Please help me not screw up this home renovation project
March 31, 2011 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Seeking advice/tips/what-to-avoid related to a home addition project (details inside).

Hello everyone: I am considering taking on what, at least to me, is a large and intimidating home renovation project. This will consist of adding a family room/den and a screened porch to my home. Although I have had the usual run of homeowner type issues come up over the years, this will be the first "new" construction I have ever launched.

Planning this has left me more than a little overwhelmed. I am hoping that the hive mind can help me brainstorm what to do as far as

1. What details and extras to be sure to include in these new rooms....I don't want to be almost through with construction and realize "dammit I forgot the__________."

2. What advice you have as far as dealing with a general contractor in a scenario such as this.

3. Any other tips you would be willing to share from your (hopefully not-so-painful) experience.
posted by Ginesthoi to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When building a screened porch, here are 2 nice things to include:

1. Screening under the floor, so mosquitoes and other bugs don't come up through the cracks between the floor boards.

2. If the porch is located above dirt (on posts like a deck), spread some chicken-wire type stuff (plastic, nylon, whatever's cheap) on top of the dirt. This prevents neighborhood cats from using that nice cozy, dry space under the porch as a litterbox. Many otherwise lovely screened porches smell of cat piss.

Don't skimp when deciding what kind of building materials and finish you're going to use. The weather is awfully tough on a porch, especially if you're in a moist climate. If you're going to paint or stain, it's much better to apply it to the wood before the porch is constructed, so you can cover all sides of the wood. This is a big pain to do, but I wish I had. Because of moisture coming up from the ground, I can't keep paint on my porch floor even for a year without it peeling.

Happy lemonade!
posted by Corvid at 6:53 PM on March 31, 2011

Spend the money to get the roof tied in right and the foundation done right. If these two are done right, the stuff in between can be fixed. If they aren't the stuff in between, even if right, is going to decay and rot away. I live in a 100 year old home with a basement in western Oregon that gets lots rain and has a shallow water table. It is all orginal wood and brick. It has 0 rot, and 0 settlement problems, 0 water intrusion problems. Because the original builders did it right.

To do it right-buy good materials is the #1 thing. Buy a couple of books about framing, foundations, wiring, porches and plumbing from tuanton (they publish fine homebuilding magazine) publishers. They usually show how it is done right. Dont skimp on vapor barriers, shingles, roof underlayment, flashing and make sure your foundation forms are good and the concrete gets vibrated right and is a good mix design.

If all this is unintelligible to you, get the books so it makes some sense and you can maybe understand your contractor and go hire a general contractor, Get a quote than go and get another quote from another. Repeat this until you get two general contractor quotes that tell you all the same things and about the same money (I would say within 10% of each other). Definitely use Angie's list and hit up everyone you may know that has gotten work done recently on their home for recommendation. Choosing a reputable general is key to getting the right product. I have found a big, big giveaway to how good a contractor will be is their willingness to go pull the necessary building permits and is on a first name basis with the city inspectors. If the contractor is not willing to let another professional look over his work he ain't worth hiring. If they don't want to pull permits or tell you some crap about how building permits being some kind of conspiracy you probably want to get another contractor.
posted by bartonlong at 9:54 PM on March 31, 2011

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