The only addition to the house takes place at the front entry, dictated by the need to rebuild the stairs to code. See Stairs, cascading.
Here are the new exterior walls, erected by the framers, yesterday and today. The front door is turned 90 degrees, away from the street. There will be more windows cut into the OSB sheathing, to spill more light into what was a dark hallway.
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.
Ranserve and the framers removed the cedar siding that is original to the house. After 50 years, it flaked and crumbled and split away from the framing. Ron Dahlke took these photos as the cedar peeled off and the new OSB sheathing nailed up.
Ron and Steven are now planning to meet at least twice a week, walking the house, making decisions. Today’s agenda:
Properly locating the tall, narrow new window going into the back wall of bedroom 2 — Jadin’s bedroom.
Triple-checking the location of the wall between bedroom 1 and bath 2; it’s in the wrong place and needs to be reframed two feet toward the rear of the house, enlarging bedroom 1 at the front of the house.
Going over the window, door and trim schedules and quotes, line item by line item, to identify options, questions to research, items to order.
Meeting with the flooring company to determine how to best save and refinish the existing oak floors. They will look for new 2 1/4-inch oak planks to feather into the existing floor. We will use a section of flooring in the pantry for tests.
Meeting with a candidate company for structured and low-voltage wiring — network, audio/video, security, CO2 detectors, smoke alarms, ceiling speakers, etc.
Deciding to replace the warped plywood at what was the master bathroom — a checkerboard of small sections and uneven layers. Larger sheets of plywood will be stronger, more stable, more level.
Marveling at how open the house is beginning to feel as the framers replace termite-infested wood, open up the maze of claustrophobic rooms, repair damage to beams cut through by plumbers who should never be trusted with power tools, define the framing for the new windows, and nail new LVL structural support into the ribs and bones of what will be a much better house. It feels like the house in Steven’s head, the house that Brett converted into plans, is emerging.
The framers have taken out the maze of tiny rooms cut off from each other, which is how houses in the late 1960s were built, opening up the house to begin breathing deeply, then putting up new walls to define functional larger spaces and a simpler traffic pattern from room to room.
“We are saving the house from itself.” Ron Dahlke, site supervisor, Ranserve.
It’s day 3 of framing. Steven stayed out of the way while Ron wrangled the framers. Until today. Wednesday, 8 July 2015.
What we imagine for Emerald Hill is beginning to emerge as the framers replace termite-damaged lumber with new, jack in new LVLs to replace undersized beams deflecting under load, and execute the structural engineering plan by “sistering” in new beams where there’s not enough lumber. It’s not really a remodel. It is, instead, a reconstruction, a salvaging, a saving, an interjection to create new life.
Let’s take a photo tour with the framing crew — Silverio in gray shirt, Roberto in white shirt, Marco in red shirt, sometimes with Cris from Ranserve.