The stairs are not built to code for rise and tread. The rise varies from stair to stair — 10 inches for the first stair and landing, then 7.25 inches, until you get to the top, where the rise suddenly shrinks to 5 inches. We suspect the stairs were originally carpeted, built nearly correctly. Then a remodel replaced the carpet with oak treads — tripping up ascents and descents.
To fix this, we need to add additional run — the horizontal distance the stairs travel from first stair to last.
Last week, the framers took out the closet over the stairs at what will be the loft, to ensure we’re not whacking our skulls each time we climb the steps. See photo here.
These issues force us to push the front entry of the house forward about 3.5 feet. It’s the only addition to the square footage in the entire remodel. We sweated whether this would complicate or delay permits from the City of Austin, because of limits on impermeable cover. But we’re building the extension over the existing slab, which is already impermeable. And bringing the stairs up to code for safety. The permits came more quickly than we expected.
Today, the framers opened up the front wall of the house, and went to work on the structure. By tomorrow, the front door will be repositioned forward 3 feet and turned 90 degrees.
It’s Friday. Emerald Hill is quiet. There’s no one working, because we can’t move forward without the framing plan from the structural engineer. Time is going to waste.
Barry at Custom Plumbing Services approved the plumbing selections, no changes, no additions. Kathleen at Ranserve alerted Jonell at Ferguson to start the order and delivery schedule. Jonell confirms and is also assembling the specification portfolios needed for construction and installation.
Kyle at Elite Heating and Air Conditioning updated the Manual J to four tons at the request of Austin Energy Green Building. Steven forwarded the update to Miki at AEGB.
Framing lumber is delivered to Emerald Hill.
Steven is working through change orders 1, 2 and 3.
Mark from Ranserve, Brett the architect and Steven are scheduled to meet 1 July to review options for exterior siding — what reveal, smooth or cedarmill finish, mitered corners or not, vertical or horizontal. Steven and Jacquela promise a quick decision.
The house across the street is sold. There’s a dumpster in the driveway. Looks like another remodel is underway.
We did not want to take the house down to studs. The aluminum wiring from 1968 forced reluctant Steven to take that decision early in the planning and discussion phase between Steven, Jacquela, Brett the architect and Mark at Ranserve. Take down all the drywall, remove all the insulation, keep going until you see the whites of its eyes. It’s daunting. It’s expensive. The job evolves to an entirely different order of magnitude.
Lesson learned: Never ever buy a house with aluminum wiring.
The irony of exposing the entrails is … you get to “save the house from itself,” as Ron told Steven today — the exact phrase Steven used when making that awesome decision to proceed.
Here are today’s revelations during demo that this remodel gets to fix.
Steven talked this through with Ron and Cris from Ranserve. They reassure that they have seen worse, that every house in Northwest Hills would exhibit similar failures if opened up for remodel, that everything here can and will be fixed, that we planned for all this, and the budget funds these repairs.
With insulation removed it’s now possible to see just how badly the structure was cut when the upstairs bathrooms were remodeled sometime during the life of this house.
At left, the blocking was turned sideways and cut to shreds. At right, the blocking was cut by half. In the middle, the blocking is, well, holed beyond integrity. And the ceiling beams are compromised.
Building code today prohibits this.
Steven is thinking that taking the house down to stud is a smart decision.
The dryer was blowing lint into the attic over the mudroom and kitchen. The vent was not connected to an exterior exhaust. This is a fire waiting to happen. This is wrong. Steven is beginning to think that gutting the house to stud may be one of the smart decisions.