A few renovation tips for planning a successful house remodel or addition
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This two story 6288 sf home used to be a small single story 1700 sf home. The right side of the existing house was entirely demolished and replaced with a new two story addition. The other half was remodeled, including new roof trusses to increase the ceiling height. The house then sold for 3 times its original price.
This beautiful home, located in Tequesta Country Club, was a small home with an 8 foot high ceiling. We replaced the existing roof and extended the masonry walls, creating a 12 foot living room area. We also added a new Master Bedroom Suite facing the Loxahatchee River.
This historical house called the “Birthday Cake Castle” is located in Lake Worth. Most of the existing house was remodeled. The existing garage was converted into new bedrooms. A new 4 car garage connected to the main house via a covered loggia was added. All the work was designed to be in line with the original architectural character.
A radical make over was required to achieve the owner’s objective – four bedrooms in a very small lot. A second story was added over the existing structure. The reinforcing of the existing foundations was a challenge.
Remodeling or New Home?
According to the Florida Building Code: When the cost of remodeling exceeds 50% of the house’s market value or the remodeling area exceeds 50% of the house’s total area, the entire house has to comply with the new Building Code (which will increase the cost of construction substantially). Construction considerations: If the remodeling work or addition is limited in scope (just a couple of rooms, about 20% of the entire house) it is worth it to remodel or add to the existing house. On the other hand, if the remodeling work and/or the new addition is much more extensive, the homeowner should analyze other options to determine if it makes sense financially. Even after remodeling an existing house is still old,
most of the existing electrical wiring, plumbing and mechanical systems will stay in place.
In my experience, after the house has been completed, many of our clients regretted their decision. Most would have preferred a new house. Comparing SF to SF, remodeling work is typically more expensive than building a new house. One empiric rule of thumb to help making a choice between remodeling or a new house is the following: In my personal experience, when the cost of remodeling exceeds about 40% of the house’s market value, it is better to build a new house.
Building a Second Floor Addition: What to consider
I get many calls from clients asking for an addition above the existing house, and the answer is not easy, it depends on many factors and budget. A second floor addition is the most expensive remodeling project. Adding a second floor , even a small one is very critical and more expensive than building on the ground level. If the lot is too little and no other options are practical it is important to choose a location that will not require lots of demolition and repair work to the existing house. A new second floor will put a lot of pressure on the existing foundation system, which has been designed to support a one-story house. To be sure, it is better to obtain the original plans, if possible, but if the original blueprints are unavailable, it would be a good idea to dig around the foundation to find out the concrete footing size. Guessing can be disastrous and very expensive. To minimize cost, the location of the new addition is critical. I prefer to build on top of the existing garage. Two methods can be used: a new post and beams system to bypass the existing foundation, or demolish the garage and build new foundations large enough to support two stories.
6 Home Improvements never to do yourself
- Do not remove interior walls, the roof might collapse.
- Do not replace existing windows and doors with new wider ones, the beam above is not long enough, the roof might collapse.
- Do not do any electrical wiring or add new electrical circuit breakers.
- Do not enclose an open porch without reinforcing the existing foundations.
- Do not alter the roof trusses or rafters in order to make a taller ceiling.
- Do not install a water heater or replace the existing one with a tankless W.H. because it uses min. 18kw and the existing electrical panel will not support the extra electrical load.
What to know about Enclosing a Patio
Enclosing an existing Patio is one of the most common changes homeowners make. It allows them to expand the living area very efficiently because the roof and floor are existing. Increasing the living area also increases the value of the house.
An existing porch can be enclosed with wood or masonry walls. Both types of walls are fine,
I prefer masonry walls in South Florida. It is easier to build wood walls around the patio and easier to anchor those new walls to the existing structure but it depends on the type of
beams below the roof and the type of existing foundation that is below the new walls. Independently from the type of walls used, the Florida Building Code requires that the concrete footing must be min. 16″x18″. Unfortunately around a patio the footings are much smaller, about 10″x12″. It has to be increased to meet Code and to resist the extra gravity and lateral load. If the beam below the roof is made of wood material, it is not easy to anchor a masonry wall but it can be done. In this case, a wood wall would be more appropriate but most homes in South Florida have concrete beams, this is the reason i use new masonry walls, they are a perfect match and easy to anchor to the existing concrete beams. I also use (2) #5 steel rods to connect both elements in order to resist high wind pressure and have a good joint between the existing and new.
When is a Building Permit Not Required in Florida?
Many of my customers and even some contractors find interpreting the Building Code to be a bit confusing in regard to remodeling projects. When is the Building Permit required?
If the changes are purely cosmetic, the permit is not required, independently from the size of the project. In Florida, in addition to the the standard Building Code, there is a Code for existing buildings. It may be the same in other states because the Florida Building Code is based on the ICC: International Code Council guidelines.
The Code has divided the remodeling work into 3 categories:
- ALTERATIONS LEVEL 1:
Includes any kind of REPAIRS done throughout the house, such as replacing appliances, plumbing fixtures, carpet, painting etc. A Building Permit is not required.
- ALTERATIONS LEVEL 2:
Includes any work that alters the existing layout: e.g., wall demolition, fabrication of new walls in new locations different from the original, new kitchen layout with new or old
cabinets & appliances, new bath layout, etc. The total remodeling work area must be below 50% of the total house area. If the work area exceeds 50% of the total house area, the
remodeling project falls into
- ALTERATION LEVEL 3:
which means, the entire house must comply with the latest Building Code requirements. The entire roof must be reinforced, each wood truss must be restrapped, and new doors and windows must be installed. Existing exterior walls must be reinforced per the new Code. The existing foundation must also meet the new code standards.
This is a very expensive remodeling category. It is better to keep the work area below 50% or divide the project into two phases, each below 50%.
Are Metal Roofs Good for Florida Homes?
Metal roofing is fast becoming a popular roofing choice in Florida, a State where asphalt shingles, tiles and wood shake roofs have dominated. Several factors have contributed to the increased interest in metal roofs. They are more energy efficient in Florida’s intense
sunlight than any other roofing material, due to the metal reflectance. Metal is more resilient to fire (class A), stays in place well during hurricanes, doesn’t grow mold and algae
in Florida’s soggy climate, and requires minimal maintenance. Floridians love the “metal look” roof of unpainted or lightly colored panels that coordinates so well with Anglo-Caribbean, Key West and Beach style houses to give that “Old Florida” aesthetic. From standing seam to 5-v crimp with exposed fasteners, to more traditional shingles, tiles or shake facsimile metal roofs, metal roofing has become widely accepted in Florida as an
environmentally appropriate, durable and fashionable choice well suited to its climate and architecture.
How to draw a freehand house sketch
Many homeowners who want to remodel their house have a problem getting the original plans, especially if the house was built before the ’70’s. Without plans of the existing house it’s impossible to produce any drawings to obtain a building permit. I suggest they do a sketch of the existing house themselves. Just follow the above sketch showing symbols of walls, doors, windows, kitchen and bath fixtures, including min. two dimensions for each room. I suggest starting with the exterior perimeter walls, layout and dimensions can be copied from the survey map. Then just add the interior walls with dimensions. Include a few pictures of the existing house. This will provide all the information we need to develop a professional architectural floor plan, roof and elevations. Now we are ready to start the remodeling project or a new addition.
How to Build an Energy Efficient House
In my professional experience as an architect, It is not necessary to use expensive alternative energy systems to reduce energy consumption. Using some basic passive energy design strategies might reach good results. First, the shape of the house is very important as well as its orientation for reducing heat gain in hot climate areas such as Florida. “L” or “U” shaped houses give more protection; garages and utility rooms should be placed on the west side. Large glass openings should be placed on the north side to minimize direct heat gain. Avoid large openings at the west side, at the east and west sides use large roof overhangs (in hot climates only). Landscaping also plays a large role in protecting the house from the sun. Shade trees should be placed strategically along the west-south and east side of the house, directly in front of windows. High hedges should be placed in a way to channel the air flow between walls of vegetation to create a breeze. The roof should be a light color, preferably white, to reflect the light and heat, helping to keep the temperature cooler inside the house. The attic should be well ventilated to reduce heat gain in the summer. Insulation is very important to control cooling loss. In exterior walls, use min. R-5 to R-11 insulation and min. R-30 above ceiling. The air conditioner should have a high EER value. The water heater should be gas, if possible, or use a high efficiency electric unit. All windows should be tinted double pane with U value = 0.30 or lower and they should be located to create passive cross ventilation.
Our remodeling service is based on over 25 years of experience. Once the project is complete, it will be very hard to distinguish the new addition from the original existing house. We achieve excellent results, and get many “word of mouth” referrals because our clients are
very satisfied. In addition, Mario Mangone has actual construction field experience, which allows him to have a very good working relationship with many local contractors. Most of the time, we get the building permit without a single comment from the building dept.
Therefore, no comments or repairs are required during the construction process. Fewer repairs means less costly mistakes, keeping the project within budget. Home Additions, Remodeling, Renovations , Custom Homes, Renovations, Patio Additions, Garage Additions and full Service for Commercial projects, shell and tenant improvement Build Outs.