Inside and Outside Update

December 15th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

More interior wall framing

Here’s more on the interior framing; if you look close, you will see stamped on the 2×4’s, the FSC Label. FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, which is the foremost certifier of sustainably managed forests. Check out their website to learn more. (Did you know that Northfield has the North American headquarters for SmartWood, an FSC certifying company?)

Yet more interior framing

This is the stage at which our clients often wonder if the rooms will be big enough. The new floor felt huge before the interior wall framing; in contrast the rooms now seem small. No worries; the windows will expand them visually once they’re installed. As professionals, we know what will fit and how they’ll feel.

4 Season Porch

Here is the four-season porch and part of the new mud room. We opted for open web floor joists to aid in the routing of the new ductwork. Our hope is to save the barn siding on the existing wall; so far so good. The white door was our back entry door; it will remain so we can get our washer and dryer out of the basement when necessary. The new mud room will connect directly to the kitchen through a door at the existing window (hidden behind plywood and the ladder.) A double door will like the mudroom to the porch, providing a view through the new window to the north.

Soffit framing

And, for an update on the exterior: The soffit framing is ready to receive the soffits. The pieces are being fabricated in the shop and will be installed quickly when they are ready. These must precede the windows, since the soffit abuts a continuous frieze board which, in turn, abuts the tops of the windows.

Yesterday ductwork began arriving on site with the new airhandler and boiler. Installation should start next week, in tandem with the soffit and windows!

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Lease Photovoltaics for your house!

December 13th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

A startup company called Freenerg (“free-energy”) will be leasing PV systems to homeowners, starting next year. This will help beat the up-front costs of the systems, allowing more families to reap free energy from the sun (for a fee, of course).

More at Minnesota Monitor…

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New Home for Ghosts

December 13th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

New attic space

The new attic space now has a floor and the framing is finished. The headroom is a little low (7′) for a disco ball but otherwise it could be a party room. We’ve been asked several times if this will be the master bedroom. No, not now. We aren’t installing a regular stairs, and there are no egress windows. In the future it could be finished, but right now we are mighty excited about seeing so much open space to store all the stuff that is currently being stored in three different basements. (Not three full basements, but three very scattered basements. Hence, the excitement about a big open space.) I’m thinking that we’ll be using the attic fairly regularly, so no ghosts should be interested in taking up permanent residence.

Snow and soffits

Did we need a 7′ attic? Not really. It was a bonus from creating the roof pitch which can accept solar panels. Our other design option was to pull the roof down over the second floor windows and block daylight, but we’re counting on passive solar gain through the winter months.

In the above photo you can see that roof overhang. We’ve designed the overhang depth to provide shading in the summer so we don’t need much air conditioning, and to allow the winter sunlight into the windows to warm the house for free. (I can almost feel the ceramic tile where the sun has hit and warmed it up.)

The snow is very pretty, but it has been quite cold. Matt and Gary turned the old gas furnace back on so we wouldn’t have to worry about frozen pipes. (Bonus: the canned tomatoes didn’t have to move to a different basement to avoid bursting.) The old gas furnace has a big crack in it and isn’t safe to spend time with due to carbon monoxide. But, it is keeping the house above freezing.

Hallway framed

The second floor hallway has also been framed. To the right, where the boxes are, is the original stair opening which we’ll reuse. At the top of the stairs is a small open place that the three kids’ bedrooms will open on to. If you climb the ladder, you will enter the attic where the pull-down stairs will be. We opted for a 30″ wide ladder instead of the 24″. This proved to need a design modification since the roof trusses come at 24″ on center, but the truss manufacturer was able to accommodate. Hauling the boxes (from those three basements!) will be easier with a wider stair.

Windows are to arrive yet this week or next. The whole character of the space will change again once there are portals for daylight. The outside should also look less monolithic with windows, and we will be able to gain some heat on sunny days.

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Bedroom Walls

December 6th, 2007 by Mary Schmelzer

Interior walls framed

The second floor interior walls are going up. The left side of the photo will be the east wall of our daughter’s bedroom and the wall to the far right of the photo will be a bathroom wall. You can see the original plumbing that was left during demolition. New fixtures will connect to these, thus saving on some plumbing costs.

Second floor bathroom Wall

In both photos you can see that the floor has some framing. The addition to the house put on in the 1960s didn’t have the floor levels matching. Matt has made up for that difference (and the general lack of level in an old house) by adding some structure to the floor. If you look carefully in the first photo, you can see where we’ll be running ductwork for the kitchen exhaust hood. I’m very much looking forward to being able to get cooking steam out of my kitchen!

It is sort of a shame to carve up that nice big second floor. It is so spacious with good views from any vantage point. However, as a family we are getting tired of so much togetherness and some divisions of space (with doors!) will be quite welcome. Plus: TWO full bathrooms!

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