Home Buying in Concord>Question Details

Emtavano, Home Buyer in Arlington, MA

Process of buying home that you plan to renovate?

Asked by Emtavano, Arlington, MA Mon Oct 15, 2012

We are thinking of buying a home but are not sure if the structural renovations that we would definitely want to do are possible. Specifically we are thinking of trying to raise a ceiling in a bedroom through the attic, or taking out the floor (in a boxy extension wing of a house) so it is one tall room rather than two low-ceilinged rooms. Also would want to combine some bedrooms.

The question is:
1. What professional would tell us if this is structurally possible?
2. Do we hire that person before we make an offer, or if not, can we make an offer contingent on those changes being possible?

Thank you.

Help the community by answering this question:


Heath Coker’s answer
Go to town hall and talk to the building department.
Ask to see the plans.
Ask about permits past and present.
Call the architect - whose name is on the plans.
Ask them your question.

Copy the plans - or take a pic with your phone if they won't copy them.
Ask your own architect.

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 27, 2012
Answer to questions:
1. A general contractor or a structural engineer.
2. I expect that you should do your research, if time allows, prior to making the offer. I assume you are only interested in this property if you can renovate and make the changes noted in the question. As I said, completing your due diligence first is the best route. If it is a competitive situation, then make the offer contingent on these changes and allow for enough time to hire a professional to visit the property and make a evaluation of the project wanted. (Not knowing the situation I might assume the project could be completed, but the budget might be higher than expected and possibly not making it a good investment).

I hope this helps.
Bob Champey
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
I was wondering the same thing. My husband and I want to start renovating our kitchen and master bedroom, but we don't know where to start. Did you ever figure out a great place to begin that worked for you? I'm willing to take any suggestions! http://www.vickershomeimprovements.net.au
Flag Fri Dec 19, 2014
This has been a great answer. I'm confused about those things as well. I'm definitely willing to do all the renovations, but I just don't know if they will work out. I would really like to raise my ceilings. I'll have to ask a contractor about it. http://www.creativebathroomsandkitchens.com.au/services.html
Flag Fri Oct 31, 2014
Thank you for a direct and helpful answer.
Flag Mon Oct 15, 2012
I would use your 7-10 day window of due diligence to speak with both a structural engineer as well as a contractor to see if these alterations are possible. If after they review the home and give the thumbs up you could then hire them. You do not want to hire anyone until an offer has been accepted but you absolutely do want to make sure you use your due diligence period to do your homework on the house. If they tell you its not possible then you always have the option to back out of the offer and get your deposit check back
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 30, 2014
I know my brother was in a similar boat. He had just accepted a job offer in a new city, and was looking for a house. He bought one, and decided to do a bunch of renovations. He looked into hiring some professionals but he didn't exactly know the way to go about it. What did you figure out?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 29, 2014
1) Get yourself an exclusive buyer's agent. I can tell by your questions that you don't have someone representing your interests (NOT the listing broker) in the purchase. It is paramount to hire someone who will work to not only get you the best value but also take the time to educate you on the process of buying a home and walk you through options (like the one's you are describing); and
2) Yes, there are two different professionals you can bring in to help answer your questions: structural engineer and a general contractor. I suggest bringing in a contractor first; and
3) If you have the time (i.e there aren't other pending offers) I would bring in the contractor prior to making an offer. Why not get an idea of costs prior to valuing the property. However, if there is not time to do so, then you can absolutely make the deal contingent on an inspection and ask for the right to bring in a contractor for satisfactory estimates.

There is much more to learn about the process of buying this specific home so like I said, get yourself a buyer broker first :)

Massachusetts Premier Buyer Brokerage
Protecting the interest of our clients one home at a time!
Web Reference: http://territory.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2012
Thanks. I agree, a lot depends on whether or not the home has a lot of offers. If they're slow, then you can afford to bring in a contractor and look at long-term renovation plans. As long as you keep communicating with the seller, you should be able to move forward without any hassle. | http://www.designex.ca
Flag Fri Jan 9, 2015
You can do anything with money.

If like Bob says it is a competitive situation make the offer 1st,

I would not do as he states and make it subject to those items as that just raises a red flag to the seller or their agent.


I always recommend offers should include:

1) subject to a satisfactory home inspection, by the buyer and or his agents on or before xxx days.
2) subject to a mutually acceptable purchase and sales agreement
3) subject to financing (if you need it) if not subject to an appraisal at or above the agreed upon price.

As too the renovations - a general contractor, architect and or a structural engineer.

As Bob states it may cost more than you expect or the market will pay for, but that said if its the house you want, in an area you want and realize these two things then go for it.

A home is a place to live, raise a family in, a forced way of savings, tax benefits (unless Obama gets re-elect) and should keep pace with the community you invest in (so it may go up or it may go down invalue). So community, location, schools and transportation to employment centers are all key factors.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
A structural engineer would be the person to ask. The contractor can also give you an estimate as to the cost of the project. However, is this the only house you are interested in? Is this house purchase going to be an investment or your home?. Speak to your buyer agent he/she can guide you through, offer insight, structure the offer to purchase etc... if you are not using one, I'd suggest you talk to a few and then pick one (buyer agent does not cost you anything)
Web Reference: http://www.wenrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
You would n eed to hire a general contractor. I cannot advise you or refer one when I am not employed by you as a buyer's agent... sorry!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
sorry, I think that wasn't clear, I mean who do I hire for the advice on whether I can do this, and does that person come before I make the offer on the house or after.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
You need to connect with a reputable contractor. If you don't have a friend who is a general contractor, you may need to pay this person for their time. Find a home you like, and have this person come with you to take a look before you make an offer. Sometimes, GC's will work with you if they know they will get the job.
If you have a good buyer's agent, s/he should be able to help you locate a general contractor (GC)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 15, 2012
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