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Thread: The big renovation: 1908 home

  1. #31
    looking for a coal mine knary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wezul View Post
    So true Paul and what a shame. New construction lacks character and I think that speaks of the loss of craftsmen in many areas. I've had many "features" in my 1920's era home corrected but I like this old house with all it's flaws.
    Looking at the framing in this place, it's clear that contractors have been earning their reputation for a long time.

    Some of these old places are clearly gems, but I think you can find the same in modern construction. They weren't trying to do something amazing back in the day any more they are today. They were just using the knowledge and technology on hand to, most of the time, get it done as quickly and as cheaply as possible with the features the buyers were demanding. What we think of as neat old bungalows were often the junky track housing of their day.

  2. #32
    Registered User redclfco's Avatar
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    And the American Dream was Born

    Tract housing got its start with the invention of the pre-manufactured truss. At that point, the same cookie cutter houses sprang out of the newly designed and drafted "subdivisions". Quality and craftmanship were replaced with easier ways of building a house; Honestly, how can you blame em? Can you imagine hand nailing each of those lathe in place OMG!? Somebody did that for a living?

    All of this happened just in time to fill the housing needs of the WWII vets and their families.

    Your home was built before that, Right?

    Out of interest, what kind of wood was used for framing? What’s your foundation made of? Those items varied from region to region depending on product. In MN, so many turn of the century homes were framed with rough cut oak (can you believe it? Who needs headers?) and set on top of either packed (rammed) earth berm or llimestone with no mortar! Imagine the skill to make a wall with no mortar!

    I am truly excited for you Scott!
    Last edited by redclfco; 10-08-2009 at 10:41 PM. Reason: addd content

  3. #33
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    ...cookie cutter houses sprang out...redclfco
    And the Levittown era had arrived...
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrylRi View Post
    The difficulty with most of the energy efficiency items is that you pay for them all up front to get a hoped-for gain later on. Most take a number of years to pay off, but usually they can be expected to outlive that period and return eventual gains. We are just about to finish off our 8th year with a very expensive photovoltaic system. The break even point for us is somewhere in the 12-13 year time frame. But after that point, it will start saving us $3,500+/year, and the panels have a 25 year warranty -- that could add up to $42,000 savings. But it's difficult to justify if you think you're going to move in a few years.

    Besides just the energy savings, there can be other advantages. Do you have a forced air heater? Radiant floor heating can be cheaper in operation and it doesn't blow dust everywhere.

    Maybe it doesn't make sense for you now, but you can do some advance work that is cheap but could save you a lot later. For example, while everything is opened up, it may make sense to plumb stubs up to your roof and down to where your water heater is for a later installation of a solar hot water system. The guy who built my house did that, and it saved me a significant amount of money when I installed such a system last year.

    How about low flow toilets and shower heads? We bought dual-flush toilets during a remodel and they are quiet and work very well. I have to admit I was very concerned about the move considering the reputation the early low flow toilets had.

    I'm surprised that an upgrade in insulation doesn't pencil out to savings in a few years. If it's a close thing, what about the consideration of the house simply being more comfortable to live in, especially during those few weeks of hot weather in the summer?
    I wrote up a big long reply and my browser hiccuped.

    The short version:
    I've gone back and forth on all of these details. The bottom line is all of the "save the world, save a dollar" options, smart though they may be, are just too expensive. We can't afford them now and hoping for a pay off a decade or more down the road just isn't reasonable for us. Some like the insulation are significantly more expensive. Something like solar is an audacious luxury that would take that much longer to pencil out in our area.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by redclfco View Post
    Tract housing got its start with the invention of the pre-manufactured truss. At that point, the same cookie cutter houses sprang out of the newly designed and drafted "subdivisions". Quality and craftmanship were replaced with easier ways of building a house; Honestly, how can you blame em? Can you imagine hand nailing each of those lathe in place OMG!? Somebody did that for a living?

    All of this happened just in time to fill the housing needs of the WWII vets and their families.

    Your home was built before that, Right?
    I have one word for you, "Sears".

    When you drive through the aging bungalow belt around so many cities and see the same house again and again, however quaint, it's clear that most often they weren't building works of art. They were making housing, usually nothing more.

    Having said that, our house is different in its detail, porch and roof structure than any similar sized houses we've seen.

    Out of interest, what kind of wood was used for framing? What’s your foundation made of? Those items varied from region to region depending on product. In MN, so many turn of the century homes were framed with rough cut oak (can you believe it? Who needs headers?) and set on top of either packed (rammed) earth berm or llimestone with no mortar! Imagine the skill to make a wall with no mortar!

    I am truly excited for you Scott!


    The house is framed entirely with rough sawn 2x4 and 1x6 fir. Portland was booming at the time as a lumber port and the stuff was cheap, plentiful and STRONG. The foundation, formed with those 1x6's recycled for use in the framing, is a bit sketchy. It's a concrete foundation 4" thick made with round river rock for aggregate and not quite enough cement. We're taking some steps to augment that crumbly old foundation but otherwise the house has surprised everyone by being in solid shape with minimal decay.

  6. #36
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henzilla View Post
    ...it had open wire circuits on insulators in the walls and attic ...very scary stuff...especially for the wayward mouse! Looking at that pic, I see an insulator above that bit...maybe it was originally wired the same.
    I wouldn't want to be the mouse either, but knob and tube wiring was actually quite good: there was so much space and air circulation around the wires that equipment shorts leading to overheating and melted insulation and fires were uncommon.
    Last edited by dbrick; 10-09-2009 at 11:37 PM.
    David Brick
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  7. #37
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    Slept just shy of 11 hours last night.

    The parting photo of the night...


  8. #38
    Registered User rebake's Avatar
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    Friend of mine looks for those window weights.Says they make the best ammo for black powder rifles because of the compound in them. Ed

  9. #39
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    My place was built in 1824, and over the last 30 years, it pretty much has been reconstructed. You are doing it the right way, all at once. I tackled it in 3 separate sections, for a lot of reasons.

    It was a lot of work, but satisfying too. Good Luck

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    My place was built in 1824, and over the last 30 years, it pretty much has been reconstructed. You are doing it the right way, all at once. I tackled it in 3 separate sections, for a lot of reasons.

    It was a lot of work, but satisfying too. Good Luck
    Did I mention that my wife is pregnant?
    We had originally planned to do it in sections, but renovation and a baby seemed like a really bad combination.

  11. #41
    Registered User mcohen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knary View Post
    I've gone back and forth on all of these details. The bottom line is all of the "save the world, save a dollar" options, smart though they may be, are just too expensive. We can't afford them now and hoping for a pay off a decade or more down the road just isn't reasonable for us. Some like the insulation are significantly more expensive. Something like solar is an audacious luxury that would take that much longer to pencil out in our area.
    We just finished our home addition (finished is a flexible term, we'll be decorating and finishing out rooms for years to come). We weighed and debated many of the same decisions you are. We went with a geothermal heating and cooling system which is incredible expensive to install but is the cheapest system to run (it also lasts a long time with little maintenance). It was hard to justify the 10 years it will take to pay off the system until I looked at adding the cost to the mortgage. When I did, I found the additional cost to finance the system is less than the monthly savings the system provides. In other words, we get a small savings each month from the very start.

    As mentioned, with the framing exposed now is a good time to add anything you think you might want or need in the future. With wireless systems coming out for every gadget, I didn't add the expense of trying to "future proof" the house with every kind of wiring to every room. Instead, I installed plastic flexible conduit myself with only the wiring I needed today. I can always pull out or add wiring later if something new is needed in the future. I also installed a central vac system. If you've every worked with plumbing pipe, running the thin-walled PVC for a vac is easy to do yourself. The total cost for the parts is about what you'd pay for good regular vacuum.

    Michael

  12. #42
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    There's nothing inherently wrong with tract homes. It's just that so many of them are just awful architecture.
    Dave Swider
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  13. #43
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knary View Post
    Did I mention that my wife is pregnant?
    We had originally planned to do it in sections, but renovation and a baby seemed like a really bad combination.
    My reasons were also because of kids, and my 90 year old Grandmother. When I started the process, our first son was about 2 months old. He would sit in his car seat sleeping while I pounded, wired, plumbed etc.

  14. #44
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knary View Post
    Did I mention that my wife is pregnant?
    We had originally planned to do it in sections, but renovation and a baby seemed like a really bad combination.
    Praise the Lord we don't have that contributing joy! We're purely recreational now -Bob
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  15. #45
    Rally Rat Sue's Avatar
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    Scott -
    When we were at the point you are at now, we installed a "WalVac" (in-the-wall vacuum.) It's easy to run the PVC when you can see all of the studs, and the actual unit hangs in our root cellar. Most people put them in their garages.

    These are great for a couple of reasons:
    --> gets rid of the dust with no residual dust coming through the vacuum cleaner bag and staying in the room
    --> it's quiet, because the unit is outside of the living space
    --> fast and easy to use, not only for the floors but for cobwebs at ceiling level and or those annoying flies that seem to hang around the windows in the fall.
    --> the primary piece of equipment - the wand - weighs about 1 pound so you aren't hauling around a big heavy vacuum cleaner all the time.

    Anyway - I am currently in the middle of moving and I already know that no matter what we buy, I am going to have one of these installed.

    Sue Rihn #43753
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