Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Framing

Dec 8-15th

We had a big week since school was out. We worked everyday and had some great volunteers! The kid's bedrooms and dormer have come together and we are finished with the plaster so major demo is finally finished! We'll be moving to the upstairs framing and new cooling stack next. Doors and windows should be coming soon too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We've been working on various items to get the exterior siding and roof finished. We framed the shed dormer for the master bedroom & some of the openings. Everyone is starting to get a sense for the new spaces. Slow and steadily, its coming together. More framing pictures to come soon!

Also our last review went well with the architecture school, so the hard work is paying off!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roof Begins

Thanks to Formica Company last weekend for helping us get a lot of work done! 

We began shingling the roof on the front and continued with interior demo in the afternoon when the rain started. The roofing is going well, but slowly. It is a 9/12 pitch and not easy to maneuver. 

On the inside you can see the new, open, eat-in style kitchen start to form as we are taking the old bathroom walls out. We had to bust up the 4" of concrete they set the old Marble tile floor on. We're still not sure why they went through so much effort back in 1929 to notch all those joists in the bath and we'll be replacing all the joists in this area. On a good note we did discover the back wall between the garage and basement is 2x6 construction, so we'll have plenty of room for insulation. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Shell Begins

It always takes a while to get going, but it is starting to look like a newly remodeled house! We have the siding down and most of the rigid insulation up. We hope for good weather this weekend to get a lot of the roof done. If you are available to help, please sign up! We could use some roofers!

The ground was starting to cave in the foundation wall on the front and one of the sides. Habitat hired a contractor to reinforce the wall and add a footing drain. On the front they poured a new foundation outboard of the existing one. One the side they had to reinforce it from the inside with steel beams since there wasn't enough room for the excavation equipment. The new sump pump will push any water up and out of the foundation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Demo Continues, approaching the end of this phase!

  Last week was great thanks to some awesome volunteers! And a special thanks to Citi Group for donating $1,500.00 along with a full 8 hours of work! Without great volunteers there wouldn't be a Habitat for Humanity, we appreciate everyone's hard work!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thoughts on New & Old

We want to identify 'the new" and "the existing" with respect to the re planned spaces of the interior. Where windows and doors are to be replaced similarly to what is presently installed, there is no change to the facade.  Where we have dramatically changed the configuration of the fenestration, we will mark the facade with vertical stripes of a different siding material to accent the new light entering the home and display the alterations of the project.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Floor Plans V1.0

What you have all been waiting for, FLOOR PLANS V1.0! 

While working with the family on the jobsite this summer, we asked, "How did you see yourselves living in this home?", referring to the walls and rooms arranged as they were originally built. The couple looked at each other with a little uncertainty and responded, "We were thinking of giving our daughter the first floor bedroom, putting our son in the basement, and having the upstairs for ourselves." Nate and I found this a little unfortunate because it appeared as if no one had looked at the family's structure, and how they would be living in this home for the next 20 or 30 years. 

At this point We pulled out drawings of our first scheme (not shown). This design included a first floor master bedroom and two small bedrooms upstairs. The family was impressed at our 'big imaginations', they didn't know moving walls was an option, but they weren't sold on the design. We asked them to forget about the walls and plans and express how they would like to live in the house. The couple was excited about the idea of having some peace & quite, and the second floor for themselves. To meet this desire we fit two equal bedrooms on the first floor and a master suite on the second.

Note, we are still working on the design. Since the story above took place we have discovered the chimney does not support the roof or second floor, allowing us to remove it. This will free up the first floor plan even more and do wonders for the small, attic like second floor.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hello Everyone!

We could really use some help fundraising. If you would like to help on this project in a BIG 
way, please help us raise money to preform the necessary renovations to this house! 

We can use all types of volunteers to help us market and promote the project, so please contact us if you can help. Thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Demo Phase 1

By the end of spring, the home was well overgrown with vines and plants of all sorts. Nate and a big group of Cincinnati teens from Medeira Presbyterian lead by their fearless leader, Youth Pastor Mike, ventured out to start the demolition phase of the renovation. In one short week they had tamed the landscape, demolished the kitchen and bath, and removed all mechanical ducts and equipment. They also began opening up the walls for the new floor plan. We anticipated many of the negatives, but found a few pleasant surprises as well.

Negative things discovered this phase:
-Very little insulation, partial coverage of the roof and second floor knee walls (very inefficient)
-Layers and layers of built up construction (hard to work with)
-knob and tube wiring
- No foundation insulation (1/2 of foundation is exposed due to slope)

Positive things discovered this phase:
-large headers spanning twin double hung windows (offers more opportunity for new windows)
-ridges perfect to add vents to (none previously)
-Old, true 2x4 framing in good condition

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Existing Conditions

We found the home in pretty bad shape, It hadn't been occupied for a while. Apart from all the typical building shell, cosmetic, and M.E.P. repairs needed, we found a few other undesirable (sometimes even dangerous) conditions with the home. 

- The lower half of the basement stair is more of a ladder. The laundry and garage are both at   basement level, so traversing it is a mandatory for the family
- The HVAC return was located within feet of two supply registers in the dining room floor. we couldn't imagine much airflow reaching the second floor.
- A few of the replacement windows we leaking.
- Rear deck was unsound.
- The third bedroom was very small (less than 100 square feet) and technically not a bedroom (pass-thru for access to the deck).
- One Bathroom/ An outdated floor plan from 1929.
- Bedroom windows didn't meet minimum clear opening for egress.
- Insulation didn't seem to be likely in any wall cavities.
- Un-insulated foundation, garage area part of the controlled living space.
- No ridge or eve vents.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lets get FUNdraising!

We need major donations and sponsors committed by August 18th 2012 to insure we give proper thanks at the construction kick-off party in September.

Why should I donate to Habitat?

- Help a great christian family provide better for their family.
- 'Sweat Equity' Families are required to do labor on their own homes.
- Strengthen Cincinnati Communities.
- Lower a families energy bill
- Be part of a rewarding process.
- Teach the community how to renovate smarter and more energy efficiently!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Architecture is complex world. Some architects are interested in scholarly theoretical ideas, others use technology and science in their work. Some architects seek suitable and environmentally appropriate buildings, and a few strive to make their buildings as different, surreal, or unusual as possible. Architecture can be approached through any scope of design and with an innumerable set of intents or ideas. Architecture school is very much the same way. One studies classical architecture, mathematics and structures, while learning representation, analytical, and theoretical methodologies. Scholarly architecture studio projects involve the design of whole buildings which carries many dialogs discussing the building’s being and the things that make it be. However there always remains the very clear discrepancy between theory and practice, the scholastic world of architecture and the built world of architecture.

In my opinion the best architects are those who know both design and construction. John Floan at Carnegi Mellon University School of Architecture in Pittsburgh has done several successful projects in the Southwestern US. He has created houses for economically deprived Native Americans that are stylish, functional with all modern amenities, and suited to the climate and available passive strategies. Furthermore the layouts of the homes cater to the values and family structure of its inhabitants while adding appraised economic wealth. With John’s work, students undertake both the drawing and construction of the projects. They learn hands on the value of architecture through the both aspects of the profession, design & construction.

In our thesis we would like to bring design build close to home for Cincinnati using another design/ build practitioner’s ideals. Bryan Bell and The SEED Network show the process to create Social, Economic, & Environmental Design in a community. We will partner with a non-profit as our operations umbrella and follow SEED’s guidelines. Our umbrella could be Habitat for Humanity or a Local Church, they will help us acquire a 1200-1500 sf home in need of restoration and find a deserving family to move into it when it is complete. They will be the name under which we can get skilled labor & fundraising an identity. Nathan and I will facilitate the project and contribute most of the labor, and lead the fundraising campaign, we just need an established, charitable organization to work under.

For the existing home we are looking for a good shell and plan on renovating most of the interior utilities. For electrical we are looking for relatively new service with an ample electrical panel. We can re wire convenience outlets and upgrade fixtures easily.  It is unknown how much plumbing will need to be modified, but pex and pvc lines are relatively cheap and inexpensive, we are prepared to redo everything for main supply to main drain. The HVAC will certainly be outdated, compared to todays ~95% efficient furnaces, so we will have to find an HVAC contractor as another major donor, or fundraise for its professional installation. Architecturally we will rework interior walls to create a living environment that accommodates the family. It is unknown what the family’s needs are, but it is possible we will have to create extra bedroom(s) in such a small house. We will also strive for flexible areas that can be adjusted at different times of the day by the residents as they need for the activity at hand. We can also model and analyze the house using advanced software and, implement passive strategies making the residence the a more economical and environmentally friendly building to operate. We will seek donations from Ikea, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace and all smaller retailers for building materials and fixtures. Under the non-profit operation umbrella we hope to be able to offer charitable donation tax write-offs to all material and monetary donors (the operation umbrella also eliminates the payment of sales tax on bought items and property exchanges). 

For assistance, the consultants and experts are already in place at UC and our previous employers; they can help answer technical questions and know the city and its businesses very well. During Mike’s upcoming Summer Co-Op he will be in Cincinnati, he can make connections, fundraise, and stockpile materials. For further fundraising and we will ask local ad and marketing companies to promote the project, perhaps they can ask businesses outside the construction industry to offer services in exchange for free advertising. At festivals & events we will inform the community of the project and find labor and financial help.  

Mike has worked on an ABC extreme home makeover house for the Dickinson Family with Court Atkins Architects in Beaufort South Carolina and The Joe Kaluza Project with Sam Pitzulo homes in Youngstown Ohio. He knows how to implement this work on site with a hammer and in an office with a telephone. Nate holds degrees in both architecture and construction systems management. He has worked for Turner construction, one of the largest construction management companies in the world and as well as a few local contractors in central Ohio. If this team starts now on the project we can find our operation umbrella, the family, and the house before the 9 month ‘thesis period’ even begins. While we work on the design and modeling in thesis studio, we can begin the demo and simple repairs to the house on site.

Together we know how to market the project, where to find the money, professional advice and material. We can Jump design build right into UC & Cincinnati Non-Profits with a local project. What we learn can be published as a how too manual for the school’s and community’s use. And when were done, we will have given the most gracious gift a community can give to a distressed family, a health new home.