Rehab Project in North Center - advice and recommendations?

6 Replies | Chicago, Illinois

We recently purchased a three-unit rental property.

We want to do some renovation work immediately, and plan to conduct more extensive renovations on the property over the coming years.

Currently, the water heater and the boiler furnace are located in an improperly ventilated portion of the garden unit. These need to be removed. We plan to replace with tankless water heaters and in-unit high-velocity small duct central heat and air (using electric baseboard for the garden unit heat), and also remove all the radiators from the building.

With the furnace and water heater removed, we would like to knock down the walls dividing the current furnace room, and make one larger rear, which is the bulk of the remodeling work to be done.  don't not currently have drawings or architectural plans. I'm not imagining a drastic floorplan change. Currently the rear of the garden unit is divided up by walls to create a furnace room somewhat in the middle of it, and a second closet-type room to access the furnace room. I just want to open as much of that space up as possible after the removal of the furnace/heater and create the largest single room possible, or at the least combine the closet room and the furnace room into a finished room with a floor more comforting than the current bare concerete. 


I'm expecting the HVAC/water heating to be a much more significant project, as there are a lot of questions I have that I cannot answer about whether I'd need to expand the gas service or electrical, whether I can run small-duct high-velocity in the ceiling easily or possibly along the ceiling inside the unit instead of in the walls, etc.

If possible, we also would like to install in-unit washers/dryers in the first and second floor units.

I don't know if any of the above would require expansion of the gas or electrical service to the building, or how I would go about setting that up.  I'm also generally curious about people's experience with high-velocity air systems and tankless water heaters in Chicago.

@Nicholas Bailey - curious about the hot water heaters.  I assume you want tankless to save space??  If not, you could use an electric water heater since it doesn't require venting (although would require a 2 poll, 30amp breaker in your panel).  Price wise (I'm unfamiliar but did a quick search on Home Depot's website) it looks like you would spend about the same, if not slightly more with Tankless. Unsure what maintenance/reliability is on those though, so I cannot comment.  I did run into a venting situation with a flip and thus, I installed an electric hot water heater so I didn't have to deal with the venting issues. 

Originally posted by @Mike B. :

@Nicholas Bailey - curious about the hot water heaters.  I assume you want tankless to save space??  If not, you could use an electric water heater since it doesn't require venting (although would require a 2 poll, 30amp breaker in your panel).  Price wise (I'm unfamiliar but did a quick search on Home Depot's website) it looks like you would spend about the same, if not slightly more with Tankless. Unsure what maintenance/reliability is on those though, so I cannot comment.  I did run into a venting situation with a flip and thus, I installed an electric hot water heater so I didn't have to deal with the venting issues. 

 
Yes, to save space.  Currently a decent amount of space is unusable due to this mechanical closet that is just to contain the furnace and water tank if I'm getting rid of the furnace, I might as well get rid of the whole room and have more living space.  Also currently the building has seven bedrooms and three showers between all the units, and they all draw from the same tank, which can obviously be an issue.

My understanding is that tankless is slightly more expensive initially, uses appreciably less energy, but the gas costs are counterbalanced by the cost of routine maintenance, so it all costs about the same.

You can also get tankless electric, but I think that would require a decent amount of additional electric work.  Currently there's only one gas meter for the property, so I'm keeping that option open.

Thanks for clarifying @Nicholas Bailey !  As a suggestion, would also reach out to local utility company about separating meters.  Here in Philly, as long as you (the owner) get the gas lines installed for each unit (subdivided that is), they will come out and install the new meters for free (assuming zoning, etc is all appropriate). 

Good luck with everything!

Hi @Nicholas Bailey

I work for a contractor who has extensive experience  in multifamily and residential construction. If you would like to connect, or communicate directly let me know. I don't envision that you would need to expand the gas service, possibly the electrical however. Hard to say for certain. 

Best practice would be to have an electrician and plumber get some eyes on the situation, setup, and proposed plans. 

Let me know if that is something you would be interested in. 

-Alec