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A 100+ Years Old Historic Home Rehab with Express Homebuyers
Brad and Jeremy are in Old Town Alexandria on Queen Street. It’s an historical district and the house they’re visiting today is about 115-120 years old. After struggling for several minutes with the lock, they finally get in. When Express Homebuyers first started developing a game plan for the renovation, the cellar was completely full of debris. There was so much trash, they couldn’t even see the walls. Once they removed everything from the basement, they found out that one of the foundation walls was failing. With the age of this house, and the condition that it was in, it was a pretty significant deal.
Plans Can Change When Rehabbing An Historic Home
Jeremy explains that he had the engineer come back out and they’ve revised the plan twice due to the existing site condition, because it’s always changing as you start adjusting the earth in the basement. They’ve already poured the footer. You can see in the video that the left side wall is failing. The fix for that is to build a CMU wall, which is a Concrete Masonry Unit.You build that wall basically underneath there so it becomes a block wall to support the house and keep it from collapsing in. This used to be just like the old stack-stone foundation underneath there.Brad asks, “You have the old stone wall, and then you’re building the new wall. Do you then fill it in with concrete behind, so that the stone wall sits flush up against the concrete? If that wall comes straight up, there is going to be a space between the backside of the cinder block and that dirt rock I see right there. So how’s that going to be? Do you pour concrete down in there?”Jeremy answers “No, they’ll backfill the backside of the wall with some gravel and then some dirt to fill it. But the most important part is to make sure that this exterior wall is sitting on top of this. That’s the most important part.”The important part isn’t the earth coming in toward the house, it’s the support of the wall. You want to get some packing back there, some backfill, so the earth doesn’t move and shift over and get lateral pressure against the wall, because that’s where it is the weakest. That’s why you definitely want to have some type of backfill in there for sure.Then where you see the rebar on each one of these things coming up – each one of those holes is called a cell – they’ll fill that individual cell solid with concrete to make it a little bit stronger of a wall.
Welcome to the Fun House
When they started working, the entire house was tilted all different ways. That’s why they originally dubbed it the ‘Fun House,’ because the walls over here were going this way, the walls over there were going that way. If you look from the back of the house, the roofing and everything was just going everywhere. They spent a lot of money on framing in this house. You can see all the new lumber that was installed here.They had to furr out the walls to make everything straight. They had to winch this wall over. It was a lot of work to get this back to being straight.There were a few little plumbing and electrical issues that have already been resolved too. So once the walls and inspections are completed, they can get the close-in and do the drywall.Walking toward the back of the house, Jeremey shows Brad where the crawlspace used to be and points out where they’ll add a new laundry room and powder room, and reposition the dining room. The kitchen will be in the main area where they came in, kind of an L-shaped kitchen with an island. Toward the front will be a family room area. Everything was reconfigured.
Extra Costs & Surprises
As Brad and Jeremy step through the back door into the back yard area, Jeremy notes that he’ll need to get on the guys about all the trash out there. The problem is the dumpster permit ran out, and it’s difficult and expensive – $400 a month – to get a dumpster permit in Old Town.Looking at the house from the outside, in the back, you can see that the whole upper level has been reframed. There is a new roof. Originally, everything was sloping this way and that. Now it still looks a little crazy, but it’s an optical illusion. Jeremy has personally been through everything with a level to check and make sure it’s all correct.Another surprise in renovating this historic house is the requirement that they put on all new exterior siding. The existing vinyl siding was in decent shape and they thought they could simply make a few repairs. But they’ve since learned that they’re required to use hardwood plank. Plus, they have to install special windows.Granted, it’ll look nice once it’s all said and done. However, when you’re renovating houses, you can’t do what you want to do; you have to play by the rules of municipality in which you’re operating, or else you get fines, you get smacked, you get brought to court; all kinds of bad things can happen.As they reenter the house and head upstairs, Jeremy points out where it’s been completely reframed and adjusted. They put in new structural stuff that goes all the way down to the footers, including a beam to help with the roof.Installing the HVAC was kind of tricky, as they made sure everything was in the right location, with as few bulkheads as possible. The guys did a pretty good job of laying out the ductwork.There’s only one full bath in this house (and the half on the first floor) and it’s just a regular 5’x8’ bathroom. They went with a tub instead of a surround because you usually have to have at least a tub, especially in a one bathroom situation.They were able to raise the ceiling height when they installed the new roof, so it allowed for a much higher ceiling height for the three bedrooms.This house has required a significant amount of work. Once the foundation wall is complete, what’s the timeline on finishing this project, Brad contemplates.By the time you put all the drywall in, finish the drywall, do all the trim, Jeremy estimates it’ll be about five weeks about five weeks or so.
Last Words on Rehabbing An Historic Home
Before they leave, Brad asks for Jeremy’s parting wisdom regarding working on an historic home. Jeremy recommends finding out exactly what you’re dealing with because there are a lot of rules, a lot of regulations, and a lot of potential costs that can derail you if you’re not factoring them in from the beginning. Profit can easily turn into a loss if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, if you’re a newbie, or haven’t done houses before, hire a consultant who knows the ropes backwards and forwards to make sure you’re covered.If you find this video helpful and want to get more valuable real estate investing tips, fill out the form below and/or subscribe to the YouTube channel at Express Homebuyers.
Rehabbing An Historic Home That Is 100+ Years OldBrad: Here we are in beautiful old town Alexandria. What street are we on?Jeremy: Queen St.Brad: Queen St. So we are going to a house that had some issues that we were not aware of. Jeremy, could you tell a little bit about the background of this property?Jeremy: This is an historical district, so I would guess that this house is probably over 115, 120 years old. When we first came in to develop a game plan, there is a cellar which you will see in there; that was completely full of trash and debris.Brad: So the basement or cellar, whatever you want to call it, was completely full of debris and we could not see any of the walls.We got all of the items and trash removed.Jeremy: And we might have a little issue here because this is broke, and this is a twist.Brad: Can you use the key?Jeremy: I don’t think so.Brad: The fun of renovating houses…Jeremy: Let me see here, see if there is something…Brad: Will this one work?Jeremy: I’m afraid to break it.Brad: This will work, I think. I’m turning it a little bit.Brad: Alright, so we were in the middle of a story when the lock broke, and I had to use the old credit card trick to get in. I should have caught it on camera.Anyway, so what we were saying is that we got the stuff removed from the basement, and then what happened Jeremy?Jeremy: So after we removed everything from the basement, we found out that one of the foundation walls was failing, and with the age of this house, and the condition that it was in, it was a pretty significant deal.We had our engineer come back out, and actually we’ve revised the plan twice due to the existing site condition, because they’re always changing as you start adjusting the earth in the basement.We can look over here to see, they have all the blocks here, but if you look down over here, they’ve already poured the footer. So we’ll be able to just put some…Brad: So it was left side wall that was failing?Jeremy: Yeah.Brad: And so what’s the fix?Jeremy: So, we’re going to build a CMU wall…Brad: And what does CMU stand for?Jeremy: Concrete Masonry Unit.Brad: Okay.Jeremy: And we’re going to build that wall basically underneath there so it’s a block wall now – it will be.Brad: And that’s to support the house and also keep it from collapsing in.Jeremy: Yep. And this used to be just like the old stack-stone foundation underneath there.Brad: So a question on this wall. You have the old stone wall, and then you’re building the new wall. Do you then fill it in with concrete behind, so that the stone wall sits flush up against the concrete? Do you understand my question?Jeremy: Up against what concrete?Brad: So if that wall comes straight up, there is going to be a space between the backside of the cinder block and that dirt rock I see right there. So how’s that going to be? Do you pour concrete down in there?Jeremy: No, they’ll backfill the backside of the wall. But the most important part is to make sure that this exterior wall is sitting on top of this. That’s the most important part.Brad: Oh, okay, what would they backfill with?Jeremy: There’ll be probably some gravel and then some dirt to fill it.Brad: So the important part isn’t the earth coming in toward the house, it’s just the support of the wall, the wall that is right there.Jeremy: Correct. And you want to get some packing back there, some backfill, so that way the earth doesn’t move and shift over and get lateral pressure against the wall, because that’s where it is the weakest.So that’s why you definitely want to have some type of backfill in there for sure.Brad: Okay.Jeremy: Where the rebar is on each one of these things coming up, they’ll fill. Each one of those holes is called a cell, and what they’ll do is they’ll fill that individual cell solid with concrete to make it a little bit stronger of a wall.Brad: Okay.So should there be people here? Should it be done by now?Jeremy: I think that…Brad: We’re waiting on permits?Jeremy: Yeah, we’re waiting on permits for this, so this might of actually been done prematurely. I’ve got to find out if they got the okay to pour that concrete, because normally you have to get a footer inspection before you…Brad: So, a hundred year-old plus house right now.Jeremy: So this entire house was tilted all different ways. That’s why we originally dubbed it the ‘Fun House’ because these walls over here were going this way, the walls over here were going that way.If you look back from the back of the house, which we can go out and take a look, the roofing and everything was just going everywhere. We spent a lot of money on framing in this house; you can see all the new lumber that was installed here.We had to furr out the walls to make everything straight. We had to winch this wall over. It was a lot of work to get this back into…Brad: So we are waiting on the permits, and once a wall is built, the foundation CMU wall, then we can get the inspections and then start on the rest of the house?Jeremy: That’s part of the frame. All the other corrections have been made. They had a few little plumbing and electrical issues that they’ve already resolved, so it’s just a matter of once we get this taken care of down there, then we can get the close-in so we’ll be able to do the drywall.So, we come back here – all this was actually where the crawlspace used to be. We are actually going to have a place underneath the stairs down there at this point.We added a new laundry room here, new powder room back here; this will be the dining room over there.Brad: So, powder room, and then dining room over here, which is the back of the house, window.Jeremy: The kitchen is going to be in this main area where we came in. It’ll be kind of an L-shaped kitchen going this way, with an island, and this over here in the front will be kind of like a family room area.Brad: Okay.Jeremy: So this was all reconfigured. Actually the kitchen used to be back in this area. I’ve got to get on the guys about all the trash back here, but the dumpster permit ran out, and it’s hard to get the dumpster permit.Brad: So, in Old Town you need a permit for a dumpster, if you can imagine that.Jeremy: And it’s expensive, too. I think it was like four hundred bucks a month to do the paperwork.Brad: Wow!Jeremy: So, we had to reframe. This whole upper level over here has been reframed. That is a whole new roof. When we first got here everything was kind of sloping this way. This roof over here was kind of sloping in this way; this one was sloping the other way. It was crazy.Brad: Still kind of looks like it’s…Jeremy: And a lot of it is an optical illusion because of the way things are.Brad: Right.Jeremy: But I went through there with a level myself and checked everything to make sure we are all back up.Brad: Well, look at the old neighboring house.Jeremy: This was a surprise to us whenever we came in and started going through the process. The historic portion of this is a little tricky in the fact that now we have to put in all new siding on the exterior, because the vinyl siding that was already here was in decent shape; we thought we were just going to have to repair back here.Now they are telling us that the entire siding has to be hardwood plank. Obviously we have to have special windows that need to be installed there as well. It kind of sucks, but it will look really nice once it’s all said and done.Brad: So, again, when you’re renovating houses, you can’t do what you want to do; you have to play by the rules of municipality that you are operating in, or else you get fines, you get smacked, you get brought to court; all kinds of bad things can happen.Jeremy: Come upstairs. Watch your step here. This is all new up here; it’s all been completely reframed and adjusted. We had to put in new structural stuff here. This is a beam that we had to put in to help with the roof. This goes all the way down to the footers.The HVAC was kind of tricky making sure we had everything in the right location, and try to not have as many bulkheads as possible. The guys did a pretty good job of laying out the ductwork.Brad: So this is the master bedroom right here that we’re in?Jeremy: Yeah, this will be the master bedroom here.Brad: Okay.Jeremy: There is only one bath, but it is what it is. It’s just a regular 5×8 typical bathroom.Brad: And why did we decide on a tub instead of a surround?Jeremy: Because usually you have to have at least a tub, especially in a one bathroom situation. It’s a one and a half bath situation I guess, because there is a powder room in the basement.Brad: Okay.Jeremy: So another bedroom here. It’s all new there. Then back here – this addition that we had back here, it was actually a lot lower then what it is now. We were able to raise the ceiling whenever we did the new roof, so it allowed for much higher ceiling height here.Brad: So a three bedroom, one and a half bath; there’ll be a half bath downstairs.Jeremy: Yup. Three bedroom, one and a half bath.Brad: If the wall was built today, when would we be hoping that we could finish this project?Jeremy: I would think about five weeks or so.Brad: Five weeks, so not a ton.Jeremy: By the time you put all the drywall in, finish the drywall, do all the trim, about five weeks.Brad: Okay. Anything else you think is important about this?Jeremy: Whenever you are in the historic areas, you definitely want to find out what you are dealing with, with historic, because it’s… There are a lot of rules, a lot of regulations, and a lot of potential cost if you’re not factoring it in from the beginning.Brad: Okay guys, if you’re buying an historic house, you better damn well know exactly what you’re doing, because a lot of profits can turn into a loss if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, if you’re a newbie, or haven’t done houses before, I would hire a consultant who knows this stuff backwards and forwards to make sure that you’re covered.Alright guys, if you think these videos are helpful, please fill out the short form below for more, and/or subscribe to our Express Homebuyers YouTube page. Thanks.