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The Home Smithy
The Home Smithy, Home Builder
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Do the following home improvement estimates seem accurate for

Resolved Question:

Do the following home improvement estimates seem accurate for a luxury home in the Washington, DC area?

The house: http://www.redfin.com/VA/Falls-Church/307-Shadow-Walk-22046/home/12033188

Here's how I estimated things:

1) Replace tile counter in the kitchen with granite: 15k
2) Re-tile the kitchen floor: 5k
3) Re-do the kitchen backsplash with a more neutral tile: 1k
4) Replace kitchen sink and disposal with a white porcelain one: 1k
5) Replace the old 80s cook-top in the island: 1k
6) Replace microwave: 500
7) Leave the black oven/diswasher for now (they're new) and replace with stainless at a later date.
8) Keep fridge.
9) Keep all of the cabinets because they match the wood trim everywhere. Replacing them with anything modern would clash. Just replace the knobs: $150

Total Kitchen upgrade cost: 24,000

Painting: For the entire house, strip all wallpaper and paint in more neutral colors: 15k. A co-worker had his 4k square foot house in Boston completely repainted for 10k, so I figure 15k should be enough to remove the wallpaper and repaint.

Replace all light fixtures with something slightly more contemporary, such as dark bronze or black iron and wood: 2k

For the 5 fireplaces, replace the ugly brass doors with dark bronze or iron ones, such as ones from this link in a hammered dark bronze color:
http://www.woodlanddirect.com/Fireplace-Accessories/MASONRY-Forged-Iron-Fireplace-Glass-Doors/Iron-Craft-Rectangular-Craftsman-Fireplace-Glass-Door

For the fancy ones, they are about 1700 each plus installation, so I'm guessing about 2,000 X 5 = 10,000 total.

Remove the ugly stairway green carpet runner and replace with something more neutral: 1,000

Rip out the carpet from the 2nd floor hallway and put down hardwood to match the stairwell: 1,000 (it's not a big hallway)

Re-carpet the 3 bedrooms on the 2nd floor (one bedroom has hardwood and is used as an office): 12,000

Replace all door knobs, all light switch plates, and all electric outlet plates with dark bronze or hammered pewter or something similar: 250

Replace the two ugly gold toned ceiling fans in the basement with something a little more neutral: 500

Re-tile the master bathroom (the shower looks OK) and replace the tub with a nicer one: 6,000
Replace sink in the master bathroom: 2,000

Leave the guest bathroom on the 2nd floor alone for now. It's not fancy but it's fine.
Also leave the guest bathroom in the basement alone for now. It just needs to be repainted.

In the basement, put down tile or laminate in what will be the craft room: 2,000
Re-carpet the main basement area: 4,000
Replace wetbar sink in the basement: 1,000

Cost so far to update/upgrade stuff: 81,000
Designer fees: 9,000
Total cost: 90,000, round up to 100k

What this does not include:
A) new window treatments (they have old-style Victorian ruffled blinds..but I'd be OK with that for a while).
B) Any new furniture.


If I were to get the house for 900k, this is how my financing would break down:

Long-term savings account: 5k (I raided it for the house savings account, so this is all that's left over)
House savings account: 440k

900k - 325k = 575k loan. Add 15k for closing costs, but the Redfin rebate will nullify most of that, so only add in 5k: 325k + 5k = 330k out of pocket needed at closing.

440k - 330k = 110k remaining in the house account
House updating budget: 100k
New Furniture budget: 10k (not much but it's not super important)

Notes: This house has a pretty good layout. While it doesn't have a super modern open house kitchen, the kitchen is still open to the breakfast area and it has an island with a built-in grill. So, nothing really needs to get ripped out and completely replaced..but it does need to get updated and upgraded quite a bit, though nothing with details that are too modern. The house is in really good condition, so nothing needs ripped out-- but it does need updated..quite a lot.

Do you think these estimates look reasonable to you or too low?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

Hi. Welcome to Just Answer.

Ok here is what I have gone over so far. I will post the rest in a bit.

1) Replace tile counter in the kitchen with granite: 15k Consider engineered stone counter tops. Save up to 5K
2) Re-tile the kitchen floor: 5k
3) Re-do the kitchen backsplash with a more neutral tile: 1k May have to remove cabinets to remove exist tiles. if required add 1K
4) Replace kitchen sink and disposal with a white porcelain one: 1k
5) Replace the old 80s cook-top in the island: 1k Dont skimp here get a real good stove. Possible add 500.00
6) Replace microwave: 500. Consider micro / oven combo. add 1K
7) Leave the black oven/diswasher for now (they're new) and replace with stainless at a later date.
8) Keep fridge.
9) Keep all of the cabinets because they match the wood trim everywhere. Replacing them with anything modern would clash. Just replace the knobs: $150 Revarnish?? add 500.00

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

Here are the rest of my thoughts.

Painting: For the entire house, strip all wallpaper and paint in more neutral colors: 15k. A co-worker had his 4k square foot house in Boston completely repainted for 10k, so I figure 15k should be enough to remove the wallpaper and repaint.

Replace all light fixtures with something slightly more contemporary, such as dark bronze or black iron and wood: 2k

For the 5 fireplaces, replace the ugly brass doors with dark bronze or iron ones, such as ones from this link in a hammered dark bronze color:
http://www.woodlanddirect.com/Fireplace-Accessories/MASONRY-Forged-Iron-Fireplace-Glass-Doors/Iron-Craft-Rectangular-Craftsman-Fireplace-Glass-Door

For the fancy ones, they are about 1700 each plus installation, so I'm guessing about 2,000 X 5 = 10,000 total.

Remove the ugly stairway green carpet runner and replace with something more neutral: 1,000

Rip out the carpet from the 2nd floor hallway and put down hardwood to match the stairwell: 1,000 (it's not a big hallway)

Re-carpet the 3 bedrooms on the 2nd floor (one bedroom has hardwood and is used as an office): 12,000

Replace all door knobs, all light switch plates, and all electric outlet plates with dark bronze or hammered pewter or something similar: 250 labor intensive Add 250

Replace the two ugly gold toned ceiling fans in the basement with something a little more neutral: 500
Ceiling fans are not that expensive. You can get them at Home Depot for less than 100 each w/ lifetime warranty. 75.00 labor to install both. subtract 250

Re-tile the master bathroom (the shower looks OK) and replace the tub with a nicer one: 6,000 ?? walls, tub surround, shower stem wall, and floor? Get new fixtures for shower, and get a GOOD tub. add 2K
Replace sink in the master bathroom: 2,000

Leave the guest bathroom on the 2nd floor alone for now. It's not fancy but it's fine.
Also leave the guest bathroom in the basement alone for now. It just needs to be repainted.

In the basement, put down tile or laminate in what will be the craft room: 2,000 dont use tile. One heavy object dropped and you have a cracked tile as opposed to a dent in the laminate.
Re-carpet the main basement area: 4,000
Replace wetbar sink in the basement: 1,000

Exterior-
Back yard needs landscaping bad! Deck needs resurfacing and a good weatherproofing. The pond needs to go. breading ground for mosquitos if not maintained. Maintenance is time consuming or costly. Add 10K

 

Other than the things I have suggested it seems that your pricing is overbid if anything. Im sure that you will have plenty left overt to buy somer real nice furniture to make it a glorious home.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best, Smitty

The Home Smithy, Home Builder
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 9508
Experience: #1 Home Improvement Expert 30+ years experience
The Home Smithy and 2 other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What you wrote is so very helpful! THANK YOU!!

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Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

You are most welcome. Did I mention that I love Victorian style homes? I was raised in Nape Ca. and they have some of the best victorians there. I had a paper route that was in the old downtown area. Simply beautiful homes there. All hand crafted of redwood from the upper Napa Valley. Corbeling, columbs, eves, and stair cases so detailed it boggels the mind to think how long it took them to build them without power tools.

Best of luck.

Smitty

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I know what you mean! Victorian homes are really grand.


 


I have a more detailed response to your suggestions below, just in case you have additional thoughts..


 


1) Good idea. Haven't really looked into this, but I hear the latest engineered stone countertop material is really nice and much better than the drab Corian of the 90s.

2) Based on what I remember, the tiles look like they were added after the cabinets were installed, but I'll definitely have to double check this one.


5) Good point about getting a good oven. The owners are very proud of that cook top - it's supposed to be some kind of super top of the line cook top, when they bought it in the 80s or early 90s. It's just that while it may be the best cook functioning cook-top in the world, it really looks super dated. It looks "delicate."

6) An oven/microwave combo might not be possible with the way they have it set up at the moment. I'll have to take a look at how the cabinets are installed surrounding the oven. Instead of providing a space for the microwave above the oven via an integrated unit, they chose to have a dedicated shelf for it in another part of the kitchen. Of course the down side of this approach is that the all of the smell is ventilated into the room, instead of just a portion of it. I definitely would rather have a ventilated combo, but given that the oven is brand new (and black - which isn't my first choice of color), I might wait a year or two before redoing the appliances.


9) Not sure if they need re-varnishing or not, but it's good to consider.


Door knobs and plates: I can do this easily in one weekend. I doubt I'd want to tackle the door hinges though. That would really be a PITA.


Extra $$ for Master bath: It can't hurt to budget an extra 2k for this.


Regarding the back yard:

I know about the 3 little stone ponds in the pics but I haven't been able to view them up-close because I saw the home at night. I'm not sure what the deal is with them. On the literature, they said they paid a bunch of money in the past couple of years to have the lawn professionally landscaped and they also had some kind of automatic underground $7k watering system installed. Also not easily visible from the pictures is a stream that runs through the property. Perhaps the stream is connected to these little ponds in some way. Or, perhaps the water circulates in those ponds and it's somehow connected to the automatic watering system; then again, it's entirely possible that they overlooked this, and it does need to be done away with.


I agree that the deck could used a treatment, or at the very least a good power washing, so I'll add in 4k in order to power-wash and re-stain the front and back decks, but whether the ponds are stagnant or whether it's something they took into consideration when they installed the watering system is something I should take a very careful look at.


Net Result of recommendations with current knowledge: Subtract 5k for the counters, but then add back in the following: 500 for the better stove top, 500 to have the cabinets possibly re-varnished (if needed - don't remember them looking worn), +2k for better master bath stuff, and another $4k for power-washing and re-staining the front porch and back deck.


So, if I were to follow a good bit of your excellent advice, and the ponds weren't stagnant, and the back-splash tiles weren't an issue then I would be adding a net amount of: $2,000


It sounds like if I were to make an offer, I should really push for $890k to cover the extra stuff like this, so that my margin of error isn't so close.
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

Rachel, I was just about to leave for an appointment. Can you please check back this evening. I will have a reply for you then.

Sorry for the inconvinence

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sure, thank you!

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.
=) About 8pm your time. Have it for you by then.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Hi Smitty,

You had suggested that you might write something more. If you prefer to send it to me directly, you can reach me at XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX.


 


Thanks!


 


Rachel

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry Rachel. I was called to work last night and it was after 2am before I got home.

) An oven/microwave combo might not be possible with the way they have it set up at the moment. I'll have to take a look at how the cabinets are installed surrounding the oven. Instead of providing a space for the microwave above the oven via an integrated unit, they chose to have a dedicated shelf for it in another part of the kitchen. Of course the down side of this approach is that the all of the smell is ventilated into the room, instead of just a portion of it. I definitely would rather have a ventilated combo, but given that the oven is brand new (and black - which isn't my first choice of color), I might wait a year or two before redoing the appliances.
You are right. To add the oven to the micro you would need proper venting, to the exterior preferably, and also have to add electric service or gas. That would involve a lot of tearout to accomplish.

 

Door knobs and plates: I can do this easily in one weekend. I doubt I'd want to tackle the door hinges though. That would really be a PITA.
As long as the holes in the new hinges are identical they are not hard to do. If you have to start refitting them then it gets very involved.

 

Extra $$ for Master bath: It can't hurt to budget an extra 2k for this. Always good to estimate bathrooms high. Any time you involve water and tile there is a big potential for damage under the existing tile.

 

I know about the 3 little stone ponds in the pics but I haven't been able to view them up-close because I saw the home at night. I'm not sure what the deal is with them. On the literature, they said they paid a bunch of money in the past couple of years to have the lawn professionally landscaped and they also had some kind of automatic underground $7k watering system installed. Also not easily visible from the pictures is a stream that runs through the property. Perhaps the stream is connected to these little ponds in some way. Or, perhaps the water circulates in those ponds and it's somehow connected to the automatic watering system; then again, it's entirely possible that they overlooked this, and it does need to be done away with.
If the stream runs through the ponds that is great! Natural flow will prevent a mosquito problem, but it must be year round flow.
The lawn may just need a little TLC as well as the sprinkler system. If the sprinklers were done right to begin with they will last a very long time. This too might just need some TLC from a good handyman.

I agree that the deck could used a treatment, or at the very least a good power washing, so I'll add in 4k in order to power-wash and re-stain the front and back decks, but whether the ponds are stagnant or whether it's something they took into consideration when they installed the watering system is something I should take a very careful look at.
I have contacts in your area that can do the power wash and restain. If you get the house just let me know and I'll hook you up.

 

It sounds like if I were to make an offer, I should really push for $890k to cover the extra stuff like this, so that my margin of error isn't so close.
Yes that is correct.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your additional comments! You are the BEST!

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

You are most welcome. Glad I could help. =)

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