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Sweat Equity vs. Wish List for 100K Construction

by Chad Ludeman on September 22, 2008 · 9 comments

in 100k project,Construction Updates

We have been considering putting some sweat equity into the construction of the 100K House from the beginning in order to increase the value. We wanted to keep the list of sweat equity tasks reasonable to keep the construction on schedule. There is also the desire to keep the list of tasks to a difficulty level that could be accomplished by others wanting to build their own house of a similar design. This will allow us to perform some work ourselves and decrease the overall cost of construction while also maintaining the integrity of the case study.

Brian from Manor Hill has asked us to come up with two lists in order of priority. The first is the list of sweat equity tasks we are considering and the second is the list of upgrades or labor tasks that we would like to have in the $100K budget if time and money are available. Below, I am taking a stab at a first draft of these two lists:

100K Sweat Equity Task List

  1. All landscaping, including design and fencing
  2. Interior Painting
  3. Painting of exterior Hardi Panels if needed
  4. Kitchen cabinetry installation
  5. Concrete stain and sealing
  6. Plywood floor finishing with Low-VOC Poly
  7. IKEA accessory installation (hardware, shelving…)
  8. Green Ivy Wall
  9. Interior trim carpentry
  10. Prefabbed stairs
  11. Tiling of bathroom
  12. Whole house audio design and wiring

Desired Upgrades or Labor Assistance in 100K Budget

  1. Fencing installation (I really don’t want to dig fence posts)
  2. Pappajohn custom kitchen (roughly $2K upgrade)
  3. Electric Induction Cooktop (I really want to test out this $750 upgrade)
  4. Some landscaping assistance
  5. All labor involved in items 8 – 12 from the list above
  6. A/C (no more radiant cooling makes Chad nervous…)

OK, there’s our list. What are your thoughts? What would you be comfortable doing yourself on a new house to gain value and what would you not want to go near? What upgrades would be at the top of your wish list. It’s always interesting to see how others’ lists differ from my own.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon September 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm

The Ikea kitchen is a no-brainer. They are a doddle to construct and set up. The biggest pain is the time it takes to put together all of the cabinet boxes. You’d pay a lot of unnecessary labor for someone to do that.

What about finish plumbing (faucets and whatnot)? Those are easy things to do, and plumbers tend to be expensive by the hour.

I’d rather do either of those than floor finishing!

2 tracy September 22, 2008 at 7:26 pm

are you sure about electric cook top??
I’d say gas is the way to go.

3 eric September 22, 2008 at 8:26 pm

> 3. Electric Induction Cooktop (I really want to test out this $750 upgrade)

I realize that stove tops are sort of a holy war amongst cooking enthusiasts, but I really couldn’t imagine wanting to cook on anything but gas. The induction sets seem like they might be neat, but a hassle with various drawbacks that don’t seem to outweigh the benefits to me.
You are probably already ware of all this, but see:

4 chad September 22, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I forgot about the induction vs gas cooktop debate. Here is the original post that this topic came up in.

Also, check out this forum post for some educated opinions on both options – Dig down into a bit to get the good stuff.

I think it’s something that needs to be tried which is why I want it in our house. If my wife and Nic, who love to cook give it the thumbs up, it will go in every property we ever build because of the other advantages.

The induction has two green benefits I like a lot also that were mentioned in the first post. One, it is very efficient and will not heat up the kitchen during the summer like gas would. Two, studies have shown that gas fumes from gas cooktops are harmful to the cook’s health. This is important to me since my wife is over the cooktop multiple times per day and I want her to stay around as long as possible.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but lets add some educated research to the conversation. If most pro chefs in Europe are using induction, it can’t be too bad…

5 Rob September 23, 2008 at 1:10 pm

While I agree with the “gas is better” crowd, I can see why electric would be more attaractive for the average homeowner.
That being said, I am more concerned about the exterior painiting. If the intent is to truely have the best possible exterior envelope/shell then I believe that it is critical for the exterior painting to be performed by a professional. Done right it could last a good while (10-15 years or more). Depending on the specific product there are also prefinished options that can come with a 25 year warranty. If the painting is done wrong it could be a disaster that needs attention every couple of years.
Also I agree with your inclinations about the labor for items 8-12. Those items may require a bit more skill than the average homeowener has.

6 Grant September 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

I think you’ve made the right decision with the induction cooktop. You are trying to limit heat gain in your house so as to limit the need for active cooling. The ERV will help you maintain a steady state, as long as you aren’t adding too much heat inside the house envelope.

For this reason, you might also rethink the size, quality, and energy efficiency of the microwave. Cooking in a microwave produces MUCH less heat than any oven… Many modern families use the microwave much more frequently than the oven. Few families would forgo the oven completely (and 24″ is probably sufficient), but the microwave is more than a luxury!

7 chad September 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Rob – We would actually only be painting the Hardi panels prior to them being installed so the skill required would not be too significant. Having said that, the hardi comes with a 50 year warranty, so we really don’t want to paint unless absolutely necessary. Either way only half the panels would be painted to get a good match to the stock panels of the alternate color as shown in the renderings.

8 Rob September 23, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Chad – I believe that Hardi requires painting of there exterior siding products. Neglecting to do so would void their warranty, I believe. Or are these prefinished panels that I am not aware of. Also the 50 year warranty is for material defect, not finish integrety or appearance.
At any rate my concern was that to properly paint siding, all six sides should be covered with several coats of primer and then the exposed surface should be coated with one or two top coats. This would certianly be easier on the ground, as you have stated. Have joint details been worked out?

9 eric September 24, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Hey Chad, certainly trying it in one unit seems like a reasonable idea. I definitely understand the green benefits and I realize various pro’s use the induction units I just don’t really see me using one, and would probably take the unit out were I to ever purchase a house with one. Of course I live in the Bay Area where the idea of 100k houses is just crazy talk. ;)

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