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Thread: Our fixer upper

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    Silver Member saimamom's Avatar
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    Default Our fixer upper

    We just bought our first house last week in Burlingame, CA. The market here is still pretty expensive. So we focused on finding something we can expand and fix up if it's in the right neighborhood. We get the keys on Dec.27th and will move in at the end of Jan. So we have a month to do some minor fixing and cleaning to make it livable. The house was built in 1918 so we'll basically strip it all down to the frame and rebuild from the inside out. There will be new electrical, pipes, ductwork and basically everything. We plan on living there while the crew works on the place. We have three kids, a 5yo, 2yo and a 3month old. Has anyone done this before? Can you live in a house with kids while it's being fixed up? We won't do it all at once. We plan on living in one section while areas are being worked on.

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    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    It takes good planning and securing off areas so the dust and debris doesn't get into everything. It's often impossible but it's been done. Once you start opening walls from homes that old, you never know what you're going to find in there. Sometimes it can prolong the construction.

    You've got to keep debris out of the kitchen, obviously. Surgical masks for everyone is a good idea. The kids will think it's fun wearing them. You've got to really be firm with the kids about not going into those areas. The 5 year old will be very curious and it's fun for one of the contractors to take them around (with you) showing them what work is being done. Keep them away from all the tools, etc. It's really a time to keep your eyes on them at all times. No wandering around, nothing to pick up and put in their mouths.

    There will be daily dust. You'll wipe off a counter and they'll be dust an hour later. It's in the air. Also, an air cleaner in a couple of non-construction rooms is a good thing.

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    I was able to rip everything out and do the remodeling while I was still living in my other house so I can address how this might work for you. I do want to say congratulations! Buying your first home is so exciting!!!

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Oh my goodness! This is good news-bad news! Please remember you will get through this and the memories will fade...will be fun though!
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    A*O
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    If you are ripping the place apart down to the bare bones then I would seriously think about beg/borrow/stealing a caravan or motorhome to live in, on site, especially with 3 small kids. No matter how hard you try the dust, debris and crap will get in absolutely EVERYWHERE and with such an old house there could well be hazardous materials (eg asbestos) to deal with. It's a terrific thing to do but it will test your patience and your sense of humour to the absolute limit so I wouldn't add to the stress by trying to live among the chaos. Contractors are messy buggers at the best of times and seem immune to noise, dirt and debris. You also have to consider the safety of your kids with all those tools, nailguns, etc etc. laying around. I know I sound neurotic but I've been there, done it and survived to tell the tale (just) and next time I will listen to my own advice and have a clean, quiet 'safety zone' for everyone's sanity. Good luck!
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    ^^AO is absolutely right. Find somewhere else to live during construction. The other thing to consider is mold. When they start opening up those walls, especially in the bathrooms, there's a good chance there will be mold and the spores will be in the air. Not good for the lungs.

    We just remodeled our master bath and just the 2 months of all 4 of us sharing the one other full bath was very trying. I can't imagine remodeling an entire house while living there!

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    my aunt and uncle rented a Big Clas A RV, 34 feet i think. they had 2 kids and lived onsite in it while their house was renovated. it worked great.
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    Silver Member saimamom's Avatar
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    An RV! That would be hilarious to have an RV parked onsite. But a very good idea. At this point I don't think we would go nuts and completely tear it apart at once. I'm not sure how the contractor would do it. But we would choose to work in sections and close them off as much as possible. I totally agree that I may be underestimating the amount of dust, debris, noise and danger there may be. My husband plans to send me away with the kids for couple months in the summer (in-laws) while he works on the major stuff.

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    A*O
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    That's a good idea. And whatever timeframe you have been given by the contractor to finish the job, DOUBLE IT and add another 10% and the project might be finished before 2010 LOL And watch them like a hawk for costs and how often they turn up for work. Builders are notorious for starting off all keen and busy and then slacking off as they take on new jobs elsewhere. They have to do it, but unless you are onsite or very nearby keeping tabs on what's going on, every day, they will mysteriously disappear or put a wall where you didn't want it. So the RV is the perfect solution and if you can't stand the sight of the devastation any more you can drive your 'home' to a nice spot for the weekend!!!

    Seriously, with such young kids I would be very mindful of the risks and hazards of such a major project. My neighbours next door did more or less what you are planning with their old place (it looks beautiful now) and they decided to seal off one room to live/sleep/eat in for a year. She quickly regretted it as the mess and dust was inescapable and her 2 kids (ages 2 and 5) were climing up and down ladders, nearly falling into old sewerage pits, poking around electrical wiring, getting in the way of guys with power saws, drills, nailguns, etc. Nightmare.
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    My parents went through a remodel. The contractor said it takes 2 to 3 times as long to do it if you stay in the house. So my parents moved into a little one bedroom apartment.

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    Elite Member missbazilb's Avatar
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    Also, hold back as much payment as you can until the work is done! As soon as they have the cash, they disappear!

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    My Grandmother always said take your estimate of time and money & double it. That will be just about right. I have found that to be true over & over!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member nwgirl's Avatar
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    We just had our floors done, and it only took three days, but I was stir crazy by the end of that time. And I don't have little ones. I can't imagine living there while they do all that work. Unless you're living in the upstairs while they do the downstairs or vice versa. I would get a travel trailer and put it outside or something, cause otherwise, it will probably get real ugly real quick.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    Congrats on the new place!!!!! I hope you and your family enjoy it.

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    Silver Member saimamom's Avatar
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    Thanks. We've been renters for all of our 8 year marriage. We were in NYC, LA and now finally in a suburban small town with kids. So it seems like it's finally time to own a home.

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