Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend

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Mike in NC

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #20 on: 28 Apr 2017, 06:35 pm »
Regarding insulation, any place you might use fiberglass batts, consider using Roxul (mineral wool) instead. It provides better sound insulation and better fire protection.

Along the same lines, for areas where you are replacing wallboard, consider QuietRock or some other sound-absorbing sheetrock. If installed as directed, it will cut noise considerably, which can be benefit. I would especially consider it for privacy around bathrooms and bedrooms.

Have fun!

mcgsxr

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #21 on: 28 Apr 2017, 07:26 pm »
Lots of excellent advice here for sure.

I have done a few of them myself with help from AC during a basement finishing exercise a few years ago.

Consider a media closet/home run approach to some of the networking stuff.  Pre wiring Cat 6, coax, speaker wire, balanced (XLR) etc can be really useful after the walls go up.  So too conduit to areas you may put gear in the future - I simply installed in wall vacuum tube before the drywall.  Use in wall rated wiring of course.

Spray foam was great in the basement.

I considered a single well sink for the kitchen, but went with the more traditional 2 well approach.  I do LOVE the look of the single well, but as a guy that does dishes, I wanted a place for the drying rack (and not on the counter).

+1 on the granite chipping around the sink.  I believe in my case it was washing the heavy crock pot liner and it slipped in my hands in the sink.  You cannot see it, but it is easily felt.  I have no idea if quartz would have survived or would have chipped anyway.

Good luck, and try to have some fun too!

Folsom

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #22 on: 28 Apr 2017, 11:15 pm »
Smart home stuff? I think being able to check the garage door open/close is a nice feature. Fans like I cover below is really cool now but... I can't think of much that really benefits.

1. Coax/ethernet: You only need ethernet running to locations for TV's or gaming computers. The reality is you can just double coaxial run to the main TV and be fine. 1 cable if you do satellite, 1 cable for Internet. The reason to have the Internet by the TV is so it'll have a high speed connection for Netflix etc.

The one exception is ethernet to your listening area for a server that's located out of the room, really.

Maybe I'm out of touch, but I don't know the purpose or desire for ethernet all over, basically everyone uses wireless computers. Maybe for door bells that have cameras and stuff like that?

2. Electrical: Gut it. Seriously don't live in fear of a fire your whole life. No home from that era has remotely safe wire or sockets. Get a new breaker panel that's got copper bars. Square D is good, but do not get the Homeline bullshit and don't let any "master" electrician tell you the Homeline is cool. The homeline has aluminum bus bars and the GFCI breakers you can use for bathrooms go bad.

Do not use backstab outlets, get Leviton or Eagle with screws on the side, you can test for a decent grip at the store.

For the listening room consider a dedicated line, ideally with JPS in-wall wire, but it'll cost you. Finish it off with a decent socket from DaveC. But also consider a SurgeX panel mount for feeding your outlet/s for the stereo. This is a great option for affordability compared to expensive things that need to be in the room and perform worse.

3. Efficiency is not just insulation: If you can spend the money get windows that are manufactured at high altitudes so they don't need pressure release holes that bleed off the efficiency as the years go by. Good windows on a very hot day are less than 1 degree difference in temperature from the wall. In fact they're so good that if you walk in front of them on a hot day you'll start sweating if it's a big bay of windows.  And make sure you get enough light in the place if you're someone that cares about that. My current place makes me feel like a vampire and it drives me nuts sometimes being in the living room (my stereo is not, thankfully). The windows will have the biggest long term turn around along with insulation, where as lights are not a huge difference. The electrical companies slowly raise prices to compensate for efficiency increases :lol: ; where as you almost can't find a home with truly good windows at any price, unless they were installed after the fact.

4. Cabinets: I don't know what you have there, but don't settle for anything that doesn't use Blum or Salice hardware. Plywood isn't something I'd require, but that's only true if the particle board is as good as Huntwood's. I still prefer their 3/4 particle board. (good god it's heavy).

Think about cabinets for the laundry setup. I like having them below, on the sides, and above the machines. You use front loaders typically for this, but not necessarily depending on how tall the cabinets below and above are. But I like the whole built in. I don't have them in my place but I put in a tall cabinet on one side and wall cabinets across the top. The extra storage is a blessing.

5. The floor: For a listening room you may want to add lots of cross bracing, you can but it took, looks like an X with a board on each end. This keeps down the walking and food tapping from going straight into the turntable. Just something to think about.

6. HVAC vents: Sure, get all of this done/checked now, but BE WARNED... do not locate any vents in the ceiling in your listening room unless you LOVE to clean vinyl. Nice cool air, but does it breath crap all over your records and charge them with static electricity as they play?

7. Ceiling fans: If you want these plan ahead and either having extra wires, or know you're getting Emerson's which do not require extra wires for functions with light and speed (most models I think). Ya they cost like $400-800 a piece depending on options. If you want a cheaper wobbler you'll probably want to run the extra wires so you don't have to use the stupid little strings to adjust it.

8. Save some money for furniture: Just saying... if you want it to look nice and have some nice quality furniture don't forget it cost some $$$$. I've been enjoying a Stickley couch lately and it's nice to know it won't fall apart; and if it did it would get replaced. And I can sit on the arms relentlessly. But it cost as much as a nice pair of speakers or something.

9. Room opening/planning: I'm sure you've talked about opening certain areas up. Consider in the design avoiding any sliding closet doors, maybe use built-ins for closets. I freaking hate the sliding doors for my pantry and regularly study the walls around it thinking about how to destroy their shitty existence.

10. Plumbing: If you don't have a modern sewage line put it in NOW instead of when the family has to poop all the time and you have the lawn all nicely done. And consider other checking/updating as mentioned by others. 

11. Paint: If it's been painted recently and it wasn't with no VOC paints, you might want to redo the nice areas. If it's several years old it doesn't matter so much. Just saying... I don't trust people.



I think everyone else is having nice suggestions. One's I liked/didn't

*Induction stove? EHHHH... RUN GAS even if you aren't planning to use it. I love gas.

*Utility sink, LOVE them. It's criminal I don't have one currently.

*Fresh air intake, wish I had that! You need good filters, but I have to open up my place to get the fresh air in.

*Central Vacuum, never seen one in person, love the idea.

*Ceiling up house from air leaks/bug/rodent inlets

*Toilets, get the ones you want. I personally can't be pleased. The one I use the most is 1.6g flush but it's extremely tough to clog as it's meant to flush dam near anything. Drawback? Comfort height is a total idiot idea IMO. All it does is make it a less natural experience. I prefer lower toilets, with the man sized shape, but the one I use the most if the guest bathroom too so no one can clog my shitter!

*In-wall oven and microwave, big fan myself. I like appliances and such built into the wall. It often allows a larger pantry to be used. The challenging part is a fridge that's in wall (depending on depth available), they usually cost thousands. But some have special filters to keep food fresh longer.


jpm

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #23 on: 29 Apr 2017, 08:04 am »
Maybe I'm out of touch, but I don't know the purpose or desire for ethernet all over, basically everyone uses wireless computers. Maybe for door bells that have cameras and stuff like that?

Some reasons: security; reliability; bandwidth; POE. ...

It's so easy and inexpensive to install the cable with the drywall off, and costs so little. Often the biggest challenges with streaming audio tie back to wireless network performance, and 4k TV is coming up faster than wireless networks are evolving.

Wired networking may seem old fashioned, but the stability, low cost and reliability can make a world of difference in eliminating both current and future headaches.

mcgsxr

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #24 on: 29 Apr 2017, 02:16 pm »
I enjoy wireless for end user devices.  I use wired for the infrastructure. 

Allows for spreading wifi all through the property, and reliable streaming to tv's etc.

Save the wifi bandwidth for laptops and tablets. 

If the walls are already open, it's a rounding error in cost for the project to add some wire.

Worth a thought for your project.  You may not want it. 

ctviggen

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #25 on: 29 Apr 2017, 03:38 pm »
I also like having computers, TVs, receivers, etc. being wired, and using wireless for everything else.  There are going to be more and more wireless (thermostats, fire alarms, appliances, etc.), so you want to take off some amount of bandwidth from wireless if possible.

As for insulation, this is a much more complex calculation.  There was a Find Homebuilding article a while ago that compared various insulation levels (new home), and they reached the conclusion that at some point you're spending much more money for very little improvement.  In fact, you could simply add a slightly bigger set of solar panels and that would overcome the difference in heating/cooling costs and be much cheaper.  One reason is that the heating and cooling costs, while substantial, are only part of the equation.  The cost to run all your AC equipment (computers, phones, receivers, washers, dryers, fridges, freezers, etc.) are fixed.  Even if you reduce heating and cooling to zero, you have a substantial energy use.  For instance, in my house, we have a house connected to an in-law.  We have two microwaves, three ovens, two sets of cook tops, a freezer, hot water for 5 people, two refrigerators, and a pool pump in the summer.  That's a substantial energy load.

Also, while closed cell foam is good at stopping air leaks and has a high R value, it's very expensive.  Multiples of other insulation.  Also, if you have a 2x4 wall that you spray foam, the boards only have an R value of 1/inch, so you're looking at a lower R value overall. Unless you add a thermal break, such as building staggered 2x4s on 2x8 or 2x6 headers.  That would give you a higher overall R value.  Another thing to consider is to have the outside walls sealed with a closed cell sealant, but then fill the walls with normal insulation (Roxul is good) or (even better and not much more expensive) blown in insulation.  There are many other techniques, including building a normal 2x4 outside wall then a 2x4 inside wall separated by a gap to get a complete thermal break and filling this with blown in insulation.  Blown in insulation has almost the air sealing of foam, but is way cheaper.

I further recommend doing more research about water systems.  Point of use sounds good, but it's not efficient and you have to run wiring everywhere.  If you get a heat-pump water heater, that will be much more efficient.  However, it's tricky.  The normal idea is to size the tank appropriately, but what they found with heat-pump water heaters is they have to be larger:  you don't want the heating elements to come on, and if the tank isn't large enough, they will come on more often.  They also have to be in relatively warm locations (cold basements aren't the best), or else they won't be as efficient.

The same goes with using PEX tubing in a home run system.  It sounds great to have everything run individually using PEX, but if you have a bathroom far away from the heater (assuming a central heater), and you have PEX run to the sink and separate PEX run to the shower, if you run water to get it hot in the sink, the shower will be cold. 

Personally, I'd run a large heat-pump water heater and for any bathrooms far away, install a recirculator to get the water hot.  I'd look into solar hot water, too, but those seem very expensive for the amount of improvement you get.  I'd do a comparison between those and a heat-pump water heater.

As for geothermal, those are incredibly expensive.  I hear estimates of 50-70k.  It would take many, many years to get that back.  If you have a heating system already, I'd use a heat pump system with the current heating system as a backup for cold days.  I'd use a variable speed air handler and a variable speed heat pump.  Another think to look into is the new systems where you use an outdoor heat pump and then they run coolant to on-the-wall units. Your house has to be well sealed for those, and they also get less efficient the colder it gets.  We did install those for our in-law unit, though, and she likes them. 

ctviggen

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #26 on: 29 Apr 2017, 03:49 pm »
If you do want to go solar, you likely "need" a south-facing roof.  Another thing to consider.

thunderbrick

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #27 on: 29 Apr 2017, 05:18 pm »
CTV makes a lot of good points, but when I looked into geothermal it was in the 30K range as a retrofit.   I was on the cusp of doing that but couldn't get straight answers from the company I was dealing with, and opted for the HE heat pump.  I have a coworker who has a much bigger house and uses ground-source geothermal.  His heat and A/C is less than $100 per month, but then a recent system repair cost him around $5K.    :o

WGH

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #28 on: 30 Apr 2017, 04:43 am »
A lot of good ideas in this thread, I have been working on custom homes for over 40 years, here are a few things I like:

Open floor plans, older homes often have too many doors and small rooms - remove some walls.
A walk in shower.
R40 or more ceiling insulation
Marvin Integrity Windows - extruded fiberglass lasts longer than vinyl and never needs paint - consider the Low E3-366 glass upgrade because heat gain is much lower:
http://www.marvin.com/integrity
http://www.cardinalcorp.com/products/coated-glass/loe-366/

Blum Tandenbox and Blumotion self closing drawer guides and hinges.
A high quality range hood with squirrel cage fans will keep the kitchen grease free
Under cabinet LED lights on a dimmer
Low voltage ceiling lights in the kitchen
 
In wall HDMI cable from computer area to TV. I like everything hard wired and interconnected - old school always works best when electronics are concerned.

A friend has a point of use water heater and it always needs repairs/replacement long before the break even point.

A really nice custom made entry door.

Wayne

ctviggen

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #29 on: 30 Apr 2017, 10:54 am »
CTV makes a lot of good points, but when I looked into geothermal it was in the 30K range as a retrofit.   I was on the cusp of doing that but couldn't get straight answers from the company I was dealing with, and opted for the HE heat pump.  I have a coworker who has a much bigger house and uses ground-source geothermal.  His heat and A/C is less than $100 per month, but then a recent system repair cost him around $5K.    :o

If geothermal was $35k, I'd do that in a heart beat (both my AC units are old, use old coolant, need everything replaced).  Most companies where I am won't even quote geothermal because it's so expensive.  And, outside heat pumps have gotten so much better, the improvement by going geothermal isn't much, and you need at least another 10k to drill wells for geothermal.  I'm going to have an estimate soon, but it was for total replacement of one AC unit; I'll see if they'll quote geothermal and replacement of two AC units.

The fiberglass windows are supposedly really good, as they also expand/contract less.  As for heat gain, this is a tough calculation also.  If you have a house in winter where it's cold, you wouldn't mind some heat gain in the winter for south facing windows.  But it's opposite of that in the summer.  Better to add heat gain in the winter, with a covering that provides more sun in winter but blocks sun in summer.  We have south facing windows, and it the heat gain in the winter is amazing.  Sadly, the same in the summer.

macrojack

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #30 on: 30 Apr 2017, 11:08 am »
Wayne - Thanks for the links to Marvin windows. Is there an entry door manufacturer you would recommend? While not as confusing as windows, the entry door is something little understood and never explained sufficiently. Maybe it's as simple as it looks but I thought that about windows too until I started reading. Windows are like speakers in that everyone makes a game-changer according to their sales material.
I have been looking into Alpen Glass windows with the heat shield technology. Their numbers seem to exceed Marvin's best but controversy still lingers over their long term service prospects. Do you know anything about this product? From what I've read, all windows use Cardinal Glass. What makes one manufacturer's product better than another? Is it just frame design and construction? Quality and durability of moving parts? Something mystical?
Also wondering what is recommended for an air exchanger. Is there a sizing formula? A preferred brand or model? Installation tips? Typical cost?

WGH

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #31 on: 30 Apr 2017, 08:03 pm »
Is there an entry door manufacturer you would recommend?

I highly recommend WGH Woodworking: http://www.wghwoodworking.com/ (shameless plug)

Alpen looks like a quality product, I don't know what makes one manufacture better than another. One fact of life is that windows sometimes leak so you want a company that will be around in 10 years and stands behind their product. I went with Marvin in my house remodel because my contractor recommended them and they fit into my budget - 7 windows: 1 - 48x68 fixed, 6 - 36x37 gliders for $3355. All the windows have low e3-366 argon filled glass and there is very little heat gain in the Tucson summer even from the West facing picture window.

I think super insulating, modern glass and eliminating drafts is much better than trying to eek out a little solar heat gain in the winter. Winters in Tucson are pretty mild and I have found the combination of a running refrigerator, watching a little TV on the 60" plasma, and cooking dinner is more than enough to heat my home. My gas bill includes the water heater, stove, and gas pack (furnace/AC unit) averages $32/month year round.

Wayne

JLM

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #32 on: 30 Apr 2017, 08:31 pm »
OP is located in metro Detroit.

When we built, the best "medium priced" front doors were insulated fiberglass doors from Mennards.  Ours is full stained glass with matching side light and cost less than half (and we liked the design better) than what the builder suggested.  Fiberglass doesn't rust, warp, or decay and it readily accepts stain or paint.

I took a class in super insulated house design a couple of years ago.  R-65 floors, walls, and ceiling/attic with German made triple pane windows were recommended.  One centrally located small split system and a hair dryer sized electric heater is all that's needed for a small house (along with recirculating air and heat exchanger).

Bemopti123

Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #33 on: 30 Apr 2017, 11:19 pm »
Interestingly enough I am also in the process of having gutter out an old house for my mom to live in.  There was extensive mold/leakage damage that we gutted everything to the studs and beams.  I also got myself boracare with mold killer and sprayed that liberaly almost everywhere where I saw either dryrot or mold damage. 

In terms of plumbing, the house was sclerotic in terms of functioning water, everything was redone and the eternal question of PVC vs Cast Iron, PVC won out after getting some info from people who teach people at a trade school. 

Electric was gutted and rewired with a bigger box.  Romex not BX. 

The biggest investment in terms of material was bats of Roxul, which the local HD did not carry.  I got comfort bat for basement foundation walls and got R15 for insulation between the attic and the second floor ceiling in order to insulate from noise and heat/cold.  Moreover I got almost 5 pallets of Roxul R30 with 12 packets of 6 bat each from HD online. 

There was a pleasant surprise when we opened the R30.  It is frigging thick, almost 8" thick vs the R15 which is just 4".  Meaning, if you get the R30, you are getting almost double the coverage of the R15 in the same bundle.  Most of the studs and the cavities of this old house cannot take more than 3-4" of Roxul, meaning, my calculation came out perfect.  I was about to order almost 9 pallets but I tried 5 first and later I was planning to order more but I now have sufficient. 

The house is dead quiet after the Roxul has been placed in the cavities and that is before putting up drywalls. 

Moreover, I am also installing a smart vapor barrier membrane called Certainteed Membrain.  It allows the walls to breathe in order to prevent dampness and condensation within the walls. 

I have specified green drywall under the roof in order to prevent damage in case of leakage.  I will not use the Certainteed membrain on the roof ceilings in order to detect leakage fast. 

I also installed drains on all bathroom floors, in case that there is leakage or an overflow, everything will run to this drain rather than flooding out.  I was told about this by a Romanian Engineer I used to work with and who had a 4 unit rental in Ridgewood NY. 

I am also installing LED fixtures everywhere it is possible and also motion sensor on/switches in order to turn off any lights automatically in case people forget.  I have seen this in Europe.  I call it a wise investment. 

Good luck with the house construction.   :thumb:

thunderbrick

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #34 on: 30 Apr 2017, 11:43 pm »
If geothermal was $35k, I'd do that in a heart beat

That's the quote I got about 5 years ago.   We live in a relatively low-cost/low income area, outside of town, so insurance company and realtor issues aside, there are no codes or inspections.  I spent 7 years in local building supply sales and have seen some really interesting/scary building that goes on in rural America.  Lot of old houses in the area that have been "renovated" by amateurs, and as a result the rural fire department stays pretty busy.

 :slap:

Tone Depth

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Re: Upcoming renovation which new technologies would you recommend
« Reply #35 on: 30 Apr 2017, 11:45 pm »
My brother in law replaced his wired network with a fiber network, and was pleased with the performance increase. That might be a new technology to consider for your LAN.

Folsom

Sometimes you can save an awful lot of money going directly to an insulation supplier. I was helping my father with his garage and someone told us to go to the local big supply place. Instead of spending up to $500 for the garage it was around $140. I have to imagine all their other items were cheaper too, like closed cell foam etc.

thunderbrick

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I've also learned that local contractor lumberyards are often much cheaper on fasteners and many other items.  Often better quality than HD or Lowes.

JLM

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So I got together with Nick to see the house in question.  He's in the habit of buying the worst house on the block and he's really succeeded in achieving that goal this time.  Beautiful neighborhood and wonderful lot, but the house is very run down.  I pity the old woman who previously lived there.  Basement is very damp, most of the perimeter hot water heating lines leak, many of the windows have to be replaced, wiring is nearly all wrong, and overall the home is in rough shape.  So the new technologies question is a low priority, but he will have opportunities to apply some of your ideas. 
« Last Edit: 4 May 2017, 08:10 pm by JLM »

randytsuch

Heated kitchen floor?  It's really nice to walk on a heated tile floor in the winter, but it does add cost.

I'd run Ethernet to wherever you can, while it's easy.  Consider running it to attic and basement too, may have some use in future.
Put some outlets outside, at least in front and back.

I'd consider running Ethernet for POE security cameras.  They are pretty cheap now.  And if you can't afford them, you can run to a junction box, and add later.
Cover front door, back door, and sides of house as a minimum.