Should we just gut the house?

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Topic: Should we just gut the house?

General Discussion June 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Should we just gut the house?

When we bought our Petworth house 3 years ago, we had great plans to renovate it one room at a time, and with as much DIY as possible. But now we have a toddler and another baby on the way, and our kitchen renovation plans have garnered some rather high estimates from contractors (we want to gut it and move a half bath). Which got us thinking…why not just gut the whole house?

Does anyone have any experience in this? I see that flippers gut houses in our neighborhood all the time, but how much would it end up costing us if we don’t want to sell, but rather enjoy the renovated house? Would it be a lot more than $100K for a gut job, new dry wall and perhaps some new floors? (We hate HATE our plaster walls and can’t wait to get rid of them). Other than the half bath move, we don’t have other structural changes to make…

Would love any insight anyone’s got on this… and suggestions of contractors are welcome!

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We renovated our rowhouse room by room over the last few years. In my opinion $100k is a very low estimate or expectation to gut a house to the bones and rebuild. It’s obviously much more than just new walls and flooring. You’ll need new plumbing, electrical, fixtures,framing, insulation, finishing materials (trim work, doors, moulding, etc), potentially appliances, cabinets, HVAC, and more. Oh, not to mention the demo work and hauling of old material! You’ll also have the the expense of temporary housing and storage while the work is being done.

Consider refinishing the floors, if they’re salvageable. For your walls you can remove the plaster and lathe and put up new drywall. Or you could skimcoat the plaster walls if they’re in decent shape (they’ll look like new once they’re sanded and painted). The cheapest way might be to screw in 1/4″ or 1/2″ drywall over your existing plaster walls. The downside is you’ll lose a bit of sq ft but doing this. We did a combo of all of these where appropriate.

Best of luck!


What are you trying to achieve by “gutting” the house?

If you desire to have all new plumbing, electrical, and mechanical, then it makes sense. But it will cost a lot. If you just want drywall instead of plaster, why? If you want to move a room or add space for a bathroom, why not do just that work?

In terms of hassle, if you’re doing a lot of work, yes, it is easier to do it all at once and simply rent some other place for a period while the work is being done, or at least the major, dusty work. You can move back once things are functional.

Posting at 2:15 on the main page too.

I agree with jdc in terms of your walls and just doing a skim coat. I prefer drywall to plaster, but…why do you hate your plaster so much? From what you describe it’s not apparent that it’s necessary to gut the house, unless you actually want to do the umpteen things jdc describes. If you hate your plaster because it’s not smooth, do a complete skim coat–if you do it with someone who’s good, it’ll end up looking like drywall. We did a skimcoat in our living room–the walls were awful (buckled, uneven, awful) and now they look like drywall. We were charged roughly $1,000 to do the skimcoat on the walls and ceiling of our large living room and paint it. We got an estimate of $800 for the same for our dining room (where the walls there are in better shape). Try that–it may save you a lot of money and avoid a lot of unnecessary work. But if you really want to gut, hey, your contractor will love you–just not your wallet.

Well, the plaster walls are cracking, and dust in constantly released around the house. With a toddler and a baby on the way, I don’t like the idea of us breathing all that in. We have to gut a bathroom upstairs since it hasn’t been touched since the 1940s, in fact one of the galvanized pipes started leaking a few months back. And I already mentioned gutting the kitchen and moving the downstairs half bath in the original post. And the floor upstairs is all kinds of warped, so we want to take a look at the joist below. Finally, we also want to put A/C in and finish the attic. Does this still add up to individual projects, or should we gut it?

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