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Everyday Architecture: It’s for the rest of us

DIY home improvement, construction, remodeling ideas and thoughts

When I was in architecture school back in the early 2000’s, I found myself falling into the trap of ‘glory design’ or ‘reinventing the wheel.’  While working on my thesis, I discovered that I was missing a crucial piece of the picture, which is that most of the built-world is devoid of ‘good’ design.  Luckily, I found a book called Architecture of the Everyday, written by Steven Harris and Deborah Berke.

This book opened my eyes to a less glamor-oriented type of design, but more importantly, a typology of design for the common dweller. In Everyday Architecture, design revolves around function, form, and beauty, but with less emphasis on stylization and more on regional or local tradition (vernacular). The concern is less on newness and more on the recycling of the old as well as a reduced budget rather than a maximum budget.  Simplicity is a solution set over technological overpowering of issues like heating, ventilation, and aesthetics.

There are many reasons why architecture has been hijacked by glossy, over-stylized, expensive design practices which are not even environmentally sound.  The profession in itself tends towards elitism due to an all-consuming focus towards ‘white collar’ professionalism, first starting during education, then continuing into internship and professional careers.  Architecture has become a very expensive career. Most that follow its conveyor belt to ‘stardom’  not only need to make it pay off their education, but also have aspirations toward higher monetary rewards.

One of my neighbors exercises his creativity.

So how do we return creative, thoughtful, efficient, and affordable design to the average dweller? To start, it is important to not want what others have and instead, concentrate on what our own desires and goals are for our habitation. This sounds rather simplistic, but is very difficult for many to do in a time period where everywhere we look there is a push towards someone else’s vision of what is important, cool, or beautiful. Let’s take back our own vision and begin to create a uniqueness specific to ourselves, our family, and our needs.

Simplification of the home’s necessities is one of the best ways to allow other creativity to come through. The home need not consume every dollar of the paycheck. Many of the greatest design ideas can come from our own ingenuity if we allow time to expand on our ideas, then do the appropriate research into such ideas. As Martin Heidegger put it, ‘to dwell is to actually create or take part of the making of our homes.’  It is sad to say, but the average homeowner is restricted in this day and age to their yard. Most ‘home improvement’ consists of mowing the lawn, killing weeds, or maybe growing a garden. It was not that long ago that most home owners actually built their home with the help of an experienced carpenter. Unfortunately, the modern housing industry has become a maze of technical and codified complexities, which cause most homeowners to feel unqualified to actually make or ‘dwell’ in their own home.


Many systems like heating, cooling, and ventilation have been hijacked by technological complexity.  How many times I have asked a client what kind of heating system they have and where it is located and “they don’t know”.  This is an example of the ridiculousness of this time period. We must return to ‘knowing,’ which will empower us to take back our homes. I have shown on my site much about organizing the home plan to maximize solar gain, to minimize overheating, and to promote cooling. These are rather simple systems that we can all understand and use to drive and support our homes’ energy needs. What I am getting at is “Knowledge is Power'” once we strive to understand a system, then we can make it out own. Modern home design,however, often involves electronic gadgetry to make up for our own lack of understanding (and laziness).

I am not going to suggest that every aspect of home construction is DIY, but some are.  Builders are often the worst in staying stuck in a building method or typology. It takes time to learn building systems and it takes know-how to actually build. With that, many builders stay with what they know and have built/contracted before. It is easy for a contractor to continue to use the same building systems because they know how to bid the project and how to specify which materials and subcontractors. This can keep them stuck in certain building typologies. It takes a certain type of builder, as with the client, who actually wants to learn new systems of heating and building. An open-minded client will find more potential with an open-minded builder. In other words, its is important for a client to look for designers and builders not for their websites’ pretty pictures, but the content and hopefully some good looking design. Also, understand that not all builders are receptive to DIY or sweat equity.

A client’s ability to help with the construction of their home is a difficult one to assess.  Certainly the more a client knows about the design and construction method of their home, the better.  However, building is a skill and it takes time to learn and practice, as well as physical fitness. Mistakes will be made along the way for anyone new to building, which can be costly and dangerous. The last thing a builder wants is for their client to fall off a ladder or run their hand through a saw-blade. Along this line, a contractor’s insurance company often will not want to know that a client is working on site. However This is real dwelling.

 

67 Gray Street exterior siding remodel

yard

On returning to 67 Gray street, which I gutted and remodeled 5 years ago,  I convinced the owner it was time to turn his tyvek sided exterior into a real siding remodel.  Over my vacation I put in a few days and this is how it went.

back

This is was what it looked like when the new owner took this home under his wing

Before

  what-happened-to-the-walls2   back-part-loses-skin  slidderoutside

During

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The yellow stuff is 'cedar breather' which helps give a venting space between siding and the tyvek

The yellow stuff is ‘cedar breather’ which helps give a venting space between siding and the tyvek

 

the homeowner putting in some 'cutman' time

the homeowner putting in some ‘cutman’ time

 

siding  siding2

After

Pretty simple materials, Pine shiplap boards, galvanized metal wainscoting with a chair rail, and Pine stained fascia boards.  For a reasonable price, coming from local lumberyards and mills I think it looks a heck of a lot better than the tyvek!  done  done2  done3

Home remodeling for energy efficiency: prepare for rising heating costs

A complete gut job will result in a more beautiful and efficient home…Eventually!

If you’re considering embarking on home remodeling for energy efficiency, think “energy savings” as a strategy. Energy efficiency perhaps isn’t the most interesting aspect of a home remodel, but it is a crucial issue.   

Let me make an analogy to a car: Many car owners want to do the fun maintenance to their car, like installing a new set of shiny tire rims or a new stereo system. But most often, their money would be better spent on having their timing belt changed and a new water pump put in.  These seemingly mundane maintenances are what keep your car on the road; without their proper function, you have no transportation.

When maintaining your home, think “function first, aesthetics second.” That is certainly not to say that some interesting architectural changes can’t happen in the remodel; some functional changes are connected with aesthetics and energy efficiency. Real-estate appraisal is gradually moving towards valuing homes in energy efficiency. This sort of home-valuing is a bit behind the times, but is slowly moving towards estimating a home’s worth not just by square-footage and number of bathrooms.

Most all scholars and analysts agree that we are now past Peak Oil and that fuel prices will exponentially rise. As we continue to turn past the apex of Peak Oil and start running into the next phases of oil depletion, many of the energy sources that we rely on now, like electricity and natural gas, will become more expensive. The current system of harvesting and refinement of energy sources relies on cheap oil.  Everything from the manufacturing of new oil wells and electrical plants, the transportation of energy, and the installation of a heating system into the home all rely on oil. This point made, lets look at your home. How we can tighten down on home fuel consumption and save you money?

Seal up cracks in barnboard

When remodeling with a focus on energy-efficiency, first look for leaks. Air infiltration is one of the primary areas of concern when trying to achieve tighter efficiency in the home.  Windows, doors, venting, and crawl spaces, are the easier areas that should be targeted. A cold, windy day is a good time to look for air leaks. Simply put your hand up to doors and windows- if you feel a draft, you have found a problem.  

When looking for replacements to your old doors, choose quality, modern exterior doors that come with triple locks (locks on the top, middle, and bottom of door). These locks make a huge improvement on getting the door gaskets to seal completely. Old wooden doors are tall and not very thick; it is common that this type of door will bow end to end along the locking side. The only way to take the bow out of the door is to pull on top, middle, and bottom, allowing the door to fully seat against the gaskets. If you have an old, architecturally elegant door that you just can’t part with, installing a storm door over the old door will help create an air space and should reduce air infiltration. 

A modern, double-hung window installed to meet historic district regulation may be expensive, but will be a huge energy improvement in the long run.
New thermal pane 6×6-
a custom-built historic model

Replacing old windows or installing them in new locations can result in both energy and aesthetic improvement. Properly positioned windows allow natural light into the home and can help ventilate the home without the use of electric fans or air conditioning, saving you money. Windows also can allow for solar gain to occur- a source of free heat. Replacing old windows can result in huge energy savings. Old, single pane windows have very little insulative value, whereas modern glazings create resistance to air temperature change by having an airspace between panes and light filters. Most old windows have no insulation around their perimeters, allowing for air leakage.  Modern windows typically have better seals and gaskets, are foamed into their hole, and are installed to be water-tight. 

Framing in new windows
Replacing windows can offer a perfect time to rearrange how your home looks. You do not need plug the same window holes with the same window types. A fresh new look can be achieved with new strategies as to passive solar gain, ventilation and window typology (casement, awning, double hung, sliding).  A rearranged window remodel plan can result in new views to the outside.   

Adding insulation to your home is another way to improve energy-efficiency. In old homes, installing insulation can be tricky; each old home has its own set of battles in retrofitting new insulation. Roofs must be insulated properly as heat rises and will exit here, however, old homes typically have little to no roof insulation. Before the development of modern insulation, old buildings were designed to have an uninsulated attic that created an airspace between lower living spaces and the outside cold. The attic was not meant as a living space- it was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Historically, the attic was used as storage space, however, many attics today used as bedrooms. 

Retrofit  insulated attic

In many old attics, there is often not enough head room for lowering ceilings and add the appropriate thickness of fiberglass batten insulation and required vent space. Vent space is critical because it prevents damaging condensation from occurring, which can destroy interior materials. In Bozeman, Montana, the modern energy codes require vaulted ceilings to meet R-38 and flat or truss ceilings to meet R-50. For these reasons, uninsulated attics are usually retrofitted with modern rigid insulation or sprayed foam, the latter of which has better performance, but is more costly. (Read a past blog entry about insulation here.)

Old roof off
New third floor and properly insulated roof
Bye-bye dark, cold attic
Old attic became a new 3rd floor

In some cases, it is better to completely remove the existing, uninsulated roof and reconfigure it to create a usable space. By remodeling the attic into an additional floor, you can achieve interesting, high-up views as well as appropriate insulation and venting.  I remodeled a home on Walnut Street in Portland, Maine (see write up here) where the existing attic and roof were completely removed. A new shed roof and floor system were built, creating a beautiful and spacious third floor. What had been a dismal, cold attic with no views became a penthouse with decks on each end and amazing views of Back Bay.

Insulating walls is another important home energy improvement. There are many ways of insulating walls, which are usually determined by the home’s existing wall type, such as 2″x4″ or 2″x6″. When assessing a home’s remodeling and insulation needs, I ask the questions like, “Is your exterior siding in need of replacement?” “Do you want new interior wall surfaces (drywall, plaster) because the old walls are rotted out or falling down?” There are different strategies depending on your home’s condition. Assuming that the exterior walls are already insulated, one strategy to increase your wall insulation performance is to add furring strips and rigid foam to the interior walls. This works well with 70’s style homes that were framed with 2×4’s and insulated with R-13 fiberglass batten insulation.  

‘K’ braces … blown in cellulose nightmare

Very old homes have no insulation inside the wall cavities or have blown-in cellulose insulation. Blown-in cellulose was typically installed by drilling 2″ holes into the exterior siding, then pumping the feathery, down-like material into holes at the top of each stud bay. Usually one can find evidence of this if there are bunged holes in the siding. Filling an old wall with cellulose only gives a R-value of about 13, which is not sufficient insulation. As condensation forms inside the stud space, the cellulose becomes damp, decreasing its insulatative value.  Also note the image here, ‘K’ braces in the corners… blown in cellulose will not fill these voids.  Only from the inside can one get to these places to insulate properly.

An old home’s insulation level can usually be estimated by the plaster and lathe condition, which was the interior wall surfacing before modern insulation and drywall. If the lath nails are rotted out (see this blog) and the interior plaster, usually  new windows, plumbing and electrical infrastructure are also needed. The interior plaster and lathe should be removed, then new studs should be furred out to meet the modern 2×6 wall. I remodeled a home on Gray Street in Portland, Maine where the walls are remodeled as such (read about that here). This is a expensive solution, but is really the best solution because all problems can be fixed at the same time. It makes no sense financially to remodel a home over and over again.  

Insulating crawl spaces and basements can offer energy savings. Most old buildings have uninsulated basements; the idea was that used heating system kept the underside of the floor system warm. Some argue and uninsulated basement spaces are acceptable because the earth’s temperature at that depth is warmish and that open walls and flooring makes the plumbing more accessible. However, this thought process was from the days of cheap oil. The earth is a giant heat sink with endless mass. By not insulation your basement or crawlspace, your are essentially attempting heat not only your home, but also the earth. To promote energy savings in your home, the floor system above the basement and should be insulated. If hot water plumbing is hanging down into this space, it also should be insulated. 

Foamed-over brick foundation

Insulating the basement foundation with either rigid foam or blown foam is important to prevent external ground temperature from bleeding inwards.  Keeping this space as warm as possible makes sense, but not by heating it with expensive fuel; allow the insulation to store what heat there is. If your basement has old single pane windows, you can cover them during the winter months with rigid foam board and  caulk any obvious drafty cracks.  

The warmth and beauty of stained concrete radiant

In homes with a decent southern exposure, it is possible to add a radiant floor to increase mass of the building and to promote passive solar heating. This can promote huge savings in heating costs. It is important that a designer with experience in passive-solar design develop the system are floor plan and layout to the south, as well as associated windows on that exposure. It is possible in certain situations to add an external addition on the south side of the building that has a slab on grade with radiant tubing. In some homes, where ceilings are taller than 8 feet, it is possible to install a 1.5″ slab with tubing over the existing sub-floor. This must be evaluated by a designer or builder to ensure that the floor system is sturdy enough and that it doesn’t cause elevation problems in between rooms, door heights and swings, etc.

If you are considering home remodeling for energy efficiency,  please contact Greenovision with any questions you may have. We have a lot of experience in many different areas of home remodeling and we would love to help you out. 

Wood stove heat exchanger, pretty hot


I  want to report some news about the integration of a wood stove heat exchanger into my brother’s shop, WerkHaus (see the project here), that I designed and built.
Yep, my brother has finally finished off the heating system with the help of Norm Walters, a radiant heating tech. Its kind of exciting because its the final product of a giant experiment started about 4 years ago. To get the overall picture of the scheme of the heating system, please see this pic first. Oh, and this one, too.  These diagrammatically say a lot about the general idea we had years ago.
Originally we started with radiant heat tubing in the concrete slab and Phil used a wood stove up until this fall to heat the building using the fan systems to move heat around the building. This really was lacking though because Phil has to work on cars while on a dolly on the slab, which is really kind of cold down at that level. So, he knew that getting the slab up and running as the heat source would be the ultimate solution.

Phil is on a budget, so a typical on the wall, on demand propane condensing boiler was out of the question, at least for now. Originally Phil and I came up with an idea…What if the wood stove came with a heat exchange manifold? Would this do the trick and provide enough heat to run the slab? Well the answer is yes, but it isn’t quite that simple. Norm Walters filled Phil in on the possible scenario that might make it all work. What it comes down to is you need a tank to store the heat and this tank it was decided needed to be well insulated and preferably do some heating, too. So a couple of years ago, Phil purchased this unit.
Then he had Norm hook up his wood stove, which came with a very simple heat exchange coil by using a typical manifold and pump system like this…. Well to make along story short, he got this hooked up to the slab with a typical manifold system and ran it straight off the wood stove, but guess what? It just wasn’t enough of a heat coil on the stove to make it work or run warm enough. So, he resorted to running off the electric hot water heater, and guess what? His electric bill went nuts. So, Norm found a copper coil from some old refrigerator unit and installed it on the top of Phil’s wood stove to increase the heat capturing capability of the stove and water tank. I am making this sound all quite simple but in reality, it took some fiddling and some pumps, and gauges, and sensors, thermostats, and electric meters to make it all work, along with some rather confusing diagrams…I can’t figure it out too much, but what I do know is that Phil is quite happy with the fact that he is running his concrete slab with the wood stove and looks to save some electricity this winter. He sounds kind of excited about it and I would have to say that makes me happy. With some work, it is possible to make these systems happen and it does help to have a radiant heat techy on hand like Norm.

See if you can figure it all out from the the pictures I provided. I understand the concepts, but am not really on top of the electrical and plumbing part.  I believe with the proper research, the integration of a wood stove heat exchanger into homes could save on the heating in your home, too.

Historic Remodel in October

Well some new photos…. Built the new deck and staircase to the second floor.Emily and Carlos have painstakingly almost finished the Tongue and groove ceilings.Jon has been working hard in all directions physical and mental pondering financial difficulties, and scrap’n the old siding off… hang on Jon! step-4-755832

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Some of the Northstar woodworking custom made windows have been delivered by Scott Reeves himself. We are slowly putting them in… its not like slamming in new windows into a new house… this is fussy stuff.There is a lot of prep work in order to get the new windows into the old holes, seems like it takes every tool we have to get it done too.

 

When we started in on the front of the building there have been staging issues… how do we get way up there to put that top window in?And when we finally got staged ‘way up there’ we realized there was no sense to just put in the window so this opened up a can of worms.Remove old siding, scrape old paint, paint trim… etc.In any case some of the work has revealed good news like the high gable wall is sided with a beautiful ship lap fir … and that the siding is maybe save-able with the right paint and putty.

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It’s gradually getting colder here in Portland and we are working faster and harder to get ‘her/him’ closed in before the cold howling winds of Canada come.

 

Also to note … Emily and I have unfortunately become commuters for the month of October… driving down everyday from Harpswell area for the days work… I have to commute and it makes me feel stupid.It’s a whole 2 hours of our day to make the drives and pretty much has ended our ability to have an hour run or bike each day… oh well this isn’t for ever we tell ourselves, and it is a beautiful place to wake up.

 

To anyone interested out there… we don’t mind folks stopping by to see us… its lonely on this kind of job, isolating , and mind numbing hours… so drop by and rip a piece of old green siding off… we would love it!  

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Historic remodeling needs a new crew

Well a new crew came to help…blacky the cat,

Carlos from Manhattan, and Tucker too.  These photos are a testimony of much work, not all fun, but hell its a job that is finally cleaning up. I love to bore people with images of insulation…about as boring as installing it…just ask Emily and Carlos they love to insulate…its insulting.












ripped into the back of the beast








Well today was the day that we would find out what was under the floor, and yes hopefully not a beating heart. The lads were on hand, Silas, Parker.
Emily assisting in all areas of demolition removal, and screaming when the bees attacked from under the floor.
And Jon managing and assessing all grim findings… which there were a number of. The never-ending hearth of bricks that eventually led to a harvest of field stone. The chimney of solid dirt, and mystery cylinders. And the normal pipes of all sizes, wires galore, and dirt, insulation dust (itchy stuff) and dirt, more dirt, oh nails old rusty nails, and dirt.
We cut up the
floor, pried it up, threw it out, and what did we find, a hole of dirt, strange framing method, and dirt. So what we do now we will see. I am going to sleep on it myself, one should never mix a day of demolition with design thoughts, the two need to be separated by at least one nights rest. Next blog on 67 GreySt

On Old Plaster, can I save it ?


Here is a really exciting topic! Old buildings and old plaster. Everyone wants to save the plaster because it is so damn much work to remove it. Is this a wise choice? Well, there are number of things to be taken into account about old plaster. For one, old buildings (when I say old I am talking 100 plus years) didn’t have insulation for many many years, this is a problem to the plaster.
The plaster in a building in New England with no insulation is doomed. Over years and years moisture builds up in the wall cavities due to the extreme temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors. This causes the condensation point to occur inside the cavity… what this means is the lath nails rust away over time.
A lath nail is a very small diameter cut nail with no corrosion resistance, it is the weak point. Once the nail rusts through the lath is essentially detached from the wall studs. What happens next is that the movement of the building (these old building do move, foundation issues, and improper loading cause deflection and uplift) flexes the plaster wall. Over time cracks begin to show, from this point on the plaster is doomed. After years of movement the lath nails are rusted through and the lath is essentially detached from the studs. The only thing holding it there is the hooking action of the plaster. When the Plaster is troweled onto the gaped lath it smears through the gaps and blobs to the inside of the wall cavity creating a hook which once hardened holds the plaster in place, kind of like Velcro.
The lath itself is rough sawn so it assists in grabbing the plaster too. Once the lathe is detached and the heaving and settling of the building work on it the ‘hooks’ of plaster shear off (partly due to the moisture inside the wall cavity causing the plaster to become soft and punky); once this occurs the plaster begins to fall off the walls.
Well I know some Mr fix it will say that you can use a washer headed screw to hold this ailing plaster on, its a short term fix.
Especially when it comes to ceilings, gravity works on the plaster and literally the ceiling falls in, and I mean large chunks of heavy plaster, a real headache. So what most Mr fix it types do next is to patch the bad spots with drywall, or they drywall over the plaster to cover it and to hold it on. All of this type of remedying the ailing plaster is even more of a blight to the ‘old building’….it is adding more dead weight to the structure, and most of these structures were under built in load bearing design. The floors were often over spanned or the distance the joists run from wall to wall or beam was too far for the depth of the joist. Most old buildings used square joists because the economy of milling beams is such that you can get more squares out of a round log than taller boards.
Taller is better in joists and beams when you talk floor deflection as long as there is blocking to hold the joists upright. Getting a bit off the subject here, back to the plaster, so more dead weight is added and now the building is groaning under the weight. This is very bad for the structures beams and joists.
Because the old builders didn’t have metal joist hangers like we use today, they notched the beams and joists together as a form of joinery, sometimes a mortise and tenon connection, they thought this was superior workmanship but as we can see in old buildings it was a mistake to notch. The notches reduce the total effective height of the joist or beam and under years of loading splits will occur in the timber beam at the notches. So the modern re-modeler that is too lazy to make a mess and clean it up that plaster removal causes adds more layers of remodel weight to a structure already ailing in load carrying capacity.
This is so chronic in old homes that it is not unusual to peal 6 or 7 layers of wood paneling, drywall, more paneling, wall paper, then plaster and lathe. In the end no builder is willing to take down the layers to the start because its just hell. It is time consuming, it is dirty, it is dangerous, and it is expensive. And after days of work the wood frame is revealed…only to show sagging beams, cracked joists at notched ends, settled and sagged floors, etc… Also once you peal all this off and clean up the mess you will usually have to bring everything up to modern code. And if not mandated to do this by municipal building codes the builder will usually suggest a complete modernization because it is so much work to do this plaster removal you should bite the bullet and really fix the building .
This will include a full redo of the wiring, insulating meaning furring the walls out to accommodate reasonable priced insulation, and creating a consistent stud layout that will accommodate drywall (16″ or
24″ on center stud spacing).

So in a nutshell if you want to buy a building with old plaster that shows cracking, you might want to reconsider …this is a very expensive proposition.

And if you do buy such a building and think a quick cover up with a skim coat of plaster is going to do the trick, well it wont last, the building will most likely be energy inefficient in that it still misses proper insulation, and worse a chunk of ceiling plaster might fall on your head as you freeze to death in your bed on a cold blustery winter night.

How about new construction? Why not spend your money where it can go towards building what you really want rather than demolition and reconstruction of what most likely is at the end of it’s life cycle anyway.

A work in progress


Hi all, just merrily working away here, wanted to throw a few images up of our furring and insulation job….I know extremely interesting….not!

And a word of advice for all of you out there looking to buy a ancient decrepit historic building…please if you do….don’t call me I am up to the elbows in filth and soot. Emily puts it that the building takes a crap every night, and it sure seems like it. Every day there is a new coating of filth on the floor after having cleaned it the afternoon before. I think of it as puke myself, the building is rather bilious. So if you like dirt, filth, decay, rot, mold, gross smells, buy one of these historic warships… a building like this is all about spending a whole bunch of cash just to remedy it, and pay for dumpster removal…oh by the way we are on dumpster 6 or 7…losing track now… and the house keeps puking it up.

Oh and another word of warning…dont be like the past ‘craftsmen’ and keep adding layers to a problematic interior…remove and rebuild otherwise the frame gets so loaded up with weight that it contorts the structure….these old buildings were not designed structurally, and they were really not designed to hold up 3 to 4 times of remodel layers. I guess ‘craft’ over the years in this building was about who could buy a 10 lb bag of nails and pound ’em home every day. Nailing is a small part of construction and remodeling…Sometimes folks ask me are you recycling materials from the building? Well believe you me I would if there was a damn thing worth saving …this building consists of mostly puke covering a skeleton that has been oh so stressed.

Again dont call me on this sort of building. Life is just too short for historisism.

Turn around Point, move ahead six spaces

67 Gray Street has reached the apex of its trajectory. No longer is it rocketing into the dumpster bin by bin, but now its soaring to new levels of energy efficiency after 170 years of chilling and overheating it’s victims within.

One hundred and seventy years “this old house” held itself up even after careless and incompetent men had removed main bearing columns, cut away floor joists, and notched joists without thought or hesitation.

The post and beam structure itself has its own set of issues that over time can be seen as workings of gravity against wood, mortise and tenon, and live loading.

This old house is seeing a top down approach, the third floor, then the 2nd floor, then the first…etc. At this point we have remedied structural issues like over spanned rafters, lack of structural ties, off center loading of beams and columns.

Further… we have insulated the roof up to a R-38, we have remedied head height problems in door heights and ceiling heights. The electrical contractor is in the process of rewiring the whole place.
The plumber is re-plumbing the building to modern codes (meaning no metal pipes, but a lot of them due to venting all fixtures!).

Perhaps one of the biggest turnarounds is that the windows have been decided upon…yes! Michael Morrill has decided to hire Northstar woodworking to build them. A little bit of background, Steven Morrill, Jon and Michael’s brother is a co-partner of Northstar, so its keeping the work and money ‘in the family’. The Historic folks we hope will be happy about this too. Its keeping the window manufacturing in the area and if that is not Historically important than what is?

Like with all things that really matter in this world there must be patience, diligence, hardships, trials, and then more patience….In the end you build something that is worthy, better then previous, and hopefully with new vision as to how it could be better for us all then previous iterations had proven not.

Although we are not near done by any stretch, we are closer. And that’s just going to have to be the new motto for those of us who work on ‘This old ____’n House’ .

You cant turn 170 years of History around in a day, reiterate…a month….or two, or three…

In the meantime Emily, Jon, and Mark all wait for some new help …and they are coming (Silas, and friend) this week brought by Mike….Yeay! Bring the boys we have plenty of work…and no shortage of dust to vacuum. Next blog Here