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Old 11-22-2009, 10:40 AM
 
4 posts, read 5,002 times
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My wife and I are going to be moving my disabled mother-in-law to the Steel City in the very near future. She presently resides in New Jersey, where the houses are smaller and the property taxes a whole lot bigger. We are planning on getting a large single-family or a multi-family building and moving in above her so we can assist in her care.

She has rheumatoid arthritis and uses a wheelchair. Hence, we are going to need a place with a first floor bedroom and a powder room. (She doesn't necessarily need a full bathroom, since she usually has an aide assist her with bathing). But we've found that first floor bathrooms, even 1/2 bathrooms, can be difficult to find in Pittsburgh.

Since we are all construction-challenged, we were wondering how much it would cost to install another 1/2 bathroom on the first floor of an old house and approximately how long this would take? We're all fond of Victorians, and there is no shortage of beautiful and reasonably-priced Victorians in the area - but we really will need a powder room on the first floor at the very least. (We are already planning on installing a ramp for access to the street).

Getting a multi-family building with two or more units would be our other option: we'd move Mom into the first floor unit and take the other spaces for ourselves. But if we could put in another bathroom fairly quickly and for a reasonable price, it would allow us to expand our search a bit.

Any advice from people who have added bathrooms or made their houses more handicap-accessible would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 11-22-2009, 01:10 PM
 
20,274 posts, read 18,875,311 times
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If you aren't try to do anything too ambitious, you can add a half-bath for something in the $5-10K range. It shouldn't be a really long project (a full-time two-person crew should be able to do it in a matter of days), but of course the real wildcard is your contractor's scheduling practices and workload (you can find lots of horror stories about half-done projects that languish for weeks or months as crews are diverted to higher-profit projects).

Incidentally, we have a contractor we love, and we used them to add a bathroom and renovate another one, and both came out great at a very reasonable price. They aren't the fastest outfit but they are reliable--once they get started it will get done at a steady pace. The best thing is they have been in the business in Pittsburgh forever, and know exactly how to work with the older houses around here.

Anyway, we've recommended them to a lot of people, and we'd be happy to recommend them to you--just PM me if you are interested.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:27 AM
 
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Thanks very much for the information and the offer! I'll be sending you a PM momentarily.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Hooterville PA
712 posts, read 1,081,475 times
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The question here is - are you looking for a addition to be built, or are you looking for someone to build inside of existing.

A bathroom is only a couple of walls and a floor and a ceiling, plumbing, HVAC and electrical. But the horrors starts when you find that the plumbing and sewage is sub standard and has to be updated. The same is true when it comes to the electrical. If you have a older style electrical box with no empty breakers, you might find that the UBC will make you put in a larger entrance or new breaker box.

It has to be heated, if your furnace is too small for the house that you are buying - the same deal holds true, they might tell you that you need a different heating source or a larger furnace.

There is no set costs when it comes to remodeling.

I would suggest that you BUY a copy of Holmes On Homes - Home Repair book.

Do not jump at the first contractor that comes along. Doing work is just like going to a doctor, you wouldn't want the first crack pot that came along to do major surgery for you, so why would you want some carpenter with no references to do work for you?

Interview several carpenters and go out and look at their work and ask for references for the last 6 months of employment and call those people and ask what kind of a job did they do and how was there work and did they do what they said they were going to do and did they do it on time and within budget?

Bathrooms is one of the most overlooked jobs and one of the hardest jobs to do. There is things like proper building practices, the proper selection of tiles, lot's of things that can and will go wrong if done wrong.
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Old 11-27-2009, 01:52 PM
 
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Internet Superman: thanks for the very helpful tips! We definitely want to avoid a "money pit" situation where our extra powder room turns into a complete rewiring and HVAC do-over.

Here's yet another question: what would be involved in making an existing bathroom more handicap-accessible i.e. making the door wider and moving out the cabinets so that a wheelchair could get through to the toilet?

In our present house Mom has to use a walker to get into the bathroom. This works fine as long as she has that degree of mobility. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative condition, so we don't know how long she will be able to transfer from chair to walker to toilet to walker to chair. If we found an existing powder room, how difficult would it be to replace the sink with a smaller sink and install a wider doorway?
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:58 PM
 
20,274 posts, read 18,875,311 times
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As an aside, you will probably want to think about grab bars as well, and make sure all the facilities can be simply operated with one hand.

Anyway, assuming you have enough potential floor space for a wheel chair to begin with, it shouldn't be too hard for a contractor to reconfigure a powder room. But if they are redoing doors and such, I think you will find the cost can add up quickly--not as much as a completely new installation, but still solidly into four figures.
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Old 11-27-2009, 06:45 PM
 
43,017 posts, read 50,438,478 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenazfilan View Post
In our present house Mom has to use a walker to get into the bathroom. This works fine as long as she has that degree of mobility. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative condition, so we don't know how long she will be able to transfer from chair to walker to toilet to walker to chair. If we found an existing powder room, how difficult would it be to replace the sink with a smaller sink and install a wider doorway?
Many people build entire first floor additions for the disabled that include a bedroom and a very large bathroom on the first floor. I'm not talking wheelchair accessible, but a bathroom with lots of room. Just wanted to toss that out there as food for thought. You might do better by building the right accommodations for the future, now. You might find a house that already has the right accomnodations.
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Old 11-27-2009, 07:29 PM
 
Location: Oakland CA
7,608 posts, read 10,636,054 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenazfilan View Post
Internet Superman: thanks for the very helpful tips! We definitely want to avoid a "money pit" situation where our extra powder room turns into a complete rewiring and HVAC do-over.

Here's yet another question: what would be involved in making an existing bathroom more handicap-accessible i.e. making the door wider and moving out the cabinets so that a wheelchair could get through to the toilet?

In our present house Mom has to use a walker to get into the bathroom. This works fine as long as she has that degree of mobility. Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative condition, so we don't know how long she will be able to transfer from chair to walker to toilet to walker to chair. If we found an existing powder room, how difficult would it be to replace the sink with a smaller sink and install a wider doorway?
To make a door wider they need to cut into the existing wall to widen. Doors are usually heavier framed, so there would be extra framing put in and a new or addition the header (top of the door frame) Along with that expect flooring, and new drywall and plastering and painting.

I agree with Internet Superman's suggestions -- also, if the city or county requires this work to be done with permits, make sure you or the contractor gets the permits.
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