Should I tear out the walls and start over?
February 1, 2013 12:10 PM Subscribe
I live in a one-floor condo unit that was, to put it mildly, poorly built. I, and all my neighbors, have dealt with too many issues to count regarding insulation, wiring, and even window and door frames. I'm no longer satisfied fixing things one at a time...
posted by trivia genius to Home & Garden (24 answers total)
My condo is a one-floor unit, 2 bedrooms (1500 sf total), with units above mine and garages with storage rooms below. Through trial and error, my neighbors and I have discovered that our building was poorly constructed.
Here is a sampling of the issues:
-entire swaths of exterior walls are missing insulation (in multiple units)
-storage rooms in the basement area (which each belong to a single unit) aren't all properly wired to the owner unit's breaker box. My storage unit is on my upstairs neighbor's box, but his and another unit's are both wired to mine. Luckily they don't have anything plugged in down there.
-light switches in bedrooms that aren't wired to any wall outlets (there is no overhead lighting or even a cap in the ceiling that would indicate this is the purpose of the switch)
-light switches in hallway and kitchen that do nothing (or could be wired to another unit)
-poor-quality coax cable causing signal drops (cable co has determined signal strength and quality is excellent where cable enters building; quality drops are due to bad quality coax and inefficient splitting within the unit)
-door and window frames that are so crooked they all have drafts coming in around the frames (not from the windows themselves)
A few concerned neighbors and I have done some research and determined that we can't go after the original building or contractors for these issues (built in 1987), and that there aren't enough disgruntled owners to force the condo association to pay to remedy these situations for all affected units. So it's left to us to fix individually.
I think it would be brilliant, and cheaper in the long run, to rip out all the dry wall within my unit and solve all the problems at once. I could put in new insulation on the exterior walls, square all the door and window frames to eliminate drafts, and have an electrician fix and/or re-wire the problem switches, outlets, and circuits (plus move inconveniently placed outlets and put correct labels on the breakers!), string new coax and add Cat6 everywhere I think I'd want it.
Having an electrician come out to inspect and do all the work at once has to be cheaper than calling one in every time I hit my breaking point with a dead switch or outlet, right? Squaring the windows and doors to help eliminate drafts will save significant money in heating and cooling going forward, as will new and actually completed insulation. The addition of Cat6 and replaced coax would just be an added benefit, probably not enough to increase sale value but a good talking point for realtors down the road when we sell.
I don't have actual dollar figures, but I anticipate needing to spend money on the following:
-coax cable, Cat6 cable, and mounting/outlet supplies
-labor for electrician to fix and (re-)wire everything I need done
-wall supplies (dry wall, tape, plaster, new baseboards and crown molding, etc)
-paint for finished walls
Between myself and family we can competently handle putting in new walls that won't look shoddy, so my primary concern for professional assistance is the electrical work.
I estimate that ripping everything down would take a full weekend, then I could have the electrician in for a few days (all week?) to do everything, then probably another full week to 10 days for the walls to go back up. So looks like 2-3 weeks total. I figure we'd only actually have to sleep elsewhere for a few of the nights, when there is too much dust or paint fumes in the air.
So tell me - am I crazy like a fox, or just plain crazy? What am I missing here that would make this project much larger and/or scarier than I've anticipated? Can anyone provide rough estimates for actual costs?