Compare and renovate
Welcome to our article ((17) (44)), house renovating
Dear readers, these timber house in Australia can easily be renovated, it all depends on what you want done to them, and how much money you can afford to spend, just look at this house that is being raised and renovated in Brisbane, just look at the great difference of how this house looks now, and how it was before. You need to compare to understand what we are saying. Today this house looks like a new house, but it was not so good before these renovation works were done. Anyhow, in this article let us continue to talk about building work, and talk about house renovating and other things.
We will talk also about some jobs that can be done easily 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
This is how the house looks today after renovating
The same timber house when they started the renovations
Some D.I.Y if you can
Now, let us talk about what we are doing. In our last posts about building, we have talked about stairs repairs or renovation and fixing an old timber landing, of course there are lots of other things that need to be done on a timber building, so, in this post we would like to start talking about how to renovate a house. We invite our readers to follow how these things are done, and then, compare the difference wherever you can.
There are lots of things that could 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 on doing the job, after all if they make a small 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, we are going to talk about raising and building under an existing old 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. So, let us talk about why people do this sort of works on old houses.
Typical Brisbane timber house
Timber houses to renovate
As we all know, the timber houses of Brisbane Australia and in other parts of the world need more maintenance than other types of building, therefore most people when there is a lot of maintenance to do they try to relocate, but some of them will renovate and add more space to their houses if they can. There are times when the owners may decide that they are going to raise the house higher, so that, they can build another room or two underneath their existing house, this might sound strange in some countries that have only masonry houses, but with timber houses it could be done easily and it is very common, in fact timber houses we could say that they are the most versatile houses of them all. You see you could even move the entire house from one place to another; of course this should be done from some experts that specialize in house renovations or removals, as this requires a lot of knowhow and a lot of very heavy equipment, but anyhow it could be done and the outcome of it, is that it would be cheaper that building a new house from scratch.
Now that I have introduced the idea of what could 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 some fixing and painting, it needs also restumping, because some of 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 all that covered space could be put to better use if the house is raised, So, we need to think first how that could be done safely, and then, we have to do that according to the local building requirements, as they may vary in different country or states.
Steel beams to reinforce floor
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, as long as there are no changes to the structure of the building, so, one could 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 these sorts of works are going to cost a lot, so before you make you last decision make sure you have a fair idea what they could cost you; you could ring a few firms that specialize in these sorts of work and hope that they are willing enough to give you a very rough estimate. Another way is to stop by where they are doing some 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 look for a firm that makes these plans, unless you have a qualified person that you already know, after that just 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 would cost, and also they could give you an idea of the cost and a few other things that you may have to 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 some 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 could decide this easily if you know somebody in this sort of 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 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, and now you are waiting for them to turn up, so let us see what happens when they are raising the house to restump.
Under the house after raising it and works in progress
Raising the house
These firms that raise the houses and also 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 also a second bathroom and laundry, they are not going to use the big lorries to take the house away, but still there is a lot of work to do. In this hub we are going to follow the works in progress the best way we could, just to show you how this could be done easily, as long as the right people with the knowhow and the right equipment are employed.
Anyhow 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. Then they make two rows of these piles made from squares block of timber as shown in the picture beside here, they place across these square timber piles or columns 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 is 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 told you all 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 and hard 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. 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, and then there are a lot of other things to do as well.
Now that they have reached the stage to restump the house with steel columns, sometimes are the same people that continue to do this job and sometime another team might be required depending how this firm or builder works, and we will explain here under, what usually would happen.
Works under the house later
Earth work and steel columns
In this case under this house all the timber stumps had to be removed, and also, 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 and at the right 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 also 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 all 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, so let us see what is going to happen next here-under.
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 (if there should be an inspection). When they are ready they lay the concrete floor. As you can see this job is not easy to do, so, it should be done by experts.
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, it could even be that 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 let 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 the 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
As I said, after doing so much work on the house, the yard now is a mess and it needs a lot of work to make in 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, any proud owner would like their house to look beautiful and inviting, so, we should try to achieve that. Of course, a lot of times it depends, how much money you can afford to spend, and how much spare time you have, to achieve what you want to achieve. But it is worth to make the effort. After all, we know that 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 could 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 some fences that are so ugly that need replacing. So, these owners have replaced also some fences. They have also build 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 the landing.
See you soon.