Monday, October 25, 2010

Renovating an old building

In Langley there is an old orange house on a piece of property with wonderful potential for affordable/alternative living which Langley badly needs. It's right on the bus stop, walking distance to downtown Langley, already in an area of fairly high density and with very conscious and community oriented owners. Until such a time as Langley solidifies it's strategy for development, nothing can happen; but in the mean time it couldn't have a better, more fun use, than to be the home of RE-ART. More than any house in Langley, I enjoy driving by this one. Not because it's fancier than the others and impresses the 'Jones', but because it's real, and because it changes. The property is dynamic. Probably the best example of a vacant house that adds to it's community I've ever seen!!

Southwest corner of addition to original building made of salvaged barn wood and telephone tie pieces. It was just about to fall over, had a rotten floor, and was wetter inside than outside.

On the back of this property is a building that was falling apart because the roof was leaking. Leaking roofs, the demise of most old buildings, can cause lots of damage over time. In this building, most of the roof decking on both 'shed' extensions had so much rot you couldn't walk around on them. Even without maintenance, a steeper pitch here would have decreased damage (increased longevity)

The North addition, also added onto the original structure. The roof was too shallow and inadequately framed. As a result, water puddled and created permanent deformation (a sag) in the 2x4 rafters which encouraged more puddling, then leaking, then severe dry rot. (Note to self, why do they call it dry rot if it's always from water damage?)

On the north side open air addition, the original 2x4's (inadequate for a 10' span) had been nailed to the original building's rafter/truss tails. We installed a temporary wall down the middle where the sag was greatest, and the rafters straightened right up. We then slid new 2x4's (crown up) along side these and nailed them to the other side of the rafter tails creating a pair of 2x4's every 24" securely fastened to the original buildings roof and walls. Better looking and twice as strong!

Since the 4x4 posts were off the ground and rotten on the bottom anyhow, we replaced them with pieces 8" shorter. When we knocked the center wall out, the building settled nicely, rotating slightly at the connection between original buildings roof and new rafter pairs. Finally, we went back and put hurricane clips at all the connections.

The South addition gets separated from the original building, cutting out the rotten parts, creating light and allowing us to increase the pitch of the now free standing shed.

The building was one, and now it's two. The shed on the south side, built of salvaged telephone pole cross pieces and barn siding, was very rough and had a roof with not enough slope. Our solution gave it more slope.

The South addition, now separate. You can see the telephone ties which made a great floor and would still be there (no pun intended) if the roof hadn't been leaking for 20 years. The window was twice as wide--I just slid the window to the side, cut the frame with a sawz-all and now there's an insulated window half as big!

We did this at John's suggestion by 'detaching' the buildings. The area we cut out was the area of greatest damage, so it worked out great. When we replaced the multi-piece header with a single salvaged beam, we raised the pitch of the existing rafters by about 5 degrees. This makes all the difference in the world in how it drains. After patching some of the roof decking with salvage pieces from around the property, we clad the top in salvaged metal, also from the property.

The building had an interesting prow. It was a cantilevered beam with a cable running to the back of the structure where a cement block, a cast iron stove part, a few window weights and a crank shaft were all wired together serving as a counter weight for the garage door. Seeing potential for outdoor covered space and additional building protection, we framed the roof out to this point and what a difference that made to the aesthetics. Quite a handsome little building now!

Finally, we sheathed the original building with new 1/2" ply-wood (dbBrad doesn't use OSB), nailed off to 6Perim/8Field and covered with 30# felt. Only a few dollars more per square than 15# and such a better product.

Alsip property, Langley WA, home of Re-Art.

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