House renovating compare the difference
Welcome to our article (44), house renovating
Dear readers, today because some friends in the suburb that I live are going to renovate their house, we have this opportunity to talk about house renovating. Anyhow, we want to point out that the timber houses in Australia can easily be renovated to various degrees, it all depends on what you want done, and how much money you can afford to spend, just look at this house that is being raised and renovated in Brisbane, look at the great difference of how this house looks now, and how it was before. Today this house looks like a new house, but it was an old house before these renovation works were done. So, in this article we are going to talk about this house renovations and show you some photos to see how the work progresses.
How the house looks today after renovating
The same timber house before renovations
House renovating needs tradesmen
Now, in this article we are going to talk about major renovations, so, it is not a DIY article. Anyhow, we have been talking about building and how to do it yourself, in our last posts, we have talked about stairs repairs and fixing an old timber landing, but there are lots of other things that can be done on a timber building, so, in this post we want to talk about how to renovate a house. We invite our readers to follow how these things are done, and then, compare the difference.
There are lots of things that can be done to renovate a house, some of those things can be done from the owners themselves, if they know how to use a paint brush, a hammer and a saw and a few other tools, they don’t need to be trades people ether, since owners can do a lot of things to their own houses, they can take their time and learn as they go while doing the job, after all if they make a mistake nobody will say anything, as there is nobody to answer to, so, try to do some D.I.Y work sometimes, you will be proud you did, you see I did and every time I see what I have done, I am proud about it, it gives you a good feeling.
In this article, most of the work must be done from tradesmen, because we are going to talk about raising and building under an existing timber house, you see, by raising a house you can add more living space to it, but there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of people involved. We will talk also about some jobs that can be done from the owners themselves, like painting the house after the house has been raised and fixed properly from tradesmen, so that the owners can save money.
Typical Brisbane house being renovated
Timber houses are easy to renovate
As we know, the timber houses need maintenance, therefore, most people when there is a lot of maintenance to do, they try to relocate, but some will renovate. There are times when the owners may decide that they are going to raise the house higher, so that, they can build a few rooms underneath their house, this sounds strange in some countries that have only masonry houses, but with timber houses it can be done. In fact, timber houses are the most versatile houses, you see, you can even move the entire house from one place to another; of course, this must be done from experts that specialize in house renovations or removals, because this requires a lot of knowhow and a lot of heavy equipment, but anyhow it can be done, and the outcome of it, is that it is cheaper than building a new house from scratch.
Now that I have introduced the idea of what can be done with these timber houses, let us follow one of these houses that the owners have decided to raise it higher and build a few rooms underneath. You see, this house not only needs fixing and painting, it needs also restumping, because the original wooden stumps are rotting away, perhaps one or two have been eaten from the white ants, the house is too low to make decent rooms underneath, at the moment it is high enough to park a car and to store a few things, but that covered space can be put to better use if the house is raised. So, we need to think first how that can be done safely, and then, we must do that according to the local building requirements.
Steel beams to reinforce the house floor
Need to follow the local building laws
The local building laws here in Brisbane Australia allows the owners to fix the houses, replace the stumps and other things without consulting them, if there are no changes to the structure of the building, so, we can change the stumps replace any timber that is rotting away outside as well as inside and even carry some minor alteration inside. For most people that is enough freedom to carry on the works themselves, or employ a tradesman to do the job, but in this case of wanting to raise the house and fully enclose underneath the local authorities require the owners to submit a plan of the works they want to carry out.
Once you start with plans and everything else you know that it is going to cost a lot of money, so, before you make you last decision make sure you have a fair idea what they can cost you; you can ring a few firms that specialize in these works, and hope that they are willing enough to give you a rough estimate. Another way is to stop by where they are doing similar works and ask the contractor or the owner what is going to cost them. Anyhow, you need to know what it could cost you, even if it is a very rough estimate.
You have worked out what it could cost you and have decided to go ahead and do the job, so, now look for a firm that makes these plans; after that tell the person you have chosen to go ahead and make the plans for you, they should be able to tell you what the plans can cost, and also they can give you an idea of the cost and a few other things that you must do.
Once you draftsman or architect has made the plans and they have been approved from the local authorities, it is time to have a few quotes from builders or contractors, some people suggest that you get at least three quotes, and I think that it is the right way to go. After that you can chose who is going to do the job for you. You can decide this easily if you know somebody that does this work; if not go for a firm that is really specialized in raising and restumping houses.
Now all the decisions have been done, you have this firm that is coming to do the work, in most cases you have to move out of the house for a few days, or a few weeks, for them to raise the house and restump it. Here we need to point out that you need to have chosen a firm that has good tradesman and enough of them to do the job quickly, most of these firms know that and they are ready to do your job as quickly as possible. So, you are ready to move out as soon as they need you to move.
Under the house while works are in progress
Raising the house is a specialist job
These firms that raise the houses and move them have a lot of heavy equipment, in our case that we have only to raise the house and restump it, and later on enclose it to make a few more rooms, and a second bathroom and laundry, they are not using the big lorries to take the house away, but there is still a lot of work to do. In this article we are going to follow the works in progress, to show you how this can be done easily, if the right people with the knowhow and the right equipment are employed.
Now, let us assume that the house remover team has come to do the work; they start by reinforcing the house with steel beams attached to the bears of the house, because to make normal size room under the house, some stumps will be removed for good, so, there will be less stumps to support the house, and the steel beams will support the house, where the stumps have been removed.
They have done that, and now they make two rows of these large piles of timber, made from squares block of timber as shown in the picture beside here, they place across these square timber-piles two long steel beams one on each side right through the house, they put these big jacks under this steel beams three or four of them on each side depending how long the house is, and they start working the jacks up. They work as a team and they all pump the Jacks up all at the same time, first on one side of the house and then on the other side of the house.
Once the house is raised to a certain level, they pack more timber on these square timber piles and work a way how to move the jacks to a higher level, once they have done that they start pumping the jacks up again, they will repeat this operation several times until the required eighth of the house is reached.
Now that I have described to you that, it does not sound that hard to do it, but in reality, it is, because there is no room for mistakes, as a single mistake may put in endanger the workers that carry out this dangerous job, because they are under the house while they are raising it. Also, to do it, whoever does it needs a lot of material, see the large piles of timer columns made up from these large pieces of timber, they have to carry it around from job to job, not only that, but also the large steel beams that they place under the house, so, that they can use the jacks to lift the house, and all those jacks and other things, so, you need teams that do this work, to be on the safe side.
Anyhow, the team that raises the house, has successfully raised the house to the right level, and checked that the house is level, so, now a different job needs to be done, to replace the stumps with steel columns, or in some cases walls can be built to replace the stumps, instead of replacing them with steel columns. Anyhow, there are a lot of other things that need to be done as well. Sometimes the same people continue to do this job, at other times another team is required depending how this firm or builder works.
Works under the house before concreting
Earth work and steel columns
In this case under this house all the timber stumps had to be removed, and there was an old concrete floor that had to be completely removed and taken away, then the foundations for the steel stumps were dug, after that the steel stumps were fixed to the timber bears and the concrete poured after making sure that the building was level. While the concrete is setting and becoming stronger as the time goes by, a steel worker is making and fixing these steel braces in a few places, as it is shown on the plan, these braces attach two columns one to the other, one end of the brace is attached near the bottom of one column and the other end at the top of the other column, a second brace is placed in the opposite way, so that the braces form like an X, this bracing makes the two columns very strong, because it transfer the strength of the concrete foundation of this column to the top of next column, in a lineal way.
After a day or two when the concrete foundations become strong enough to take the weight of the house and the stress of any movement of the house above; the house remover will come back to remove their jacks, their steel beams and their piles of timber, then the house will be fully on the new steel columns.
Once the house remover team has taken away their heavy equipment, the builder will come in and start by digging the rest of the foundations and concreting them as required; and then, they work out of to lay a concrete slab under the house.
The concrete froor and the timber frame
Concrete slab and things to do next
Anyhow, the house raisers have come and gone, now a builder and concreter that lay the concrete floor come, they level the ground under the house, work out the level that the floor is going to be, and start boxing accordingly. After boxing around the house, they lay the steel reinforcement, as shown in one of our photos, they get it inspected. When they are ready, they lay the concrete floor.
Now that the concrete floor has been laid, and the house is setting permanently in the right position, the builder can start to reconnect all those things that have been disconnected to raise the house, so, the plumber, the gas fitter and drainer will come to reconnect these things, there are plumbers that can do those three things, so, you don’t need to call three individuals to do these jobs. It is very likely that the power needs to be reconnected from an electrician, and many other electrical work, not only for the old house, but also for the future rooms under the house, perhaps a new power box is required, anyhow, the electrician will know what to do. But that is not all.
Because the house has been raised, now the existing stairs don’t reach the ground anymore, so, the builder needs to extend or replace the stairs. After that the house upstairs can be occupied again, if there are no other major works to be done.
Anyhow, after doing a few other things, the owners move back to live in the house, because they want to save money, as they are on a budget, they realize that they don’t have the money to finish everything, So, they decide to enclose under the house and finish the external walls only. The rest of the walls will be left bare for when they can save some money to do it. Here we can say that for the time being, all renovation works on the house have been done. To save money the owners are going to paint the house themselves, which is a job that most of us can do. But after all this works on the house, the garden is a mess and the owner will do that themselves, since they know how to do that.
This is the back of house today
Some garden has been planted
Gardening and other things involved
Now, the yard needs to be made nice again, starting from removing those pieces of building material that are left over. The ground needs to be levelled, because there are hips of dirt and the ground is uneven, what we are talking here is not that we want the ground level, like we do when we build something, but we want the ground to follow the natural gradient of the land. After the yard is cleaned and levelled, we need to landscape the yard, or at least plant some trees or shrubs and then lay some lawn.
There are many other things that the owners need to do as well, to make the house and yard look beautiful. You see, the owners want their house to look beautiful and inviting, to do that it costs money, so, most times the owners do it themselves.
But it is worth to make the effort. After all, when we visit somebody house, the front yard and the garden is the first thing that catches the eye, from this view in mind, we start to imagine what we can find inside and what sort of people are living there.
Having said that, now we can go back to talk about our house and its garden. The owner of this house that we are talking about have done a lot of work and have fixed the yard and the garden, as you can see from some of these photos beside this article. I believe that they have done a good job.
The front fence and driveway as it is today
Fencing and other things
After doing all this work on the house, now the house looks great, but there are fences that are so ugly that need replacing. So, these owners have replaced also some fences. They have also built a brand-new fence in the front, as you can see from to photo above. Today they still should finish the rooms under the house, and they will do that when they can save the money, but most of the work has been done and they are happy about it.
I think I have said enough in this article, so, see you in our next article, where we are going to talk about, fixing an old landing.
See you soon.
F-Menchise (author) from Brisbane Australia on January 11, 2015:
Thanks for commenting, but I don't believe a word you said
F-Menchise (author) from Brisbane Australia on January 02, 2015:
Thanks for commenting, I know that I have still to complete that hub, when the house is finished.
Anyhow; I wish you a happy new year
Rocky on January 02, 2015:
A little rationality lifts the quality of the debate here. Thanks for coiurnbtting!