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Completely Renovating an Old House

  • 22-04-2021 9:39am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1 Mark Cadman


    There’s an 80 year old house that has been left to somebody who is looking at doing extensive renovations to it at the end of the summer. It’s in probate at the moment. Just trying to get the thought process started way ahead of time. I’ve some experience with construction and design but not extensive.

    It’s a large house, old style, almost Irish Farmhouse, i.e., 9ft ceilings downstairs, 8ft upstairs, front door in the middle of a long elevation, big tall window to either side of the door and 3 tall windows across the first floor. The house is poorly laid out, lots of small rooms and halls. It is not a listed building.

    It appears that it was all poured concrete walls, downstairs and up. Whether or not it was reinforced with steel, who knows. Half the house has a poured concrete floor downstairs, half of it is a suspended timber floor. There is a large extension to the rear, many years old, double height, questionable foundations.

    The thinking for the house is;

    - Gut it internally, remove all walls, ceilings, intermediate floor. Basically, walk in the front door and you’ll be looking up at the rafters.

    - Tear up the raised timber floors, pour solid floors up the level of the existing solid floors. Lay a new underfloor heating system on top of this.

    - Demolish the extension with unstable foundations, perhaps add a new extension.

    Questions, questions, questions!

    - I assume if taking all walls out, the house will need to be propped while works are ongoing. Roof seems to be a traditional cut roof, sat on long elevation walls, not sure if it’s being supported on any intermediate walls upstairs. In my experience temporary propping/supports on site is to contractor design?

    - How is radon dealt with in this situation, pouring new floors but retaining existing external walls?

    - External walls seem to have no insulation, just rendered solid concrete. Presume that externally insulating is the way to go here, any suggestions on ‘best’ buildup? Does window line need to move out to cater for this?

    - New internal walls downstairs will be masonry, assume the existing floor needs to be broken out where relevant and excavated some and a foundation poured for the walls?

    - If a new extension is added to the house, does the whole house need to be upgraded to current building regulations, or just the extension constructed to the regs? Seems like it could be very onerous if an extension is added to get the spec of the existing up to modern standards.

    - If a new extension is added, would a renewable energy source be required, solar, or air to water heat pumps or anything like that?


    I know there’ll be a world of extra questions, but trying to get the head straight on a lot of areas long before actual work will start.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,319 ✭✭✭✭ Dempo1


    There’s an 80 year old house that has been left to somebody who is looking at doing extensive renovations to it at the end of the summer. It’s in probate at the moment. Just trying to get the thought process started way ahead of time. I’ve some experience with construction and design but not extensive.

    It’s a large house, old style, almost Irish Farmhouse, i.e., 9ft ceilings downstairs, 8ft upstairs, front door in the middle of a long elevation, big tall window to either side of the door and 3 tall windows across the first floor. The house is poorly laid out, lots of small rooms and halls. It is not a listed building.

    It appears that it was all poured concrete walls, downstairs and up. Whether or not it was reinforced with steel, who knows. Half the house has a poured concrete floor downstairs, half of it is a suspended timber floor. There is a large extension to the rear, many years old, double height, questionable foundations.

    The thinking for the house is;

    - Gut it internally, remove all walls, ceilings, intermediate floor. Basically, walk in the front door and you’ll be looking up at the rafters.

    - Tear up the raised timber floors, pour solid floors up the level of the existing solid floors. Lay a new underfloor heating system on top of this.

    - Demolish the extension with unstable foundations, perhaps add a new extension.

    Questions, questions, questions!

    - I assume if taking all walls out, the house will need to be propped while works are ongoing. Roof seems to be a traditional cut roof, sat on long elevation walls, not sure if it’s being supported on any intermediate walls upstairs. In my experience temporary propping/supports on site is to contractor design?

    - How is radon dealt with in this situation, pouring new floors but retaining existing external walls?

    - External walls seem to have no insulation, just rendered solid concrete. Presume that externally insulating is the way to go here, any suggestions on ‘best’ buildup? Does window line need to move out to cater for this?

    - New internal walls downstairs will be masonry, assume the existing floor needs to be broken out where relevant and excavated some and a foundation poured for the walls?

    - If a new extension is added to the house, does the whole house need to be upgraded to current building regulations, or just the extension constructed to the regs? Seems like it could be very onerous if an extension is added to get the spec of the existing up to modern standards.

    - If a new extension is added, would a renewable energy source be required, solar, or air to water heat pumps or anything like that?


    I know there’ll be a world of extra questions, but trying to get the head straight on a lot of areas long before actual work will start.

    Best wishes with this project.

    I'm not an experienced builder but purchased a 200 year old cottage 20 years ago and hard too believe still doing some work.

    The best advice I can give is absolutely insure whatever roofing work, improvements insulations etc are done first. I made the foolish mistake of starting bottom up renovations first.

    Secondly plan your heating systems, pipe laying, plumbing etc, again I did flooring and later had to lay radiator pipes.

    Plumbing, waste etc next, is their a septic tank? If so needs to be looked at, cleaned or upgraded. From there plan your toilet, bath and sink configuration and waste.

    Internal layout is easy once you've the above resolved.

    Obviously windows and correct ventilation when improving external walls, keep in mind ventilation was not really a priority 80 years ago.

    You ask about extension. Obviously planning considerations needed, your allowed a certain size at the back of the property. I decided to go for a substantial metal framed side extension, sitting on a solid one pour 2ft tick foundation, essentially doubling the size of my cottage. Very experimental, Timber frame, marine ply, insulated and heat treated cladding. Windows solid teak, floor to ceiling double glaze, open plan with full apex ceiling open. Stove installed and has essentially become my main leaving area, sitting, dining room. Extremely cost effective and a full 3rd of the cost of block construction. 15 years on, as good as new and one coat of wood treatment on exterior.

    Professional advice always advisable of course and I had lots throughout my project albeit completing what I could my humble self.

    Good luck, sound like a challenge ahead.

    Is maith an scáthán súil charad.




  • Registered Users Posts: 3,292 ✭✭✭ 0lddog


    Do your sums. In many cases old stuff is beyond economic renovation :(
    Of course its a different storey if renovating for sentimental reasons :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Asandra


    If you are going to make repairs, my brother, who is engaged in repairs, recommends that you first replace the doors and windows, this is very important. I read somewhere on the Internet about a site where they replace doors and windows, and I even wrote down a link to this site.<snip>. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but that article had a lot of positive feedback about the work of this service.

    Post edited by Boards.ie: Niamh on


  • Registered Users Posts: 252 ✭✭ Biker1


    As this would be considered a major renovation then you will have to achieve a BER of B2. Pay for professional advise for both what is required and how much it will cost. Everything else is just guesswork.



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