Houzz Logo Print

Adding a second story onto a ranch house & beautifying....

14 years ago

Hi all,

I am new here, and I have a question. my husband and I currently own a ranch house built in the early 1990s (my mother had it built). We're in the process of trying to decide whether to buy a 1912 farmhouse that needs fixing up (we'll be looking at it tomorrow--I think the old house-surprise factor will end up being too daunting for me, but we'll see! I LOVE older houses, b/c growing up, before my mother built this one, I lived in homes from the 1800s!).

Anyhow, if we decide not to go with the 1912 house, we are looking at some remodeling work here. Our house is 1150 square feet with a full, unfinished basement (part of that basement is a one-car garage). We are the fifth generation to live on our family farm, so even though the house itself doesn't charm me--it is a 1990s ranch :)--it is so fantastic to live on the farm near my family. Location is good, and property values are skyrocketing in our area.

We owe $15,000 more on this house, and then it's paid for in full! The tax assessment value is $160K (which I think is high). This year, if we stay here, we plan to renovate one bathroom, replace the carpet with wood floors, and do some other minor things (painting etc). We've been here 8 years and have renovated a bathroom, done lots of painting, and I've re-decorated/spruced up the kitchen. We do everything ourselves. The next step would be to finish our basement, and we'd do most of that ourselves as well, except for possibly cutting out windows (there's one window and I'd love more light). My dh is going to put up the drywall, build built-in bookshelves, put down flooring....

Even with the basement finished, the house's layout is not quite what we envision long-term. My mother did an amazing job designing a house that is full of beautiful natural light--wonderful windows. We have the original blueprints from the house, and are intimately familiar w/ the house--it's nice that there are no 'surprises' (at least, not so far--since no one else has owned it other than mom and us!).

My husband and I are in our early 30s and have a young son, and want to have a few more children. We are going to want and *need* (debatable :)) more space. I also want and need a more charming layout. This house has good bones, but I want to improve upon them, and try to incorporate some of the charming details that give older houses their appeal--if that makes sense. My vision is that our house would feel like a quaint country cottage--beautiful, clean lines, lots of light, flowers..... (my garden is getting there!).

So my questions are varied--

*how would you (or have you? photos would be great?) made a modern house feel more retro/older/cottagey?

*has anyone added a second story onto a ranch-style house? I'd get the structural issue checked out, of course--but that aside, I'm interested in the ins and outs of this option. How much does this type of work typically cost? We were thinking $100K, but I'm not so sure--if we could get contractors to do the 'major' stuff, we can definitely do plenty ourselves (drywalling, painting, floor installation, bathroom installation--as long as the plumbing is in--etc; my dh might even be able to do some wiring b/c he's an engineer and has owned a related business....). I wonder if we could feasibly do it for $50-$60K if we put in sweat equity ourselves. (My brother in law is also a contractor and I know he could help.)

*If you had a choice between buying a decaying (not sure of HOW decaying; will see tomorrow) 1912 house, 2700 sq ft (it's a foreclosure) in the country (beautiful views, remote location) for $89K which would almost certainly need $80K++ of work done to it v. putting $80K give or take into a modern home (lovely views, family farm, convenient to city--with all the improvement would wind up with about 2700/2800 sq ft), what do you think would be the better option for a young family?

There are so many questions here. My husband and I are at a crossroads, and we're happy to have options, but whew--we're overwhelmed! There's so much to consider.

Thank you. Sorry this was a tome.

Comments (12)