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Old 12-07-2010, 07:50 AM
 
294 posts, read 666,985 times
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I'm exploring various home purchasing options, one of them is buying a ranch with the intent to dormer later.

I'm trying to get a sense of my due diligence when it comes to purchasing a ranch house.

Here's the questions I have -

1. Can most ranches and capes can be dormered, assuming it's in livable condition to begin with? If not, what would be the most cost effective way to find out if the house could be dormered? (I assume look at the neighbor houses?)

2. Are there any areas in Nassau that forbid dormers?

3. Is there any other research I should do prior to purchase on dormers?

Thanks.

Last edited by ruhkus; 12-07-2010 at 07:51 AM.. Reason: 3rd question
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:04 AM
 
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1) Generally yes most can be. the older and more unique the house, the more it could be something that is house specific.

2) not that I know of. different towns have different restrictions. I'm in Wantagh in the town of Hempstead. from what RE agents were telling me, houses on undersized smaller lots were having to get variances to build over the full footprint. the number they said was smaller than 60' wide. now, I'm not sure how true it is, or if it is really just a formality.

3) the cost is expensive, make sure you're entirely happy with the location, lot and the rest of the house. although it can be nice to do, once you do a nice upstairs you'll find the downstairs is a problem, small kitchen 2 extra bedrooms, tight living space in comparison, so you'll want to "fix" that as well, again, costs money. and is the heating system up for the new load? you should add central air, thats an extra cost.... while we're at it.......
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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1 & 2. Yes, most ranches structurally can be dormer-ed, obviously its best to have a pro look at it though. Most towns will just want you to apply for permits and everything is fine, but some Villages and towns that are protective of their "quaintness" might shoot down a huge dormer

3. With any home improvement i have found it best to work with a professional who knows your area, and project well, and who is honest. Meaning you want a company that has done other dormers in your area. This is important as hopefully they will still have good relations with those clients and they can get you in to see the home, and you can judge their work, and see what you like and dont like.

I dromer-ed an investment property of mine, and it was a great move for me.

Also make sure you get a contractor you can trust, and who isnt going to low bid the job and then everything is an extra. Its happened to me, and now i only work with people i know.
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Long Island
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We had contractors go to see our potential homes... a few were willing and of course you're going to need permission from the realtor(s). If you're serious about a property, they'd understand. The quotes to dormer were crazy (turns out they were somewhat accurate), but at least they can tell you what's possible. Pretty much it's always possible. I didn't think you could make additions to a split yet many have even done those. Ranches are pretty easy to build up in terms of what's possible. My advice would be to find a ranch with a nice finished basement (or the potential) so that you'd have 3 full floors.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Lynbrook
517 posts, read 2,400,622 times
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My question about dormering is this...how hard is it to retrofit the ceiling to become a floor? For example, I know that my attic is not strong enough to support the weight necessary to be used as a floor. I've seen ads for modular second floor additions and I wonder if that is a more cost effective option when the beams in the ceiling aren't sufficient to become a floor.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:49 AM
 
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Your architect will figure all of that out for you. On my dormer, the entire roof was removed, and all new framing went in, including on the lower level where necessary. I'd say that the second story floor should be the least of your worries with such a project.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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Karen, generally what is done in situations like that are a new floor system is installed on top of what is existing with new stairs. depending on the set up of the upstairs you may or may not need additonal supports in both your basement and first floor. Basically you can keep your existing ceiling assuming you want to, and not affect your downstairs too much.

whether you do modular or stick built they will need to do that.

on my dormer, we gutted the downstairs too, a nd took off the ceiling joists to replace with bigger and better stuff in additon we did this too take out the dropped header that ran down the middle of the house and made it flush with the ceiling.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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Thanks for the info. Another question - what would need to be removed, if anything, from the first floor while the dormer is being installed? Obviously we couldn't live there while this is going on, but can pretty much everything else stay there, or would we need to move things into storage?
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:11 PM
 
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you could live there if you wanted to, some do.

It really depends if additional support needs to be added, whether there is an outside enterence to the basement etc as to how invasive it is.

there will be nailing from 7AM on. the house will shake, dust will be present and you will have strangers throughout your house.
I would recommend getting a pod and having the POD company store a bunch of your stuff.

as someone who bought a house to dormer, I will say this, its expensive, and its hard to find a "perfect" candidate. thing is, if you start off with a nice house, it will cost you a lot to buy, and when you do the dormer, you'll have a 4br on the second floor plus another 2-3 on the first floor and a smaller kitchen, living room and dining room. if its nice, you're undoing what was already done to reconfigure. the alternative is to buy something in bad shape, or extremely dated which will be cheaper, but now you have to either do it all right away, or live in the bad house for a while.

the first option seems like a waste of money, buying something nice that you'll ultamately have to reconfigure. the second option is a lot to chew on price wise to do in one shot and takes creative financing
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:37 AM
 
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Chris and RH71, I am looking to do similar work that you mentioned in your posts to my home. In the process of interviewing contractors now. Just wondering who you used for the construction and if you were happy with the work.[/SIZE][/font]

Last edited by jamsc; 12-09-2010 at 07:53 AM..
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