How much house is "enough"?

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7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

“Alphaville” wrote: when does the exorcism begin? bats and raccoons i mean...
In about a week or when temperatures are above single digits.
i have some ideas for a cheap & hygienic kitchen refurbish
Cool. There is only one small wall of plumbing, but it needs repair/replacement . No tub, no toilet, no kitchen sink, no hot water heater. I am going to be shopping Craigslist and the habitat for humanity store pretty hard. I can do most plumbing, electric (beyond service node) drywall repair, flooring myself, but I suck at carpentry.

Also, I am going to be trying to split the difference between passing current code inspections as cheaply as possible vs retrofitting for low energy future. For instance, I would like to just install a composting toilet, but I know that won’t fly. Maybe I will install one in the Tiny House Shed for my summer help.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

“chenda” wrote: 7 congratulations! You know we all want to see the pictures ;)
Thanks! There definitely will be pictures. This is going to be a VERY strong before and after photo op.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

ok here i go hahaha...

basically my idea is that domestic kitchens are crap, "kitchen cabinets" are crap, and domestic appliances are crap, focused on "looks" and "cozy feeling" and other stupid stuff. my take is kitchens are workshop/lab space--if you want cozy, decorate the bedroom, ha ha.

moreover, kitchen cabinets require instalation and can hide and harbor unsanitary critters. sheer headache. and if you don't like them? so hard to resell.

i learned this outfitting my cabin, but one can have a great functional easy to clean kitchen if you model somewhat after a restaurant--steel counters, open steel shelves (even on wheels), etc. chromed wire shelves hide nothing and wipe easy. eg see: https://www.sevilleclassics.com/shelving.html plus you can start with one, add as you go.
eta: counter: https://www.amazon.com/GRIDMANN-Stainle ... 01DAHSD9Y/

these you can get inexpensive and new at home depot /target/costo/ etc, or used professional quality at restaurant auctions. steel tables are fire and chemical resistant, clean easy, disinfect easy, keep a fair resale value, require no installation, and harbor no roaches.

same thing with the sink: you can get a new standalone utility sink for $100, more if it's steel, with enough room to splash with a hose instead of the usual focus on "brass finish" or whatever nonsense. no cabinet/no installation required. i used to moonlight as a restaurant dishwasher in my hitchhiking days, and those setups are far superior to the overpriced domestic decorative nonsense.

as for appliances: these days i use my kitchen stove as an extra counter. most of my cooking is either done on:
-a single induction cooker (was $60 new?) which saves a ton of electricity
-an instant pot with the "air fryer" attachment which acts as: yogurt maker, pressure cooker, and convection oven with slow roast/bake/broil/airfry settings. yes you can make cookies in an air fryer, for one or two people, with little waste.
-a microwave.
-an electric kettle

these are all high amperage but none of them require special circuits and installations (or gas), so you might want to have enough available circuits and bring them up to code, but no need for 50amp cabling etc. and no danger of explosions.

(i once lived in a house where critters had previously moved into the oven insulation. YUCK.)

same thing with fridges: fancy fridges suck, a chest freezer is cheaper/better and a small simple fridge can be had for cheap. i would not buy used if it comes with roaches--once i long ago i bought some used speakers and... :lol:

ok! best wishes.

--

eta: i also wholeheartedly recommend a 14gal shop vac with hepa filters plus disposable bags for all your demolition/stripping/cleanup work (plus the aftermath). will save you oodles of labor and spare you the asthma.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

Yeah, I prefer open utilitarian kitchen too. Thanks for the links. I might even be able to get old lab stuff from university discard center. I was already planning on mini-fridge and chest freezer, because works with my garden produce processing style. I hadn’t considered induction because gas is available and I like to bake. I usually only own a shop vac because I hate carpet. A lot more decisions to make when you are starting with not much more than a slab with a roof (amazingly relatively new.)

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

if i had to add an oven i'd get something that works on a countertop like this:
https://www.breville.com/us/en/products ... ov900.html

but yeah if you do social stuff with the oven and have gas maybe no need for compactness. besides, regular kitchen stoves don't require cabinets, so...
eta: this one seems simple and a nice price and good reviews... https://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-30-in-4- ... /306284883
and free delivery? https://www.homedepot.com/c/Appliance_D ... stallation
not sure of hookup charge

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

I'll probably just get a used regular free-standing gas stove/oven at the habitat for humanity store or similar. People redecorate all the time, so there are some perfectly functional ones available. Since I need to get a hot water heater installed anyways, it shouldn't be much extra to hook up the stove too. I'm okay with just camping out on any/every function (except basic sealing/security and critter removal!!) until I can figure out best/cheapest way to get it done. I'm okay with my living space looking like a tidy mismatched thrift store :lol: I just want it to be bare bones livable in time for spring gardening season!

EdithKeeler
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by EdithKeeler »

I'll probably just get a used regular free-standing gas stove/oven at the habitat for humanity store or similar. People redecorate all the time, so there are some perfectly functional ones available.
Freecycle is excellent for stuff like this.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

barebones is the best. i can't wait for the pandemic to end so i can ditch some excess stuff!

and you're lucky to have a good habitat store. i avoid my local one because even the busted things are greatly overpriced there--i'd rather make a cash donation than pay their prices.

anyway, best wishes with everything. your news are today's best news!

white belt
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Feb 04, 2021 6:41 pm

Since I need to get a hot water heater installed anyways, it shouldn't be much extra to hook up the stove too. I'm okay with just camping out on any/every function (except basic sealing/security and critter removal!!) until I can figure out best/cheapest way to get it done. I'm okay with my living space looking like a tidy mismatched thrift store :lol: I just want it to be bare bones livable in time for spring gardening season!
Are you going with a tankless hot water heater? I’d recommend that for a small property like yours because they are so efficient and you don’t need to take up space with a giant water tank.

I’m envious of the opportunity to put some of Retrosuburbia’s ideas into action with the blank canvas of a house you have.

Edit: Also if there are actually bats living in the attic, you might want to look into bat house options and perhaps consult some local bat resources in case it is possible to lure them to another location on your property. Bats are extremely beneficial for controlling pest insect populations and guano makes for some fantastic free fertilizer. There are DIY designs all over the internet for different bat houses, and I bet with proper planning you could rig up some kind of container/bucket system below to harvest the guano without disturbing the bats.
Last edited by white belt on Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:46 pm, edited 4 times in total.

mooretrees
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by mooretrees »

@7w5, I'm so excited to see/read about your new place!

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Edith Keeler wrote:Freecycle is excellent for stuff like this.
Good tip. I'll have to see if active in my new area.

@white belt:

I had the same thoughts about tankless water heater and bats. I am also thinking about whether a low ambient mini-split heat pump might work instead of a gas furnace, because the house really only has two rooms since the kitchen is half open galley. Maybe a tiny wood stove in the living room or tiny shed garden guest cabin? The property has some good qualities for energy descent retrofit, but also some significant problems. For instance, it's a very large double corner lot with only tiny structures located to the northside on it and minimal pavement, but the tiny garage is to the south of the tiny house and there is a huge mature maple tree to the south of the garage. There is also a mature black walnut to the south of the shed and several other mature trees, mostly maples, in southwest quadrant. Based on my research and snooping about, the last active owner of the property was likely an old Italian-heritage guy who liked to fish and garden. The obvious outline of what was previously a very large square garden patch is located in the southeast corner of the property, with some remnants of bramble fruit and currants on northern boundary. However, a tree in the neighbor's yard is now full grown and may be shadowing a portion of this patch. Anyways, looks like I already have most of the makings for maple sugar black walnut raspberry tarts, even if I'm shorted some sun until/unless I take down a tree or two.


@mooretrees:

Thanks! Obviously, I am very excited about the project myself :lol:

white belt
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by white belt »

@7WB5

I like the idea of a mini-split for a small space like that for air conditioning and supplemental heat. In terms of heat, a small wood stove could work, but a better option might be a masonry heater, which is essentially a wood stove with thermal mass around it (usually fire brick and regular brick, but any type of masonry will do). The difference is that a wood stove will get super hot super quickly, but also may overheat the small space and require frequent tending. A masonry heater will heat up much more slowly but retain the heat in the thermal mass for a long time, so you will get a steady all day temperature and only have to tend to it once or twice a day. You can even design it to have an oven and stovetop, so you can do your winter cooking without having to use extra fuel.

A lot of this is going to depend on the space. You obviously want a heating element centrally located and away from exterior walls if possible, but you also need to vent it out somewhere and most existing chimneys are going to be against an external wall. Weight might be a concern with a masonry heater as well, but with such a small space I’m pretty sure you could get away with a very small DIY design. Either way, in your region it’s probably worth the effort to go the extra mile to optimize your heating method.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by SavingWithBabies »

When I was in the SF Bay Area, I idly watched Redfin as it was interesting seeing things like a house that sold for $250k in late 1990s going for multiple millions. I saved some houses in Redfin. I got an alert this morning for some fairly ugly* house in Oakland that sold for $625k in 2015 now listed at $900k. I look at the houses in this really small but college town in Michigan and there is a similarly trajectory. The point is going by percentage is not going to be a sensible thing when the value of houses is increasing much faster than income.

I know you can always find exceptions and that is my focus too but in a smaller market with less turnover, it takes time (and/or still spending a bit more than seems sane)!

* Looking again, it's not that bad. Just usually SF Bay Area 90%+ concrete over the whole lot which makes sense given the lack of water but to a midwesterner, it feels like the land of concrete.

Frita
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Frita »

@7W5 Following, what a terrific project! I know you’ve been searching for the right place for awhile. Are there any redeeming historical features?

WingsOnFire
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by WingsOnFire »

ERE-wise, way too much of my NW is in the house I bought. It's a little old house on a half an acre lot, great location, 10-15 minute walk to nearest grocery shop and to the beach, and less than an hour walk from the town center.
I bought a home for myself and my daughter and it feels great to own this free and clear. I'm doing a little bit of renovating, mainly pulling out nasty things from the 70's and 80's..
The house cost 165 k + tax and I replaced the roof and did some things inside so I think I've spent around 200k on it. My dad was sweet and bought me a nice shed for the firewood, bikes etc. as the outbuilding was left on the neighbor lot when this was divided and there was nothing except the house left on this one.

Living expenses should be about 200 e /month (a bit more in the winter months, a bit less in the summer).
I could have bought a similar place much cheaper from elsewhere in the country, but we have family here (closest are 10 minute walk from us) and that's very important, especially because DD is my only child.

She says this is the coziest home she has ever lived in, and that makes me certain that this was the right choice!
The rest of my money is in land and metals right now, about 50/50 I think.
And a little bit is in my business. I get enough money from my business to cover my expenses with minimal work.
I've also stocked up on food and bought seeds, both flowers for joy and edibles for nutrition and fun!

I still need to do a bit of reno on the bathroom, maybe next summer.. The underfloor electrical heater broke so I've had to use portable electrical heater in the bathroom.
I'll try to save for the renovation now. I'll try to get the materials inexpensively but bathroom renos always cost quite a bit anyway as I can't do everything myself. I actually already have some of the materials ready. I still need a new water heater, tiles and bathtub so I can get DD to bathe more often :D We have a sauna but I'm thinking of changing that into laundry area..

Ontarian
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Ontarian »

Yes congratulations on the house purchase 7W5!! Understandably we're all really excited for you! No pressure though - you know yourself best on how to balance the enthusiasm to have multiple improvements on the go while being sustainable in your personal energy and the satisfaction of getting things done. Wishing you all the best! It's like the ERE forum needs to pitch in on a house-warming gift of some kind.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

white belt wrote:Either way, in your region it’s probably worth the effort to go the extra mile to optimize your heating method.
True, but the house is very small and I am used to chilly rooms, so just about any method is going to be overkill, especially if initial expense/embodied energy is high. That said, I went very deep into a rabbit hole filled with super-cute little British designed cook-stove-ovens.

Image

But then I decided that maybe I could just get an electric fake fireplace space heater for $49.99 instead and save myself $2000. If the electric passes inspection to be turned on immediately, I will just be running a couple 1500 watt heaters, a hot plate, and a woodchip bucket toilet while I get the plumbing and all the very many problems with carpentry (such as missing windows) fixed. The powers that be won't restore the natural gas service unless/until the water service is repaired/inspected/restored. I might not even get around to HVAC for a few months.


Frita wrote: Are there any redeeming historical features?
Nope. It was last renovated in a sort of hilariously kitschy 1970s style. The house and the other tiny buildings are plywood sided to look like miniature barns which is actually okay and amusing since I basically plan to turn the whole lot into a micro-farm/food forest. Amazingly, I actually could have bought a house with some redeeming historical features for less than 1 Jacob, but then I would have had to deal with a seriously sketchy neighborhood rather than just a semi-sketchy neighborhood.

@Ontarian:

Thanks! I am going to be twirling plate on top of juggling apples, but it seems like that must be what I like :lol: The only house warming present I want from the forum is advice on any problems I am sure to encounter which I don't know how to fix for less than $$$.Even if I don't end up following advice, I always find it helpful to bounce stuff against this wall.

white belt
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:30 pm
The only house warming present I want from the forum is advice on any problems I am sure to encounter which I don't know how to fix for less than $$$.Even if I don't end up following advice, I always find it helpful to bounce stuff against this wall.
Are you trying to do everything up to code? The only advice I have is to be familiar with local code so you know when you’re breaking it if you choose to pursue another path. For example, it doesn’t make sense to DIY something complicated if you’re going to have later pay a professional to tear it all out and re-do it to meet some inspection requirement.

Your region may have more relaxed codes, but I know in a lot of places permits require a licensed contractor. I think there are probably people who get away with this by basically paying a contractor for the permits and design, then doing most of the work themselves.

Of course another consideration has to do with how permanent the modification is. For example, I wouldn’t care that much if using a bucket compost toilet system violates code because that’s relatively easy to hide and temporary. On the other hand, I wouldn’t rip out an existing toilet because I think I don’t need it.

Edit: Regarding the little wood stoves, I wouldn’t buy a new model. I think used or DIY is the only option. I mean it’s basically a metal box with heat resistant elements, so something tells me that at some point someone has rigged one up from an old conventional oven (haven’t researched it but that’s my guess). The nice thing about masonry heaters is you can follow plans that just build the oven structure out of firebrick and regular brick, both of which can be found quite inexpensively.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@white belt:

I can pull permits myself, but it comes down to the inspection. Because I am renovating a house that has been vacant for some time, I can’t just have the utilities turned on in my name without inspection. The trickiest thing is going to be figuring out where I am grandfathered in vs having to bring it up to current code. For instance, I am obviously good with my tiny footprint even though it likely wouldn’t fly for new construction, but the plumbing has been decimated to the extent that I will assume I have to pull permit and meet current code. The fine for starting work without pulling a permit is pretty draconian, so I will likely play it safe on stuff I’m not 100% sure about such as replacing some not insignificant portion of my exterior siding.

New installation of wood burning stove for heat is supposed to meet pretty tough epa standards, so buying used isn’t an option unless I do get one with an oven which is allowed as exemption. Since I have asthma myself, I would only buy most cleanest burning options. That’s the other reason why I am leaning more towards some combination of solar, mini split, and space heater. IOW, making more of a green tech than low tech bet.

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Ego
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Ego »

Allowing a code enforcement officer into an old home is opening a can of worms. Doubly so for a long vacant old home.

Would off-grid be an option? Maintain it as officially vacant with the city. Stealth water catchment in the 2-room shed -or- dig an unpermitted well -or- fill cisterns from a friendly neighbor's hose bib -or- carry containers of water in your smart car. Solar that doesn't look like solar from the street or from Google satellite view. Propane tanks for stove and heat. A PO box so no mail arrives. No internet or cable tv.

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