Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dirty Jobs: Can't Live Without Them!!

So, I know everyone likes to see pretty before and after photos.  Fancy fixtures, beautiful tile and elegant finishes are essential for a beautiful home.

But, if the systems and structures behind those finishes aren't robust, you'll never have a great home. And while it's frustrating to spend a lot of money on things you don't actually see, it must be done.   After all, the work to get those high quality systems and structures are pretty dirty jobs!

We've had a lot of dirty jobs going on around here lately.  Let me share a couple:

1)  A dry basement.  A neighbor told me that lots of folks on the street have water problems in their basement.  We saw evidence of a rudimentary drainage system in the basement, but with our unusually dry 2016, we never saw a lot of water.  But I didn't want to take any chances.  So once again, I called Dave from Concrete Prescriptions, to come install a waterproofing system.

It's a big job!  They jackhammer the perimeter of the floor up and dig a trench -

carrying everything out by hand in buckets.

Oh, and as an added surprise (we've been getting a lot of those this week), we discovered a lot of the old waste pipe was completely corroded.  Obviously that will  be replaced!

Next, they install drainage pipe, which links into the new drainage system we installed when we poured the new foundation.

The pipe is surrounded by crushed stone and a fabric membrane, which will keep it from getting clogged in the future.

But that's not all!  They install a plastic membrane, called Vapor Bright, against the existing rubble foundation.  This is a combination vapor barrier/air barrier, with hypo allergenic properties that keeps down dirt and dust from the old stone foundation.  And any water that may enter the foundation will drain down the membrane, into the drainage pipe and exit the building.

And finally, they mix fresh concrete and apply that to seal up the trench around the perimeter.

Finished product - and dry basement, guaranteed for 25 years!  We are ready for spring thaws!

Isn't it gorgeous???  

2)  Insulation.  This is Maine and we take insulation seriously, to get us through our long, cold winters.  And with the different peaks and valleys in this roof, we had some real challenges to determine the best insulation strategy.

Ultimately, we decided to install spray foam insulation in the old section of the house.  With the irregular roofline and lack of space for traditional insulation, due to our increased ceiling height, this really made the most sense.  And with a value of R7 per inch of insulation, it gives us great thermal properties.

Isn't it fun to watch them apply it?

And it is a very cool process!  Typically, it gets sprayed on the roof sheathing in 1 inch layers.  As the foam expands, it heats up to around 220 degrees!  They let the layer cool and come back to add additional layers.  While it's being sprayed, it requires full PPE (personal protective equipment), including a respirator, eye shields and a disposable suit (because it's also messy!).  So a dirty job?  Yes indeed!  But it will be a really warm, comfortable home (once we have a boiler!  Yup, that's right, we still don't have heat!!)

For the new section of the house, we could go with traditional fiberglass.  It provides the R value we need, with our new thick walls and rafters.  But just looking at this stuff makes me itch.  And the installers are careful to wear gloves and masks, to keep the itchiness away.

Are we finished with the dirty jobs?  Well not quite, but we're getting all that important stuff done behind the walls, so the new owners won't have to worry about it!

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  1. I just have to say, one of the reasons I love this blog is that you are so ethical. If there is a problem you don't try to bury it or hide it you fix it. You don't do the bare minimum in renovations you really go the extra mile. It is great to see. I'm really enjoying following this project.

    1. Thanks so much for noticing!! And glad you like this project - it's a big one!!!


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