Renovating the Green on Gift home has made it very clear that I would be terrible at flipping homes for maximum profits. There may be people out there who can renovate and sell homes profitably without compromising quality, but that tends to be pretty rare. While I was house hunting, I saw many homes that were clearly renovated to sell quickly while ignoring or, most commonly, hiding major structural and building performance problems that are costly to correct down the line.
One such example of corner-cutting to save cash is the old porch that was previously discussed. During the renovation, we discovered that one of the wood framed walls of the old porch had no structural sheathing (Figure 1). In new homes, structural sheathing is generally 4’x8′ sheets of plywood or OSB installed on the exterior of the wall framing (vertical and horizontal studs). The combination of sheathing and wall framing is what gives the wall its strength. The Wood composite siding was attached directly to the wall studs and then covered with vinyl siding, which has not held up well over the years. The vinyl shows signs of melting, either from a grill or the reflection from the neighbor’s windows (Figure 2). Another wall of the old porch is finished with fiber cement siding. I don’t know why they opted to use two different types of siding, but it definitely looks junky. Read more
There has been a flurry of activity out at the house recently. We installed two new Panasonic bath exhaust fans and a whole house Panasonic Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), all three of which were generously donated by Panasonic. Bath and kitchen exhaust fans are essential in ensuring good indoor air quality by removing pollutants from the home. They are also Energy Star certified, so they will be both energy efficient and quiet.
Bath exhaust fans rarely provide the amount of airflow that they are rated for due to poor duct installation. Installing small exhaust ducts with lots of elbows and long runs seriously restricts the airflow, but they are very common mistakes. Instead, the duct should provide a short and direct route outside of the house, and the ductwork should be pulled tight. As though they were trying to prove my point, I had to ask the electricians to rotate both of the bath exhaust fans because the initial installation positioned the exhaust port much too close to the ceiling joist, leaving no place for the duct to connect and run to the exterior. Once they were corrected and facing the right way, we used a combination of hard metal piping and flex duct (see photo below). We’ll do airflow testing at the final to verify the exhaust fans are providing the rated performance.
A significant element of the Green on Gift renovation is the conversion of the enclosed porch into a second bathroom. At some point, a previous owner converted the back porch, accessible through the living room, into a storage room. They likely did this to increase the square footage of the house, but the transformation was incomplete–an exterior window remained looking into the second bedroom, and the floor became uneven over time.
Left: The original bedroom window was removed and the opening converted to a doorway. Right: The enclosed porch pre-renovation.
I decided to convert this unusual porch/storage room into an en-suite second bathroom. Early in the demo process, we created small holes to see if the walls were insulated. The wall on the left was, but the back wall was not, so both walls will be insulated with spray polyurethane foam insulation. Read more