The structure of the dining room ceiling was so bad, the joists and beam had to be removed. Unfortunately, physics dictates that if you remove the joists, you need to remove the floor above it. And, like the children’s book “if you give a mouse a cookie”, if you remove the floor above, you need to remove the walls that are on that floor, and the ceiling above those walls. We weren’t able to stop until we reached the roof deck, which opened up a few possibilities for how to put it back together.
Above the dining room was a hallway, bathroom, and a part of an upstairs bedroom. It’s hard to replace the floor in half a bedroom, though, especially when the new part would be level and the old part decidedly wasn’t. The slope of that floor would have led to a slight step up at one end of the seam and step down at the other. Instead, we decided to make the whole room level: the new part above the dining room was built level; and the part of the bedroom above the kitchen that didn’t need to be removed was sistered with new, level joists for a smooth, continuous flow.
There wasn’t enough flooring to reuse for the upstairs bedroom and hallway, so we needed something that would fit the house. On a visit to a local reclaimed wood company, we took a tour of their production facility and noticed an old sample of elm flooring. They were able to track down enough for the bedroom and hallway; we just had to wait for it to be prepared.
We had complete freedom to redesign the upstairs flow. In the end, though, the layout is roughly the same, with a few small improvements. We added heated floors to the bathroom and enlarged the shower by taking space from the bedroom closet. The old claw foot tub was re-glazed and new fixtures ordered so it could actually be used. One unexpected issue with the new tub – it holds more hot water than our existing tank can generate. The excitement and expectation of using it for the first time was unfortunately tempered, literally, when the hot water ran cold.
For space heating, the entire zone was being removed, so instead of replacing the radiators and running new hot water pipes, we made room from a small hallway closet to hold a heat pump. Since the ceiling was open, installing ductwork was easier now than it would ever be again, and the heat pump provides both heating and cooling – the first “central” air of the house.
While we were at it (a phrase that came up far too often), we also removed an old, unused chimney that was in the back part of the house. The old kitchen stove that may have once needed it was long gone, but all the brick was still there, resting on a couple of wooden boards, adding weight to the kitchen ceiling and taking up space in the attic.
Demolition all the way to the roof deck also allowed for the roof structure to be stiffened and spray foam insulation added. Typical of how the project grew, this was a chance to replace all the knob & tube wiring of this section too. The two bedroom windows were restored, for the first time fixing the broken pane of glass that had been covered with cardboard for years in the upstairs bedroom.
Bedroom, looking towards hallway and bathroom.
The problem with having a tub larger than the water tank was resolved, by the way, by increasing the temperature of the tank. That provided water that was hot enough to mix with cold and fill the tub. The renovation was a finally done.