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Posts tagged ‘Demolition’

Reducing Construction Waste

One of the goals of the Green on Gift home is to minimize the amount of construction waste sent to the landfill. This has taken different forms throughout construction. To widen the master closet we had to move a structurally unnecessary beam. That beam found new life as the header for the closet opening (photos below). Other times, we simply used curbside recycling for construction material boxes and beverage containers.

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The Joys of Demo

To help reduce costs and get a better understanding of how the home was constructed, I opted to gut the house with myself and a cadre of great friends. We were able to peel back the layers to see how it was updated over the years, revealing a lot of shoddy craftsmanship and lessons in what not to do when renovating a home. Since the previous owner used the house as a low-cost rental, the maintenance and updates over the years were poorly implemented, to say the least.

My favorite example of this is the living room window. One of the great mysteries of the house is odd shape of the windows; they almost seem like afterthoughts, and the sizing isn’t consistent within the home. These non-standard sizes require custom windows, which the previous owner clearly did not want to pay for. Instead they simply installed one that was too small for the opening and blocked off the top with plywood and spray foam (photo below).  In addition to looking cheap, this is not a durable solution since the spray foam will degrade over time from exposure to sunlight and rain.

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Instead of ordering a custom replacement window, the previous owner installed one much too small for the opening and blocked off the top with plywood and spray foam (right window in photo).

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New Video: Structural Brick Surprise!

Here’s the latest video explaining the big surprise we discovered in the walls… the Green on Gift home is constructed of structural brick! Please subscribe to the YouTube channel to get video updates.

The First Green Shortz Video

One of the goals of the Green on Gift project is to demonstrate some of the many ways to make a home more green. Since education is a personal and professional priority of mine, we’ve partnered with GreenShortz to produce a series of videos to help spread the word about the project.

The mission of GreenShortz is to promote incremental personal sustainability. Greenshortz host, Tom Mills, creates short videos about easy (and some not-so-easy) ways to be green. You can find his videos at www.GreenShortz.com. Tom is partnering with us to document the Green on Gift renovation. He’ll help create videos highlighting certain aspects of the project and profile both the technology and products that will help make my house a green home.

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The Realities of Demolition

Renovating a neglected 1940’s era home into a green showcase within strict budget constraints is a challenge, but I have never been one to shy away from challenges. I recognized early on that I would have to make some compromises, but have eagerly identified cost effective improvements that would increase the performance of this house as much as possible. The mechanical systems are one example of my current compromises. While I would love to install new high-efficiency HVAC and water heating, the existing equipment is less than 10 years old and in reasonably good condition, making it difficult to justify replacing them. I can easily do so later when they reach the end of their useful lives, or in the unlikely event that I acquire and need to dispose of large sums of money. For now, however, it is more important to improve the structure of the house through insulation and air sealing, as those improvements are more difficult and costly to retrofit than upgrades in mechanical equipment. Read more

Farewell, Kitchen Floors

Today we decided to remove the original kitchen floor. I had hoped to keep it, but after removing around 10 layers of vinyl, linoleum, and tile to get to it, the actual floor was riddled with rot and nail holes, which makes for a costly repair. Here’s what the kitchen looked like pre-renovation.

The kitchen pre-renovation.

The kitchen pre-renovation looking towards the living room.

Here's the kitchen pre-renovation looking from the living room towards the side door. The ceiling beam is where they had combined two rooms at some point.

The pre-renovation kitchen looking from the living room towards the side door.

Here’s the kitchen as of this afternoon. The ceiling beam is where they had combined two rooms at some point. I’m guessing these were the original kitchen and dining room. We are going to scrap about half of the floor and use the other half to patch sections around the house.

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