Monday, March 5, 2007

Visions and ideas...

Wow, third post today!

The general idea is to turn the not-so-old outbuilding into liveable space that looks like roughly 1910 construction, a somewhat upscale rural home with some elements that were fancied in the city back then.

I've always been into salvage (as a school kid I started browsing every dumpster for useful stuff, mostly electrical). At the age of 18 I had a huge project - helping my parents turn two apartments into one huge and in the process doing a more or less full restoration on both. That got me towards architectural salvage - I no longer only looked for electrical stuff but for doors, wooden flooring,...
When my grandmother bought that house in 2005 I had a place to use all that salvage... and the idea to create a beautiful house, my dream house, out of a ruin was born.

The basic concept: add a full second floor, hallway, stairs and tiny bathroom, topped with a gable roof.

So that involves: clean out everything, take down roof, store tiles somewhere as well as reuseable (i.e. not rotted) lumber, take down second floor walls and ceilings. Dig a trench all around the building down to the foundations to isolate against moisture and add French drains. Dig and pour foundations or slab for addition after running all new electrical service, water, sewer line, water and gas.

Dig out the interior 1-2' deep and backfill with coarse gravel to prevent any moisture seeping up.

Tear new openings for doors and windows. The existing door is too narrow, IIRC it's about 80cm (31 1/2") and I'd like to widen it to a (rough standard in 1910) 92cm (36"). The first floor windows are practically non-existant, so new openings have to be made. Since there won't be much wall above the future windows anyway at that point it won't be a problem.

Build all new walls for addition and second floor. We're not yet settled whether we want brick like the original building or wood frame - most likely depends on the cost. Brick offers cheaper material but is more labor intense, wood frame is MUCH more expensinve in materials but will go up a lot faster. Wood frame also poses the problem of how to finish the interior - plaster and lath would be the only original finish, but adds the cost of the lath. Chicken wire just isn't going to do it on a wall... brick could be plastered directly.
An option would be Heraklit board, basically coarse wood shavings pressed with concrete. Comes in 1" or 2" thick boards and can be plastered over with just a finish coat unlike brick that needs two coats. However, that stuff is expensive too.

Put on new roof framing and tiles.

Pour slab or screed in hallway and bathroom.

Add new first floor ceiling - don't know yet at what point this is going to happen and what that ceiling is going to look like - wood would be perfect.

Add second floor interior walls - we're thinking of turning it in two smallish rooms (roughly 140 square feet each) and a tiny hallway. Next problem: what to build them of? Brick would need steel I-beams below and above and be pretty substantial. That's the way it was done in the 1913 building where I'm sitting right now.
Or wood framing... expensive (wood is about the most expensive building material here)... and what to cover it with (like the exterior walls).

I hope that about covers the rough work... oh yeah, forgot the chimney. Since I don't think the extremely crooked gas heating system of the main house (basically they added a pump and heat exchanger to a standard gas water tank to run a central heating system!) is capable of supplying another house I intend to get an alternative heat source. I already bought a wood/coal fired boiler off Ebay, but that turned out to have several severe flaws, thankfully we managed to back out since the seller hadn't disclosed damage.
The biggest problem of all: such a boiler needs someone to throw in fresh coal every few hours. That's ok while we're there, but we mostly only spend the weekends there if at all, so plenty of time for the pipes and radiators to freeze and burst.

So right now it looks like we'll get a gas fired combi boiler (small wall mount unit containing a central heating boiler and tankless water heater). That can be put on a thermostat and kep everything above freezing.

Finish work... I already scrounged enough panel doors for the entire house, 4 of them match, the others don't. Can't really do much about that... but hey, it adds character.
Frames and trim will mostly have to be built new.

Floors are ok too... the hallway and bath will get salvaged floor tile. The second floor will get a wide plank pine floor in the hallway and one room, the other will get tongue & groove oak flooring (4" planks).
Only the large downstairs room (storage and work shop) will get new pine T&G.

The bathroom will be tiny... so there won't be that much detail. A walk-in shower with tiled walls, a floor drain and IKEA shower curtain, high tank toilet and a cheap wall-mount sink, if I get lucky with vintage fixtures.

Windows: we're intending to use salvaged old windows. My uncle is an architect and has a huge old farm nearby where he stacked an entire room full with old windows. I guess we'll continue the old scheme of casements, two sashes each with upper lights.

Electrical: since at least the first floor is built VERY sturdy I want to go with surface mount conduit. Otherwise I'd have to trench all the walls... and I think I mentioned how hard the concrete is. Besides... it looks so 1920s.
Only my future bedroom will get a special treat I don't know yet how to realize... maybe run it on low voltage (24V)... I salvaged 1900 wiring, twisted cloth cord on glass insulators, with rotary switches made of porcelaine and brass... unlike US knob&tube that kind of wiring was not concealed inside the walls (not really an option with solid brick walls anyway) but run exposed on the walls!

I guess that should give you some ideas of what I'm planning to do...

When I manage I'll post pictures of all my salvage (most of it hasn't yet made it's way out to the pigsty but still resides in our basement in Vienna or the stuff that can't stand moisture in my bedroom), details of the pigsty as it stands now, inspiration from other houses as well as some plans I slapped together in Autocad.

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