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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We've owned our 1931 Tudor for just under 8 years now. It's about 975sf on the main floor, with 2br/1ba, living, dining, and small L-shaped kitchen. The basement is mostly unfinished, with the exception of one cool bedroom built in the ~1940's. It also contains a 10x16' garage in one corner (complete with original coal chute and door).

The home has some really nice original details (leaded glass windows with stained glass inserts; mahogany trim; top-nailed oak floors; rough coat plaster; original handmade tiles in the bathroom; cove ceilings) that haven't been destroyed through 80+ years of 'updates'.

Front of house...just because


While the house is mostly okay for two humans, it presents a number of limitations:
-No outdoor living space (patio or deck). This stinks given our beautiful summers.
-No main floor guest bedroom. This is becoming a bigger issue with aging parents/relatives who cannot negotiate our terrible staircase. Plus, our one guest bedroom only has a single bed (by design).
-Only a single bathroom. Fine for two people that don't get up at the same time; terrible if you ever have a guest.
-No home office: My spouse works from home quite a bit, and the dining room table just isn't awesome for that.
-Limited storage space in the kitchen: It was partially redesigned by the prior owner who clearly biased form over function.

Initially, we looked at selling and moving--but quickly realized how financially challenging that would be. So, with the help of a good friend and extremely talented architect, we are doing the following:

-Finishing out the basement into a master bedroom, 2nd bathroom, walk-in closet, laundry room, and repurposing the existing garage into a media room
-Building a new garage onto the rear of the home, with a deck on top
-Redesigning the existing staircase, flipping its orientation (stealing the closet of the 2nd bedroom, which is built over the lowest point of the existing stairwell) and giving us a much better, safer set of stairs
-Closing off the existing stairwell door in the kitchen, allowing us to build a new set of floor to ceiling cabinets that also relocate the fridge and oven, making the kitchen work better
-Breaking out and replacing the basement slab, giving us a bit more ceiling height + a true thermal break
-New HVAC, electrical, plumbing, reline the sewer, new insulation in the attic...I know I'm forgetting stuff.

Project kicks off 4/2. I'll update when I can if people are interested. There will be a lot of interesting challenges--one of them being our home is only set back 6' from each of our neighbors' homes, making certain tasks challenging.
 

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Looks like a big project, but one that will be very nice and useful in the end.

Love the design for the garage and deck.

Looks like you have a good amount of basement space to work with. Combined with the deck it should make a big difference in living space and utility. I like the exterior green color of your house, too.

Are you going to do anything with the lally columns? I have them in my (finished) basement, which is a smaller space than yours, and I can't stand them because they make furniture and TV placement tough. I know there are solutions to remove them and replace with a steel beam but I'm scared to make a structural change like that. Just curious.

Thanks for sharing and please keep doing so if you have the time. Sometimes it can be difficult to undergo a big renovation AND document it, but it is fun to see. I've been thinking about starting a thread for my house, too. No way near the scope of what you're doing but I've done my fair share of projects on it already. When you're in the middle of a project and it seems endless, sometimes viewing others' work helps re-inspire to get motivated again. At least it does for me.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Are you going to do anything with the lally columns? I have them in my (finished) basement, which is a smaller space than yours, and I can't stand them because they make furniture and TV placement tough. I know there are solutions to remove them and replace with a steel beam but I'm scared to make a structural change like that. Just curious.
Thanks for the feedback.

The entire basement slab is being demoed and replaced, and the house will be seismically retrofitted. As part of that the columns will be replaced, and buried in a wall that will run the length of that beam. (The beam will be cut in three places and tucked up between the main floor joists to accommodate full height doors for the laundry room, bedroom, and closet.)
 

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Wow that's going to be incredible when you're finished.
The architect loves to simply replace that beam with a new one that's just tucked up in there & joist hanger all the floor joists. The old tablecloth trick. It's easy anybody can do it.
Ok I got 2 things, a whole bunch of bad ideas is better than no ideas. So take this with a graind of salt... The deck height looks like it'll end up right next to and slightly below your neighbors deck, I'd bring that side wall up full height so as not to be in the shade of their sunsetter... The other thing is I'd spin the exterior stair. Where the concrete walks up I'd want a slow grade to a downstairs door under the deck (where the old garage door was), and then spin 180° to walk up the stairs to the deck, unless maybe you're specifically not putting a downstairs door there since it'll be master bed/bath layout inside. It's too much, it needs the switchback IMO. It does push the stair further out & block any chance of a downstairs view though I guess.
TLDR... subscribed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the thoughts!

The city is requiring us to step the North wall of the addition back 1'5", so it won't be quite so close to the property line. The back yard faces due east, so all direct sun will be off the deck by ~2:00pm anyway; they have the shade for morning sun as that is off their kitchen (and it gets pretty brutal in the seating area directly inside when it's hot out--no AC).

Regarding the stairs--I'll raise that question with our architect. To clarify, though--the new garage will encompass a good deal of the width of the existing basement garage, and will have an interior door to the room that is being built where the existing basement garage is now (a media room). So there won't be an exterior entrance to the garage other than the main door off the alley. With the change to the North wall setback, it's not certain that the design as visualized below will still have an exterior door from the media room; still waiting for final drawings.
 

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Are you going to keep the current garage space as well so a 2-car tandem? Or repurpose the original garage to "living space" and have the new garage be the only garage?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Are you going to keep the current garage space as well so a 2-car tandem? Or repurpose the original garage to "living space" and have the new garage be the only garage?
We thought about going tandem, but the existing garage is so narrow (10'x16'--our Bolt EV *barely* fits, and you can hardly open the doors) it wouldn't work well. No way to add width as it's at least 18" lower than the rest of the basement + the room directly adjacent is finished and I won't alter it (it's too old-school cool).

We also decided that it'd be better for both our use and for future resale to re purpose the existing garage as finished SF. It's going to be our media room.
 

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Looking forward to seeing progress! Please update with pictures as you go along.

Always lament the fact there isn't a garagejournal for houses.

So this should be fun to follow!
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
...except it hasn't yet.

Waiting on a final bid from the HVAC contractor which will allow the GC to get us a final contract for review/signature. Hoping that happens by EOD today...fingers crossed.

Here are a couple of additional photos of some of the detail areas:

This is the 2nd bedroom that is becoming the office. The double windows will be replaced with the French door to the new deck


This is the stairwell that will be replaced


This is the wall/door being replaced by new floor/ceiling cabinets, new French door fridge and oven
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Not quite Friday, but progress has been made:







Basement/garage slab is fully demoed, asbestos (original ducting insulation) has been remediated, ductwork has been removed, half of the original ‘granny strip’ driveway has been removed.

Found that the footings for the foundation walls only extend down below the slab about 3.5” (at max) so now we are debating whether we underpin the footings to gain some more ceiling height. It’s not a cheap prospect, but would likely make the space feel more liveable (as well as improving resale).

Stay tuned for the next installment.
 

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