inspiration to bring forward the plans to eventually build a cob house on our own (rural) land! I'm going to do it right here.!
     

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