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Ben Perfitt

Garage? Ideas?

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I’m pretty much just ‘thinking out loud’ here because I find it helpful, but does anyone see a graceful way out of this? 

 

This house looks ok in pictures, but believe me, it is not. When I got home after seeing it I sat in the driveway for 1/2 an hour — I was so upset I just couldn’t get out of the car. If anyone is bothered by the ‘street rodding’ of cars, just remember, people do far worse things to houses — and have been for one hundred years.

 

This house has 2 problems:

1) Some bank allowed the wrong people in it so it now requires 100k minimum just to save it (100k NOT counting problem #2).

2) Some hyena slapped a ‘modern’ addition on it in the 1950’’s to raise a nest of Ewok’s in or something — or I don’t know what they were actually doing with it but it’s a ghastly thing. Looks like an airport tower.

 

Before the addition, both sides of the house had looked like picture #2 below. The problem is, said hyena did not simply use existing windows/doors for openings to the addition — they removed areas of the structural brick wall. Demolishing the addition to return it to its original structure is not (economically) feasible.

 

My first thought was to retain part of the structure of the addition, or at least its footprint, and turn it into a garage. The question is how to do that tastefully. The only thing I could think of was to remove the brick veneer and open up the street visible walls entirely with arched conservatory type windows. I have no use for the 2nd story floor. The slope of the addition’s roof would have to be changed for that to work visually. Obviously it would not look ‘period’ to the house, it just needs to not clash.

 

Assuming I can get zoning for this, what could make that idea feasible is there is already a concrete slab covering the entire area between the addition and the existing garage (not in the photos, but it’s another fantastic 1950’s creation that needs to go too) at the far end of the lot. That slab is also enclosed with tall iron fencing. Ewok’s must be messy.

 

I do not own this. If it weren’t for that addition, I would have bought it already.

I’m not asking for free architectural services here, but has anyone faced a similar dilemma when tying in a garage?

 

Thanks,

Ben P.

 

P.S. Yeah, I’m not sane, and if someone bought this out from under me they’d be doing me a favor. I already know what trying to save this house will cost me: All the rest of my hair. Maybe my life too. I’m not in any hurry.

What a mess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Ben Perfitt
Typo (see edit history)

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I love old houses as much as old cars (our current domicile is a 1913 Victorian). That addition really is a shame. I guess it would depend on what you're planning to do and the condition of the rest of the house. Are you planning on living in it eventually? Or is it just a way to get some garage space? Converting the addition into a garage would not be difficult, but if the major systems in the rest of the house are a mess and if it needs extensive work to be a house again, the garage part will probably still come last. If you're just thinking about buying it to turn it into extra garage space, there are probably smarter, cheaper, easier ways to get more garage space. 

 

What's the plan and maybe we can get you some better advice? 

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The worst part of an old house is trying to reverse engineer some of the "creativity" of previous owners.

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I didn’t say that well, did I?

The house I’d live in (and would have to for the rest of my life because I’d never get the money back out of it).

Its condition is the worst case of neglect I’ve ever seen in my life with an intact roof still on it. All systems need to be entirely replaced.

The addition destroyed 4 windows and 2 doors. This house has high ceilings, so those are very tall windows. I figure having replacements made could cost $12-14,000 each. Throw in 20k to have the addition demolished.... It get’s cheaper to try to convert the space.

You're right, converting the addition to garage space would have to come last. It’ll be a race with the city just to save it — to bring the house proper to code. It comes with 15 pages of city violations.

Sadly, this is in one of those cities is MI where they get Federal + State grant $$$ to demolish blight. They have zero interest in saving it.

It’ll be a race, and even if you got it for a dollar you could still loose.

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21 minutes ago, NC-car-guy said:

The worst part of an old house is trying to reverse engineer some of the "creativity" of previous owners.

Yup.

That actually is the one good thing about that 1950’s addition — for whatever reason (perhaps they exhausted themselves) the house itself was unmolested. Didn’t drop the ceilings, remove walls, left the original plaster alone.

Electrical was obviously added later, but they didn’t butcher much adding it in. Laziness probably.

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49 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

I love old houses as much as old cars (our current domicile is a 1913 Victorian). That addition really is a shame. I guess it would depend on what you're planning to do and the condition of the rest of the house. Are you planning on living in it eventually? Or is it just a way to get some garage space? Converting the addition into a garage would not be difficult, but if the major systems in the rest of the house are a mess and if it needs extensive work to be a house again, the garage part will probably still come last. If you're just thinking about buying it to turn it into extra garage space, there are probably smarter, cheaper, easier ways to get more garage space.

 

Truer words were never spoken.

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Perhaps the most important question  :  Ben, how old are you ?     75 year old, dog bone dead beat & whupped,  -  Cadillac Carl 

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2 hours ago, C Carl said:

Ben, how old are you ?     

 

At 75 years of age, depending on YOUR age, I may have some of the most important advice you will ever get in your life.   -   Carl 

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I know we like to save stuff,  but unless it is the exact place you want or have to be in why not find another?  Many cities,  especially an area where they are paying to demolish for beautification have lots to chose from.  Buy something better suited up front.  (just like we say with cars)  Sounds like property value is pretty low.  Could you buy an old mansion in the area with a nice carriage house for less than you will have in this thing? 

Usually the taxes in these areas rack up to more than the property value in short time as they try to squeeze every nickel out of the few people trying to stick it out that aren't just landlords. 

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7 hours ago, C Carl said:

 

At 75 years of age, depending on YOUR age, I may have some of the most important advice you will ever get in your life.   -   Carl 

 

 Always ready to listen, Carl.    Got you by 7.   Be 83 in Jan.

 

  Ben

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There's a lovely house near me that is a spectacular, massive Victorian with a lot of great history on a huge lot with a nice outbuilding that would make an awesome garage. And it has a blue tarp for a roof, and has for the entire 8 years that I've lived near it. It's been on the market that whole time for a very reasonable price with no takers, which is a big tell. I've admired it, I even looked at it before I bought my current house. And if I were 20 years younger, I'd be in there tearing out walls and rebuilding it.


Today? I have a half-bath half-finished and plans for a master suite that may never happen simply because I don't have much time and when I do have time, I just too tired to tackle yet another massive project like that.

 

I totally get it and that house has a great look. Having renovated a half-dozen ancient houses in my past, it is nevertheless a monumental job. It's just like restoring a car--two times as long and four times as expensive as you think it will be. Except you have to live in the car while they're sanding the bodywork...

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Wow, Many good points already. I didn’t expect that. Thank you all.

Carl - I’m 45 years old and 25 years out from retirement (assuming I have a choice).

Auburn - you’re exactly right on the taxes.

Ben - yeah, if I were sane.

 

My thoughts on why I went back to considering the place after seeing its condition:

The R.E. Olds Mansion in Lansing was torn down to make way for a highway. My grandfather would mention that _every_single_time_ he drove down that highway. 

 I’d probably have much the same feeling every time I drive past the 1860 sandstone retaining wall on this lot and see some McMansion in the house’s spot.

At this point, after initially going through the hands of a series of ‘investors’, it has sat on the market for 2 years unsold. The neighborhood is still good. Others have been sold recently + money pumped into them. I think it’s clear no one else is going to step up for this one.

A shame to see it lost. My only thought was - IF the City acquires it and offers it cheap (it is in a designated historic district - presumably they can’t condemn it and immediately tear it down without offering it for sale first) what on earth could be done with that ghastly addition?

That’s where I’m really not in any hurry,. But I’d better have all of this thought out because when the city does seize it this will all happen very quickly. If I understand the process, I could well have only 2-3 days to make a decision and an offer. Week at the most.

 

I will not throw any $$$ to that tax-scam ‘investor’.

Thanks all!

Ben P.

Edited by Ben Perfitt
Clarity (see edit history)

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The addition is hideous at best.  But it is ok to mix modern with antiquated.  

 

ugly_10.jpg 

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On 9/27/2019 at 9:14 AM, Matt Harwood said:

It's just like restoring a car--two times as long and four times as expensive as you think it will be. Except you have to live in the car while they're sanding the bodywork...

 

Matt, you just hit the nail on the head here - and then there is the timeframe element listed in the picture below. That’s the timeframe requirement for one of several loan products specifically for houses like this.

As I understand it, these constraints would apply (In Michigan anyway) whether a loan is used or not. In other words, the lender is protecting their investment from city requirements. 

6 months - that house is gone.

On the other hand, being torn down isn’t the worst thing that could happen to it - A few years ago my mother sent me down to an architectural salvage place in Cincinnati OH. The operator said business really peaked around 2010 when the city was tearing down every unoccupied building it could identify, and then they stated condemning buildings to MAKE them unoccupied. He thought he had never seen it so bad.

Then came the MILLENNIALS — the millennials came into the market. They don’t tear houses down, they go in and gut them. Drywall. White walls. No mantelpiece. No crown molding. No woodwork. Just straight lines everywhere. Tear out the heart pine and hardwood and instal fake wood floors. Lovely.

The place was packed to the gills. He said there weren’t enough buildings on the market for him to buy to store all the stuff he has coming in from the millennials.

Well, it deserves the chance, so here’s the listing (It won’t sell). It’s structurally saveable if anyone in MI has the guts to try it. It was masterfully built⬇️

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/614-W-Washington-Ave_Jackson_MI_49201_M34825-94235

(This listing claims it was built in 1880 - I think they made that up. The brickwork on the window treatments - identical to several 1860 area buildings- say it’s older than that. That’s a big deal.)

Ben P.

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Edited by Ben Perfitt (see edit history)

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Being it has to be done in 6 months I would forget about it.  Even with a robust budget and alot of skills,  hang ups occur.  I was expecting to be pouring my floor in my garage by now.  I haven't even finished the siding.  I'm still working on it though.  Nice work takes time and or cost alot to do.  I'm already way over budget and atleast 70 grand in materials from finishing mine if I do all the work myself including most of the electric.  That's after I finish the siding which is going to probably require another 2 grand in materials for the roof return and other stuff I keep having to run for. 

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4 hours ago, Ben Perfitt said:

 

Matt, you just hit the nail on the head here - and then there is the timeframe element listed in the picture below. That’s the timeframe requirement for one of several loan products specifically for houses like this.

As I understand it, these constraints would apply (In Michigan anyway) whether a loan is used or not. In other words, the lender is protecting their investment from city requirements. 

6 months - that house is gone.

On the other hand, being torn down isn’t the worst thing that could happen to it - A few years ago my mother sent me down to an architectural salvage place in Cincinnati OH. The operator said business really peaked around 2010 when the city was tearing down every unoccupied building it could identify, and then they stated condemning buildings to MAKE them unoccupied. He thought he had never seen it so bad.

Then came the MILLENNIALS — the millennials came into the market. They don’t tear houses down, they go in and gut them. Drywall. White walls. No mantelpiece. No crown molding. No woodwork. Just straight lines everywhere. Tear out the heart pine and hardwood and instal fake wood floors. Lovely.

The place was packed to the gills. He said there weren’t enough buildings on the market for him to buy to store all the stuff he has coming in from the millennials.

Well, it deserves the chance, so here’s the listing (It won’t sell). It’s structurally saveable if anyone in MI has the guts to try it. It was masterfully built⬇️

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/614-W-Washington-Ave_Jackson_MI_49201_M34825-94235

Ben P.

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FHA loan though they will have different restrictions. There are other construction/rehab loan products out there...heck try the local historical society...not to have it plaqued (that will really restrict what you can do) but what options are available. Some states and some local governments have preservation tax credits, etc

Edited by NC-car-guy (see edit history)

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15 hours ago, Ben Perfitt said:

 

This listing looks like a formula for someone else to start writing check out of your checkbook.  Especially in todays environment with a shortage of skilled trade workers it might be tough.  We have a building here in Rochester Hills that has been under construction for over two years which was suppose to be open last spring and it is still not finished.  It is almost closed up with windows, etc. but no siding, no parking lot, nothing interior, etc.  It is probably at least another year out at the current progress rate.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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Yup.

I think those deadlines (and the reality behind them - city starts leveling fines, and this one already failed city inspection in 2017) are all I needed to think through again. Forget about an 80k attached garage to hide the damage from a shoddy addition.

 

Larry, you are right about the shortage of skilled treads workers. It would take 6 months just to schedule the roof work. 9 months to get electricians in - and I don’t want to think of the plumbing. But to orchestrate it all together? If you had a million dollars sitting idle in the bank I don’t think you could get it all done in less than 2 1/2 years.

 

6 months ago when the latest ‘investor’ looked like she might come down to a reasonable price I looked into, and qualified for, several rehab-type loans. She wouldn’t budge and I looked at the 15 pages of city code violations and thought I might make another go at it when the city seizes it from her.

 

I drove by it again last night on the way home from work. That stone wall surrounding the lot — there isn’t anyone today that could even build anything like that. At least I won’t have to drive by it and ever wonder if I couldn’t have saved it.

 

Not even a chance. But it’s not as bad as what’s happening to all the barns. The insurance companies — we had 2 barns my Grandfather built after the war (the old way - pegs and hand hewn beams). The insurance co. came out when no one was home - took a bunch of pictures - sent them in the mail with a notice: Repair the barn’s roofs or your policy will not be renewed. That year we had *one* weekend to do any work. Dad came out and dug a pit one Sunday night and we bulldozed the barns.

There was nothing wrong with the roofs. No leaks.

So whenever I see an old barn standing in Michigan I know they don’t have property insurance. Those places change hands — the barns are GONE.

 

Sickening

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On 9/28/2019 at 9:56 AM, Ben Perfitt said:

Sickening

 

Don't get me started on home Insurance Companies...

 

Nothing but shirt and tie pencil pushers who have no idea which end of a hammer to hold let alone how to use it therefore just what time and cost it takes to rebuild (from my recent experience)...

 

As my dad used to say, "Good things come to he who waits".

Good luck on the hunt.

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