Renovation Boot Camp: ‘demystifying’ the home renovation process

Have you ever thought about giving your home a makeover, but find yourself not knowing where to start? Starting next week the Des Moines Rehabbers Club is hosting an eight-session seminar series entitled, “Renovation Boot Camp,” which will give local homeowners practical advice, support and the resources that are needed to successfully complete a renovation project.

“It [Renovation Boot Camp] will connect residents with experts in the community that will help them make a change in the personal life that makes a big difference for the community and the planet,” said Catherine Tone, a Certified Sustainable Professional and an Urban Ambassadors Board Member.

The Renovation Boot Camp classes will take place on Mondays, starting March 21 and ending May 9, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Smokey Row (1910 Cottage Grove Avenue in Des Moines). Participants can choose to attend individual classes for $8 each or the entire series for $45 by registering online or by paying onsite. (Did I mention that you can pay for the series using Dwolla when you register online?)

“Green building is one of the seven areas of sustainability that we focus on for residents in Greater Des Moines, and the work Rehabbers Club does in the community is a perfect fit,” said Tone. “Renovating existing homes is exponentially more sustainable than building new, and Rehabbers puts the information directly in the hands of the people who want to make a change.”

Topics for the series include: project financing, design issues, energy efficiency, how to approach “DIY” (do it yourself) projects and living sustainably. To see the full list of classes and class topics, visit the Renovation Boot Camp website.

“Renovation is inherently ‘green,’” said Steve Wilke-Shapiro, the organizer of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. “Proper maintenance and upgrading of our existing homes helps keep waste material out of landfills, takes advantage of existing infrastructure, and preserves a sense of history in older neighborhoods. The purpose of the series is to ‘demystify’ the renovation process and help people feel more comfortable about managing a home improvement project.”

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1 comment

  1. morrighu

    My DHB and I are currently renovating a house that was apparently “attacked by crack-addled drunken monkeys on a three day bender” during the last renovation which appears to have occurred in the 1980’s. Given the state of many things, I have to say that I concur with his assessment of the situation.

    Please – teach your people about proper structure, basic plumbing, and basic electrical skills. And tell them that if they’re not sure if a wall is load-bearing or not, to call an engineer. For the price of a few hundred dollars – a drop in the bucket for most reno budgets – you can find out if you can knock that wall out without knocking your house out. You can also find out what needs to be done to support it if it is. Not sure about where you are, but here Lowe’s sells laminate beams.

    Major Problems We’re Dealing With Now:
    1) Movement of the main load-bearing wall 4′ to one side without any reinforcement. This means that the “main wall” isn’t over the “main beam” any more which has resulted in shifting and settling of the house in undesirable ways.
    2) Replacement of the plumbing system resulting in one and only one vent stack for the entire house despite the fact that the kitchen and bath are on opposite ends of the house.
    3) Electrical – I don’t even begin to know where to start. It looks more like it should be served with a nice marinara sauce than providing power to the whole house. It was obviously run by previous owners/occupants who just got up in the attic, found a hot wire and spliced off it to run whatever it was they wanted. Apparently none of these people had the slightest idea what an amp is :/ or how to balance circuit loads,

    Minor issues:
    1) Nothing – and I mean nothing – in this house is plumb or square. Once we have the house leveled and properly supported (See Major Issue #1), we will be re-framing all of the interior walls, room by room. When you open a wall, you expect to see 2×4’s that are at least ROUGHLY vertical. That kind of framing makes it nearly impossible to hang drywall or backerboard properly. If that doesn’t hang properly, then your tile, baseboards, crown molding, wainscoting, etc. will never ever look quite right.
    2) Spray foam is *NOT* a structural component. If you’re going to use a product, learn what it’s for. And don’t get too creative with it.
    3) Scotch tape isn’t structural either. Seriously??? Who knew that if you used enough of it, you *CAN* in fact hold up paneling – which doesn’t really hang right because of the aforementioned framing.

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