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Monday, May 12, 2008

Old House Blues part tres

Ok, we are making some big progress at the old farmhouse - we are insulated and ready to rock (sheetrock that is). The old lady is coming right along, tripped out with some security, whole house audio, higher ceilings, and more windows. The only thing untouched is the bathroom.

I don't know if I mentioned but this house and 50 acres was owned previously by an older lady who spent most of her adult years performing caberet tunes across the world. The big piece of land I bought before this was owned by Mrs. Vaughn, who was over 80 yrs old. I guess the older ladies really dig me.

We reshaped the upstairs pretty drastically - moving walls, raising ceilings, adding closets, etc... In this pic I am standing in the master bedroom and looking into the hall and nursery. Lisa is very concerned our huge king sized bed will not fit in the bedroom - maybe it will, but probably nothing else.

What makes an older house hard to renovate is the unstandard sizing of both timbers, and spaces between the timbers. New construction is about standard sizing - 16" from stud to stud, rafter to rafter - and most materials like insulation, sheetrock, durock, and even trim lumber comes in measurements of 16" - so when every stud and every stud bay is different, each trade most take their time and deal with a fair amount of aggravation to make everything turn out ok.

On this house we did our part, addressing each and every stud with firring strips, blocking, and the like so we have a somewhat flat and even surface. In this picture you can see the light colored wood over top of the dark colored wood - each one of those light colored strips is a different size and width in order to create a workable surface for the finish work. Mind you that there are probably400 studs or more in this house, so it was a bit tedious.

What you are looking at here is polyurethane insulation, a skim coat applied before the standard pink panther insulation is applied. The reason that I chose the added expense of this redundant insulation is because air penetration and heat loss is getting more and more expensive. With a new house, a standard insulation process can be pretty effective, but with an old house with unstandard framing and lots of weird places that are hard to get to, this spray foam takes care of the human error. I think it was a great decision, kind of cool to look at, and not that expensive.

We have designed and built 30+ homes in the past 4 years, and believe it or not, we have not installed air-conditioning once. And since no one is complaining, i don't plan to start. The really hot summer season is super short, and up here in the Catskills, the nights stay chilly, cooling down the houses.
In this house, we added a 'whole house fan' in order to draw the warm air out of the house, and circulate cooler air.

At a flip of a switch, one fan will pull the air out of main house, and the other will push it out the attic. Air circulation can be just as effective as air conditioning.