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    Do we really need that wall there? Because I have an idea…

    How important is that wall? This was a question I asked Jesse while deciding how we would change the floor plan of the house. Do we really need back stairs, or the attic stairs, I mean the house isn’t that big.

    These questions proved to be the best thing that I could have asked and completely changed the options to reconfigure the upstairs floor plan and create a mudroom/laundry downstairs. Originally, the back stairs arrived at the same spot the front stairs did upstairs and limited the amount of floor space available for the hall bath. There were 3 hallways upstairs, the main hall, the hallway that joined a small room, one bathroom, and the master bedroom, and the final hall which created an extra bedroom upstairs. We chose to do away with the latter 2 halls in order to create usable floor space and a larger bedroom for our daughter. Many of the before pictures were taken during our walkthrough before purchasing the house.

    Here is a view of the upstairs hallway, where the back stairs and attic stairs converged.

    This is the back staircase and the attic stairs, prior to removal.

    This is the back staircase and the attic stairs, prior to removal.

    We were able to knock those out as well as the partition walls to open the space up. See the pictures of the progress below.

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    The following pictures show the view of the upstairs hall now that the new walls were put up and notice the pull down to the attic space which was added.

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    The Master Bedroom had a hall that connected the bathroom and a small back room all together. Due to the fact that we wanted a larger bathroom and closet space, we eliminated that as well and created a new layout for the bathroom.

    Master Bedroom to hall

    View from back hallway to master bedroom.

    View from back hallway to master bedroom.

    Now we have a private master bedroom and bathroom, with 2 walk in closets. Here is the bedroom with the new walls and hallway to the bathroom.

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    Other walls were torn down to create our daughters bedroom and dance area. With the walls up the one room was very small, now it is a true teenage retreat.

    Here are before pictures. One note to make here is that we were very fortunate that the flooring under these particular walls were finished and no repairs were needed.

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    How it looks today:

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    The back hall originally had the back staircase and was extremely narrow.

    Back staircase

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    By eliminating the stairs, it created a mudroom and laundry area.

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    Next up, the bathroom makeovers…

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    Recycle, Reuse

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    One of the things we did in the house was demo the attic space, (pictured above prior to demo).  At one point, it was finished living space, with small bedrooms and a hall, so we removed the walls and ceiling.  We had the demo crew vacuum out the old insulation, which will be replaced with cellulose R50. Then we will be air sealing the attic.   Next, we will put down Advantech flooring so that we have all of the storage space available.  But, before all of that, a key part of the demo was to have the crew pull up the floors a bit more carefully then  just hitting it with a sledge hammer.  There were many square feet of wide pine that appears to have been put in the house over many years at different times.  So, they pulled it up and stacked it.

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    Now comes the job of removing the old nails.  If you look at the various nails that were used, it creates quite a history timeline. The photo below is, in what we believe, to be chronological order.  There were the original nails which were the extreme pointy ones. The square nails are ones that would have been used next and were most likely manufactured by the Tremont Nail Company in Massachusetts,  (When the time comes to install the boards, we will be ordering the nails from Tremont to match the rest of the flooring). And lastly, the modern wire nails, which are the ones most people are used to seeing.

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    We are going to reuse the flooring in the kitchen, mudroom and master bath.  The process to make the floor ready again is to, patch the original subfloor, and screw down a layer of Advantech subfloor.  When the time comes to lay the floor, (most likely after framing, although we are thinking of laying the floor first, as this is how the rest of the house is),  the boards will be cut square, laid as is, then finished in place.

    I have grand ideas of using the wood for a sliding barn door from the master bedroom to bathroom, but I’m thinking that will be a later project say after we actually have a usable  kitchen, bath and bedrooms.

    Stay tuned for more updates…

     

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    What’s hiding in your home?

    Homeowners, scientists, manufacturers, and designers are just recently becoming more aware of the things that easily win the game of “hide and seek” in your home.  And these game “winners” can unfortunately make your health a big loser.  The following is a list of materials, particles, and gases that can lurk in your home, causing not only health issues, but also structural issues to your home.

    Excess Moisture

    Excess moisture can affect the structure of a building and health of its occupants. Moisture settles into materials, causing mold and bacteria.  These things, as most people know, can cause a variety of minor to major illnesses.  The structure of the building is weakened by the moisture settling on materials and causing wood framing to rot or metal framing to rust. Excess moisture most commonly points to an airflow issue within the building.

    Biological pollutants

    Biological pollutants are things that are sometimes able to be seen, but not always. Pollens, bacteria, soil, plant debris, and dander fall into this category.  These things are typically brought into the house by the inhabitants on clothes or shoes, or via the wind, and affect different occupants in different ways.

    Radon

    Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. This gas is thought to be the second leading cause of lung cancer, gaining access to buildings through cracks in floors and walls, construction joints, and pipes.  It is estimated that 1 in 15 homes in the US have high radon levels; a simple test can tell you whether or not your home is one of that percentage.

    Combustion Products

    Gas-fired appliances emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and water vapor. Not all of those particles are bad, but the ones which are not healthy are also less easily seen.  This does not mean that a home should stay away from gas appliances, but merely realize the gaseous output and make sure all appliances are vented properly.

    Volatile Organic Compounds

    VOCs are becoming more of a talking point due to green initiatives.  Many materials and furnitures are striving to achieve the ranking of low or no-VOC.These VOCs come in the form of formaldehyde in carpets and other materials, pesticides, cleaning materials, paint, gasoline, adhesives, and office equipment.  They are known to cause illness in both short term and long term periods.

    Tobacco Smoke

    This category is a no-brainer for most people.  Most local governments have begun initiatives to remove smoking from indoor public buildings for the same reasons that it’s not good to smoke in your home.  The carcinogenic off-gas embeds and clings to materials in the home, essentially making your home’s interior covered with chemicals that cause cancer.

    Garage pollutants

    This category is a reiteration of what was spoken of when we talked about combustion products and VOCs.  It is important to realize, however, that even though it may seem safe in your garage instead of your home, these materials can easily find their way in if there is not an airtight separation on homes with attached garages.

    These things are merely the main players in the fight against your home’s health.  In the upcoming weeks we will talk about things you can do to win the game of “hide and seek” and take back your home.

    The EPA provides quality information about indoor air quality suspects, which can be found here.

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