Thursday, September 10, 2015

When is a building too far gone to renovate?

Front - before
 I've been working with a couple on the renovation of an old farmhouse that has been in her family for generations. The home was rough, but with (sort of) good bones, and a lot of sentimental long-time family use and memories. The location on 150 acres with beautiful mountain views is priceless.

The stone rubble foundation walls were inspected by a structural engineer and his suggestions for having a mason re-build the bowed walls were doable. The kitchen area had a tacked-on foundation that barley extended below grade, and and strange flat facade and crumbling chimney that all had to go.  The roof system was undersized and sagging. The cramped interiors, plaster walls and old wiring were to be gutted. The side used as a tractor garage was to get a floor system and become the family room. This was a substaintial renovation!

Back- before
The plan called for raising the roof with new dormers (similar, but larger than the current ones) and removing interior walls to create larger rooms and allow for more light and space.  There was going to be a lot of demolition work. With the amount of changes being made -all new windows, siding, insulation, wiring, bathrooms, kitchen, roofing and some interior partitions being moved to make a first floor master bedroom- there wasn't much of the original structure left.

When demolition commenced we found that what we had planned to reuse was built using poor construction methods and that much of the wood had evidence of rot and should really be replaced. When is comes to a building how much is too much to replace? At what point do you say "there is nothing here worth re-using"? We decided this was the case. Sustainability can be tricky. In this case, the best thing to do is start over with a new house that can be handed down from generation to generation and last for the next 100+ years.

Rotted Sill

Knee wall w/ broken top plate

Floor Joist System is cobbled together

So, what started a year before as a renovation to upgrade the family hunting camp into a more modern family vacation home, grew into a full gut-rehab, and has now been changed to building a completely new structure.

I will keep you posted once construction begins!

New building site staked out for new house
Proposed New Front Elevation


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