Demolition Drone Video by: @longislanddroneguys
Project Completion Video by: @kittydadiphotography
Written By: John Paul M. Foschi, VP
First off, this is no ordinary home, this is an original 1910 Harrie T. Lindeberg fine piece of art work. With so few H.T. masterpieces scattered around the country, and a huge cult following, the undertaking of adding or renovating to one of these masterpieces comes with massive responsibility from all involved.
The overall goal for the owners, architect, builder and subcontractors was to seamlessly blend old and new, so H.T. would be proud to still call it a work of art. Adding to the already challenging task of accomplishing this, the architect designed two wings coming off the existing East end of the “rectangular home” at 135 degrees. Looks simple in 2D, but the added complexity of these angles at multiple intersections is not for the novice builder, think structure tie in, framing, roofing, waterproofing, material joints/joining, transitions of flooring materials, odd molding cuts/angles, traversing plumbing waste lines thru/around/to and from source. Endless considerations to take into account.
Lastly, the owners wanted to live in the existing home during the renovation and extension. We tried our best to make them as comfortable as possible, kudos to them for managing through it all.
There were 6 critical components to this project:
- A solid team from day 1: Our focus from day one was to build a team long before we built anything. Every sub and supplier we signed on for this project knew the importance and complexity of this build, and the goal to bring true craftsmanship every day. Without our trusted subs, this project would not have been a success.
- Nailing the Foundation: a mixture of full height footings/foundation walls for an added basement entry, slab on grades, and pitched garage slabs with 6’’ step down from the new finished floor. Some top of foundations walls had brick shelves, some had reverse brick shelves for joist framing, some were flat top of wall. Nailing the elevations, angles, and details was critical.
- Framing & structure: The complexity of the framing and structure was predicated on tying the 135-degree wings back into a main rectangle, creating a ridge diaphragm, and transferring the complex floor & roof loads back down to the foundation. There were a myriad of headers and columns tying in and dropping down. One small detail that may be overlooked, but is important to point out and challenging to frame, are the flared hip dormers. This was an homage to H.T.’s brilliant flared dormers of the past. It certainly brings his “flare” to this new build, further emphasizing the “old world” feel of a new addition.
- Matching the existing Clinker Brick: A clinker brick is an over cooked brick, which was typical back in the day of wood fired “bee hive” kilns due to the lack of control of the heating source. The bricks closest to the heat source would cook faster and take on a bubbling/deformed shape, as well as change in color. While most of these “clinkers” were tossed in a pile, H.T. found the unusual organic look of the clinker brick intriguing, and suited his unusual design details, emphasizing his brand. While these may have been in abundance in the 1800-early 1900’s, they are not today, due to advanced gas kilns that cook evenly to reduce waste. There is however, one company left in the NE making them the old school way, Stiles & Hart just outside of Boston, Ma. We made a trip there to visit the site, brick manufacturing, and see what could work. We ended up selecting 4 of their brick options;
- S & H Clinker
- Charcoal Water Struck
- Charcoal sanded
- hidden in the back of their yard was a pile of gnarly, exploded, black/purple “blokes” left to rot away in the weeds (they ended up being feature “halves” thrown in randomly on the facade to match the existing bloke features).
We added in a 5th brick from another manufacturer and created a blend to match the existing, as well as, a custom mortar mix to match the existing mortar. We also did a very surgical removal of the existing clinker bricks in the area of new work prior to the major demo. These salvaged old bricks were used exclusively at the front facade toothing old to new, so there was no chance of batched transition. We also used these salvaged bricks at the rear joint toothing old to new and “feathered” out with the new blend. Overall, we are thrilled with the finished product.
- Hand split cedar shakes: Like most projects, you need to balance the budget to make sure you can get across the finish line. Additionally, the owners may have been hesitant that matching the existing on all of the new facades could not be fully accomplished to their standards. For these reasons, the majority of the new facades received heavy (3/4’’-1’’) kin dried hand split cedar shakes with approx. 8’’ exposure. They were stained in the field by the owners painter, and ultimately provided the rustic look the owners wanted to achieve blending with the brick. This was all Jennifer, she had a vision, and it totally works, she nailed it.
- Plumbing & HVAC: Always a challenge in a reno, and again the complexity of the 135-degree wings adds to the challenge. From day one, having a game plan for how waste, water and ductwork were going to get to and from sources was an integral part of the build. If the clients are not comfortable living in a piece of art work, then you failed.
Three questions we routinely asked ourselves:
- What would H.T. do?
- Would H.T. be proud of the work on one of his masterpieces?
- Does this align with the client’s vision?
At the end of the day, we always satisfied these questions. We exhausted options, and dialed in on quality. The finished product speaks for itself, and no one individual desires the credit, this was truly the culmination of a great team (owner, architect, designer, builder, high quality subcontractors and suppliers). While some to most owners solely look at price as a driving factor, I would encourage all to focus on the team, trust, and relationship first and the price second.
I don’t care what the price is, if you don’t have trust in your team, it’s going to be a rocky road.