Well Crap. Literally. Advice and Recommendations Requested

9 Replies

Saturday night, we received a call while we were out from the guy who rents the basement of our personal residence.  Sewage was backing up into his bathroom and all over the carpet outside the bathroom.  

We managed to get it snaked ourselves so that everything went back down, but I wanted a professional out to do it again and figure out what might have happened.  The rooter guy hit a blockage that he was eventually able to push through and then scoped the sewer.  He found a crack in the pipe pretty much right where the pipe exits the house, right under the front porch.

This is a house that my boyfriend bought in 2008 as a foreclosure.  It needed a ton of work then, but he had a couple of personal setbacks over the years (including a job loss about six weeks after he moved in) and he's been fixing things as they break, but not much else.  He's in a much better financial position now.

The front porch is wood and in terrible shape (probably a safety hazard), so having to dismantle it to dig to the pipe is no real loss.  

But here's where things get interesting.  We had plans to begin remodeling the house anyways and the plan was to start at the top and work our way down.  However, with this setback, it probably makes more sense to start in the basement and work our way up.

As long as we've got a digger there to do the pipe, we figured it would be good to go ahead and dig out the windows to make them proper egresses.  The rooter guy said that their digger will do the windows at $500 each as long as they are there to do the pipe, but we'll obviously have to get somebody else to actually cut the foundation and put in bigger windows.

I'm in a position to be able to manage subcontractors myself, so I don't think I need a GC for this.  However, here's what I do need:

1.  Somebody to cut through the foundation.  (Do I need a structural engineer to determine if this is even a good idea???)

2.  Somebody to install windows (if not the same person)

3.  Somebody to inspect the roof.  We've got an intermittent leak in the laundry room ceiling and it occurred to me after the last rain that that seems to be the common denominator.  Need somebody to inspect the flashing or whatever around the roof and figure out what's wrong.  Then fix it.

4.  Somebody to design and build a new deck.

Everybody should be licensed and able to pull permits.  

Denver area folks - can you start throwing some contractor recommendations at me please?

I've done plenty of rehabs myself, but not roofing, not egress windows and not decks, so I'm at a bit of a loss here.

Yes to the structural engineer! Pay a couple of hundred, save thousands.

The guy that did my egress window is essentially retired, but your idea is great. Regardless of whether I made the windows legal or not it would be used as a bedroom. I sleep better at night knowing they could get out and the firefighters could get in.

@Linda Weygant there are a number of guys around town that only do egress windows. The guy I know is very busy right now. He hires day labor to dig out the windows by hand. He pays them much less than $500.

Yes you should use a structural engineer. It's not a big issue if you use the existing window hole and just cut downward but it's something that requires an engineer or architect to prepare the necessary paperwork. The people that do egress windows have one of these people in their pocket and the process is very streamlined.

When I did an egress window I hired a company (not the guy I know). I did a lot of figuring on this. What I found is that paying one guy to do the work was cheaper than assembling the parts myself. The longest lead time was the windows purchase.

Again the egress window people have the equipment to cut through the wall. There are two approaches here. One, use a saw that has a blade that will cut the full thickness of the wall. Think large blade and special expensive equipment. Option 2, get an oversized blade on a demo saw and cut half way through from each side. If everything goes well, it's as good as the blade all the way through approach, if not, it can leave a bit to be desired in that the hole the window goes through is a bit wonky. 

Roofing leak at the edges. Bad flashing is usually the problem. Easy to fix but roofers are in the business of selling roofs so it's hard to find someone to actually fix the problem. DIY with a gallon of fast patch roofing tar from HD is the quickest, cheapest, and best solution apart from a new roof.

I have never done a deck that I didn't do myself so not much help there. Material costs are the biggest wide card. Figure out what you want there and that will drive the costs of the project. What I have found is that the cheapest contractors use the cheapest materials. If you want high end materials (composites) then your labor costs increase accordingly even though it's really not much more labor to use the expensive materials.

Please let me know what the costs are for the egress window. my wife and I want to rent out basement out as it already has all the amenities, but the window isn't to spec in the bedroom. Its the one thing that is holding us back due to liability.

All other concerns aside, inexperienced DIYers should be pretty careful thinking about cutting large chunks of vertical concrete themselves.  You're in the neighborhood of 150#/CF, so, check my math, but the cake that falls out could weigh around 800 pounds.

Sounds like the guys that do egress windows are the way to go.  A structural engineer also sounds like a good idea.  as someone said the egress people must have an engineer that they work with and that will be the way to go.  As far as digging out the windows when you are getting estimates (if you haven't decieded to hire this one excavator) just get a package price for digging out the pipe amd digging  below the proposed larger windows.  They are there as he said with all the equipment.    I guess the excavator is also going to pull the porch down for you.

How old is the roof?   It's life span might be close to over. 

I hope you will continue to update this.  I am looking at the possibility of either adding a window or possibly moving the door in the basement.  I've not begun to get estimates.  

As stated above, a structural engineer is your best move to save time and money in the long run.  Do it right the first time so it isn't a continuous fixer-upper!

Boy have I received an education in egress windows!

Estimates are coming in at $4000 to $6000 per window and an amazing range of $20,000 to $70,000 for a walk out.  I think we're gonna stick to windows.

But here's what I've learned.

Window guys hate dirt.  They give you a price for doing the windows and then they say "but if you dig out the windows,  then I'll give you a discount".  One guy actually got online to Home Depot's website while we were on the phone to price out the cost of a digger.  It's $250 per day, he said I'd probably have a blast with it (he's probably right) and he'd come out and mark up where I need to dig and give me a quick lesson in how to measure the depth of the hole and other stuff I'd need to know.  He said he'd work with the utility companies to get them out to mark the utilities too.  He says it's just like playing with Tonka trucks, but more hydraulics.  It's like the guy knew I played more with Tonka than Barbie when I was a kid.

This guy is also a general contractor who happens to specialize in windows, so he said if I dug up the sewer pipe, he'd replace that for anywhere from $500 to $1000, once he is able to see how bad it is.  So he may be able to save me the original $5200 quote from the sewer company. 

There is also an engineering charge of anywhere from $200 to $500 and my city (Arvada) charges a per window price for permits of $200.

Once all the quotes are in, I'll detail them out here, but I figured I'd let you guys know ballpark for right now.

Oh! And the one guy said he'd interface directly with the HOA for me. BONUS!!!!!

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