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My family just moved into a new house and it's awkwardly laid out. We are planning on moving in another year or two and we want to fix up the house enough to profit from it, but to also make it as comfortable as needed. Therefore price is a real concern.

One of the plans we came up with involves moving the front door to the other side of the front room, a move of about 17 feet. We would be covering up where it is at the moment, and cutting into the house on the other side to create enough space for the door + a small porch step. Our house is older, made probably in the 60's or 70's, therefore we know there might be some structural difficulties.

Is it possible to move the front door without it eating up too much money? Or is it really just based on the structure of the house?

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    Pictures would help. – DMoore Nov 14 '14 at 15:34
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A front door is just a controlled hole in the wall. But it is very controlled. You are right to think that there are structural issues. The wall where the door is located has several of its upright structural members (studs) removed. There has to be a horizontal support (header) added to make up for that, and extra vertical supports under that. The exact size depends on span and what is over the new door area. You may need an architect or engineer to confirm the ability to bear the load above.

There is also the issue of sealing against weather, both air and water. Flashing, insulation and a variety of seals are needed to keep the outside outside.

Finally, the entry landing has to be appropriate. If above grade, adequate steps or decking is needed.

Since you are asking, it sounds like this is not a do-it-yourself project that would be within your comfort zone. You may want to get a contractor in to give you an estimate.

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Subject directly to the laws of physics and legally to both local land development regulations and covenants specific to the property, any construction project is possible when a sufficient combination of labor, material, and economic resources are allocated to its completion.

At least, that's the theory, since one's partner or partners may still say "no." Whether some arbitrary construction project makes sense from a flipper's perspective is of course another story. One to which the only answer is, "it depends."

Given that the question indicates there is difficulty in estimating the resource requirements in the project, it may be wise to seek advice from a local experienced expert who is familiar with both the laws of physics and the regulatory and legal contexts in which the proposed project would be executed.

  • i downvoted this answer because it seems (to me, at least) unnecessarily patronizing. humor does not, unfortunately, translate well over the internet. – alt Nov 14 '14 at 15:39
  • I read this as money talks, house-flippers don't walk and don't attempt this if you have to ask. +1 for (lulz) a less patronizing answer to "We can just move this door, right?" than I would of given; pre-hung doors are very hard to install correctly even in a properly framed rough opening. I find this answer to offer perspective that the multi-step laden answers here lack to say frankly: you crazy, dog if you think you're going to make back that return; better to redo the bathrooms or something. – Mazura Nov 14 '14 at 18:32
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    @alt The answer is blunt, not humorous. Construction problems (but not physics problems) can be solved by throwing money or those things for which it may be exchanged at them. When attempting to determine how big the pile of money, or the objects of its exchange, will be necessary to solve a construction (not physics) problem experience and expertise matters. And that's an easier problem. Determining whether it makes economic sense to throw a pile of money of size x at construction problem y is financial problem, not one of construction [or physics]. – ben rudgers Nov 14 '14 at 19:18
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It's almost certainly possible... basically you're adding a new door, then closing up the old one, both of which are fairly standard operations during renovations.

Assuming a wooden-framed house, your place is recent enough that it's probably very straighforward. Should just be a matter of opening up the wall surfaces, framing the doorway (properly) to replace (part of) one of the studs, dropping in a prehung door, opening the area around the current doorway, taking the door out (you might want to do this first, if you want to reuse that door and the carpenter says that can be done), and shoving in a partial stud to fill the cap. Close the patient and paint. I hesitate a bit to suggest DIY since outside walls are loadbearing, but in theory this isn't complicated.

I can't advise re other building materials; hopefully someone else can do so.

In any case, I would suggest that you Call a few construction/alteration folks (a good contractor can be very helpful, though a bad one can be a nuisance) and get quotes.

(Here, where "middle aged" houses are in the 100-year-old range, there's a wider range of construction techniques, lots of settling and past alterations, and things can get somewhat more interesting. I've dithered about adding French doors to my porch because I'm not sure we could do that wide an opening without putting in a Paralam beam to make sure the load's supported properly.)

  • Looking at your answer, how was it determined that the building's walls are not CMU, brick, or concrete? – ben rudgers Nov 14 '14 at 14:01
  • Sorry; I'm biased since stick construction is predominant in housing in much of the US. Adjusted appropriately. – keshlam Nov 14 '14 at 15:43
  • In swaths of the US masonry construction is very much common - CMU in South Florida, brick in many older urban environments. In other parts of the world served by the internet, concrete construction may prevail. – ben rudgers Nov 14 '14 at 16:13

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