Thursday, February 10, 2011

Excavation & Concrete

This project calls for 2 additions to the home and a 2 car garage addition.
Britt digging the footings
Checking the footing depth
Each one requires footings, stem walls, and the garage has flat work. We were also allowed to rebuild the front steps because they did not meet current code. Our excavator is an old pro and with his quiet machine he was able to save us a tremendous amount of work. Harold Foote was also kind enough to dig for our new sewer and water lines as well as assist with demolition. Harold brought his son Britt who he is teaching the trade, just Brian is teaching his son Jason the trade of framing.
 One of the challenges of cold weather is having concrete dry without freezing the water we put into it. We brought out the blankets. Turns out concrete when doing its chemical reactions and drying creates its own heat, by blanketing... we keep the heat in and allow for proper drying prior to building upon it. Fortunately we have pretty good access to this project and pumping concrete was not necessary. there were however lots of trips with the wheel barrel.
Back filled stem walls ready to frame
Ready for alley delivery
We were also fortunate that we could stay one step ahead of the game and pour our concrete while we were working in other areas of the home. Mountain view concrete did all of the concrete on this project. We used hay to keep the soil moisture and mud down for those days that warmed above freezing.


Improperly supported structure
Adding the charm back in
Framing in an older home is challenging to say the least. We study the existing conditions and make a plan of action based upon the new codes and structural knowledge of the materials that are available to us now. New metal connectors and straps help as well as engineered lumber to keep the look of the old home and allow for more open spaces with long beams. Ofter re- framing old components is necessary because although they worked for years... they were not properly attached or supported. such was the case in the living room arch
Properly re-constructed arch
Blending in the old with the  new
We needed to improve the structure and add the charm back in when it was too difficult to remove the lathe and plaster. Sheetrock will cover the new structures with ease. We also blended new framing in with the old as it was unnecessary to take the entire structure down. In the studio we reconstructed the same design of the parapet wall of the home and carried it through. This project has a nice mixture of old and new construction. It is amazing how much faster the new 2 car garage went up compared to the reworking of the existing structure.

Lead Safe Work Practices

two man team in protective garb
site protection and warning sign
 Lead paint was located by pre testing and during the demolition phase much of the stucco that had lead paint on it required removal. This was our first experience with stucco removal in a lead safe way.To accomplish this task we initially trained our new employees about LSWP and provided all the necessary protective clothing and safety equipment. As per the RRP rule, we cordoned off the work area too. We discovered that there is no body of knowledge out there yet on best practices on how to do this efficiently yet. We tried our best as you can see to protect the ground and recoup the water.We worked in two man teams and sprayed water to keep the dust down. Cutting stucco with a diamond blade and peeling it down worked the best for us. Keep in mind that this was done during freezing conditions and you can begin to appreciate the complexity of the project. We also used LSWP when removing tile in the bathroom. and several of the leaded windows. Tile although fairly encapsulated can cause lead dust when the tiles are pulverized and we did not want to take any chances. Doing dust free demolition is not and easy task but is paramount to the safety of the employees the owners and the environment
post cut dust being captured with spray
I am working behind the scenes now with NARI and the EPA on a national and local level to share the knowledge professional remodelers are learning about best management practices on how to accomplish LSWP in efficiently and practically. Lets face, contractors are all in this boat together and pioneering techniques to accomplish the same goal.


Kitchen area being demolished

This phase started almost immediately after we determined what was slated to be salvaged for reuse. Protection of the floors was accomplished with taped down Masonite and Duct Tape. It was determined early on that since the scope of work included so much of the home that removing all of the lath and plaster was going to save time and money in the long run. With a flat roof there was an unknown amount of insulation in the ceiling and energy efficiency will be a serious concern. 70 yards of debris were generated and lots of the wood was taken to recycling as well as 900 lbs of metal. Four of the team worked for a week removing debris.

at the recycling center

Bedroom ceiling coming dow.
 Dust of any kind is not healthy to breath so eye protection and dust protection were used regularly. Once exposed, several framing deficiencies were found and fixed.We also eliminated all of the plumbing and found multiple hazardous electrical issues much of which was caused by alterations done by an earlier remodel. The entire electrical system was removed as well. Often starting over is the safest and most efficient way to go. Once the palate was clean we could begin to rebuild. Confirming the locations of components that were hidden allowed for several minor plan modifications, none of which added cost to the project for the owners. Occasionally we find buried treasures or old artifacts that give a glimpse into the builders or the previous owners, unfortunately nothing cool was found on this project. Sometimes we do what I call a surgical demolition by "removing as little a s possible but as much as necessary" Every case is a little different. In this instance, no serious hidden deficiencies or defects were found.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Plans and Specifications

When the architect went to meet with the historic folks there was a funny interaction. As it was reported to me this map was pulled up and the guy asked Mr. Neifert to pick the historic district his house was in. After looking at the map for a moment he pointed to the photo of his home in the top right. Feeling quite honored to be working on one of the three homes that were selected for the map I felt it was important to post it. Incidentally, this project was passed by the historic folks at a staff level with kudos for design. The only snag was a neighbor who held the project up for a few weeks with a concern for potential damage to a telephone pole by having an alley loaded garage. Fortunately the commission unanimously approved the project.
This map shows the 10 historic districts in our town
The plans and specs were hand drawn on a drafting table. Unheard of in this day & age, but reminiscent of my dads office back in the day. This home is small for these days standards 860sf but perfectly suitable for a family in the early 1900's. The plan includes expanding the home in two directions by adding a master bedroom suite to the rear and a pop out for the kitchen to the side. We will be modifying the existing one car garage into a studio and adding a two car alley loaded garage. 
Existing floor plan
 This first Drawing is of existing conditions. I left the site plan off for now to save space but you can see the additions indicated and can get a pretty good idea of the spaces.
Proposed Floor Plan

Here is the proposed plan.  You can see how a bedroom was sacrificed for a bath and part of the master. Additionally, a bath was converted  into a walk in closet.

Here are several of the elevations for your enjoyment.

Highlights of project include 2 skylights, custom cabinetry,lots of tile, hardwood floors,and all new metal clad wood windows. Complete re-wiring and re-plumbing including replacing the water line from the street to the home and replacing the water heater. Re-ducting of the home using the existing HVAC system and installing a new mini split system in the studio.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pre Demolition Documentation

Kitchen South Wall

Kitchen North wall looking West
As any Professional Remodeler knows, proper pre renovation documentation is vital to show prospective clients, and remind the owners what the project looked like prior to starting the job. Otherwise when the big tour happens at the end, no one has any idea what you started with (This has happened on more than one occasion I am sad to say). As we say, a picture paints a thousand words. You can see this was a cramped situation. We are fortunate enough to have the home to ourselves allowing us to work on all aspects at the same time. We also have the luxury of having the ability to turn off utilities. This seems like the harshest winter in recent history which added another element of courage.Occasionally we need to do our work and have the home back to being occupied nightly.

Dining room South wall
Our challenge in this project is to maintain the charm and character of the home demonstrated by arches between the living room, hallways and divided glass windows, yet  update at the same time. In the next post I will share the plans and explain the rationale and beauty of the new plan.

Only Bathroom

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lead Testing Phase

three exterior windows

more stucco
As many of you are aware, The EPA made April 22nd, 2011 (Earth Day) the start of the RRP rule a program that mandates that all homes built prior to 1978 shall be considered leaded until tested otherwise. This in turn inspired Levco Builders to invest in additional training of employees and the purchase of two Innov-x XRF analyzers. Lead Locators was born. Lead Locators was contacted by the Owner to test the project in anticipation of remodeling the home. The test found a heavily leaded home primarily on the exterior which was not uncommon. Lead based paint was often used as an exterior coating because of its ease of application, colorfast properties and longevity. The RRP rule mandates that properly trained individuals conduct disturbing of lead based paint with the overall coal of dust free demolition and involves extensive steps to protect owners occupants the environment and employees. The report essentially saved money in the long run because much of the home was not leaded therefore traditional demolition techniques were able to be employed on much of the renovation.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spanish Revival make over

This whole house remodeling project at 1301 N 25th Street in Boise Idaho is being done for several reasons. The first and foremost is that it is a spectacular example of a Spanish Revival home in Boise's North End. The Owners, a young couple felt that they loved the character of the home but found it too compact for their taste. Fortunately there is an architect in the family, armed with a new set of plans set out to find a professional qualified remodeler. The home was built in 1936 and remodeled once in 1994. As it turns out it had a twin to the north and used to be housing for ranch hands. The North End Historic Society considers it a contributing home and therefore is being protected as far a character and style. Lead Locators was initially contacted to do pre-renovation lead testing and found the home was heavily leaded. being a certified firm Levco Builders was selected to do the project based upon relationship, client recommendations, NARI membership and having a passion for older homes. The project began December 28th 2010 and is in full swing now, I will continue to post the project so interested folks can keep up with the ups, downs, thrills and challenges involved when remodeling a precious older home.