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D.I.Y.Without.F**kin'.It.Up?

DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So I'm not even close to ready to jump into anything yet but I'd basically like to eventually have an extension built onto the side of the house, convert the loft and convert the cellar to create more space in our home and take advantage of the space already there.

I was wondering basically how feasible it is to do these things yourself. Is it easy to learn? Is it even possible without extensive training?

I've got lots of free time basically but significantly less cash than it would cost to get these things done, my understanding being that Labour would be the bulk of the cost.

So don't panic, I'm nto starting this tomorrow, just wondering about the possibility of it.

DarkWarrior on
...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.

Posts

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Nope but thats something Id like to

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I think Deebaser was going to say if you've never even built a deck, you better not even fathom doing an actual extension on your own.

    I hope he wasn't going to say, "Well, it's the same thing but with walls!"

    You're going to be way in over your head with this project, and there is a possibility that you fuck up so badly that you ruin most of the existing house in the process. There is so much involved in building an actual extension that you would either need to be working with someone who knows exactly what they're doing or just hire someone to do it.

    You'll also need building permits, inspections, etc. You're basically building a house on the side of your house, and all things that go along with it.

    Edit: I'm mainly talking about the "build an extension onto the side of my house" part of your post. As for converting your attic, that would be much more feasible, but you'd still need to learn what you're doing to ensure you don't fuck with the structural integrity of the house in the process of your "renovation."

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    If you're serious about doing it right, get an experienced professional to do a consult with you on the modifications you want to make. Find out how much and how long to do the job; be prepared for the budget to double in size and the timetable to triple in length (though perhaps things have changed now that the building boom has busted). Once you have an estimate you can shop around for other general contractors and compare pricing. You can probably save some bucks by provisioning the materials yourself and providing yourself as labor and doing all the trim and finishing work.

    You may get "permitted" and "non-permitted" quotes. Ultimately the decision is yours, but if your stuff is not properly permitted or up to code the inspector can levy serious fines, hold up work, and may even demand you to return the structure to its original state.

  • Protein ShakesProtein Shakes __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA then you also need to get approval from them in most cases.

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  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Oh I know I need to get permits.

    So if they give you a quote theres nothing to just stop them doubling it? That seems wrong somehow.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I extended my attic 16 years ago, did all the work myself, but it was an existing, small room, with a staircase already in place.

    I removed the original lath and plaster walls and ceiling(very messy and dusty), laid new joists into the existing RSJs, attaching them to the external walls with joist hangers, laid new floorboards, re-wired 4 double plug sockets from 1, put in 4 wall lights replacing 1 nasty fluorescent tube, then built new walls using plasterboard (sheetrock?) by the lower roof purlins. I extened the room from 12' by 18' to 18' by 21'.

    I'd never done a project on this scale before, but had a really good DIY book, power tools, and a very helpful timber merchant, who checked my plans and gave me advice. The only help I had was in carrying the joists, plasterboard and floorboards up the stairs, and then LewieP's daddy held the plasterboard in place whilst I nailed it to the roof timbers after I'd lined them with insulating stuff.

    it was good fun, but hard work. The most I'd done before was fit a couple of kitchens, a bit of plumbing and re-wiring. My advice would be start small, practice lots, and if you can, make friends with your local DIY shop/timber merchant.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    So if they give you a quote theres nothing to just stop them doubling it? That seems wrong somehow.

    That's not what I meant. You won't necessarily blow the budget, but it's not uncommon. You discover mold or asbestos and have to deal with it, something is there that shouldn't be there or something that should be there isn't there, something hidden turns out to be busted and you gotta fix it, you discover part of the structure is not to code and you need to fix that, generally sometimes shit just happens.

    That's not including the temptation to "upgrade, cause why not, we're already spending thousands on this, might as well do it up nice, right?"

  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Even doing Kitchens seems like pretty good initial knowledge though. Seems a shame its so ridiculously rip-off expensive to have done professionally. Doesn't seem like it should be so hard to throw up a brick wall.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Djeet wrote: »
    So if they give you a quote theres nothing to just stop them doubling it? That seems wrong somehow.

    That's not what I meant. You won't necessarily blow the budget, but it's not uncommon. You discover mold or asbestos and have to deal with it, something is there that shouldn't be there or something that should be there isn't there, something hidden turns out to be busted and you gotta fix it, you discover part of the structure is not to code and you need to fix that, generally sometimes shit just happens.

    That's not including the temptation to "upgrade, cause why not, we're already spending thousands on this, might as well do it up nice, right?"

    Ah ok.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The cellar is probably doable on a mostly DIY basis. You could start with that.

    Before doing anything, though, check with your local council's Planning and Building regulations departments. Tell them what you want to do, they'll tell you if you need planning permission and anything that will have to be inspected as you do it. For the cellar you'll probably be OK, but the wiring will need to conform to building regs and either carried out, or signed off by, a competent electrician.

    Converting the loft and extending the side of the house absolutely will require planning permission, and you probably don't want to be doing stuff like fitting dormer windows if you have zero DIY experience. Another thing to bear in mind is that certain tasks, like bricklaying and plastering (even if you dry line and scrim the joints) are probably a lot more difficult than you think they are. I don't mean that as any kind of insult, it's just that most people who attempt them without having been taught how to do it are surprised by that.

  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    japan wrote: »
    The cellar is probably doable on a mostly DIY basis. You could start with that.

    Before doing anything, though, check with your local council's Planning and Building regulations departments. Tell them what you want to do, they'll tell you if you need planning permission and anything that will have to be inspected as you do it. For the cellar you'll probably be OK, but the wiring will need to conform to building regs and either carried out, or signed off by, a competent electrician.

    Converting the loft and extending the side of the house absolutely will require planning permission, and you probably don't want to be doing stuff like fitting dormer windows if you have zero DIY experience. Another thing to bear in mind is that certain tasks, like bricklaying and plastering (even if you dry line and scrim the joints) are probably a lot more difficult than you think they are. I don't mean that as any kind of insult, it's just that most people who attempt them without having been taught how to do it are surprised by that.

    I dont even know what dry-line and scrim'ing is so thats not a good start.

    What is so hard about brick laying though? I only ever see tehm "Brick, slap cement, brick, slap cement"

    The hard part would be the foundation to stop that wall just falling over.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited May 2010
    Bricks are hard because the cement has to be just right. Not only that but you need to plan the entire thing ahead. The cracks can't line up, and so you need to cut your bricks differently for every other row at a minimum. Not only that but you probably don't want every other row to be identical either.

    So either you're basically operating a masonry saw all day or you're doing all kinds of counting in advance. And when you're laying brick you have to work quick. And make sure you've got the right amount of cement. And it's hard as hell on your back.

    It sucks. It is not easy.

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited May 2010
    Bricks are hard because the cement has to be just right. Not only that but you need to plan the entire thing ahead. The cracks can't line up, and so you need to cut your bricks differently for every other row at a minimum. Not only that but you probably don't want every other row to be identical either.

    So either you're basically operating a masonry saw all day or you're doing all kinds of counting in advance. And when you're laying brick you have to work quick. And make sure you've got the right amount of cement. And it's hard as hell on your back.

    It sucks. It is not easy.

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • Roland_tHTGRoland_tHTG Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Honestly, if you can't explain and teach the skills needed to plan and complete this type of project to someone else you shouldn't plan to do them yourself.

    You should look for a local crew that could use a cheap willing to learn extra hand. After helping and watching a lot you will be able to do the work, (hopefully) have or borrow the tools to use along with coworkers to help, and the spare cash to buy the materials with.

    roland even though you are just living life until ragnarok

    us mortals have to deal
  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Hmm..makes sense. Best bet seems to be shopping around na dproviding your own materials then. Short of any problems appearing, 30,000 seems more than generous for building an extension.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • kaliakalia Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Watch a few episodes of Holmes on Homes, and then decide if you really want to mess with that yourself. ;)

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Hmm..makes sense. Best bet seems to be shopping around na dproviding your own materials then. Short of any problems appearing, 30,000 seems more than generous for building an extension.

    - Fence off/protect work area for neighbouring homes
    - Knock down existing wall
    - Clean up debris
    - Dig up your property
    - Pour footings/foundation for extension
    ... etc.etc.

    It's not as easy as "putting up a brick wall," as you put it. You'll need a crew, materials, permits, inspections, etc. It's not cheap, and although you "could" save money trying to do it yourself, it will take longer, and you could fuck up so bad that it will cost much more to fix what you broke.

    Like the poster above said, watch a few episodes of Holmes on Homes to see what can go wrong in a reno and how much it takes to take it down/correct it. I think there are a few episodes where he does extensions too.

    I remember one episode where the home owners paid $220,000 to have an extension built. It was never completed, the contractor sued the home owners for $550,000 and put a lein on the house, and when the new crew came in they took the entire fucking house down and rebuilt it. Everything. Unfinished extension and the original house.

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  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Figgy wrote: »
    Hmm..makes sense. Best bet seems to be shopping around na dproviding your own materials then. Short of any problems appearing, 30,000 seems more than generous for building an extension.

    - Fence off/protect work area for neighbouring homes
    - Knock down existing wall
    - Clean up debris
    - Dig up your property
    - Pour footings/foundation for extension
    ... etc.etc.

    It's not as easy as "putting up a brick wall," as you put it. You'll need a crew, materials, permits, inspections, etc. It's not cheap, and although you "could" save money trying to do it yourself, it will take longer, and you could fuck up so bad that it will cost much more to fix what you broke.

    Like the poster above said, watch a few episodes of Holmes on Homes to see what can go wrong in a reno and how much it takes to take it down/correct it. I think there are a few episodes where he does extensions too.

    I remember one episode where the home owners paid $220,000 to have an extension built. It was never completed, the contractor sued the home owners for $550,000 and put a lein on the house, and when the new crew came in they took the entire fucking house down and rebuilt it. Everything. Unfinished extension and the original house.

    Why? Could they not afford it or had the builder screwed up that bad?

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    It was screwed up that bad. The extension was actually pulling the house down because there were no footings.

    daniant wrote:
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  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    So definitely pick the builder carefully.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    So definitely pick the builder carefully.

    If you're hiring someone, make sure they are liscenced, ask them for references, and keep up on what they are doing. Don't take off for a few weeks and come back to find your place in shambles.

    Also, going with a friend or friend of the family is often a bad idea, since you won't be as stern as you should be when there is a problem.

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  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Figgy wrote: »
    So definitely pick the builder carefully.

    If you're hiring someone, make sure they are liscenced, ask them for references, and keep up on what they are doing. Don't take off for a few weeks and come back to find your place in shambles.

    Also, going with a friend or friend of the family is often a bad idea, since you won't be as stern as you should be when there is a problem.

    never pay in advance for anything, pay in instruments as work is completed, and only if your happy with the work up to that point. That way even if you do get a bad contractor/builders you can fire them at any time, and they can't run off with tons of your money.

    and if you do want to try some d.i.y stuff on your home I hearty recommend any popular mechanics book, great pictures and diagrams, easy to understand directions.

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  • soxboxsoxbox Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I'm not sure what things are like in the U.S, but in Australia all builders are required to have building insurance (builders doing small work can avoid this - most of the dodgy-ness is in the small reno market).

    If the builder screws up, its a hell of a lot easier to get money out of an insurance company than it is to get it out of a builder (who can probably not afford to pay and has a much better ability to disappear - probably by bankrupting the company that he used to build your home (which wont have much in the way of assets) and just start a new company).

    Now... if YOU screw up... where is your insurance? Does your building insurance cover DIY? Any job where you may potentially screw with the structure of your home and you don't have insurance coverage is a quick path to bankruptcy.

  • PelPel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Doing this sort of thing yourself is a prime idea. Putting up an addition as a first project, not so much. Start with a doghouse, advance to a shed, a gazebo, and a greenhouse or something. Then bug your friends/ neighbors to let you build all of these things for them, for the cost of materials. Then proceed to your cellar and loft, then the addition. If you have a head for this sort of thing, some attention to detail and the ability to adapt a tutorial to meet your specific needs, then you can absolutely do it yourself... eventually. Finishing your list, however, might take years, and might not end up saving you that much money because you will have quite an outlay in tools/equipment. On the other hand, you'll end up owning all of that equipment, and with what I consider to be a very fulfilling life experience and a much more livable and valuable house.

    Another thing to consider is that choosing a contractor wisely is very difficult in its own right. Almost any contractor can garner a number of glowing reviews from the projects he has completed, either from simple jobs or easily pleased customers, and to a competent but careless "professional" (a group which is not as small as you might hope), your house is just a paycheck waiting to be had. They will do things to the absolute minimum legal specifications: Doing your own work, in your own home, lets you choose the quality of your work. You can put those outlets just where you thought they should be, in the right quantity. You can choose the highest quality lumber, windows, cabinets, and the best appliances you desire. You can ensure that every detail is up to your own standards instead of bare minimum code. Just remember, when undertaking a major project, details are everything. To you, a difference of 1/16 an inch may not seem important. Later, you could well regret that assumption. If anything is even slightly wrong, take it back apart and redo it. This will be a learning process for you, and materials are cheap.

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Figgy wrote: »
    I think Deebaser was going to say if you've never even built a deck, you better not even fathom doing an actual extension on your own.

    I hope he wasn't going to say, "Well, it's the same thing but with walls!"

    Yup I was definitely leaning more towards the former than the latter. Building a deck is a good start, but even then I'm guessing you're about 5 to 10 years worth of heavy DIY home projects before I'd even consider doing an extension.

    I helped a buddy with a playroom extension a few years back. It was hard work for the group and we definitely would have fucked it up had his Dad, the manliest man in hammerville not been planning, supervising, and working his ass off with us.

  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Foomy wrote: »

    never pay in advance for anything

    Seriously. Not that every contractor is planning to rip you off, but you might suddenly find that your project isn't a top priority if they already have your money.

  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Djeet wrote: »
    You may get "permitted" and "non-permitted" quotes. Ultimately the decision is yours, but if your stuff is not properly permitted or up to code the inspector can levy serious fines, hold up work, and may even demand you to return the structure to its original state.

    Wait, what? Man, every place I lived, if the inspectors found out there was non-permitted work going on, any contractor involved would be in deep shit. Like, possible losing their license.

    There is a lot of books out there on how to do all the general contractor work, which is really just coordinating all the subcontractors (framers, electricians, plumbers, foundation work) and the various inspections and permits. Being able to recognize shitty work is a definite plus there.

    Start with some small projects, maybe find some friends who know what they're doing and offer to help. Though I've done enough of this stuff to really prefer to pay someone to get it done and do it right. A lot of it, like sheetrocking, framing, roofing is crappy work to do.

  • PelPel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    NODe wrote: »
    Seriously. Not that every contractor is planning to rip you off, but you might suddenly find that your project isn't a top priority if they already have your money.
    To be fair, a significant deposit for materials is not unfair if you find a professional, although, to keep them honest you can pay for all materials yourself at their request. This is the best way to save money as well: less scrupulous (read: most of them) contractors like lumping everything into one lump sum because fudging the numbers a bit on materials makes their labor costs seem lower, and even if their numbers are 100% legit, they know that, say, a $10,000 bill for the entire week-long project is usually more palatable than a $6,000 bill for labor only for 3 guys and a week-long project. Not that a good contractor doesn't deserve every penny you pay him and more: he does. Too bad that, without a large amount of information you may not have, you don't know which ones are good, which ones are competent but greedy, which ones are competent, greedy, and willing to be a little shady, and which ones should probably have not ever actually been released on parole, but instead served their entire 10 year sentence for check fraud.

  • PelPel Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Wait, what? Man, every place I lived, if the inspectors found out there was non-permitted work going on, any contractor involved would be in deep shit. Like, possible losing their license.

    There is a lot of books out there on how to do all the general contractor work, which is really just coordinating all the subcontractors (framers, electricians, plumbers, foundation work) and the various inspections and permits. Being able to recognize shitty work is a definite plus there.

    Start with some small projects, maybe find some friends who know what they're doing and offer to help. Though I've done enough of this stuff to really prefer to pay someone to get it done and do it right. A lot of it, like sheetrocking, framing, roofing is crappy work to do.
    Code varies drastically from place to place. Sometimes, it's more of a "suggestion" than a hard-and-fast rule. Usually it's better to just follow it: adhering to code is usually pretty simple, the tough part is usually the logistical difficulties it entails, scheduling inspections and coordinating different subs, and the additional ransom some municipalities occasionally charge you for the right to follow their often arbitrary rules.

    And what? Framing is pretty fun and easy. Drywall and roofing can go die, although good roofers are even harder to find than most other subs, and if you don't know them, watch them for a while, preferably from the roof, with them. You can often see immediately who knows what they're doing and who doesn't even if you don't.

  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Pel wrote: »
    To be fair, a significant deposit for materials is not unfair if you find a professional, although, to keep them honest you can pay for all materials yourself at their request.

    Right, to be clear, don't pay in full in advance.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Djeet wrote: »
    You may get "permitted" and "non-permitted" quotes. Ultimately the decision is yours, but if your stuff is not properly permitted or up to code the inspector can levy serious fines, hold up work, and may even demand you to return the structure to its original state.

    Wait, what? Man, every place I lived, if the inspectors found out there was non-permitted work going on, any contractor involved would be in deep shit. Like, possible losing their license.

    I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with here. People might opt to do a project non-permitted for cost and time considerations, and gamble that they can get the work done before anyone notices what's going on.

    This is not at all uncommon in the residential construction/remodel business, and for someone who doesn't know what they are getting involved in they should be aware that this practice happens.

    I'm not saying he should opt to do it that way; quite the contrary, I'd assume he'd want things done right and to more scrupulously examine a quote that significantly underbids others on time/money.


    Edit: Just for clarification cause it seems I'm being misread, I'm not suggesting non-permitted work be done, but that it is not uncommon and you should watch out for it. Non-permitted work doesn't have to be shoddy, but it is by definition, not permitted and thus there are downsides to having it done.

  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I'm not disagreeing that non-permit work is done, I'm just saying it's a really bad idea for a lot of things, especially really noticeable stuff like whole new additions. It can lead to all sorts of fun like getting your home owners insurance canceled, not being able to sell your house or having to rip it all down and start over.

    But what requires a permit will vary wildly from area to area. Pretty much anything structural will, like additions or new foundations. But if it's just interior remodeling, you need to call your city or county office and find out what's required.

    It helps to know someone who's done some of this to help you out a little on your first couple of times.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Even if you get the work done before "anyone notices," you're not in the clear. When you try to sell your home, the buyer's inspector will notice additions and find out whether or not they are permitted. If they aren't, you're going to lose the sale.

    "Work done without a permit" means "this was done by an amateur and probably wrong" in the eyes of a home buyer looking for problems.

    daniant wrote:
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    As someone who has created a floating (unattached to the house) deck, helped move a door & install a window (and redo the walls inside & out for the room), laid shingles, installed toilets & sinks, hung drywall and ceiling fans, and a couple other things, the biggest problem with DIY projects is the grim realization that the project is much bigger than you realized!

    A room is much more than frame & walls, and it's really easy to mess up a fundamental aspect of construction that you didn't even realize was an issue until you're almost done and things just aren't fitting together like they should.

    These are all projects that are feasible to DIY, of course. It's just a question of time and having everything well-planned before you begin. I would echo the advice above about doing smaller, shorter projects before you attempt something big. The first "doghouse" you make will probably stand up correctly, but will look pretty sad. The 4th doghouse you make will probably look pretty rockin'. You don't want your house to look like that first doghouse.

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  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    Thanks for the advice guys, I've decided to take a look at a few DIY books and videos first and do smaller scale stuff. I knew an extension would be a huge and lengthy project but yeah, don't want to get up to finishing the roof and realise everything is on a slant.

    ...it's in the shape of a giant c**k.
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