Advice on planning a historic renovation project
First things first...fantastic site. I don't know how I found it but it's already proving to be a gold mine of information and I'm thankful to those that maintain this site. I haven't paid for a full membership yet but I'm seriously considering as I get further into my project.
My situation: My wife and I are considering purchasing a historic stone farmhouse that has been gutted and that the current owner began renovating. It has nothing but the original stone shell and a foundation that was poured for an addition to the original (~1800's) stone structure.
I'm sure a lot of people would shudder at the thought of undertaking a complete and lengthy renovation like this but it's essentially a dream home for me. I love the character and location, as well as the opportunity to essentially design and build it from the ground up.
Assuming I get the property, my primary goals are creating an environment that is healthy for my family, building a structure that fits in with the historical character of the community (it's located in eastern West Virgina near the MD and VA borders), and that is as durable and maintenance free as possible. I'm drawn to natural materials but do not necessarily want to steer clear of synthetic materials that are innovative and make sense for their application.
All that said, I've been reading up a lot on this site as well as others. I've read about breathable wall construction and vapor diffusion walls (but don't really understand the difference), different types of sheathing/siding/insulation, and can't make heads or tails out of most of it. It seems like some folks are all for modern vapor barriers and air-tight structures and some claim they're toxic regardless of what mechanical ventilation system you use. Personally, I don't care one way or another, nor do I really care a/b the environmental "footprint" of the materials/construction methods I choose (see my goals above). I do have some personal preferences and hope that by discussing these, someone here can help me determine my path forward.
I've already mentioned the location, the climate is described well here: http://www.nps.gov/hafe/naturescience/weather.htm. Regarding my preferences, I think I'm sold on diagonal wood/board sheathing. From what I've read, it just makes sense and at minimal cost. I've decided I want wood siding, either cedar or cypress (unless someone else has a better recommendation). I'm very intrigued by wool insulation. I know it's expensive, but the benefits I've read a/b outweigh the cost, in my opinion. Given these preferences, should I be looking at some type of breathable wall? Using a vapor barrier seems to defeat the purpose of the wool insulation and sheathing I've mentioned. And, should I use some type of house wrap? If so, what is best?
Some other questions...
- What about the roof? (metal roofs are common in the area, especially properties like the one I'm looking at)
- Should I use trusses and cathedral ceilings on the top floor? (most ceilings will be 8ft and I'd like a little more head room on the top floor but don't want to inadvertently create moisture problems)
- The foundation for an addition on the house is already poured...can change that. Are products like this worthwhile: http://www.rubrwall.com/
- Are there more significant "green" factors I should be considering?
Thanks for taking the time to read this and help me out.
Posted Jul 8, 2011 6:04 PM ET
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