Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone- Plumbing

Time to start roughing in the systems... first, let's talk plumbing.   After looking through all my site photos I've come to realize that I didn't take many photos at this stage... I guess shots of PVC piping just aren't that exciting!  So I'll post what I've got and see what we can talk about...

Here's the basement bathroom... 

On the left is the toilet waste in the floor slab, in the middle is the PVC sink waste centered between copper water supply, and next to that is the curb and waterproofing for shower with a centered drain.  Piping to the shower controls are in the wall in the foreground... typically you'd keep all the plumbing on the same wall but this would give better access to the controls from the shower entry and allow a bench at the opposite end of the door.

Here's the master bath... 

No supply yet... only waste and venting at this point, but you get a sense of the centered sinks and associated vent, the shower curb and drain to the right, and the toilet waste to the near right. Tub will be on the far left... it came later as the Duravit tub we chose had a center drain that was a little tricky and we wanted to have the unit on site....

We did an undermount install of this tub. It looks good and fits so nicely in the space, but being a European tub, it is compact compared to some generous American sized tubs! 

Here was a conundrum... 

Our new steel beam in the basement was set up within the joist depth so it didn't allow for anything to get across to the other side.  We had planned on dropping one section of beam that was within the wall to allow crossover, but somehow that didn't happen during the steel install.  We could have drilled holes in the beam to get these pipes through but given the sandwiched construction of the beam, it wouldn't have been fun.  So we went under the beam next to this steel column that we were going to enclose anyway.
To cover it all up we created a fun enclosure for the kids to play in!

I really like wall hung toilets.  They are great for tight spaces and are much cleaner with no wax ring and caulk at the floor.  You'll need a 2 x 6 stud wall to accommodate the in-wall carriage and tank...

We put this one in the boys bathroom to make floor cleaning easier ;)   And in the end it looks nice in it's own little cubby...

In this photo you see the water supply line. The water meter will go here as well.   The existing lead piping was removed to under the stoop and all new copper was put in it's place. 


We hid the water line behind this cabinetry in the basement mudroom.  This shot was during construction but you can see the long hinge where the seat lid lifts up in the back for access to the valve and meter. The front is a drawer...for kids' winter hats!

Another job for the plumber is the radiant heat floors.  On this project we put radiant in the Basement and the First Floor to maximize the comfort level on those living floors.  Here's a picture of the temporary manifolds, one for each floor...

These were ultimately located in the basement mechanical room along with all the other equipment. 

I'll jump ahead to the completed mechanical room.... you can see the permanent manifold location at the ceiling on the right.  To your close right is the water heater for domestic hot water and at the far end is the boiler for the heating.   

In this close up, you see that the radiant manifolds connect to separate circulators for the basement and first floor zones and then there are two more circulators for each of the air handlers. 

One handler was located in this mechanical room to the left and the other one is located on the top floor.  They provide the forced air heating and cooling.  You can see how much space these guys can take up! I'll talk more about the HVAC in my next post.

It's a good looking mechanical room.  Kudos to the subcontractors who did a great job with all the systems. 

With that being said, I should also mention that there is a way to build that requires less systems to support our homes.  Currently,  my husband and I are renovating our own house to Passive House standards, which in a nutshell means... super insulated, super sealed, super efficient windows and...  minimal mechanical systems!  He works for Dennis Wedlick Architect,  they designed the first certified NY state passive house and his work there motivated us to do it for ourselves.   Can't wait to tell you more about it in my next renovation series! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone: Stairs

We had the stairs fixed pretty early on in the project.  At first I thought we would wait to do them so they didn't get beaten up during the construction, but the fact is... the workers need to be able to get upstairs! And we didn't want them to further deteriorate with all the traffic.

The existing railing was in pretty good shape with only a few missing spindles and a beautiful newel post.  But the stairs themselves were pretty creaky and sloped.  So Marty Anderson and his team were brought on to do their magic!  In Hoboken, if you want to keep your old stair but make it like new...he's the guy to call. And in this town, that's a lot of stairs and a lot of experience!

Here you see that they removed all the treads and risers.  Then they will cut new ones to fit the existing stringer.  If the floor levels change because of new floor material, radiant heat or leveling sloped floors, it can cause an unequal riser at the beginning or end of the stair run.  You'd be surprised at how an unexpected change in the riser height, even a subtle one, can make you trip on that last step!  In our case there was originally no subfloor so new flooring raised us up 3/4".  Each riser was adjusted to provide equal steps throughout. 

Here's the stair with all new treads and risers.  We did a prefinished wood floor so the treads will be treated to match the rest of the flooring.  

The balusters were put back in place and the beautiful curving handrail restored.  The newel post was covered with a plywood box to protect it during the rest of the construction. 

Under the stair you can see how they put in reinforcing which will keep the treads from sagging and squeaking. The stairs feel totally solid... good as new.

There had been a wall under this first floor stairs into the basement but we decided to open it up to give more visual room to the entry hall.  We put in an entirely new railing with a more simple baluster of a similar shape, all selected from the Dykes catalog.  Ultimately we painted all the stair rails black so you don't pick up on the fact that they don't match perfectly.  I'll try to get some shots of that railing in a later post.

The stair railing design continues up through all the floors.  We were lucky to have so many balusters still in place and in good condition.  We were missing only a few and those were replicated to match the rest. 

The sculptural quality of the stair and handrail are enhanced by the natural light from the skylight...

When the stair was primed all white, it had an ethereal quality... 

It was tempting to keep it that way, but we decided black would be the most dramatic and set off this sculptural piece from the rest of the house.  I think we were right! 

What do you think?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone: Framing

It's time for framing!  Now with a clean slate, we could start framing the interior walls.  But before we could do that, we needed to figure out the floor. Our floor framing was out by less than an 1" over the 24' width so we decided to keep the joists as they were, rather than going to the extra expense of sistering with new level members. We did put a new subfloor over the existing plank floor and then the wall framing could begin. If you go back to the post that started off this series, you can see the floor plans that might help make sense of what you see.

Here you're standing in the living room looking through the dining and into the kitchen at the back.  The big sheet of plywood is where the large steel window will go in the kitchen...

Living Room looking into the Dining Room

To help with the visuals, I'll show some photos with the sheetrock installed. It comes much later but it may help to make sense of the framing and easier to see the progression of rooms.  

We kept the spaces open to one another to allow light and flow but also delineated between the rooms to give them a sense of scale and formal proportion.  I find that a series of rooms tends to feels experientially larger rather than one big space.  

Living Room looking into Dining Room

This shot is taken from the kitchen looking back through the dining into the living room at the front of the house.  Alignments were critical, as the coffered ceilings that will come later would accentuate anything that may be off.

Kitchen looking into Dining Room

Here we have the bay window in the master bedroom... the framing on this took a few tries but eventually we got it so the trim install would work out perfectly.  Thanks, Stackpole ;)

Master Bedroom Bay Window

Another centered opening into the dressing area and master bath to bring light deep into the center of the house. 

Master Bedroom looking into Bathroom

Here it is sheetrocked to give you a sense of the space.  Mirrored framed doors on the flanking closets are yet to come...  

Master Bedroom looking Dressing and Bathroom

We primarily used metal studs with some 2x's here and there for blocking and door jambs.  The masonry party walls get furred out as well to accommodate wiring and plumbing.  And at the ends, it allowed for  spray foam insulation to get a good seal and create a thermal break from the exterior walls.

Storage Room & Party Wall

A generous opening at the existing stair hall skylight.... here you see the original peaked skylight which will be replaced with a double glazed unit.  I love how these old ones look but they will eventually leak and you'll loose all your heat up there!

Stair Hall Skylight

Now that it's sheetrocked, I appreciate the beauty of the simple forms basking in the sunlight...

Stair Hall Skylight

I was excited to see the Jack and Jill bathrooms get framed on the top floor.  The connection between them allows you to see from the back bedroom through to the front bedroom.   

Third Floor Rear Bedroom looking into Bathroom

Easier to see that connection in this photo... 

Jack & Jill Bathroom

You can also see how critical the framing layout was in this compartmentalized bathroom...  we've got a ship theme going on in this one.   

I can't wait to put up photos that are more finished.  But first things first... now that we're framed, we'll talk systems in our next post.  Who doesn't love wiring, ventilation, and waste lines! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone: Steel

In the last post we talked about pouring the new basement slab... so now they were ready to start the structural work in the basement. Many brownstones in Hoboken have a beam or bearing wall that runs the length of the building to reduce the overall span for all the joists. Typically the bearing walls will create the hallways and center stair on the upper floors.  Given the 24' span on this house, the beam and column support are doing more work than on say a 14' wide brownstone.  

Basement looking towards front

We located the new steel columns under the beam in different locations from the existing columns so that new footings could be poured while the existing supports remained in place.   You can see in the photo above that we also provided a column at the end wall because we couldn't rely on the old brick and mortar to withstand the load of the three floors and roof on a 24' wide joist span. 
The undersized existing wood beam that sat below the joists was replaced with an 8" steel beam that would sit within the joist depth. This required that all the joists be cut so they could attach to the sides of the new steel beam.

Basement looking towards rear

There's a shift in the beam location that you can see here at the double column. It was required to pick up the end of each beam at the shift.  This allowed the proposed wall layout at the upper floors while maintaining the existing masonry openings at the rear facade. 

Double column at beam shift

Here's a photo of an old iron strap connection at the stair header that would be replaced...

Stair Header Connection

At what will be the future TV room in the basement, we made two smaller windows into one large opening.  We had looked at digging out the back yard to get taller windows here, but given the small yard depth we decided to maximize the yard size at one level.

Rear window at Basement

At the First Floor, we also needed steel to keep the floor plan as open as possible.  The steel columns continued up to the second floor and you can see the beam at the rear of the house where the kitchen would be.  This beam was also set within the joist depth.

First Floor Structure

At the living room the existing beam had been offset from the bearings walls at the upper floors.  It was too great a distance for the load to transfer, so we needed a beam to allow a generous opening from the entry into the living room as well as picking up the bearing walls above.   

Living Room Steel

This column at the face of the building picks up the living room beam load rather than relying on the existing old masonry and mortar. You can also see in this photo the wood that is scabbed to the sides of the steel beam to accept the hangers of the cut existing joists.

Column Support at Front Wall

At the back of the First Floor where the kitchen would be, we wanted to open up to the backyard. A steel beam and lintel picked up the masonry load for the over 9'-0" span opening.  Again, we didn't rely on existing old brick and mortar, which would have carried a significant point load at each end.  

Here it is from the outside.   We kept the existing masonry openings at the backdoor and adjacent double hung window, which will become a sunny office nook in the kitchen.

Where you see the big opening there had been two double hung windows.  It will become one large steel window wall...  but that's for another post!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hoboken Brownstone: Basement Slab

On the last post, I talked about digging out the basement. Test holes showed that we could gain an additional 6" in ceiling height if we aligned the top of the new slab with the top of the existing footing.  If we went deeper, we would have to underpin the foundation or create a new foundation ledge, which would have been obtrusive and taken up space.

Digging out also allowed more room for gravel and insulation under the slab.  The gravel gives us the drainage needed should there be collected moisture under the slab.  As you may have heard, a lot of Hoboken is under water during big storms so we also included a sump pump that's connected to the underslab perimeter drainpipe.  This photo shows the preparations before the slab pour.  The PVC pipe and plywood form to the right is for the sump pump and will be located in the future mechanical room.

Typically we'd call for at least 4" of rigid insulation but given the limited depth we gained, the best we could do was a blanket thickness.  We used Insul-tarp, which claims a 7.5 R-value.  We needed something since we didn't want to loose our radiant heat through the ground.   But even if you don't have radiant, all basement slabs need to be insulated... as you can lose over 20% of your room heat through the ground! 

The grid laid over the insulation is the reinforcing that will sit within the slab.  At the far end of the basement you can see the bright orange tubing for the radiant heat over the reinforcing grid.  We chose to put the tubing within the slab to limit additional thickness needed if we had put it in a subfloor above the slab.

Because we were aligning the top of the slab with the existing footing, a wood form was put at the edge.  In the photo below, you can see the exposed footing.  Later a curb would be poured over the existing footing to clean it up.  A compressible fill joint should be provided between the slab and curb to prevent uncontrolled shrinkage cracks.  We planned for cabinetry on these perimeter walls to hide the curb.  

Here are the underground utilities below the stoop.  I couldn't tell you what's what, but ultimately they will each be capped with a brass plate level with the slab. New water supply and waste lines were installed.   Sanitary and storm water waste are handled separately, each with their own valve.  This is a good thing, as you don't want storm water backing up into your basement plumbing fixtures in a big storm!    

Because we lowered the slab elevation we needed to modify the front entry stairs into the basement.  We originally hoped to just add another step at the bottom, but in the end we decided to modify all the steps to give them an easier and even rise... and just adding a step would have been tight to the basement door. 

Well, that's it for slab prep.  Next time you'll see the finished concrete and then we'll talk steel!