Renovation of a 70's disaster

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My cousin's home is a shambles. It started life as a small concrete block home, and then had a room added on to the back, but a little higher so uneven steps go from the lower level up to the second floor. That floor has a wooden floor, although no crawl space to speak of. The bathroom, kitchen and living room are at the lowest level (concrete block building). There is a concrete slab that is full of cracks and has been damaged by hydropressure from ground water - in fact, a few years ago the lower level was flooded. Nothing was ever done according to code, and now the lower two levels are needing rewired and replumbed. All was done with scraps gleaned from demolished buildings in the area. On top of the lowest level, also during the 70's a second floor was added without adding additional structure to support it. We have added a load bearing wall to aid in the support of the second story (third?). The interior was covered in rotted barn siding, full of termites, etc. That was removed, but in the "middle" section the walls are covered with cheap 70's paneling. That is where the new bathroom is going to be, and the plumbing and wiring is being redone as we can. The walls are a concern - should we cover them with the green moisture resistant wallboard, or use paint to create a barrier? We want to use the wallboard that looks like tile along the wall where the shower and sink will be, then use it like wainscoting around the rest of the room. The room is 10 x 12. The new bathroom has to be handicap accessible, and that adds more wrinkles. On top of the other issues, we're all senior citizens with very low income, so we are doing things as we can acquire the money. Hiring a contractor to come in and fix everything is out of the question. We have been getting all supplies at local Habitat for Humanity stores in order to save as much money as possible. Ideas?

  7 answers
  • Yikes! Did he/ she purchase this establishment? I can't imagine how it passed a home owners inspection and appraisal by the bank. Contact your local Department of Aging. Here are some links with a ton of info, there are people and agencies out there to help seniors especially if they have a disability. Going to take a ton of phone calls, but worth it.


  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 12, 2018
    I don't know of any building inspector that would pass a structure like that. Call you local county commissioners and ask them to recommend someone.
  • Sharon Sharon on Feb 12, 2018
    Yikes is right. Was all this construction un-permited construction, cause if it is it will void your homeowner's insurance, and if the city ever gets wind of it, they will make you tear down the unpermitted work or condemn the building as unsafe. No licensed plumber in his right mind would work on it. Can't get a homeowner's loan, or use as collateral at the bank.
    Sounds like the slab is disintegrating from the weight of an additional floor built on that was never meant to carry that weight.
    Move them out to assisted living or low-income housing for seniors and disabled. Call your local Senior & Disabled Services to get an assessment for services, and help getting into low-income housing thats safe.
  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Feb 12, 2018
    Is this house habitable? For $150, you should be able to hire a licensed home inspector, with the only copy given to you. If you are not borrowing money on the structure, then maybe you will have time to fix the parts of the house that would not pass inspection before your house is condemned or you need to borrow money. If the house is beyond repair, perhaps you can sell the property and find better housing for you all. ☺️
    • Donna Arthur Donna Arthur on Feb 16, 2018
      I have talked to her repeatedly about selling out - she can't get much, obviously, but all of her neighbors are Amish and they are interested in the land - roughly 2.5 acres mostly in grass and clover. She's been there since the early 70's and doesn't want to leave yet. It is way out in the middle of nowhere and I feel with her age and health that she could be better taken care of in town, even an apartment.
  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Feb 13, 2018
    If it was my house, I would spend a little money on an architectural review and get the best opinion I can. It is def worth the money since this is where someone will live and it is an investment. THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU NEED TO HIRE THE ARCHITECT..... or call a vocational school that has a home building curriculum and see if their students can come look at it FOR FREE.

  • Donna Arthur Donna Arthur on Feb 14, 2018
    Thank you. The home was purchased in the 70's and the additions were done by the now deceased husband. It would not pass inspection for any loans or anything. I will check the links and see what we can manage to qualify for. Thank you so much for the feedback.
  • Donna Arthur Donna Arthur on Feb 16, 2018
    She's on social security so hiring anyone is not an option, but I will check around with the vocational schools and see what we can find. Thank you.