Sunday, March 19, 2006
Please sir, might I have some more....??
Steve & Jocelyn said meekly : "Please, sir, can we please have some more hair-raising work that needs to be done before undertaking the 2nd floor project?"
That's how it's been this week. I've had a little pit of anxiety in my stomach about this BIG project and managing the costs.
We realized that we need to address something before we renovate the upstairs. It can be done of course, but it will cost some money and since we have a finite amount, I tend to worry about running out. The posts attached to the overhead beam(seen left), which support the load bearing walls in our building are rotting and over the years the center of the building has dropped around 3/4".
We need to address this structural issue before drywalling etc... because when you lift a house, the walls can crack and things you don't want moving (like pipes) can move as a result of the lift.
Steve spoke with a company that specializes in repairing structural problems over the phone and we got two options. The ultimate fix would be to remove the wooden posts and beam, raise the building, and replace them with a steel beam and posts. That would cost a mere $11K. The second option would be to remove the rotting posts, lift the building, and replace them with new wooden posts only. That would cost about $4300.00. We asked him how long the wooden post solution would last and he said our lifetime. We are not planning to go for the steel beams. I don't think I need to explain why.
Interestingly though, Steve was watching This Old House this morning and they had a segment on doing this exact replacement project with steel beams and posts. Granted the episode might have been a few years old, but on the show the price tag for steel replacement was only $2000.00. We don't know what to think now. We have to get some more quotes I guess.
In addition to this issue, we discovered that the power coming into the building is only 100 amps and by today's standards, we need 200 amps. Added cost: $3000K.
Then yesterday, we met with a plumber (the fun just never stops) and he presented to us a number of upgrades that would need to be done to reach code requirements for a multi-unit building: Replace the hot/cold piping with 1" (current 3/4" and they are only about 3 years old), install booster pump (helps water pressure to 2nd floor), replace bathroom stack (drain) and connections, and add a dedicated drain for the d/w. Estimated cost $9K-$12K. I've decided I hate City of Chicago building codes.
We asked the guy for a written quote and he said that he would not provide a quote until we hired him, which Steve thought was ridiculous. How can we compare quotes without having one?
So yesterday, we literally spent all day with an excel spreadsheet and going over quotes and budget crunching numbers to come up with decisions for this project. We just can't do everything that could be done on the building at this time. We're doing alot, but we can't do it all! And, I want to make sure we have some money left for our apartment for the den remodel and the floors to be refinished. One thing we had to cut was the rooftop heating/cooling system. But we figure later on we can go with Unico and we love our radiators anyway. We are also holding off on touching plumbing. We will deal with opening a few walls if we have to in the next few years. Blood from a turnip- say no more.
It was painful, but we came to some decisions yesterday. This is probably the most angst I've had since I last conducted a job search a few years ago. During the meeting with the plumber I felt like hyperventilating but I kept myself under control. I have to admit that dealing with this project has made me a tad short tempered, which I don't really like but kind of can't help.
But, the good news is: Steve and I mostly agree about what is most important and what we want to do now and we have a budget that we can live with.
Today, we're going to look at some projects of one of the guys we are considering hiring. He seems pretty good and we may go with him.
This coming week, we will be hiring an asbestos abatement company to come in and get this stuff out of our basement. It seems some of the support beams have pipes going through them (God knows why) and working with them will disturb the asbestos. It will be a good thing to get this stuff out of the building for good anyway! Some of it kind of crumbly as you can see in the below photos. Scary!