Opinions please! Home investment choices

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I would look into more efficient window AC's. Its the end of the season clearance time now so there may be some bargains to be had now. The siding must be done if you want to keep your heating and cooling bills in check and can the driveway over coated? I got rid of my above ground pool years ago and I don't miss it one bit. My wife and I detested keeping out leaves and bugs and constantly having to vacuum it. The cost for the chemicals was enough that if we wanted to swim we would just go on a weekend get-a -way to a nice hotel with a pool. Fix where you live first.
 
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Assuming you can still work from your injury, I’d do the AC first. Window units are noisy and ugly and mini splits are quiet and I’d imagine make the house much more comfortable. If you have a long term injury and that is why you are getting a settlement, then I’d save the bulk of it and fix the pool wall.
 
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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.
This would be my order of priorities as well.

Our driveway is a bit narrow. So I increased the width in front of the doors using crushed rock which I extended onto the adjacent parking pad beside the house. It's functional and looks good. In fact I think it looks better than paving. It cost a lot less than paving too. And I can now back my car out without worrying about backing onto the lawn. I did that job by hand. Kept me occupied during the first summer of the recent troubles.

We have a Fujistsu Heat Pump with 3 wall units and an underfloor central unit for the entry, living room and dining room. As you know a heat pump can be run backwards to provide cooling in the summer. After a few days you just don't see the wall units. And I understand they're more efficient than the under floor central unit. We had 2 contractors bid on the job. We went with the one that measured the rooms and windows and did a calculation. His price was lower too. Our system works really well and we think it was money well spent.
 
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My preference if money allows:
1. replace the HVAC system
2. Reshingle the side of the house before you start getting water damage
3. If it's allowed, dig out the broken concrete driveway and make a crushed stone driveway
4. fix the pool area
 

mattd

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Assuming you can still work from your injury, I’d do the AC first. Window units are noisy and ugly and mini splits are quiet and I’d imagine make the house much more comfortable. If you have a long term injury and that is why you are getting a settlement, then I’d save the bulk of it and fix the pool wall.

I will be able to back to work next month hopefully but I have been out since late July. Had 3/4” of one of my fingers taken clean off and it’s taking a long time to heal. They were able to reattach it, but a fair amount of it is not going to make it. It’ll look like crap from scarring/disfigurement (bulk of the settlement) and I will also have some loss of function settlement (nerve damage).

I have been leaning in the direction of the HVAC even before posting it but trying to make the best financial decision that will provide the most benefit. It’s nice to hear different opinions. Really helps one think it out.

As I said I before I’ll throw up some photos tomorrow.
 
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mattd

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I would look into more efficient window AC's. Its the end of the season clearance time now so there may be some bargains to be had now. The siding must be done if you want to keep your heating and cooling bills in check and can the driveway over coated? I got rid of my above ground pool years ago and I don't miss it one bit. My wife and I detested keeping out leaves and bugs and constantly having to vacuum it. The cost for the chemicals was enough that if we wanted to swim we would just go on a weekend get-a -way to a nice hotel with a pool. Fix where you live first.

Far past being able to coat it. I’ll snap pictures tomorrow. The siding is above the garage, which is an unheated section of the house (breezeway). I am more considered about water intrusion than anything else.

Most of the big window units are not very efficient, even new ones. The big one we have is about 5 years old. They are all quite noisy. Even the big one running all day the temperature will still increase several degrees throughout the day on hot days. Just not enough cooling capacity.

The other kicker is that I cannot run the big unit with the master or my old eats’ bedroom because some idiot who wired this house 75 years ago dropped the same 15A power source from the ceiling in multiple rooms and it will trip the breaker. (3 acs on 1 circuit). The breaker itself fees quite warm with just 2 running never mind 3. So at minimum if I wanted to continue to use window acs reliably and safely I’d have to run new wiring for at least 2 rooms anyway.

The suck part is the Mitsubishi outdoor units are on 4-5 month back order right now. Who knows what it’ll look like when I would be ready to order it in February
 
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& I'd go for up-grade on building (home's) envelope. As energy prices rise (continually) air sealed, insulation against air barrier, 'wear the jacket on the outside', and any air intrusions sealed = modern (since late '80s) building science (for durability, comfort, $,
and health). Yes, other costs go up (mini-splits, driveway replace, etc) but there's more bank on ur buck (current cash flow, ROI, resale value) even w/it all solar powered.
 

mattd

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& I'd go for up-grade on building (home's) envelope. As energy prices rise (continually) air sealed, insulation against air barrier, 'wear the jacket on the outside', and any air intrusions sealed = modern (since late '80s) building science (for durability, comfort, $,
and health). Yes, other costs go up (mini-splits, driveway replace, etc) but there's more bank on ur buck (current cash flow, ROI, resale value) even w/it all solar powered

I have a hard time following this
 

mattd

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As promised.
 

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4WD

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They also make between stud AC units that mount in wall openings …
… basically turn the AC 90° and that gets your window back …
 

mattd

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Based on the photos of the conditions of things, are most of you still in agreement HVAC/siding first?
 
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A/C will get you the best bang for your buck and would be considered a must have by most people. Your siding looks like it just needs a good power wash and paint. Is the pool retaining wall structurally deficient or is it the stone veneer? If its just a veneer, you could get it stucco coated over and save thousands. If asphalt is appropriate in your area, that would be much cheaper than concrete for the driveway. If you know what road millings are, (crushed recycled road material) you can use the millings, wet it in and vibra tamp it and it becomes very solid. I use it here in FL on most of my commercial properties so that I don't have to worry about water runoff.

Just some thoughts.
 

mattd

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A/C will get you the best bang for your buck and would be considered a must have by most people. Your siding looks like it just needs a good power wash and paint. Is the pool retaining wall structurally deficient or is it the stone veneer? If its just a veneer, you could get it stucco coated over and save thousands. If asphalt is appropriate in your area, that would be much cheaper than concrete for the driveway. If you know what road millings are, (crushed recycled road material) you can use the millings, wet it in and vibra tamp it and it becomes very solid. I use it here in FL on most of my commercial properties so that I don't have to worry about water runoff.

Just some thoughts.

The wall has structurally failed. There is no drainage. The soil pushed all the stones out from behind it. The shingles are all rotted song the bottom above the garage and on the side all pitted/peeling in different spots. I would use asphalt for a driveway concrete much more money. Average price I’ve gotten for the driveway is $10,000. 2200 ft.² of asphalt.
 
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Based on the photos of the conditions of things, are most of you still in agreement HVAC/siding first?
Definitely siding first, HVAC second.

Not sure what your HVAC budget is, but if you’re looking for something to get by, I would look into the Mr. Cool mini-splits.
 

mattd

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Definitely siding first, HVAC second.

Not sure what your HVAC budget is, but if you’re looking for something to get by, I would look into the Mr. Cool mini-splits.

I looked into those. Not impressed with quality and specifically the quick connect fittings for the refrigerant lines. Nice DIY friendly but not good for long term. I very much prefer the flared connections. The higher end units seem to have far fewer issues.

With a complete Mitsubishi system including lines, wiring, disconnect boxes and line cover sets and refrigerant I’ll probably be in it for around 8,500$ for DIY.

5800 for the outdoor/indoor units
1200-1500 for line sets with insulation
500 for covers
500ish for 14/4 communication wire and 8/2 220 wiring
100$ for drain tubing
70$ for disconnect boxes
200$ for refrigerant
300 for outdoor unit stand
30$ for concrete
 
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I looked into those. Not impressed with quality and specifically the quick connect fittings for the refrigerant lines. Nice DIY friendly but not good for long term. I very much prefer the flared connections. The higher end units seem to have far fewer issues.

With a complete Mitsubishi system including lines, wiring, disconnect boxes and line cover sets and refrigerant I’ll probably be in it for around 8,500$ for DIY.

5800 for the outdoor/indoor units
1200-1500 for line sets with insulation
500 for covers
500ish for 14/4 communication wire and 8/2 220 wiring
70$ for disconnect boxes
200$ for refrigerant
300 for outdoor unit stand
30$ for concrete
For reference this is what mine looks like. It is a Mitsubishi JP09. I don’t think installers were super familiar with installing these, it took 2 techs a full day.
 

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mattd

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For reference this is what mine looks like. It is a Mitsubishi JP09. I don’t think installers were super familiar with installing these, it took 2 techs a full day.

It will probably take me a few days to do it. Too many interruptions between my 2 young kids and my wife. The attic isn’t easy to navigate either especially with 14” of blow in insulation, and I have 2 runs that will be fairly long (65 ft, 70 feet). The 2 short runs 20-25 are easy. The total length is still way under their maximum limit for line length for the outdoor unit I’m looking at. If I can do it without interruption probably 2 days start to finish including vac/charging

If yours is a single zone (looks to be) that’s a long time for 2 techs to install
 
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I'm going to be the odd man out here.

I would suggest using your money to make capital improvements first. Anything physical that provides "curb appeal" or improves the actual structure/condition of the house.

My thoughts are that the window units will continue to serve you in the future, and that despite claims of wildly better efficiency, Mini Splits won't meet those claims for most uses, nor will they save you much money. One needs to actually study what the "terms" are for that efficiency. Quite often, the insane efficiency claims of the Mini Split systems involve a very small temperature differential (outside to inside). Once you ask them to do "real work", such as cooling the house to 70 on a 90 degree day, the numbers fall in line with other modern HVAC units.

The Carnot cycle involving heat engines (and AC units) has very real limits, and without getting into the math here, know that when you see AC units with SEER ratings like 35 or 41, those are under ideal conditions, with the unit moving very little heat (and consuming very little energy). In other words, they cannot be met in typical conditions.

You will notice, for example that a larger 2 Ton Mini Split won't have the absurd SEER ratings. It will peak at 19 or even 20. Exactly what the best Trane "central air" HVAC units achieve. And the 3 ton Mini Split's achieve 16 SEER, again right in line, or even on the low side.

The reason is simple, doing real work requires real power. Something your window AC units already know.
 
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Just wanted to add that the ratings of EER (overall system efficiency) and SEER (how efficiently it operates over the season) ARE DIFFERENT. Take a note of the EER of Mini Splits, as they are always much lower than you might be expecting.

No joke, there are Mini Splits with SEER of 25 (fantastically good if it were real) and EER of 11 (about the same as a good window AC). Remember my point above about the use of Mini Splits with a small temp diff between inside and outside (say 70 inside and 73 outside). That's how they achieve these good specs. But by that point in the season, I've already turned off the AC.
 

mattd

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Just wanted to add that the ratings of EER (overall system efficiency) and SEER (how efficiently it operates over the season) ARE DIFFERENT. Take a note of the EER of Mini Splits, as they are always much lower than you might be expecting.

No joke, there are Mini Splits with SEER of 25 (fantastically good if it were real) and EER of 11 (about the same as a good window AC). Remember my point above about the use of Mini Splits with a small temp diff between inside and outside (say 70 inside and 73 outside). That's how they achieve these good specs. But by that point in the season, I've already turned off the AC.

Is this your personal experience? I understand the SEER and EER ratios and what they mean. I find it interesting because everyone that I know that has them and reviews have read says quite the opposite about their energy bills. Reduced by 60% or more with mini split vs window acs. The smaller (6K,5.5K,8K) run 14 hours a day or more on hot stretches, and the big one (11K) runs about 12-14 hours per day. The large one cannot maintain temperature. Very undersized for the area it’s trying to cool.

The Mitsubishi 3 ton unit with 4 head units is rated at 19.2 SEER
 
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