Beginning stage of planning a huge remodel to 1857 farmhouse
Amanda Short
November 16, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I would love to have advice. I have spoke to two architects. Meetings scheduled. We (4 kids, me and hubby) are maxed out in space. We are raising the roof to add a second story. Three bedrooms to come. House has eight inch laced brick walls. Huge kitchen with LOW ceiling!? Wonder if there's anything under it? I'm sure to run into unknowns, but anybody know what's common in these old houses?
Second story
Three car garage with apartment
Kitchen/bath/laundry room remodel
Pictures to come
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Amanda Short
There seems to be at least one addition, a mother in law suite. The new brick in the middle used to be porches on each side. They were in closed to create a mud room on the left side and bath, laundry room on right side. The house has no vents to second story. Only window ac units and propane furnace. 200 amp box should support addition. Would like to attach attic spaces, new and old, and place ac unit in attic with ceiling vents to addition and existing second story.
November 17, 2013 at 5:03pm   
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Great house! I can't offer you any advice about construction but as the owner of an old house do have two suggestions. One, contact the County Assessor's office (online might work) and get a copy of any and all building permits that have been pulled on your property. This will help with the house's more recent history. Two, work only with contractors and architects who have lots of experience remodeling old farmhouses in your neck of the woods. It's critical to hire people who have opened up many walls and ceilings in buildings similar to yours, and are familiar with local materials and construction methods used over the decades. They may not give you the lowest bid, but they will give you a more realistic bid and probably save you a bundle before you're done. Good luck!
November 17, 2013 at 5:27pm     
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FINNE Architects
We have worked on many old houses and there are always "surprises." By cutting holes in ceilings and walls in selected places, you can try to get a sense of what you will find when you begin demolition......good luck!
November 17, 2013 at 6:36pm     
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Document all meetings and keep copies of anything you give a contractor to follow. Have a contingency fund. Experimental tends to be expensive.
November 17, 2013 at 6:57pm     
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Amanda Short
What sort if questions do I ask the architect ? How do I know when I find the right one? I have a meeting set up. Is it okay that they work for the same company as the builder? I haven't met builder but same company.
November 18, 2013 at 9:41am   
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Again, I'm no expert, but I am not a wealthy woman and cannot afford to make terribly expensive mistakes. If it were me, after telling the architect my goals and priorities and giving him/her a tour, I'd sit back and listen. Then I'd ask pointed questions about his/her experience working on projects similar to mine. I'd ask if my budget range is even remotely realistic or if my project scope needs to be rethought. Remember, this is just an introductory meeting. You will want to go through this process with several architects before proceeding to a formal bid process.

Design/build firms are very common in my community. Even on small projects it seems to me that many contractors and architects/designers work together informally to survive in the lousy economy. Before you decide on an architect you'll want to meet with the contractor because he/she is the one that has to make the vision work in the real world (not to mention becomes your new best friend or worst enemy for many months). Take your time choosing your team. Get references. Talk to your neighbors. Trust your instincts. IMO, this is the most critical decision of your project.

P.S. I cannot recommend Angie's List highly enough.
November 18, 2013 at 10:00am     
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Clear Lighting and Electrical Design
Plan and then plan some more! All of the comments above are great!! We have a white paper on our web site about how to hire an electrical contractor. The same methods could be used for all of the designers and contractors for your project. You must check references and discuss their experience with your ideas and home needs.
November 18, 2013 at 10:09am     
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Amanda Short
Thank you all so much for your insight. Construction is to begin march to may 2014. I have plenty of time to plan, and not being a wealthy woman either, would like to avoid costly mistakes. It's hard to know who to trust with my money and my home. I will follow your advice and let you know how it goes. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
November 18, 2013 at 3:52pm     
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Amanda Short
Clear LED, I looked at your selecting an electric contractor. Very good tips. Bookmarked for future selection. Definitely getting an education! Thank u!
November 18, 2013 at 4:49pm   
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