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Logan Log Cabin Remodel update!

Logan Log Cabin Remodel update!

Just an update on our latest remodel design and its realities.  The homeowners and their two dogs are living in the home as it is being remodeled.  Keeping work and home life separate becomes somewhat difficult, but can be done.

In case you might be considering a remodel of your own, this is where you begin. Without design and drawings, you most likely won’t get to progress to the following below….  Once you begin the remodeling design and construction process, don’t get discouraged! Lots of hurdles are yet to come!

Then you progress to this….

This is a picture taken in the old stair way… you can see the old log cabin which origins are back in the late 1800’s.

The logs are still in good shape!

This is the new staircase to meet modern codes.

Some framing pics along the way of remodeling….

The dried in roof awaits a brand new standing seam roof!  

Time for the plumber and electrician to rough in their utilities. Then on to the insulation of all exterior wall and roof cavities.

 

 

Addition + Remodel Design of an 1890’s Home

Addition + Remodel Design of an 1890’s Home

Here’s a sneak peak of an addition/remodel project that we’re currently designing and drafting. This home was originally a log cabin built in the 1890’s that has seen numerous additions over the years. There is a small shed roof addition in the rear that is un-insulated and has asphalt shingles causing severe ice damming and damage to the roof & entryway. The current upstairs space is seldom used because it is too small and poorly designed, plus the stairs are too steep and narrow. This addition solves a number of problems for this home: 1) It fixes the ice damming issue, 2) It creates safer stairs that meet code, and 3) It creates a more comfortable and spacious upstairs space that can serve as a guest room. This addition improves the livability of this home and increases resale value.

This addition is designed to fit the clients’ budget as well as compliment the existing traditional style of the home. The pocket windows add a fun modern flair to the traditional design. This addition along with the added insulation to the existing roofs will greatly improve the energy-efficiency and overall comfort the entire existing home.

The current entry to the home in the rear of the building has no overhang, which during rain and snow events is not a pleasant way to enter and exit the home. The addition is designed to include a new roof over the entry.

These images show the elevations of the new upstairs spaces. An addition to an 1890’s home not only requires careful design, but also a set of detailed plans are required to obtain a building permit. Construction drawings provide instructions and other important information for the builders and subcontractors.

The new upstairs will include a half bathroom, a living/guest room area, built-in shelving, and built-in desks. The addition will also provide a new, spectacular view of the mountains to the east.

Phase 1 of this project is the upstairs addition, however, we are also designing Phase 2, the remodel of the downstairs kitchen.

These are more detailed floor plans of the Phase 2 kitchen remodel design.

These are the 2nd story floor plans for both the current and new spaces. Many of these drawings look askew because the existing home is not square!

The homeowners will be the general contractors and construction of this home improvement project begins this Summer 2017.  Please stay tuned as we share updates of the progress!

67 Gray Street exterior siding remodel

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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.

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

Before

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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

 

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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

Follow up on 67 Gray Street Remodel

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I recently returned to follow up on 67 Gray Street remodel to photograph the results.  There were a number of talented finishers that all helped to make this design become a very nice home.

Dining room Before

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Dining room After

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dinning2   dinning4      dinning3   porchview   ceiling2

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Ceiling with old beams, new pine ceiling and drywall soffits

Kitchen Before

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Kitchen After

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Living room Before

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Living  room After

fireplace    livingroom2

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New Hall and staircase

 hall    stair2nd  stair                       stair-3rd

New 3rd Floor Office and Bedroom

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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. 

Windows!

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October, we find ourselves hustling to get things closed in. The windows are going in and it feels good…finally the place is shaping up. And it’s a good thing too. This week the weather has started to head in the direction where you know the days are becoming numbered for good outdoor working conditions. Soon the drywall will start to go up and 67 Grey street will start to seem livable again. Its been a long strange trip!

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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Latest . manifolds..concrete, ceilings, and cellar insulation

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And for those wondering about the pics of me and the guys sitting around from last blog entryno we don’t just sit around all day drinking beer. That’s an after work duty. Next 67 Grey st. Blog Here

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