Old House Renovation: Onto a Better Place?

by Yun-Han Lin 

Why moving?

Novice Workshop is currently located in a rental office in New Taipei City, in a two-story building with about 150 square meters of space. When we first moved in, there were only laser cutters, 3D printers, desktop drill press, desktop belt grinding machines, some electronic components, and stationery. The is enough space and the noise will not bother the neighbors. The place can serve as classrooms, and the rent is slightly higher than expected, but it is still the best option we have.

In the second year, some problems surfaced.

1. After we started projects in woodworking, we bought more and more equipment, and soon there was not enough space.

2. We did not start classes and recruit students as scheduled, which resulting in bigger burden with the rent.

3. Although there is not much noise that bothers the neighbors, we still watch out for our volume and working hour throughout a day.

Half a year ago, we decided to move after careful consideration.

Our expectations for the new place are as follows:

The space should be more than 150 square meters in total, located in rural areas, and low in rent. It is impossible to find such a place in northern Taiwan. Finally, I think of an old house owned by a relative in the mountain. The house requires entire renovation inside out, which can be costly, but I believe that every Maker would wish to have a place that they can turn into their own playground.

The following is the maintenance plan for the old house, which illustrates the condition of the house before renovation and the process.

Current status:

The house is located on the hillside that is often covered in rain and therefore is damp. Water accumulates on the balcony on the top floor and leaks. The house is about 40 years old, and the pipelines are old and most of the wires have been taken away. Apparently, this place needs total cleanup and refurnishing.


Our top priority is waterproofing. At present, we have 3 options under debate:

1.Surface waterproofing

The price is low, about NTD$4,000 to NTD$6,000 every 3 square meters, but the performance is barely acceptable.

2. Structural waterproofing

Some people will tear up cement on the roof and redo, while some just design a drain slope and cover it with a layer of waterproof paint. This method is differently from the previous one and also costs different prices. It is about NTD$7,000 to NTD$18,000 every 3 square meters, and it is better than the previous one, as it can last for about 5 to 10 years.

3. Iron shed

Placing an iron shed on the top floor. The price is estimated to be about NTD$200,000 to NTD$300,000 for 120 square meters.

Plumbing and electrical work:

Plumbing and electrical work for daily needs will be handled by professional plumbers and electricians. It is estimated to cost about NTD$120,000 to NTD$130,000.

Waste disposal:

There are 2 ways to dispose of wastes and large-size garbage. One is to have them collected by the Environmental Protection Agency. The other is to have them taken away by privately owned garbage dumpster company, which charges based on the amount and distance. To save time, we choose private units, and it costs about NTD$24,000.

Disposal of gas cylinders:

There were about 10 old gas cylinders in the house. With the connection from the Environmental Protection Agency, we reached a cylinder company in northern Taiwan that provides recycling for free, but we have to do the shipment by ourselves.

As we are in the rainy season, there is no knowing when we could finish the waterproofing and other projects. In the following articles, we will share more details regarding DIY decoration and self-made furniture.