Ah, the snow is flying and the roofers who were to start mid-December are now talking about coming in mid-January due to delays on other jobs caused by previous snows. But work at Sheep Dog Hollow, the old farmhouse we’re trying to renovate in a green and economical fashion, lumbers on (as it were.)
The carpenters have been busily preparing the exterior walls for the new energy-efficient windows, putting in new support beams, and tearing out rotted lumber and reframing where it needs to be done. In all, we’re talking about a month’s worth of labor (times four carpenters, each at a good hourly wage) that we had not expected. And now there is also the cold to deal with. ( Continue… )
When we began the renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow last August, one of our goals – besides doing it in a green and economical manner – was to have it “buttoned up” by the time the first snow flew. That meant that the old granite foundation had to be reinforced, a new roof put on, and energy-efficient windows all installed.
Our carpenters assured us it could be done by Christmas, at the latest.
Well, here’s to the best intentions. It’s currently the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and we’re not even close. The final concrete slab in the basement (the floor had been dirt) was finally poured last Wednesday. But the windows are just framed shells covered with plastic, and the old patched asphalt roof still sits atop the house. ( Continue… )
One of the great pleasures of renovating Sheepdog Hollow in a green and economical manner is what one stumbles across while researching the best options.
I confess I didn’t exactly stumble on the Rumford fireplace. It was brought to my attention by Dale King, a builder we’re using who specializes in old homes. One day I was chatting with Dale and bemoaning the fact that fireplaces are so inefficient in terms of energy, and yet, so necessary -- at least as far as I’m concerned -- in a home – old or new.
“Have you thought of a Rumford?” he asked. ( Continue… )
When we discovered Sheep Dog Hollow last summer, the charming old home – which was yearning for some loving care – had two, rickety old chimneys. When we decided to buy and restore it in as green and economical a fashion as possible, I knew that we had to have a fireplace in it, or even two.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood was listening to my Virginia-bred mother telling stories about growing up on Lone Jack Farm, while she stood with her back to the fire, warming herself from the harsh cold in New England, where she’d come to raise a family. A fireplace was a must, if only for the warm memories it evokes. ( Continue… )
Compromise, although often essential for harmonious living, is not always easy. This post is about the decision to put cedar shake roof on Sheepdog Hollow and it is an ode of sorts to compromise, albeit, a grudging one.
My research made it clear that a highly reflective standing seam metal roof would be the most energy-efficient and long-lasting roofing option. And while it was not the most economical choice in the short-term, it was by far the most economical in the long-term simply because of its durability.
I can imagine generations to come gratefully looking up at that standing seam metal roof and murmuring a quiet thanks that 100 years from when it was installed, it was still keeping the house warm and dry. ( Continue… )
My preference for putting an energy-efficient standing seam metal roof on Sheepdog Hollow, the creaky old farmhouse we’re restoring in what we plan to be a green and cost-effective manner, has tentatively been shot down by my loving fiancé Martin. He says they’re just ugly, and he’s put his foot down.
I respectfully disagree, as did Thomas Jefferson, who eventually put a tin roof on Monticello, but who am I to make comparisons or drop names? And like almost all things, relationships, too, require compromise. ( Continue… )
Like pretty much everything else in at Sheepdog Hollow, the 100-year-old farmhouse we’re renovating, the roof needs to be replaced.
With decisions now made about what type of windows and front door we're going to install, it was time to look upward.
And since our goal is to renovate this house as greenly, but also as economically as possible, I began checking out the different roofing options.
My first inclination was to go for a metal roof. My grandparent’s 19th-century farmhouse in Virginia has one – it’s the original as far as I know. (The farm and home, by the way, are named Lone Jack, because the property was reportedly won in a card game with a lone jack.) ( Continue… )
The carpenters at Sheep Dog Hollow, the hundred-year-old house we're renovating, have been busy preparing the frame of the old house for its new windows and doors.
We’ve already chosen our windows, opting for Andersen windows with High Performance Low E glass. Not only are they energy efficient and qualify for a tax credit, but they’re self-cleaning on the outside.
Now it’s time to tackle the front door. The carpenters need the specs to frame a rough opening. ( Continue… )
Want to get confused? Listen to several contractors tell you the best way to insulate your drafty old house.
That’s exactly what I did last week. And after puzzling over how people could come to such widely varying conclusions, I have now emerged from the experience better versed on spray foam technology than I ever thought possible – and am almost, but not quite, ready to make a decision.
Early on I opted against traditional fiberglass batting (pink or yellow) because, from my earliest research, I thought that it was clearly not the best choice for us, even though it’s the least expensive in the short term. ( Continue… )
During the next two days I’ll be getting estimates from three different insulation contractors as well as a crash course on air infiltration and R-values. Those are two key elements to understand when looking at insulating a home.
Air infiltration refers essentially to how drafty a house is – how much air seeps in and out of its cracks and corners. The R-value refers to how much thermal resistance a particular type of insulation provides.
My goal is to find the best way to button up Sheep Dog Hollow – very clearly a drafty, old house – in a green but also economic manner. From what I’ve learned so far, it may not be that much of a challenge. ( Continue… )