Opinions please! Home investment choices

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I am torn on what to use my workers comp settlement money towards. My property needs lots of big repairs. But at the same time the price of electricity has jumped from $0.17 to $0.29 per kWh in my area with no change in sight. My home uses 4 window air conditioners in the summer time that consume quite a bit of power (1 6K, 1 5.5K, 1 11K, and 1 8k). The big one struggles to keep up despite running all day in the large room (approx 800 sq ft with 12 foot ceilings). The primary use would be for cooling, but could also supplement heat as needed (use NG heat for the house).

Anyway, to my point. I’ve decided that it’s either going to go towards a set of ductless mini splits (4 zone, 3 6K BTU and 1 18K BTU with a 3 ton outdoor unit; self install) or having the driveway redone/expansed. There are other big repairs needed such as pool retaining wall needs to be redone, large shed is rotten top to bottom and west side of home needs to be reshingled. It was a close tie between the pool retaining wall and the drive way. Both are equally as bad. Anyway, Currently drive way is 70 year old concrete that is sunken/broken in many spots, and has cracks all over the place. The current driveway is a single car width that splits right in front of the garage to go to each bay door (2 car garage). My wife and myself have to drive over the lawn backing out every time due to the design. I also have a large travel trailer (37 foot) that I park next to the garage that is all grass/dirt. For obvious reasons of parking it over moisture soaked lawn and backing it over the grass, up hill (about 60 feet worth) and tearing up the lawn every time with my truck, I’d like to have that paved. I’d use some plywood over the pressure points on the trailer to avoid the asphalt sinking over time.

The money I receive will likely not be enough for both, so I have to choose, but am struggling which would be a better investment . I should note, I do have home Solar, but it’s unknown that my entire bill will be covered by the power the panels produce. Next summer would be my first summer with them. Thoughts?
 
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More likely than not you're going to need someone other than the HVAC company to determine exactly how many minisplit heads you're going to need. As I understand it, it's a lot more complicated than number of room x tonnage of current system. Multi-head units can be problematic.
 

mattd

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I have several friends/family that have similar systems that have had years of trouble free service. I do have HVAC experience but it is not my day job. I’ve done cooling/Heat load calculations for each room and this is what it recommends for head unit sizes. There was one place that said I could even step up to a 24K unit for the large room due to ceiling insulation level (cathedral ceilings). But others have said 18K is sufficient. Not running long enough won’t remove enough moisture from the air. My plan is either for a Mitsubishi or Fujitsu depending on availability if that is what I choose to put the money towards.
 
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Maybe retire your oldest window unit and get a new more efficient one? I'm not entirely convinced a larger central unit is even more efficient anymore? The window ones have the advantage of evaporative cooling of the hot side with condensation from the cold side.
Obviously from a resale and noise stand point a central system is better. Also maybe have a look at your attic insulation/ventilation?
 
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Keep in mind a new efficiency minimum takes affect in 2023. I assume mini splits systems already exceed the new requirement, but might make them appealing to more people as minimum SEER central AC systems are going up in price.

That might cause high demand for mini splits which could drive up their cost.

 
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I am extremely satisfied with my Mitsubishi mini-split, but I would be wary of installing them in lieu of a central system. The aesthetics of having a head unit in each room can be a downside to many buyers, even if they are functionally superior. Also, the multi-head units are known to be somewhat problematic.
 

mattd

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It’s not feasible for running ductwork and install a central blower unit in my home for central air. That would drive up cost astronomically. The choice is ductless units or windows units
 
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mattd

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Maybe retire your oldest window unit and get a new more efficient one? I'm not entirely convinced a larger central unit is even more efficient anymore? The window ones have the advantage of evaporative cooling of the hot side with condensation from the cold side.
Obviously from a resale and noise stand point a central system is better. Also maybe have a look at your attic insulation/ventilation?

My attic has 14” of blow in insulation and is well ventilated (not including cathedral ceiling room). Insulating ceiling in big room is not feasible. It would require a roof strip and remove all planks for roof to add insulation.
 
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My attic has 14” of blow in insulation and is well ventilated (not including cathedral ceiling room). Insulating ceiling in big room is not feasible. It would require a roof strip and remove all planks for roof to add insulation.
Yeah, those suck for efficiency.
I'd do the heating/cooling first.
I'd do the project that would cost the most to fix if it fell apart second. (Pool wall)
Driveway last.
 

mattd

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Yeah, those suck for efficiency.
I'd do the heating/cooling first.
I'd do the project that would cost the most to fix if it fell apart second. (Pool wall)
Driveway last.

I am in agreement that the pool wall would be the highest cost. It most definitely has fallen apart. I’d probably do it myself but would need to rent a mini excavator to do it. It’d would also be quite time consuming. Paying someone…easily 15K if not more. It’s 40x20 with staggered height on both sides. Has zero drainage capacity, which is why it failed in the first place. I’d replace the true stone wall with pavers, and back fill with 3/4” crushed stone with corrugated pipe for drainage on the bottom.
 
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I am in agreement that the pool wall would be the highest cost. It most definitely has fallen apart. I’d probably do it myself but would need to rent a mini excavator to do it. It’d would also be quite time consuming. Paying someone…easily 15K if not more. It’s 40x20 with staggered height on both sides. Has zero drainage capacity, which is why it failed in the first place. I’d replace the true stone wall with pavers, and back fill with 3/4” crushed stone with corrugated pipe for drainage on the bottom.
Look into Allenblock or similar. There are a lot of engineered stone options available there days. Self draining.
 
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I would fill in the pool and call that a done deal. Just myself speaking and no offence meant. Too much PIA for so little time spent there.

Take care of the A/C, driveway and roof first. Won't need a pool if the house rots away from leaks.
 

mattd

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I would fill in the pool and call that a done deal. Just myself speaking and no offence meant. Too much PIA for so little time spent there.

Take care of the A/C, driveway and roof first. Won't need a pool if the house rots away from leaks.

The roof doesn’t leak. It was done a few years ago. The pool is fine other than the retaining wall above it.

Edit: I see what you were saying before. Cedar shingle siding. Not roof. It’s really only the west side of the house above the garage and on the backside of the garage.
 
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If I was looking to buy a house, a pool is a nice to have. Central AC and a usable driveway are a need to have. Before all that though, are the shingles. The house has to be integral.
 

mattd

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If I was looking to buy a house, a pool is a nice to have. Central AC and a usable driveway are a need to have. Before all that though, are the shingles. The house has to be integral.

I agree. The cedar siding is a relatively inexpensive repair compared to the drive way and the AC. I was going to do that out of our regular budget in the spring/early summer any way I think. It was just one of the things was adding to necessary repairs.

I’ll try to post some photos tomorrow if the big 3 offenders to show the extent of disrepair.
 
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I agree. The cedar siding is a relatively inexpensive repair compared to the drive way and the AC. I was going to do that out of our regular budget in the spring/early summer any way I think. It was just one of the things was adding to necessary repairs.

I’ll try to post some photos tomorrow if the big 3 offenders to show the extent of disrepair.
No offense intended, but have you ever considered selling your truck and trailer to finance some of these repairs?
 

mattd

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No offense intended, but have you ever considered selling your truck and trailer to finance some of these repairs?

Not an option, camping has been a family tradition for both my wife and I life time. We spend alot of time with our family camping. More so than at home even. And the trailer is what we use to stay in when we go to our family’s property in maine.
 
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