Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Floored


I know I'm a little strange but I love the look of exposed lath.
If this were my summer cottage by the sea, I would keep it like this.
Just hang a few paintings on the wall.

Anyway, the demo is done.  Well, I think the demo is done.
Here's why I'm not sure.


Darryl Carter

I was toying around with leaving a few of the old beams exposed
like in this Darryl Carter kitchen (which is one my favorites)
but until everything was gutted, there was just no way to know whether or not
anything would be pretty enough to leave exposed.

So I was looking forward to getting home and walking around the space
to make an assessment.  I unlocked the back door to step in and found...




No floor at all!

I guess the subfloor was just so crazy and at all different levels, it
just didn't make sense to save it.




There's nothing left but the floor joists.  Rosemary left me a comment
on the last post that the house looks so vulnerable in this state.  I think that's a great word.
 
We also discovered a second foundation, in about three feet from the outer one
just was I had suspected.  Why?  We'll get back to that.



The joists under the old bathroom don't seem too bad.  New 2x6s have been
sistered alongside the old 4x5 joists and additional pairs of 2x6s were also
added in between.



In other places joists were spaced about two feet apart.
Sixteen inches is normal and probably code.
 
 

And between the two foundations, the spacing is over 30 inches!  Many of the
joists are at different levels and the entire floor is just way out of level.
I could certainly beef up the structure with new joists and pad some of the
joists that are too low, but it just might make more sense to rip it out and
start from scratch.  There's certainly no better time to fix it properly.

From a purist point of view, I would love to leave anything original intact because
it's an historical document; on the other hand, the perfectionist in me would like
it all to be new.  I have a little bit of a stomach ache about it but I'm  not going
to shed any tears or lose any sleep over it.  Just gotta figure it out.

It is what it is, as they say.


But let's talk about the two foundations.  As I said, there are two foundations
about three feet apart but notice the center floor beam goes all the way
across to the outer foundation.  There appear to no bones, no treasure,
no stash of Paul Revere's silver although it would be fun to poke around with
a metal detector.  The inner foundation seems a little better built and made
of gray fieldstone...


...just like the foundation on the rest of the house. 


The outer foundation has a few wooden piers that have been filled in with brick.
It's much more makeshift than the inner foundation.



 The ceiling joists (and the second floor) go all the way across but notice on the back wall,
the sheathing is different on those three feet between the two foundations.

But why?


     1856 drawing                                                      2013 diagram


If you look at a few key measurements between the 1856 drawing and its current dimension,
you'll see that the house has gone from 61 feet to 42 feet on the right side and from
37 feet to 18 feet where the porches are.  Nineteen feet is missing!

I suspect there was a barn attached to the back of the house.  A place where horses and
firewood might have been.  But the double foundation?

Photo:  Our Little Big House

My guess is there was an inverted porch on that side of the house.  Perhaps just wide enough
to provide cover from the rain or snow to get firewood.   I think that explains the more
solid inner foundation of the house and a porch foundation that was most likely entirely on piers.

If I didn't lose three feet of my kitchen, I would love to recreate that.  I think it would be
really nice detail on that side of the house.
 
 
 
Up next is dealing with the plumbing and heating.
 
This plumbing stack serves the upstairs bathroom.  It would probably
make sense to renovate this bathroom at the same time but I have my limits.
Cast iron is famous for splitting open.  This is most like over 100 years old
so it's time to replace it with PVC.
 

 
The plumbing stack was boxed in just beside the old kitchen sink.  In the new plan the kitchen
sink will be placed right in front of the window.  The challenge will now be to move the plumbing stack back into the outside wall as far as possible so I can get a nice expanse of countertop.
 
Having plumbing in an outside wall can be a little troublesome in the wintertime
but I'm being told if the pipes are wrapped in foam and then foam insulation
is blown in around them, there shouldn't be any issue with freezing. 
 
Can I get a witness?

84 comments:

  1. wow. what an undertaking. i feel better about our ongoing construction projects now. we do have shower plumbing that runs along our outside wall (which happens to concrete block, but no insulation in it- the concrete does a pretty good job on its own). haven't ever had a freezing problem but if you're worried, perhaps just leave a sink dripping overnight on those wicked freezing nights and keep water 'moving' through the system.

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  2. Haha. "Wicked freezing nights." I can tell where you're from. That's interesting that you're plumbing doesn't freeze in concrete block with no insulation. But that's good news; thank you.

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  3. Those outside pipes - you can get a wrap that has an electric element in it then plug that into a sensor that turns the wrap on when the outside temp gets to a predetermined set-point. I don't know what your lowest temperatures are in winter but if you don't plan for this then you should plan for the cost of replacement and repair of water damage none of which will be covered by your homeowners policy.

    If you replace all those subflooring timbers save them for beams in your ceiling. You clean them with a wire brush on the end a drill. It goes fast and leaves a nice surface.

    You are doing a great job, can't wait for the next installment. Ann

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    1. It hadn't dawned on me yet about using some of the timbers for the ceiling. You're a genius! Some of the 4x5s might be perfect just to leave a little exposed. That's certainly a silver lining.

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  4. Oh boy are we living parallel lives!! I'm in the throws of restoring a 1922 in AZ. Only here, we worry about HEAT!! We just dealt with the rotting floor joists, can't salvage the original flooring heartache:( I just want to scream- PEOPLE!! don't you know you that when you own an old house, it comes with certain RESPONSIBILITIES?? Ugh. The shoddy work people do when they "update" or "remodel" is shocking and saaad:( but I guess that's where we come in? We love 'em back to their former glory:)

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    1. You're right about some of the makeshift repairs. I've had great luck up to this point since the house changed hands so few times. Good luck with your project!

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  5. Steve,
    Still plans to put the laundry in the kitchen? If not, is it possible to put the heating ducts between the floor joist so you will have more headroom in the basement?

    You are one INTREPID guy!!!!! Liked the reference to Paul Revere!!!

    All the best!!!!

    Rob

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    1. Rob,
      I've gone through a few design variations to get the laundry out of the basement...just thinking about walking down those basement stairs when I'm 85 years old...and I just can't figure it out without closing in a portion of the porches. It's something I could do down the road but not right now. The laundry is in the front part of the basement and all the ductwork is off the side so the headroom isn't too bad although I have to walk with my head down to make sure I don't bump my noggin.

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    2. Maybe one of those washer/dryer combinations in one unit.......that would fit under the counter in a space the size of dishwasher????? I agree about being 85 and basement steps!!!!

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  6. Love reading your posts, Steve.
    Do you suppose the last owners turned the back porch into a bathroom, or does it predate them? I can imagine it would be great to have a back porch but not at the cost of losing kitchen space. Can't wait till the next update!

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    Replies
    1. Tikimoose,
      It seems more likely a former owner sacrificed a portion of the kitchen for the bathrooms. I've seem some other house houses in the neighborhood with similar layouts and the entire back ell of the house is typically kitchen. Sometimes a rear staircase goes to bedroom where a tenant room (or two) was located.

      Delete
  7. Witness!
    Our kitchen plumbing is on an outside wall as is the stack. We've been fine so far.
    I love all of the mysteries found in an old house. Are we supposed to call you Strange now???

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  8. Deb,
    I'm shocked you would have plumbing in an outside wall all the way up there. You barely get above freezing in the July, right? Did you do anything special to insulate the pipes?

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    1. Just the regular pink stuff in the walls and the cellar has spray foam insulation all over it. Temperature is going down as we speak.

      Oh wait, I just had a thought. The wood burning fireplace insert blows out heat like a mad thing all winter.

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  9. Love the idea of reusing that old beautiful wood on the ceiling! We, too, are having our little bumps in our journey of putting the new addition in...AC bumps...Sewer line bumps...taking forever to get this done bumps...yep. Just keep your eye on the prize! We are now imagining what our first dinner in the new kitchen will be, and it won't involve a crock pot :)

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    1. It seems to me, at least, that your project has moved along at a pretty steady clip. The temporary kitchen setup isn't really bothering me at all yet. I haven't even taken the hot plate out of the box. Although as the weather cools down in October, I might be longing to turn on a stove.

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  10. Plumbing in outside wall = trouble...
    Sooner or later...
    :-)

    At the moment, can't recall what Mass Code says these days.

    Fantastic post!!!
    This is why Sally and I love working in older homes.
    They have such wonderful stories to tell and secrets to reveal!

    Cheers,
    John

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    1. Thanks for your input, John. I think it's best to be avoided to I'll see if we can't figure something out to get at the least the supply lines out of that wall.

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  11. WOW! Just WOW! Talk about a floor to ceiling reno. Eeek!

    But, yes, I can attest to the plumbing on an exterior wall thing. Our plumbing to the upstairs bath also runs through the kitchen on an exterior wall. So long as you've got everything well insulated, you won't have a problem. We never have. And you know how these Western New York winters can be.

    xoxo,
    A

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  12. Yeah, a little more than I was expecting. Thanks for your input on the plumbing, we have a few yeas and one nay so far.

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  13. Let the snowball begin!!! There is something to be said for someone who loves a challenge like we do...Keep your eye on the end result and take my advice- NEVER let them see you sweat or cry! Can't wait to follow your progress. Sue N.

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    1. No sweating, no crying. (Maybe a little drinking though) I've always thought my sense of humor comes from a life of suffering so I guess this is a source of future comedy material.

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  14. One of the things I love most about your blig is reading the comments. I always take something away fro something you've said or your readers.

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    1. I know, right? I have the smartest commenters in all of blogland.

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  15. Demo is so fun -you never know what you'll find (hopefully not a disaster!). Love your inspiration and what you're going for -and not to worry about the plumbing stack -just use spray foam insulation and you'll be FINE

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  16. I soooo feel your pain.Having just finished a major kitchen reno,including a laundry room addition(and I might add,we built this house almost 40 years ago,so we kinda/sorta knew the problems),we still found major problems.And bringing it up to modern code,it was like we hated coming home everyday.But in the end,it was worth it(including 2 plumbing floods and $$$)to know our home is safe and sound.And we just LOVE the new kitchen.Hang in there.

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    1. Not sure the floods sound like much fun at all but good to hear it all worked out in the end.

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  17. You can always "get the last lath"...we used our "almost 100 year old house lath to make picture frames...waste not want not....:) franki

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    1. I've saved a bunch of lath I want to work in to encaustic painting. My renovation series.

      Love the "get the last lath" pun!

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  18. I forgot to add,spray foam insulation rocks!We did that and went with a tankless hot water heater.Already our electric bill has dropped $100/month.
    And carrying a blood alcohol helps,too.
    Just sayin'....

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    1. Good info about the tankless hot water heater. I've had two plumbing companies tell me they don't think they're worth the investment.

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    2. I've also had plumbers (Boston area) discourage a tankless hot water heater for a house with more than one bathroom.

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    3. I asked a plumber about a tankless water heater a few years ago when I had some work done, he said he knew someone with one and it didn't provide a consistent temperature when using the shower, and I would hate it. I hope the technology improves, although I have three bathrooms I live alone and frequently shower at the gym, and use cold water for most of my laundry. It seems like such a waste to heat all that water.

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  19. Wouldn't you just love to go back in time, 100 years ago, and be a guest for supper at your house? I wonder if there is anyway to work on an old house without subccumbing to the "while I'm at it " disease? Good luck with the renos.

    An Alabama reader

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    1. I've often tried to place myself back in the day and wonder what their lives were like. Yeah, "while I'm at it" seems to be a chronic condition.

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  20. My kitchen faucet used to freeze so I would hang a trouble light under the sink with a 100 watt bulb burning and leave the cupboard doors open and that prevented freezing. Now the house is well insulated and, with global warming preventing the terribly cold winters we used to have, no special accommodations are needed.

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    1. As long as it looks great I don't mind having to hide a few light bulbs and blow dryers under the sink in the winter. Kidding! That sounds like a pain!

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  21. Vulnerable, yes, but now the rebuilding begins! The most exciting part, yes? So much potential. It can't get any worse!

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  22. Try to keep it real! Having under gone a full reno on a period home too, it's nice to see and keep what it's all about!

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  23. Are you living there while all that craziness is going on?

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    1. I am. The kitchen is at the back of the house and it's been completely sealed off with plywood to keep the dust and dirt out of the house. I have a makeshift kitchen set up in the dining room and I wash dishes in the new bathroom sink.

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  24. Wow...this is a lot of work...but so worth it! Thanks for letting us tag along and watch the process...its going to be fun to see each new stage!

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  25. My jaw dropped open when I saw these pictures. You really have your hands full. I cannot wait for the finished room to be shown. You never disappoint me in your house decisions. Always right on with style and function. xo

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    1. My jaw dropped open too, Dianne. Right down into the basement.

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  26. Repurposing the floor joists as ceiling beams (non-structural) would be a perfect idea. What kind of height do you have?

    On the house we’re building, we have water supply lines coming up an exterior wall. We’ve doubled the wall up with another set of 2x6’s to provide additional insulation. An additional benefit of wrapping the waste pipe will be reducing the sound of water flushing through the pipes.

    Years ago when my father took down the porch from the 1750’s house we grew up in, he saved the various types of nails and spikes along with a post joint and peg and mounted them on a nice piece of wood for hanging. Years later it’s still quite the conversation piece.

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    1. The ceilings are about 90 inches. Not high by modern standards but not as low as many of the Colonial places. I could certainly have a few beams exposed by a few inches. I was actually thinking of placing them strategically to conceal recessed lights from view as you walk in to the room. We'll see what happens but I'll definitely save the wood if those original ones come out.

      DId you use the 2x6s to back the sheathing? And, you're right, the insulation around the waste would be great for sound abatement.

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    2. I rechecked today. This is the shower wall where the faucet is on the exterior wall. The primary wall is made up of 2x6's with an added interior wall made up of 2x4's. That will give it about 10" of insulation which we're told should be fine. It will be a nightmare if it isn't.

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    3. Got it. That's a pretty nice construction with walls of 2x6s with an added wall of 2x4s. If that doesn't do it, I don't know what would.

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  27. I just love an old house. Yours is lucky to have you as its owner. You are taking good care of it. I'm really enjoying seeing your progress!
    Claudia

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    1. Hi Claudia,
      I like to think I'm preparing it for its next 170 years.

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  28. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also love the look of exposed lath. Years ago when we had our plaster walls and ceilings repaired, I came home one day at lunch to find a bunch of exposed wood lath and brick around our fireplace and chimney. While it was cool to see, it was also a bit disconcerting to have the "bones" of our house exposed. It made me realize how old our home is. We were so fortunate to have an amazing plaster craftsman do the work to our walls and ceilings. He's deceased now and every time I see a new hairline crack, I think how much I miss him. He was a fascinating person, a master beekeeper, expert plasterer and a good, honest man.
    Claudia

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    1. What a sweet story, Claudia. Thank you for sharing it.

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  29. i love a good mystery and this certainly has all the elements, except thus far a villain. i'm staying tuned

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    1. I'll have to think about a villain. My house certainly had a heroine, the woman who converted the house to a two-family house in about 1900 after her husband died a few years after buying the house. She rented her upstairs to other widows with children.

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  30. 19 feet? Wow--that is fascinating. Such mysteries you are unearthing.

    I love exposed lath too.

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    1. I know. I wish I could find a photo. There's got to be one somewhere.

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  31. i am trying to see if mom weighed in already, thinking not. we have exposed plumbing down at the barn, and it poses a real problem during the winter. we wrap ours in foam and even electrical tape underneath and keep it plugged in, and that seemed to do the trick. however our winters have been so mild for the last three years that theres been no reason to. in my last house, my pips were on the outside wall and they froze all the time. i hated it. but a little hairdryer action did the trick. im sure you'll figure it all out - you got the brains, my friend!

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  32. Steve I am forwarding this post to my husband (contractor and lover of old homes) He will be fascinated by it. Maybe he will weigh in?!!

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    1. I'm happy to have Mr. Hattersley chime in, Cindy!

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  33. Maybe if the exposed lath was painted over white and was in a seaside cottage I would like it but the only times that I've seen it here was during very upset times. so I hate it. Bad memories.
    I also have an old cast iron stack running all the way up the house on an outside wall. I have to keep the heat up and the water dripping in the bathroom during very cold days or my pipes freeze because I have no insulation.
    Hmm, a possible barn with horses!? How cool would that have been!
    I think you need to drop a time capsule box between the 2 foundations. Just think how great that could be for someone a hundred or so years from now!
    Anyway, I love seeing all of this! Such an exciting "story"!
    and I'm sure it will have a fabulous ending.

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    1. Great minds think alike! I'm definitely putting a time capsule in there and I was going to ask for input on what I should include. A newspaper, the house plans and I'll print out the big post I did about the exterior renovation and maybe some of my other posts with information about the house. I'll ask for other suggestions in the next post.

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  34. I lke Linenqueen's comment. My kitchen cabinets were made with recycled wood, and on the insides of drawers, one can still see old nail holes. It's a great texture, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I think that by repurposing the floor beams, you'd get interesting textures, too.

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  35. Mark,
    Your kitchen cabinets sound great. And, you're right, her suggestion was great. Even if I don't use the old beams in the kitchen, I'll definitely save the wood for some other project.

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  36. That no floor is some scary stuff!

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    Replies
    1. I'm starting to look at it as an indoor pool so I think it's cool.

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  37. Take into consideration which wall that stack is on - North, South, East or West. If it's a NE wall, I'd make darn sure it was insulated to the nth degree! Whatever you choose, I think you'll be fine if you wrap the pipes in foam and have the space between the wall & pipe insulated.

    Your kitchen looks just like mine did in 2007! It's fun walking across those floor joists isn't it! LOL!!! Thankfully you didn't have any hanging carrying beams or pipes wrapped in duct tape, which were behind wallboard - like we did!

    Linenqueen had a great idea about the recycled wood! Also, since you had to rip up your subfloor, you could put a heating mat under your new flooring, if you want to keep it toasty in there!

    Have a great week!

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    Replies
    1. Interesting thought about it's location. It faces west so it gets the afternoon sun.

      Walking across the floor joists is a little scary. I don't usually feel like such a klutz. Floor heat might be nice.

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  38. Old houses have so many surprises thanks to loads of renovations, additions, who knows what and by different people using all kinds of contractors, ahndymen, themselves (egad!). What I find interesting is all those brooms you seem to keep finding :). Don't stress, I'm putting on a new roof this weekend...gag!

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    1. Good luck with your roof, Amelia. That's an expensive project but it feels good to have it done, especially if you've had any leaks. My rainy-day stomach aches have gone away.

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  39. Hi Steve, This is fascinating. I would be careful with the plumbing in the outside wall. The pipes that deliver water to our master bath are in our attached garage, they run along an interior wall that adjoins the mudroom, and we had them freeze during a cold spell. (The master bedroom and bath are over the garage.) We had to have them wrapped in 'heat tape', low voltage electrical that runs off A/C, to keep them flowing. Yes, I am in Vermont, but still, it can get cold in Mass. xo, Phyllis

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    1. Ugh. That's not good. I'll send you an e-mail; I'd like to get some more information.

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  40. You're a better man than me. I would be on Lindsay Lohan-level meds with all that.

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  41. I feel like singing "good god can I get a witness" in response to this post! Seriously. Can't even imagine facing all those challenges. The best to you!!

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  42. Hi Steve,
    We had a nightmare with PVC from an upstairs bath that ran through the wall in our downstairs living room. When the toilet was flushed or the shower running upstairs, the sound effect was a waterfall rushing down the living room wall. It was horrific...company over, praying my husband wouldn't forget and use the upstairs john. That noticeable, really. In our current house I made sure that cast iron (new) replaced old cast iron for the main lines and have not had any problem. Plus, you'll probably get better insulation with cast iron on an outside wall.

    Good luck...very exciting! KM

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    1. Something to think about. Thanks for your input.

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  43. Absolutely fascinating, and you are right, it would be wonderful to keep it as it is AND have it all beautiful and new. Good luck with that one!

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  44. What a project, Steve. I'm sure you're going to love it when it's done. Any ghosts disturbed?

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  45. Steve, we have our stack on an outside wall - I don't remember doing anything special (certainly not the stinkin plug in cable we had in upstate NY). The only thing I wish I'd done is a bit more soundproofing. But never frozen (4 years).

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  46. Lord I feel like I learned so much just now.....ii remember the same look when we renovated our 1946 home....the tile in the bath was set in concrete 6 " thick.....I love the exposed walls also....painted white....wowza.

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