Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Old House Problems

No old house is without problems - and this one is no different (Although you would think with the walls wide open, we might have realized some of them sooner!)

First challenge:  No footings under the foundation in the back of the house, where we wanted to add a lot of new structural loads.  Thankfully, we were able to dig down and remedy that as part of the new foundation work.  As I shared in this post, we now have beautiful new footings!!  It's not an exciting place to spend money, but it's critical for all the improvements that we're making.

Next challenge: we knew these funky valleys, where the two gambrel roofs meet, would be an issue - but even we were surprised at how bad the dry rot was (you shouldn't be able to stick you finger right through the sheathing!).  This is the valley on the west side of the house.

The valley  on the east side, where the big gambrel and smaller  dormer meet, is a nightmare!   There is a narrow space between the gambrel valley and the dormer, where all the water gets channeled.  There were at least 6 layers of flashing, roofing and caulk where you can tell someone tried to fix the issue over the years.  And the fact is, that's just a really, really bad design.

We knew to do it right, we had to eliminate the issue. And this could actually be a win-win, because it could help solve the headroom problem at the top of the stairs.  No more bruised shoulder, from walking up the staircase!

That also gave us the opportunity to free up some space in the future hall bathroom, since the valleys intersected in there.  Those valleys use up a lot of valuable space in the bathroom!

But this isn't a minor change - it was a challenge to tackle.  We called in a structural engineer, to get his guidance on the best approach.  He came up with a design that had us widen the dormer, to something called a Nantucket Dormer (essentially a shed dormer with a gable added on top), that would allow the roof load to be carried onto the LVL's we have installed below.

So the team from Waterhouse Builders tore out the rotted old dormer and got to work!

What a nice view, with a big hole in the side of the house!!!

It was eerie, seeing that big hole at the top of the staircase! But now you can see how much more space we can create at the top of the staircase.  And the new window will be bigger - letting in lots of sunlight!

First step, was putting in a new load carrying LVL beam.

And then they started to frame in the dormer.
Doesn't it look great???  No more crazy water issues - plus a bigger window, bigger staircase landing and floor space in the bathroom.  That's the way to take a problem and turn it into a great solution!  
Putting the new roof on, between snowstorms, has been a challenge!!
Third challenge:  all the original framing in the house wasn't even a 2x4 in width.  More like 2x3.  That means we could only put in minimum insulation.  Given our Maine winters and new building codes, we've 'sistered' all the existing studs with new 2x6's, which will allow use to fully insulate the walls.  You can see them in the wall to the right of the staircase.  

So, you ask, isn't it practically like building a new house at this point?  The answer would be yes - and in the most expensive way possible!!!  But we wouldn't have done it any other way, it was too important to maintain the original character of the house.  And will help this ugly duckling transition into a swan!

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  1. It will be well worth every penny. I love to see you doing renovation right, and preserving the original structure as much as possible. Way to go!


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