In the Works: Closing Walls and Opening the Window to 2016


Last week, we received approval from our inspectors to close up the walls in Phase II of our Fairmount whole-home renovation project (see the finished kitchen here and the restored cupola here). In this phase we are renovating all of the 3rd floor with a new walls, a new rear dormer that is adding a high ceiling and a door to a future rear deck. This Phase II work includes not only the 3rd floor renovation but also roofing the main roofs, new gutters & downspouts, a new HVAC system, some finishing trim and hardware work in other areas of the house.

Here, you see the exterior walls and ceiling have been sprayed with closed cell sprayfoam insulation – our go-to insulation. It is more effective than fiberglass batts and we are able to meet and exceed the energy requirements within a shallower thickness of wall and this keeps more floor space for our clients while making their older homes more comfortable. After spray foam, the drywall and mud team follow and really bring the newly reframed space into form. Seeing the walls, the doors, and closets take shape will be really exciting and allow us to set up for the next stages of finish work that include the finish floors, trim, doors, window, and all the fun finishes.

With the holidays just around the corner, we’re starting to book our large 2016 spring projects. Call us today for help with creating a new life for any space in your home.

How Does Your Home Fend Off February Chill?


This week started off quite brisk and windy. We noticed that this made our house exceptionally chilly, even though the temperature outside was no lower than some other nights this winter. The wind made the difference — and the reason why that happened is because we have some leaks in the “envelope” of our older home. While we have invested in many energy-efficient upgrades, such as insulation and new windows and doors, we still have more steps to take until we reach optimal efficiency that will keep our house warmer on cold, windy nights (and cooler on hot summer days, too!). But because we had an energy audit we know where those further improvements need to happen and we have a plan in place to get them done.

If your house is drafty on a windy night too, don’t let anyone tell you that your older home can’t be efficient, or that just slapping on new windows will achieve your desired results. Neither are true. To get real results for our clients, we provide a home energy auditor who is familiar with older houses to test your home’s efficiency. The auditor tests the performance of appliances and fixtures, as well as the overall house structure, to see where waste is occurring, then consults with us to develop the best, most cost-effective means of improving your home’s results. Usually, we tackle the simple, unglamorous stuff first, then make plans to tackle the sexier items later. The exciting part, for you, is seeing immediate lower energy use, resulting in a cheaper-to-run home. This approach is best because we combine the expertise and facts of a home energy audit from a carefully selected BPI pro who knows older homes with our own many decades of experience and knowledge working on older homes. We know how to get the “biggest bang for your buck,” and we can stage the steps over time to make the process more affordable.

Typically, the auditing service costs $750-$900, depending on the complexity of the home, but this investment (as well as the first round of efficiency improvements) is earned back in saved energy costs in less than three years. Many times, tax incentives are available, too.

The Sexy Side of Home Insulation

This post is a continuation of my blog post about the truly sexy stuff that goes on behind your walls. I’ve been writing about these topics because we have been getting lots of calls from folks who are focused only on the shiny bits of their projects. The fact is, the shiny bits are not where the true value of a project lies, even if they are fun to use.

By the time most of our customers call us, they have spent many hours eyeing expensive, flashy items like new kitchen cabinets, high-gloss tile, chrome fixtures, and all the other glitzy things that go into a project. They can even quote the prices and technical features of these items. But the fact is, these are just the cherry on the sundae, the icing on the cake. They are “the fun stuff” that comes at the end of a complicated mix of science and art we apply to every single project we take on. 

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