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Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project

 
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Old 02-24-2018, 05:35 PM   #1
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Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Met a couple who purchased the worst (old) house on the block, one of the original houses which I would guess is 150 years old. Pier and beam, tin roof, odd sized rooms and layout and vacant for 30 years but weatherization issues were mostly addressed.

what kind of pitfalls might you expect in an old house where a goal is to add space and keep the character of the original house. Wood floors, walls and ceiling throughout. I already told the homeowner to have the paint tested from three different locations inside the house.

might it be more wise to make an addition for the kitchen space vs revitalizing the original kitchen (size is not an issue)? I usually have some good ideas on layout come to me during an initial meeting, but this house has an odd layout.
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Old 02-25-2018, 05:24 AM   #2
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Quote:
what kind of pitfalls might you expect
Everything. If this is your first historic rodeo - you are going to get thrown fast and horned.

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Old 02-25-2018, 07:36 AM   #3
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Double check on all of the weatherization. That has to be first and primary. A house sitting that long will have a lot of issues. Mechanically you will likely start from scratch. A wise old carpenter once said "two wrongs make a right". This should be your credo when having to match up new areas with old areas.
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:03 AM   #4
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Around Austin? Start with the obvious, rodent damage, especially to wiring, and termite damsge.

Interior wood walls and ceilings are going to leak air like a sieve.

As far as lead paint, forget the owner testing it, if you're RRP certified you can't use their test. If you aren't RRP certified, someone else will need to do any demo of coated surfaces.

Do detailed measurements of the rooms, and see if there is some lost space somewhere.

Cheapest IMO is to just add on.
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:11 AM   #5
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Hows the roof cut paul? Can you drop some beams above the ceiling and move some walls to gain a better layout?

Is it in a historic district and will they let you add on? Austin is ridiculous even when it is not historic.

How much deflection in the ceiling and floors? Can you get in the crawl space and attic?

Is the yard draining under the house like a lot of abandoned houses? Cause issues there?

Like warren said plan on new meps which means a gut. If you gut it you may run into an issue with our new energy code zone requirements - both air exchanges per hour and if spray foam will cause issues with the old structure.

Good luck brother sounds like a great job if the have the budget.
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Old 02-25-2018, 01:27 PM   #6
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


lots of wise words there! The house is in New Braunfels, a popular spot for German immigrants back in the day.

Re: the lead testing, the HO is currently removing trim inside the house and I was telling him personally he should have it tested before contaminating himself. IFF I get involved, it's definitely before 1978 and RRP applies.

The new energy code does have me concerned. All new MEP's would be required, the 60 amp box mounted outside and electrical outlets screwed to the wood with exposed wires won't cut it these days.

A cursory visit looks as if there is no crawl space, maybe 8-10" under the floor system and drainage is very likely an issue. I did adivise them about the 'character' of an old house with wood boards for walls, ceiling etc. In my limited experience, pull up the floors and reinforce the joists makes sense.

is blown cellulose in old walls without a plastic barrier not advisable against wood (interior and exterior)? An architect is going to be involved, I don't have the knowledge base to make this a successful project.
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Old 02-25-2018, 01:47 PM   #7
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


For where you are, it should be a vapor retarded on the exterior. Blown in cellulose should do fine there.
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Old 02-25-2018, 02:14 PM   #8
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


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For where you are, it should be a vapor retarded on the exterior. Blown in cellulose should do fine there.
If hes in comal he can barely get his r value (assuming 2x4) using 4 psf blown in, up here in Burnet and Llano counties he wouldnt pass without +20 in the walls. Only way around that is 2 inches of closed cell, that passes regardless of r value with municiplaities here because it keeps air exchanges to the required less than 3.

If you dont poly that drafty old house right with anything but closed cell youll fail the door blower test and air exchanges. He gets less than 5 in Comal which is a big improvement.

In zone 3 i go closed cell everytime.

I imgaine there are PLENTY of problems with closed cell and an old house too if its not gutted interior and exterior to the skeleton.

Hope for a good inspector and bring these up prior to permiting and prior to the scope

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Old 02-25-2018, 02:20 PM   #9
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


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Originally Posted by AustinDB View Post
lots of wise words there! The house is in New Braunfels, a popular spot for German immigrants back in the day.

Re: the lead testing, the HO is currently removing trim inside the house and I was telling him personally he should have it tested before contaminating himself. IFF I get involved, it's definitely before 1978 and RRP applies.

The new energy code does have me concerned. All new MEP's would be required, the 60 amp box mounted outside and electrical outlets screwed to the wood with exposed wires won't cut it these days.

A cursory visit looks as if there is no crawl space, maybe 8-10" under the floor system and drainage is very likely an issue. I did adivise them about the 'character' of an old house with wood boards for walls, ceiling etc. In my limited experience, pull up the floors and reinforce the joists makes sense.

is blown cellulose in old walls without a plastic barrier not advisable against wood (interior and exterior)? An architect is going to be involved, I don't have the knowledge base to make this a successful project.
I think your being kind to architects.... unless its one who specilizes in old house remodels.

Only way id deal with architect on a remodel like that is to be involved from the beginning and that the Architects and Engineers go through you as a design-build package. They will just complicate everything if they are left of themselves and the homeowner, and they will not add a lot of value or any at all except for some Aesthetics most likely.

That's why I use Vince when I handle design instead of my dad drawing it. I tell Vince what I want and how I want it, he draws it and I take it to the engineer having already formulated everything I need, and he either approves it or makes changes necessary and approves it. The cost is much lower and it is a much more efficient and valued process in my opinion.

Think Jackie when I say architect, they are of the same breed. Just will cause a massive choke hold in the middle of the job if there are changes to be made, and you wont make a dime while your waiting and neither will your subs. Just my personal opinion

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Old 02-25-2018, 02:40 PM   #10
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
If hes in comal he can barely get his r value (assuming 2x4) using 4 psf blown in, up here in Burnet and Llano counties he wouldnt pass without +20 in the walls. Only way around that is 2 inches of closed cell, that passes regardless of r value with municiplaities here because it keeps air exchanges to the required less than 3.

If you dont poly that drafty old house right with anything but closed cell youll fail the door blower test and air exchanges. He gets less than 5 in Comal which is a big improvement.

In zone 3 i go closed cell everytime.

I imgaine there are PLENTY of problems with closed cell and an old house too if its not gutted interior and exterior to the skeleton.

Hope for a good inspector and bring these up prior to permiting and prior to the scope

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Old houses and closed cell aren't always a good mix. Either way, if he can avoid triggering some of the modern requirements that will be tough to meet without tearing the place all apart and putting it all back together could be a good thing.

A strange floor plan can be tough to work around.
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Old 02-25-2018, 02:42 PM   #11
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


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Old houses and closed cell aren't always a good mix. Either way, if he can avoid triggering some of the modern requirements that will be tough to meet without tearing the place all apart and putting it all back together could be a good thing.

A strange floor plan can be tough to work around.
If it's a cool inspector or Development Department he should be able to make it work without having to do a lot of energy upgrades. I would definitely think you would have to rewire the new HVAC though.

You think the municipalities would be smart enough to realize when someone buys an old house they don't want it to be new...

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Old 02-25-2018, 08:35 PM   #12
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Maybe they have exceptions for code requirements because it is historic, might have to be registered. I remember we were working on a project that was registered with the feds I believe and seem to remember a number of exceptions, the only good thing about that one.
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Old 02-26-2018, 05:17 AM   #13
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


I just subscribed to this because I was curious. I spent some time in Austin, a couple years ago.
Just wanted to see where this goes.
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Old 02-26-2018, 04:53 PM   #14
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Maybe they have exceptions for code requirements because it is historic, might have to be registered. I remember we were working on a project that was registered with the feds I believe and seem to remember a number of exceptions, the only good thing about that one.

Firecode is where these can kick in heavily. There's no such thing as grandfathering firecode issues. There are seperate rules for remodels, but if it's historic, you're allowed to use performance based standards instead of prescriptive.

It isn't required to be on the national historic registry, just the local officials have to agree it's historic.
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Old 02-26-2018, 05:05 PM   #15
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


The biggest wild card here is what kind of restoration are we talking about. Some people will disturb as little as possible, and do everything with a light touch, others stop just shy of dismantling the whole thing, numbering as they go, then restoring the individual pieces and putting it all back together. There's no telling.

I've probably spent 80 hours taking down narrow crown, stripping it, filling it, sanding it, and prime coat for maybe 50 linear feet. It would have been way faster and less expensive to just buy an almost matching profile. HO wanted the original, but looking like new.
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Old 02-26-2018, 05:14 PM   #16
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Another issue you can have. You can plan out all the cuts for wiring, plumbing, etc, but as soon as you turn your back, some sub is going to cut something that can't be replaced. I've had to take out a ceiling to be able to match ceiling tiles that were trashed.

Depending on your build, taking one room and salvaging everything in it can be a smart first move. Gut the whole thing to get cavity access for Meps, it can save you time and give you materials for repairing the rest of the house.
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:20 PM   #17
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


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Another issue you can have. You can plan out all the cuts for wiring, plumbing, etc, but as soon as you turn your back, some sub is going to cut something that can't be replaced. I've had to take out a ceiling to be able to match ceiling tiles that were trashed.

Depending on your build, taking one room and salvaging everything in it can be a smart first move. Gut the whole thing to get cavity access for Meps, it can save you time and give you materials for repairing the rest of the house.
Shipping containers are vreat for this. I would use on every major job if the municiplaities allowed it. I even offered to paint them the approved colors
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:33 PM   #18
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


When you say historic, do you just mean old, or its on the historic register? True historic buildings have a lot of red tape as far as changing the exterior, the colors, and even expansion work. If its simply old, your actually in much better shape.

The way you describe it it could be a handful. If the foundation is good, and the beams havent settled much, your in very good shape already. If the beams have sag, and the floors are uneven, you have to decide if your trying to do resto work, or just "make it work". Some of the spans of timber used back in the day cannot be purchased today, and you will have to switch over to LVL's or ibeams. You should run all new electric and plumbing if possible. Tin roofs can last for 200-300 years, depending, and so can a lot of these homes.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:34 PM   #19
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Re: Looking For Insight On A 'historic' House Project


Forgot, if its actually on the historic register, you can actually apply for federal tax incentives and state tax incentives. The amount is a large percentage of the actual "value" of the home before it kicks in.

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