Building Walls

Dave says the new foundation has to cure, the Village has to verify that it conforms to height and setback requirements and the carpenters have to check it to make sure it is level and square. That doesn’t concern me.

_DSC6580What does concern me is that annoying threshold that I stub my toe on when I walk into the powder  room.


Thresholds are used to cover up a variety of  little sins in the construction world and apparently, my house had a lot of little sins.

They are an easy way to smooth a transition between different floor types, patterns, colors, or uneven heights but they really should only be used as a last resort.


Apparently, when the  previous owners added this bathroom, they miscalculated the existing floor elevations, so the new floor was too high.


To avoid this, Dave and Tony Saracco of Village Carpentry  made several small openings in the existing structure at different points of the house (to account for settling in different areas over time) to target exact floor elevation marks. They will use those points to calculate the height of the new floor. This ensures the transition between old and new will be seamless. No thresholds!

Before his crew can start framing walls, Tony needs exact window sizes, as well a sash sizes (the part of the window that holds the glass and the framework around the glass together which are then fitted into the window frame) and weather stripping  to determine the window rough openings  (RO). This means we have to choose our windows now.

Erik Johnson drew in a lot of beautiful windows in our addition. I was particularly excited about the sun room windows that matched the existing beauty going up the foyer stairs.


But just because Erik draws them, doesn’t mean they magically appear on the job. We have to pick which brand, style and material we will use, which windows in the existing kitchen could be re-purposed in the new addition, and how we are going to whether proof the existing 124 year old windows throughout the house which are all gorgeous antique glass, single pane and very drafty.

Four of the existing windows that are being torn out are the same size and can be reused in the kitchen bay.  Unfortunately, the others are odd sizes and will have to been thrown out.

Dave chose the new windows because he has worked with so many different brands and he is obsessed with matching the details. He likes Marvin, Pella and Kolbe & Kolbe, but he picked picked Kolbe and Kolbe Old World Classic double hung and fixed wood windows With Kolbe’s K-Kron II exterior painted finish. They have the old fashioned weight and pulley infrastructure, solid brass chains and weights and the ability to custom build to match our old window details.  I decided not to ask how much extra that custom built thing cost.

Treatment of the existing windows was a little more difficult. I love old windows. They are quaint. The glass is wavy and full of character. The windows in this house were meticulously maintained, by the previous owners. One of Dave’s favorite things to do when he’s showing people the house is to take one hand and open and close them with exaggerated ease. That’s great, but I have to wear a sweater when I sit on the couch in front of the window. That’s bad for our gas bill and bad for resale. We have three options.


We could put up these triple track storms we found in the garage to help with insulation and screening, but they are unsightly, hide the gorgeous old glass and always get stuck. We could replace the old windows with new aluminum clad windows. They would not look authentic, but they are draft free and low maintenance. Dave came up with the third option. We can keep the existing windows, and have old fashioned glass storms made for them . You remember, the ones you had to put up every winter for insulation, and in the spring if you wanted to open the windows, you would have take them down and put up screens? Sounds torturous. But here’s the thing; I’m allergic to everything outside, so I don’t open my windows unless I’ve burnt something in the kitchen. The addition (the whole back of the house) will have new windows with insulated glass and screens and we have screen doors so there are plenty of options for fresh air. Just in case, we picked a few strategic existing windows we might want to open some day and had screens made for them. If you love opening your windows, this may not be the best choice for you, but it works for us.

So the final set of final plans with any special notes, changes and exact window RO’s are given to the lead carpenter. The first deck load of lumber is estimated by Kevin Scheck of Scheck Lumber and delivered to begin the framing.

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