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  1. #1
    Electric Six groupie
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    BG Homeowner and DIY Thread - Out of the Basement Edition

    So, like me, you finally decided to venture out of your parents basement and stake it out on your own. There’s so much to worry about and you don’t have the slightest clue what adulting is in your 30s. Let’s discuss the life of living in a house!

    This thread is still under construction (I like puns).

    -----------------------------------------------

    About Me (aka who the hell is Jaybar and why am I listening to a dragoon)

    My background is in architecture, and this thread is going to dive into the many aspects of renting and owning a home from the viewpoint of a designer, engineer, and tenant. I have a BA in Architectural Studies and a Masters of Architecture, and a couple exams away from full licensure edit Fully licensed in Illinois now! I’ve worked at design firms focusing on residential low-, mid-, and hi-rise construction with a particular interest in adaptive reuse. My current occupation is with an architecture/engineering firm with a very wide project diversity. My concentration is in historic and contemporary masonry buildings.

    We will break down this thread in a few categories listed below:

    Locating a home
    Inspecting a home
    Designing/Renovating a home
    Maintaining a home
    Selling a home (jk I’m not a real estate agent)

    Please feel free to open the discussion to questions outside of these areas - hopefully I or someone in the business can help!

    -----------------------------------------------

    Locating a Home

    Many individuals will have their own wants and needs when it comes to finding a location for a new home. This topic deserves a lecture on its own. It’s up to the individual to discuss with an agent or spouse/partner/roommate the various aspects that affect living conditions. This ranges from regional location such as proximity to school districts, crime rates, and access to transportation to the type of spaces within a home. This OP will assume you have made these decisions and are ready to inspect some prospective properties or plots of land! Feel free to add to the discussion if you need assistance with finding the right home.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Inspecting a Home

    TL:DR Hire an inspector if you plan to live in the house/apt long term.

    Ok, you cross listed a bunch of properties on a local real estate website or with an agent and are ready to decide what’s going to be best for you or your family. The problem is how do you know what’s a red flag when looking at these homes?

    There are many red flags that can be observed from the exterior alone, and they are a good indication about the condition of the interior spaces. Let’s discuss exterior first and then interior afterward.

    Exterior Inspection

    The critical point of a home is to protect the dwellers from the harsh elements of the environment. The most deadly element known to architecture is water. Water is pure evil. Do not trust its thirst quenching ways. It will destroy your home. This is why the first thing you should check out is the roof, gutters, and surrounding landscape.

    A roof is built to shed water and keep the sun off your head (will not protect against Meteor). There are many types and subtypes of roofs:

    The two prevailing types of roofs are gable and flat roofs. Certain locales may prefer one type over the other. In heavy snow climates you may see steeply pitched gable roofs to help shed snow off the structure. The type of roof isn’t critical in purchasing a home, but the material it is made of is incredibly important.

    Contemporary gabled roofs and similar subtypes have opted for cheap asphalt shingle roofs. Drive down any neighborhood and I guarantee you will see them. Some areas with distinct styles or vernaculars will employ more traditional roofing methods like slate tile, clay tile, etc. Natural clay and slate tiled roofs have a great life expectancy when installed and maintained properly. Asphalt shingle roofs are notorious for short life spans but have easy and low cost of installation. When looking at a home, it’s imperative you discuss with a landlord/agent the history of repairs and issues with the existing roof. An asphalt shingle roof that is 20 years old is likely nearing its life expectancy and will need to be replaced before long. Since inspecting a non-flat roof is dangerous, it’s a good idea to hire a third party inspector to get a good assessment of its condition. Do this if you expect to be living in your home for more than 15 years.

    Flat roofs are usually made from four different types of waterproofing membranes as opposed to shingles: EPDM (black or gray rolls of rubbery plastic stuff), TPO/PVC membranes (white, single-ply membrane), liquid applied membranes (shiny or black tar-like substances), and modified bitumen (rolls of thick black sheets with granules on top). These are harder to inspect from ground level since they are hidden by roof parapets, but much safer to inspect when on the roof. If you do inspect it personally you’ll want to check for ponding water, clogged drains, split seams and membrane laps, properly secured metal flashing along parapets and walls…just hire an inspector nvm.

    Gutters and drains act as the transportation of water from the roof away from the home. See “Maintaining a Home” for more. The gutter should be secured to the building and the downspout should allow water to exit and wash away from your building.

    The landscaping around your home should be pitching AWAY from the house. However, sometimes neighbors’ homes will divert a high volume of water away from THEIR home that could overwhelm your own local landscape.

    It would be a good idea to visit these locations on rainy days to see how the building sheds water, how well the gutters perform, and if there is any local flooding/ponding of water.

    The building enclosure and facade of a home are designed to prevent air, moisture, and galkas from entering the interior spaces. My specialty is in masonry enclosures. Thinking about writing about this topic would require a research paper to explain. I’m going to skip over this section, but in general check the walls for loose siding/materials, efflorescence of masonry (white flaky stuff), cracks, well bonded sealant/caulk (not peeling off the surface, no cohesive tears, not cracking or looking scaly). Sealant has a good life of 10-15YRs at BEST. Ask the building owner about repair history.

    Interior Inspection

    When inspecting the interior of a building you’ll want to make sure it fits your needs spatially, it is structurally sound, and that any damage is cosmetic.
    • Are the rooms large/small enough?
    • Do you have any disabilities that prevent full mobility through a space?
    • Is there any visible water damage?
    • What kind of repairs were performed, if any?
    • Are windows and doors drafty or tightly sealed?
    • Does plumbing run through exterior walls (only an issue in climates that get below freezing)?


    There are a lot of other extraneous issues that you can look for depending on your location and type of building. I’m only going into basics, but if you have questions about particular issues please ask away.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Designing and Renovating a Home

    If you are hiring an architect or designer to build/renovate/rehabilitate/etc a home, know that you have three major items to manage:

    Time
    Budget
    Quality

    Think of them like buckets of water, and if you want to fill one with more water you have to take it from the other buckets.

    If you want to expedite the schedule, it will come at the cost of increased budget or lower quality.
    If you want to lower the budget, it will come at the cost of lower quality or longer schedule.
    If you want to increase the quality, it will come at the cost of a higher budget or longer schedule.

    I’ve come across all too often the owners that want it all, right now, and at the highest quality. You need to be reasonable. If you find that you are going to run over budget you will need to value engineer (hate this) items out of the design. This OFTEN means quality diminishes either in material or labor. Keep contingencies for factors out of your control, such as weather or unforeseen conflicts (labor strikes, tariffs, material supply, etc).

    Since this section depends heavily on your personal projects it will be best to bring up questions/concerns in the thread instead of trying to list them out here.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Maintaining a Home
    UNDER CONSTRUCTION

  2. #2

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    you the man, baby

    I'll dive in with our roof issues and hopeful projects maybe this weekend.

  3. #3

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    i love my house; even got it for 100k under what it was appraised at last.

    still wish i hadn't bought it.

  4. #4

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    Quote Originally Posted by mallister View Post
    i love my house; even got it for 100k under what it was appraised at last.

    still wish i hadn't bought it.
    Care to elaborate?

  5. #5
    The Optimistic Asshole
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    I've had my house for about 12 years. Noticed some sag in the living room last week. Had a contractor out friday. Woooo boy. My sump pump wasn't adequately pumping water from this particular section of the house. My house is at the bottom of a grade, so water runs into the crawl space. Well, the section that wasn't getting pumped was soaked in moisture. The floor joists and support beams were completed rotted. You could flick the wood and it would crumble. Tomorrow they start work.



    Mold treatment, scrub, and spray
    Clean out the space and haul away debris
    exchange floor joists
    insert support beams
    waterproof the crawl space (insert a french drain around the entire perimeter)
    install new sump pump.



    $7500


    Actually pretty stoked about that cost. They're gonna have to do about 250-300 linear feet of that french drain. I'll have to upload pics of how bad it is.

  6. #6

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    the house is 41 years old, and was built before anyone gave any sorts of a shit about energy efficiency. i live in the central valley in california where it regularly gets 110+, i have 30' ceilings, and the west facing side of the house is single pane glass in 6'X8' panes.

    it has 25 square feet into the flood plane, which means i also have to buy flood insurance. i thought this was bullshit right up until last year when the creek overflowed right up to the edge of the pool. it's not something i will complain about again but the expense wasn't anything i had anticipated when moving out here.

    the electrical system is old and the previous two owners did some 'improvements' that aren't exactly up to snuff. the heater/ac is both very old (dropped 3k on it the first summer getting it overhauled) and i seriously doubt they are rated to cover the size of the house.

    the pool is old, and while i replaced the old AC pump with a variable speed DC pump, it's a constant expense and is a giant pain in the ass.

    i put solar in, and holy shit was that an ordeal. i could write a novel. the house is an A-frame and no one would work on the roof b/c of the steep pitch. of course, no one would do a ground mount system either because apparently people tend to drive trucks right up to them and chop saw them apart to steal them. took 6 months to take care of and because my house has such a huge energy consumption rate because of the shitty AC and poor insulation, ended up with a monster system that ran $93k installed.

    neighbors are...unique. we're 20 miles outside fresno but just outside a little town called sanger, so not as far in the sticks as we'd like. one neighbor decided to start raising sheep. lots of sheep. we are surrounded by orchards and since we're on the periphery, coyotes and wild dogs are everywhere. that means security lights and his pair or Great Pyrenees that bark 24-7. across the street, our neighbors regularly throw parties with live tejano music going all night. they at least toned it down year before last, after we finally broke down and called the sherrif's department because they were still going strong at 2am on a tuesday. other side of the house was a vacant lot, until this old guy bought it, real friendly, said he was going to build a house there. what he did instead was park an old RV on it and store junk, oh, and raise goats.

    that's the big stuff. there is a multitude of little things that suck money constantly. really, i simply had no real frame of reference for what this was going to entail or how much it was going to cost, and keep costing. we did a cost analysis based on what we thought things were going to be like before we pulled the trigger, and boyyyy were we off base.

    edit:
    now, the upside i guess to all this is that property values in this area have roughly doubled since we moved in. the downside is the place needs 20-30k in repairs before we try to sell it and i've got too many pots in the air to try to juggle loans for repairs, moving out, and paying for a new place while this one sells while putting my wife through nursing school. after she gets out in 3ish years, none of this will really matter but until then it makes me sweat a bit. i had sort of a 5 year plan, and just completed it. i am still mapping out the next 5 years.

  7. #7

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    These are the horror stories we seek.

    thanks mallister and Tyche

  8. #8
    Electric Six groupie
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    Yea in Tyches case that's what I was mentioning about local landscaping sloping away from the home. Excess water in the soil that doesn't drain will destroy a foundation ESPECIALLY in areas prone to freeze thaw cycles (if I recall, that's not your case Tyche?) When building foundations they will pour concrete slabs on a bed a gravel and have drain tile below to help collect water and drain it away from the foundation. Our old neighbors were required to install that in their side yard because all their gutters ejected into the side, basically flooding the area including our own house. After the installation of drain tile we never saw it again. 7500 is a steal, though.

    Sorry to hear about the shitty Cali house. 1970/80s homes are automatic strikes off my list for various reasons. Were you saying that people regularly steal pipe scaffolds in the area? Sounds like bullshit but I don't live out there.

  9. #9
    Cardiac Cat
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    For any DIY or those of you that want unbiased opinions and information about repairs/remodels I was a carpenter for 10 years.

    Now when I say carpenter, that means everything but electrical and plumbing, though I have some experience in those.

    Decks, tile, interior trim, painting, exterior trim and siding(including Hardi plank), custom fabrication (cabinets etc), full remodels etc. You name it, I've probably done it. The last bathroom remodel I did before changing industries was $480k. So I've done everything from tiny decks to multimillion dollar homes.

    I can be a point of reference. For DIY fair warning, I'm going to be very blunt about what's out of your ability in an effort to save you time, money, and most importantly keep you safe. I've witnessed too many nightmares, both from a cost standpoint and a "he lost a fucking arm," standpoint.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Tekki's Bitch
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    Currently waiting on the city to send someone by to take core samples of the property which will dictate if I am able to add a 2 car cover thereby freeing up the garage to be built up to 2 stories and attached to the house. Only been waiting 3 years... Also looking up options for the driveway which is ancient asphalt that is all broken apart and clogs my only drain leaving the garage to flood any time it rains. Repaving new asphalt seems to be the cheapest but i've heard of other options beyond cement that may be doable for similar cost and last longer.

    Neighbors just fumigated their house last week too and now my garage has rats, i hate them and their 14inch filth beasts.

  11. #11

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    @jaybar they don't steal the scaffolding, apparently, they steal the ground mounted solar panels. two groups flat dropped me when i told them i wanted ground mount because of it.

    that was their excuse as to why they won't do them, anyway. take that for what it's worth.

  12. #12
    Chram
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    +1 to making sure the grade is away from your property.

    We bought our house 4 years ago. It's below street level at the bottom of a hill and water flows towards my house. I can't even begin to describe the number of problems this has caused over the years. Soil erosion being pretty high up and a constant problem whenever it rains. A realtor also noticed we have mold in one of the rooms in our house that we never use and said it was probably due to moisture due to the grade. Now that we're buying, I won't even look at a property where the grade isn't away from the house.

    Also, just general homeowner advice you can find videos to DIY just about anything. I've learned how to change a chandelier, replace the thermocoupler in my hot water heater when we had no hot water, and how to replace drywall among other random crap. Obviously not everyone is a professional like Gadritan said, but you can save a lot of money just doing random shit around your house.

  13. #13
    Electric Six groupie
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    Quote Originally Posted by mallister View Post
    @jaybar they don't steal the scaffolding, apparently, they steal the ground mounted solar panels. two groups flat dropped me when i told them i wanted ground mount because of it.

    that was their excuse as to why they won't do them, anyway. take that for what it's worth.
    Ah misunderstood your post, then. That's real shitty, all right. Do they drop you because they might hold liability? I'm surprised they would even care if the installation was stolen after the fact.

  14. #14

    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    i think people bitching about it to them and trying to hold them liable was just more trouble than it was worth. i don't think anyone would have a leg to stand on legally. my shit is fenced in, but that wouldn't mean anything if you're bringing tools to dismantle something that size.

  15. #15
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    Another +1 to inspect crawl spaces and other areas for moisture.

    My house is in the middle of a slope and at the edge of a flood zone. The house itself is slightly above the flood elevation, but the corner of the foundation and the deck is within the flood zone.

    When we did the final walkthrough of the house, we noticed a smell and seemed to trace it to the sink cabinet. We were planning on ripping out all the cabinets anyway, and the cabinet was gross, so we were okay with it. Turns out the subfloor was rotting because the sink and the fridge were leaking. I posted about this in other threads as well. My brother and I replaced the subfloor in the kitchen, but after noticing that spot I've gone around the other rooms and noticed one more in the bathroom between the tub and the toilet. There are three layers of subflooring plus some waterproofing under this entire section of the house, but at least the lowest layer is rotted through on 60% of it.

    My wife and I weren't there for the majority of the inspection because it was done too early in the evening and we were pressed for available time and days. Our realtor was there and the inspector did point some things out to us, but it doesn't seem like he actually went into the crawl space. The former owner was also apparently up their asses the entire time, following them around as the inspection took place.

    Anyway, check your subfloors for rot if you live in a wet area. I'm going to have to replace the subfloor in a fair section of the house in the next few years based solely on that rot. This is probably my largest issue with the house we bought. There are also some trees we're going to need to get taken down, so keep that in mind as well. It sounds dumb, but if you're not looking at homes during a time when the trees are blooming and have leaves you may want to get an arborist or landscaper to look at them. Luckily, the two main ones that need to be taken down are at the corner of our property away from the house, but they are bare and I'm afraid they won;t even last through another winter.

    As far as DIY, like Xerlic said, you can find quite a bit of information online. If you're at least somewhat proficient with tools you can take on lighter tasks yourself (and friends when needed). I have a civil engineering degree and work as a project manager for a contractor that handles city infrastructure contracts so I have some background in this kind of stuff. Plus, my dad always did the work himself so I've done my fair share of assisting. I think that most people would be able to do demo themselves, as well as install cabinets and run some electric. If you're going to run electric DON'T BE A FUCKING IDIOT. Main breaker goes off, stay away from the feeds coming into the box, check the circuits with a non-contact voltage tester, make sure you're using the correct cable for the job. Indoor and outdoor cable is not the same. Don't direct bury cable for outdoor lighting/outlets/anything. Run conduit first, then feed the cable through. Use GFI/AFI breakers and outlets where necessary.

    Drywall is a pain in the ass. A lot of times you can find someone to do drywall for you fairly cheap and much better. I spent three weekends doing drywall because of the various cuts and corners in my kitchen plus taping and spackling. I will never tape and spackle again. I avoid plumbing as well. I don't want to get involved in the drain lines or sweat soldering water lines. Newer construction may use PEX lines for water, which may be easier, but my house has copper.

    EDIT: We are below the street, so along the street there is a small rock wall that helps divert some of the runoff. Plus we have a garden area that blocks half the house. Might be an option for those below street level that get water runoff.

  16. #16
    Special at 11:30 or w/e
    Sweaty Dick Punching Enthusiast

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    Bought a foreclosure four years ago without any inspections. YOLO. Joking about YOLO but it was a push made by the bank since it was FHA approved. 1300 sq ft 2 story 3 bed 1 1/2 bath two car detached garage for $52K. Zillow rates it at $89K now and comps have recently sold between $90k to $115K.

    Only issues we've had are normal things for a house built in 1929. Although the last two months we had to replace our hot water heater and the transmitter inside the furnace.

    Our house is on a slight hill and we really need to do landscaping on the south side for water prevention. We've never had any huge issues, but the potential is there. I'm handyman retarded so our previous landlord's guy extended his services and he's awesome. Only charges $25/hr and nothing extra on parts/materials.

  17. #17
    The Optimistic Asshole
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    Probably gonna be a couple thousand dollars more into this endeavor than originally expected. One room is pretty much on dirt. Needs excavated and more joists and beams. It was sitting on bricks! They're digging holes and installing concrete pier-like supports to hold all the new stuff. Look at that wood!




  18. #18

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    I tried with a friend and we couldn't clear the issue ourselves with a drain snake, so there goes the frugal option. And now the estimate is $400. Bitch, why is a drain cleaning any more than $100?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyche View Post
    Probably gonna be a couple thousand dollars more into this endeavor than originally expected. One room is pretty much on dirt. Needs excavated and more joists and beams. It was sitting on bricks! They're digging holes and installing concrete pier-like supports to hold all the new stuff. Look at that wood!

    [IMG][/IMG]

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Jesus fuck, when you walk around inside does it sound like a house from a horror movie?

  20. #20
    The Optimistic Asshole
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    It all started when I noticed a spot in front of the couch had a sag and a little bounce. Other parts of the house aren't sagging, but aren't perfectly level either. Right now I'm $7500 into this. Hoping to keep it under 10k.

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