Overcoming Obstacles

Often when a remodeling project is undertaken in an older home, what lurks below the surface (or above) can throw you a curve ball. In this home (built in 1923), the owners wanted to enclose a loft room to make a proper bedroom. This would include removing the closet at the top of the stairs, moving a wall (the green wall was moved back 4’) and adding a closet to the bedroom, replacing windows, and updating insulation. The plan was to keep the character as close to original as possible, while creating a comfortable and private room.

While opening up the stairway, a plumbing stack was discovered inside the wall. This resulted in adjustment #1 – rather than having an open railing, we enclosed the stack in a wood post to match the rest of the trimwork.

When the walls and ceiling were removed to extend the room back, knob and tube wiring was discovered. Not uncommon and not unexpected. However, insulation cannot be placed next to the wiring to allow air flow and prevent the possibility of fire due to overheating. This brings in adjustment #2 – replacing the wiring to bring it up to current standards. The benefit of this is that the entire second floor was rewired and insulated, which will save money in utilities down the line.

Also discovered when the ceiling was removed, was that the ceiling joists were smaller than current building code standards. Adjustment #3 – although we didn’t have to replace them, we opted to reinforce them to prevent future sagging or cracking in the ceiling.

The original plan was to install flooring to match the existing where the room was to be expanded. However, we discovered that there was no subfloor under the existing flooring. Adjustment #4 was the installation of a plywood subfloor that was leveled to match the existing flooring, and then an engineered wood floor installed overall.

When working in older homes, expect the unexpected. Some other things we’ve discovered over the years include chases or an exhaust flue running up to the attic, electrical junctions that were not done properly, mold, or termite damage. You might even find hidden a doorway or a time capsule left by a previous homeowner.

With the skilled carpenters we have on board, along with our years of experience tackling various construction issues, there is little we have not encountered or can’t solve. The end result for this project is a beautiful and comfortable room that will last for years to come. And the homeowners have peace of mind that comes with knowing what’s behind the walls and ceiling. You can read more about renovating older homes here: https://willetconstruction.com/2021/02/03/renovating-older-homes/.

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