Above is a pic of a house I spent a lot of time in. The original build was circa 1760. We could tell from inspecting the framing. Originally it was much smaller. To the left you can see two small additions which step their way up into the main house. The "shed" (all the way to the left) was demolished outright, as it choked the driveway and was an architectural canker sore. The house is set back from the road to which it is addressed. In fact it was quite nicely set back upon a little hill about 100 feet from the road, that is until Ocean Rd was constructed in the 20th century. I don't have that date, but, what's a hundred years among friends? Ocean Rd was built within a yard of the original house. The middle section in this photograph was the kitchen, which was built when modern kitchens were invented probably and clearly after the road was built, as it is parallel to it and at an obtuse angle to the main house on a granite block and rubble footing. The client wished to preserve this footprint, at a 2' setback from the road. The only way to do this without convening a town meeting was to enact a ground up replacement of the structure one wall at a time.
Here's a shot from the back after the shed was ripped down and thrown in a dumpster, by hand I might add. (There are lots of things I would do differently now)
The first floor floor joists were both underbuilt and failing due to moisture and rot. They came out so quickly I don't even have pictures of them, HAH! After we gutted the addition, we had to excavate the floor underneath to make room for our shoring base. We did this with shovels and buckets. The addition was much too small to fit even a small excavator inside.
The building would be suspended in place over our heads on a temporary footing...
...and held rigid with vertical shoring and diagonal cross-bracing. It was probably sturdier now than it had been in at least half a century. We excavated the rest of the rubble from under the wall sills, and they dropped into the dirt and disintegrated. No matter, our intention was to completely replace the addition, one wall at a time. In retrospect, I might have pushed harder for a town meeting. It would have been so much easier to just knock it down. I believe my client gathered some satisfaction from subverting the process, and believed himself to be saving money and time. I might have an argument against that, having lived through it.
This was our improved footing on which we would be placing all of our bets
Floor box in, with a plywood subfloor perimeter, which we would have to cut back a little bit to install the radiant heat. This project was designed entirely off the cuff. I think I was commissioned to do the drawings right about the time we set the original structure back on its new footing.
Hydronic radiant heat installed to buffer the conditioned space from the crawlspace.
Then we dismantled the roof and threw it in a dumpster.
Room with a view
If I told you the whole story now, I'd have to skip over a lot of fun details. Up till this point in the story, There were about three people involved. The owner, who was self-described as "a former long-standing member of the conservative party in good standing until [he] had a motorcycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury henceforth [he] felt and acted as a liberal." He would tell you the same thing, I swear. A bright man, with energy and exuberance in the range of a thousand-fold of men half his age. Then there was my trusty bucket and sawzall wielding man at arms, James, who bled at every stretch of the road. James was a young man, which was helpful in itself, and he had a strong urge to be helpful and to learn the trade. I was roughly 35 years old, coming down off a ten year bender, and I had so much to learn. I can't wait to tell you more...