A BIG Project

This past winter was pretty brutal, and about halfway through it we started getting serious with some vague plans that we have been mulling over for a number of years. Here is what I wrote in an email back in January:

Man, this last cold snap was worse that the last one — we’ve been below zero twice (last night was minus 2.5) — and under 20 for what seems like forever. Bedroom has been hovering around 50. Kitchen and living room struggle to stay in the 60s. It got down to 50 in the kitchen last Wed nite when I put the stoves and me to bed for 6 hours since the power had gone out so there was no internet to keep me company (power was out for 12 hours after which, by the way, the fridge was 10 degrees warmer than the unheated addition.)

We could, instead of this, shut off water to and abandon the main house and move into the back 40 with its electric baseboard heat. But that would feel mighty claustrophobic and even more siege-like, what with the small rooms and 7-foot ceilings and lack of kitchen, so we’ll just tough it out.

We have known from the get-go that our wood-stove-heat paradigm was not sustainable as we age towards our 60s, and over the years we have tossed around a number of ideas for the future — including various ideas about upgrading the heating system here to something else. But this winter has been saying loud and clear that the future is now! So we have been amusing ourselves with an extended-arctic-weather-induced dream of easier and more comfortable living here at Riversdell by planning for a new addition on the house to replace the current addition.

Yes, that’s right, we are tearing down the century-old addition on the house and replacing it with something much better. The new addition will be a cathedral-ceilinged great room with a loft on the west (street) side with a bathroom, bedroom, and galley under the loft. The east (river) side will have a large bay window. A focal highlight of the space is the existing 7-1/2 foot wide stone chimney. Oh, and underfloor hot-water heat, powered by some still-being-decided combination of rooftop solar hot water, LP (propane) H2O heater, and geothermal water-to-water heat pump. PV solar will supply some (most? all?) of the electricity for the heat and water.

A more complete description and detailed drawings are available at the 2014 Addition Project link at the upper right.

We have our demolition and construction permits in hand, have our general contractor lined up, and are now almost done with the salvage-old-materials portion of the demolition. Here is what the kid’s old bedrooms and bathroom now look like:

The walls were all tongue-and-groove pine which we have saved for reuse as flooring in the new loft. We also saved the vinyl replacement windows we had installed when we moved in 16 years ago — we will reuse them in the new vestibule. And, no, there was no insulation in these walls, no sheathing either, just 3/4″ poplar clapboards on the exterior and 5/8″ T/G pine on the interior.

And here is the view into the old addition from our lower veranda:


The old addition floors were several steps down and ceilings were lower — that’s the old guest room below and the kid’s bathroom above. In the new addition this view will be a sliding glass door into the great room.

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