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[personal profile] tnrkitect
My wife and I just got back from getting a walk through on a potential investment property that we are looking at buying and renovating. We have some serious discussions ahead of us.

The building itself is a traditional 2 story brick structure, just like in every small downtown across America built from the late 1880s to around 1940. In the image below, it is the white one with the flag in front.

The building is 25 ft wide and 100 ft long. It has load bearing masonry walls, and 2 floors. The first floor has about 16 ft ceilings, while the second floor only has about 8 ft ceilings. There is a cobbled together office area at the rear on the 1st floor, stairs, a single toilet with a utility sink under the stair, and an old, inoperable, mechanical lift that is original to the building (inoperable due to a major beam that supported the lift having failed where the lift cross beam ties into it). Currently aside from the storefront seen in the picture, there are boarded up windows on the ground floor rear, and one boarded up and one actual window that still has glass in it on the second floor rear.

There is still an original tin ceiling tile and cove trim on both floors, but about 30 percent of it is in rough, un-salvageable shape. The second floor floor structure seems weak, and judging by the condition of the tin ceiling on both floors, I'd say the building has had its fair share of roof leaks that went unfixed over the years, which might explain the weak floors. I weigh around 240 lbs, and the floors definitely had some "bounce" to them that wasn't supposed to be there. Also, there is evidence that the floor bows down in the center away from the side, supporting walls. Considering that the floor joists seem to be 2"x16"s on a 25 foot span, the bow is understandable.

There was evidence of roof structural damage in at least one place, as there was an attempt at shoring the roof up by sistering in new lumber and placing a (now bowed) 2x4 as a prop underneath one of the joists to help support it. As such, the roof structure is very suspect as well.

From outside on the ground, the parapets and coping do not look to be in the greatest of shape either, though I do not think the current roof is leaking, as this was the third or fourth day in a row that it has rained in the area and I saw no evidence of fresh leakage. There were two skylights that had been covered over.

Also, there was evidence that the upstairs used to have at least two windows overlooking main street, but those have been filled in.

Considering the shape of the building, the price is reasonable but a tad high I feel, but there is still more room for negotiation.

So, what would we do with this building?

Well, the plan would be to do a complete gut and rehab, converting the upstairs into 2,500 sf of residential, and the downstairs into leasable, class-A space.

To accomplish this would require the following:

Demo Phase:
1 - gut / salvage all useable materials from the inside, to include removing the second floor, structure and all.

2 - remove the roof and roof structure.

3 - scrape the peeling plaster away from the brick walls, going down to bare brick.

4 - punch openings through brick to install new windows on second floor, both on the front, and the side.

5 - remove existing single pane, bland 70s era storefront.

Structure Phase:

6 - install a new 2nd floor structure made up of wood columns, primary wood timber beams, and wood floor joists, with solid wood tongue and groove flooring. This floor would be about 4 feet lower than the current existing one, as it would give more space upstairs and still leave about 12 foot ceilings downstairs.

7 - install new stairs from 1st to 2nd floor, and from 2nd floor to roof.

8 - reinstall a new roof structure, using glu-lam joists to span the ~24 ft of clear space. This structure would need to have a load capacity of at least 40 lbs/sf if possible, as we would want the roof to be inhabitable. The roof would be either:

a - install a green roof. (budget permitting)

b - install a TPO cool roof, with pavers for a patio.

9 - install new double pane windows.

10 - install new, insulated storefront and doors, in a traditional style.

Finishing Phase:

11 - install stud walls for bathrooms (1 residential upstairs, 2 commercial downstairs), utility room (to include mop sink) downstairs, office and storeroom downstairs, kitchen upstairs, and laundry room upstairs.

12 - install plumbing, natural gas, and electrical, to include separate meters for upstairs and down, to include tankless water heaters for both floors.

13 - install finish surfaces, drywall downstairs, bead board upstairs.

14 - install VCT floor downstairs, finish wood floors upstairs.

15 - install cabinetry in kitchen

16 - install fixtures in bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room.

17 - install appliances.


Now, looking at what we need to do above, sadly, I don't think we will be able to make the finances work. There is just too much that is needed to be done. Though I think someone else should be able to.

We could half-ass it (to put it bluntly) but that would just cause even more expensive repairs on down the road. Not to mention, I and Jessica both prefer to do things right the first time.

So, although the building has potential, we will have to pass. :-(


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tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

June 2011


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