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Old 08-27-2012, 01:52 PM   #1
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Guest House Updates

Not sure how many of you would be interested in this thread but as a guy who hasn't done a lot of renovations, I thought I'd document my process as I update our 300sq.ft. guest house, which is part of the detached two-car garage. For a bit of history, apparently this small room (with full bathroom) was used in the past as a massage therapist's home-business.

With a new baby due in October, my folks (first grandchild) have been asking more and more often when the guest house will be finished, so they can visit whenever they want. So, other projects got put on hold while this one took the lead. While there IS running water and electric to the guest house/garage, it was not done correctly or safely, so we're re-working as much as we can. I'm going to do most of the work, but we are hiring out the plumbing and electric as I'm just not too experienced/comfortable with it (especially electrical).

I'll also be asking some advice of you experienced professionals and DIYers, so thank you in advance.

Off we go...
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:04 PM   #2
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First thing to do was fix the plumbing and electric. While much of our home's plumbing had been redone in the recent past, the guest house had not. From what I found, it was fed by some very old, original (and rotten) galvanized steel pipes. In addition, the electric for the entire garage and guest house was fed by a single line of romex pulled from the main breaker, with a 30amp breaker installed. How it was even tied into the guest house I still haven't found, but it was inadequate for my future needs. So I hired a plumber and electrician to come out and put in new pipes and a properly grounded sub-panel.


Step one: Break out the pickaxe and shovels and dig from the main electric panel (blue box, left) toward the guest house. Main water line is also just under that blue box, so they're going to share the same trench for a short distance. The electric was in conduit only from the main panel to about 5" under the ground, where it was just an exposed run of romex. You can actually see it in the trench here.


A close-up of the split. Far right is where the current water line enters the guest house. It is original galvanized steel and rotten where it exits the house. Thankfully, the main line has been replaced and it's PVC so we can cap it off easily. The Middle trench is where the electric line for the new sub-panel will go through the wall, as well as come outdoor-friendly coaxial for cable tv. The trench to the left will be the new water line. When digging here I found, the gas line (blue, visible) another old steel pipe that feeds the backyard, AND the guest house sewer line. All three lines converge RIGHT under the fence, along with some cement from the fence posts. Fun digging, for sure. EDIT: Turns out the far right is actually the incoming electric line!


And just on the backyard side of the fence. Here you can see a concrete border, the gas line (blue/black) the sewer, the backyard water line AND another buried pipe... looks like a capped-off line from an old irrigation/sprinkler system. I've found a few of these scattered around. The backyard must have had a state-of-the-art (for 1947) irrigation system back in the day.


And now digging along the North side of the Guest house entry door. When I removed the bricks I thought "Easy to dig through here!" Nope, found a 10" deep slab of solid concrete. The bricks were just placed on top with a thin bit of sand to hold them in place. Luck was with me, as the slab only extended out about two feet and I was able to dig in front of it (just under that last row of toothy bricks here. The plan is to dig along this wall and run the guest house water in at the top left corner of the photo, where the mini-kitchen resides.


Guest house trench completed! Plumber should be there today to complete the installation. We're keeping the gas line, but capping it off and using the access holes in the wall for the incoming water line.


North face of the guest house, showing the front door and window. Gas line (to be removed) to the left of the window, as well as the old in/out water feeds for the water heater originally mounted outside. Since we're removing the gas line, we're going to use the hole to feed in the water, which is in the shared bathroom/kitchen interior wall.




Guest house interior, showing the kitchen cabinets and old gas stove. I've already removed the sink cabinet so the plumber can re-plumb the pipes there. Plan on re-finishing the cabinets, tossing the stove and put a mini-fridge in it's place. Bathroom door just to the right.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:03 PM   #3
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And down the rabbit hole you go! Just out of curiosity what does it cost to get an electritian to do what your having him do?
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:21 PM   #4
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And down the rabbit hole you go! Just out of curiosity what does it cost to get an electritian to do what your having him do?
Will let you know final costs in a few days. The quote I got initially to run a new line from the main panel to a sub-panel inside the guest house was $1000 even. Labor, panel, etc. From there, I was going to run the various circuits but, while I'm comfortable with simple electric stuff, I've decided I'd rather have a professional do the whole thing, at least on the guest house side. I still haven't decided everything I want on the garage side so that will stay incomplete.

Stay tuned... busted down some drywall tonight and found some $urpri$e$.
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:10 PM   #5
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nice watch soneome else build

I will watch .. and see where I can be of some advice.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:17 AM   #6
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I will watch .. and see where I can be of some advice.
compared to your project, this one is quite pathetic!
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:09 AM   #7
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Last night's update. I highlighted in BOLD for some needed advice, below.




I decided to tear down the drywall on the garage side of the shared wall to help with electrical installation (it all runs through this wall) and to check if there is any insulation. The wallboard and old tape/mud was tested for asbestos, and the result was negative.




And an hour later, a big mess. As I suspected, no insulation at all. I found some surprises, too.



You remember the far right trench in the 2nd photo from my first post? I thought that was the incoming water line. My plumber called me this morning to let me know it's actually the electric line, which comes up through the concrete floor in some old steel conduit to the metal box you see in the lower right of this photo. And this is how it's tied into the old wiring of the entire garage/guest house. One big circuit. So now I have NO idea how the guest house water is fed. I guess it doesn't make a difference as we're putting in a completely new feed.




Interesting junction.




And the bad news. Nearly the entire footer is rotten/devoured by termites. I knew there was some old, inactive termite damage when we bought the house, but didn't know it extended this far. I'm not seeing the footer collapsing under the studs, and the roof isn't bowing at all. But this IS a load-bearing wall so I've got to figure out how to replace the footer with new, good wood. I suspect I can just rent one of those metal supports and one-by-one support each stud while I cut out and replace with butted-up sections of new wood? Yes? Advice appreciated.



And for anyone following my "leveling concrete" thread, here are some results. Turns out the crap they spread on the floor was just some sort of thin mortar mixture, which they painted. Once I removed the sink cabinet, it gave me a hard edge to get under. This was the result of about 15-minutes with a prybar/chisel and a dead-blow hammer. I'm going to rent an electric hammer this weekend and go at it. (That's old laminate that was under the cabinet on the right, and clean, smooth concrete floor underneath!
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:26 AM   #8
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I think you're going to have to put up temporary bracing across the whole span and replace the toeplate all at once.
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:19 AM   #9
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sill plate replacement

I agree with the temporary support wall. Tack down a plate on the floor and screw one onto the ceiling. If you can get the ceiling plate onto exposed framing it's better. Cut the vertical studs a little longer than needed ( up to half an inch) and sledge them plumb. Run a horizontal stud across and tack it into the vertical studs to hold them This will jack you up enough to sawzall out the nails and bolts holding the plate down. Mark the new plate in place before you sawzall so all studs go back in the same place. Set your new treated plate, installs anchor bolts every 36 or 48 inches into your concrete floor, drop the retaining wall, and toe nail old studs into new place. Easy peasy
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:29 AM   #10
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The ceiling is completely open so tacking to the support beams would be easy. Honestly, I don't see ANY bolts in the toeplate so I'm not sure it's even secured to the garage floor. No building codes in 1947. Thanks for the advice... I'll see what I can do with what you're recommending.

Another question: The door that separates the guest house from the garage is currently a hollow-core, cheap thing. I want to keep as much garage-stink from entering the guest house as possible, plus add some fire-safety. What type of door do you all recommend... what should I look for?
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:07 PM   #11
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Since you have everything apart, install a double layer of 5/8" sheetrock, offsetting the seams, on the ceiling and the wall between garage and house and put in a metal-framed 90-minute fire door with fire-rated lock hardware.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:44 PM   #12
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garage door

i think it needs at least a 60 minute fire rating and self closing hinges. any good door shop should be able to set you up. get it pre bored for locksets as site cutting can cause loss of fire rating. i've done them in wood veneer doos (slab only) as the fire material acts as a solid core
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:24 PM   #13
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walls

make sure you are buying the green boards for the bottom of the wall. You may want to treat the area for termites. Since they are active.

Have a company come in and bore holes in the floor and fill ..
Are you going to pour another floor ? I had a project like this in 1990 things kept popping up. Termites are the worse thing to figure out what to do.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:04 AM   #14
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make sure you are buying the green boards for the bottom of the wall. You may want to treat the area for termites. Since they are active.

Have a company come in and bore holes in the floor and fill ..
Are you going to pour another floor ? I had a project like this in 1990 things kept popping up. Termites are the worse thing to figure out what to do.
No, the concrete floor is just fine so no need to pour new. Yep, green boards will go down. The area was inspected and treated when we purchased the house a year ago. I just didn't know it was this far down. Our yearly termite inspection is due, so I'm going to have someone out to treat again.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:46 AM   #15
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Not a big update today. The plumber came and finished 90% of the new line to the guest house. The intent was to abandon the old galvanized system that is spider-webbed under the brick patio in the backyard. Both the front and backyard are fed from a T at the side of the main house. We would lose a spigot in the backyard but we plumbed a new one in on the new line. Problem arose when we abandoned the line and pressurized the new system, we lost a spigot on the far North side of the main house, which also feeds our swimming pool, and an older but still functional yard sprinkler system. I thought it was tied into the front yard half of the T which wouldn't have been affected... but apparently it (somehow) is fed from the backyard half of the T. Crap.

So the plumber basically had to connect back into the old system as well as the new line. Which is fine I guess, but that means that the old, rotten galvanized system is still pressurized and active. I've already repaired one broken pipe with a compression fitting/cap and KNOW we're going to have another break sometime in the future, but it would be a huge project to dive into at this point. Budget is limited on this whole thing, and while I expect overages, that would be too much.

I got up early this morning before work and removed the rest of the cabinets and drywall so the electrician can run a new circuit a bit more easy. The kitchen is going to need quite a bit of power... window/ac/heater unit, compact water heater (under the kitchen sink), mini-refrigerator, microwave, and dual burner hot plate. That ugly peninsula of pipe there is just a temporary cap so we could pressurize the system. It's coming off once we get the water heater installed. Those PVC you see running vertically go to the outside of the house, where the old water heater was located, as well as tie into the shower, just on the other side of that wall. We're obviously removing the exterior pipes and patching the wall.

Funny how they hung the cabinets and then installed drywall around them.
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