Saturday, December 19, 2009

This weekend we attempted to better organize the storefront. We restacked the scrap wood that we're just not ready to get rid of, got rid of 2 pieces of carpet, swept up the leftover plaster from demo a year ago, and started ripping up the linoleum and plywood. It's looking like we'll need to replace about 10 of the 20' long 2"x10" floor joists and the original wood floor, which was beneath the linoleum but is totally rotten from years of water. The last picture shows Reid pulling up the original pine floor easily without tools because it's so rotten it's almost dirt. Maybe we can still salvage the floors in the front of the space...? We'll find out once we pull up the linoleum in the front.
Regardless, now the joists are exposed and can dry a bit. Maybe this will help the horrible mold problem...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today we installed the new (used) front door that we found at Home Emporium (a type of building reuse store) yesterday for $100. The old front door was steel and dented and rubbed against the brick wall inside. It also screamed "vacant" and "ghetto."
And this past Wednesday evening we drove by and found the steel door wide open. No one was inside and no damage had been done nor property stolen, so we suspect that the strong winds that day had jiggled the door enough to open it! I know it sounds crazy, but the lock on that door had gotten so bad that we had to jiggle it to lock and unlock maybe the wind could have blew it open...?

The new door, while probably not the last door for the space, says "don't sit on this stoop because someone might use this door!" :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Revisiting the roof deck brick issues...

After the roof was torn off to reveal the roof deck, we realized that the top 3' of brick was loose and practically falling off.
We had debated whether to rebuild or take it down... Today we took it down!
And man, was it easy to take down. We were very careful on the wall that butts up against our neighbor, Skip's, roof.
But we didn't have to be so gentle on the other walls. Reid and I literally just pushed over 3' of rotten mortar joints.

We tuckpointed the remaining joints and fitted the old stone roof caps back onto the brick. They were no joke- very heavy to lift!

And now we have a really fantastic view of downtown, OTR, Mt Adams, and Mt Auburn! We'll defintely be able to see the fireworks on Labor Day!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

72 work hours later...

We finished painting the building (floors 2 through 4)!!!
While we do hope to get some exterior lighting soon to light up the new paint job, it looks like we'll have to wait until spring before installing new windows and giving the storefront a facelift....we're officially broke after paying for the roof, masonry and carpentry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Minor Facelift

I HUGELY underestimated the amount of time it would take to paint the facade of our building. On Saturday, my brother and I started scraping, wirebrushing and priming. We didn't quite finish the entire surface, but came pretty close. Day 2, Reid and I finished priming (except for the top South corner which is very difficult to reach because of the powerlines). We started painting in the detail on the roofline and around the windows. This weekend - in total - we spent 40 (wo)manhours on the building. Looks like we'll need to spend at least another 20 hours to finish...

We hope, after this weekend, the building will resemble this one, located a few blocks south at 14th and Vine Streets.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Business Courier: OTR Green Preservation Study

Reid and I were featured in the Business Courier on September 18, 2009 for our building's role in the OTR Green Preservation Study, a study conducted by the OTR Foundation in collaboration with U.C. DAAP and many architects and green building experts.

Friday, September 18, 2009 | Modified: Monday, September 21, 2009
Study shows Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine perfect place to marry historic preservation, green movementsWhere causes converge
Business Courier of Cincinnati - by Lucy May Senior Staff Reporter

The way local historic preservationists see it, Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine is the mother of all recycling opportunities.

Redevelopment of the roughly 500 vacant buildings there would reuse historic structures, essentially recycling a whole neighborhood. And the properties sit in the kind of walkable urban neighborhood that developers are trying to create in the suburbs.

Now a new study shows it’s possible to renovate those buildings using sustainable, or “green,” design and maintain the historic integrity of the structures and neighborhood without adding substantial costs.

“Over-the-Rhine was green before its time,” said Margo Warminski, preservation director for the Cincinnati Preservation Association and a member of the team that prepared the Over-the-Rhine Green-Historic Study. “Buildings don’t have to be big, new and flashy to be LEED certified.”

While the neighborhood’s drafty old buildings might seem horribly energy-inefficient, the dense neighborhood and proximity to mass transit give them an edge in the LEED rating systems used in green design, said Chad Edwards, a principal with Emersion Design and a member of the study team. And, in many cases, simple fixes such as storm windows can make the buildings more energy-efficient while keeping their historic character, he said.

“The entire Over-the-Rhine could eventually be LEED-certified because it fits so well with the walkability of the mass transit, the various shops, restaurants, pubs and even offices that are there,” Edwards said. “Over-the-Rhine is a great model for that.”

Four types of buildings
The study, believed to be one of only a few of its kind in the nation, was funded by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the National Parks Service and Duke Energy. It examines four typical building types in the neighborhood and provides a road map for renovation using green design principles.

The solid masonry walls common in the buildings pose the biggest challenge to energy efficiency, Edwards said. But when the fabric of the neighborhood is maintained, the buildings share common walls. And those old “party” walls provide good insulation for the buildings that share them, he said.

The problem comes when select buildings are demolished, leaving gaps between structures and walls exposed. That not only damages the historic fabric of the neighborhood but also makes the surviving structures far less energy-efficient, Edwards said.

Understanding that could unite preservationists and the sustainable design movement in fighting to save as much of the historic building stock as possible. That’s particularly critical for Over-the-Rhine, which preservationists estimate is just a few demolitions away from losing more than half its historic building stock.

“If you’re going to take this whole idea of reduction of carbon footprint seriously, you have to start with existing neighborhoods,” said Michael Morgan, executive director of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation and one of the study’s project managers. “It just makes perfect sense.”

You have to want it
That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Reid Hartmann and Patty Klein bought two adjacent buildings and a vacant lot at 1700 Vine St. for a little less than $18,000 about a year-and-a-half ago. Their goal is to renovate the property using sustainable design with the help of architect Steve Hampton. Their property was selected as one of the study’s four building types because the adjacent lot poses both opportunities and challenges for green design.

On the plus side, the lot allows room for geothermal heating, which most buildings in Over-the-Rhine lack the space to use. But the exposed party wall facing the lot is deteriorating and lacks the insulation that an adjoining structure would have provided.

To stucco the exposed wall, needed both to maintain the historic integrity and improve energy efficiency, would cost as much as $50,000 – an expense Hartmann and Klein said they hadn’t included in their redevelopment plans.

Even so, the couple has saved money on the redevelopment elsewhere. They are reusing nine pallets of bricks that they picked from the rubble of a crumbling, connecting structure on the property that had to be demolished. And they’ve purchased windows at a steep discount from reuse centers.

In all, Klein estimates they will spend between $350,000 to $400,000 to rehabilitate the buildings over the next five years or so. They plan to convert the larger building into their home and lease the first-floor commercial space, preferably to a restaurant. And they have friends who want to lease the rear building once it’s finished.

As excited as they are, Hartmann and Klein have hit some snags. They can’t qualify for a federal historic tax credit, for example, because they want to reuse those old bricks from the demolished structure. Using historic bricks for new construction is against the rules for the tax credit, they learned.

For the most part, though, historic preservation and sustainable design principles are quite compatible, the study found.

The key is being focused less on technology-oriented, LEED certification checklists and thinking more broadly about the lifecycles of buildings and the energy used to create the systems that go into them, said Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm with a focus on historic preservation.

“You can’t have sustainable development without having historic preservation – period, period, period,” he said.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Celebrating 150 Years

Although we originally thought the buildings had been built in the 1870s, we are piecing together information that suggests they are much older, most likely built in the 1850s. A couple of neighbors, known for their intense interest in OTR history, suggested that there were definitely buildings on our property in the 1850s. We weren't sure if they were the buildings that are still present until this past weekend when we discovered a name and year carved into a windowsill. While pressure washing and scraping in preparation for painting, we found the name "Phill Adolphe" and the year "1860" carved into a windowsill on the back building. Could it be that our buildings are celebrating their 150th birthday?!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today, Reid power washed the west wall of the back building, which was filthy from the demolition this past summer. We are prepping the surface - removing loose paint and dirt - so that we can tuckpoint loose brick next weekend and paint the weekend after that (hopefully!)
Alex and Eileen helped scrape and paint the lintels and sills on the east wall of the rear building. You can see the difference between the ones on the left of the picture and the unpainted lintel/sill on the right.
Hopefully we'll have enough time and good weather to repaint all of the exterior painted surfaces while we still have the lift.

the cornices are hung

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Last Thursday we were so close to getting the roof done! Hinson Roofing had taken a mold of our one intact cornice and hand-crafted 2 more out of metal to replace those that are long gone. They also crafted a missing piece for the other (left in the picture) cornice that still remains.

But, of course, we hit another snag... Apparently roofers need a permit to park a lift on the sidewalk. The permit cost is minimal ($80 or so) but the roofers have to register with the city, which adds a layer of bureaucracy and (worse) time! And so, of course, the city was there to shut the roofers' work down by noontime and the cornices are still not hung. I can't help but wonder how effective it would be to mandate that all drug dealers obtain a permit to stand on the sidewalk. It seems that the city would be there in a flash to shut them down if they didn't have the right permit!
But I don't mean to sound so frustrated. The roofers should have had the permit and I'm sure they'll get it within the week.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We have a roof that actually keeps water out!

Thr first picture is of the roofing that will, one day, be under the deck.

The second picture is of the new roof, including a new skylight over the 4th floor bath!

Although the new roof is wonderful, the project is not without a few snags. The top 3 feet of brick on the wall with the windows (1st picture) is crumbling and will likely fall down if we push it! While we're still deciding between repairing or simply removing the 3 feet of loose brick (removing them would allow for better city views but may not be the desired action by the historic conservation board), we know we'll need to brick in those 2 windows for additional stability.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The irony of seeing the deck come together in the last post is the 3 inches of rainfall we had last night, only one day after the roof was peeled back to allow for the new roofline's construction. The first picture shows the water causing the massive bulge in the roof tarp. Reid and I arrived at the property after work yesterday to discover a waterfall running down the central staircase! It was a disaster! We quickly pulled out the green tarp pictured to catch the water streaming through the roof tarp.

The only thing that seemed like it could stop the water was to install the drain for the roof deck. Fortunately, we had already purchased the supplies, we just hadn't thought we'd have to install the drain in the dark & pouring rain.

Reid drilled a hole through the brick on the side of the building and then drilled a hole through the newly laid plywood. This allowed us to connect the PVC pipe to drain the roof deck to the outside.

Hopefully, the weather will clear soon and the sun will help to dry out the new mess. Although I'm certain the building took on more water than this before we purchased it, I'm a little bit concerned that we'll be replacing more rotten floorboards than originally anticipated.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The carpenters and roofers really got a lot of noticable work done today! The old roof was peeled back. The new roofline was built and it's really looking like a deck and like a place we could live in!!!!

The carpenter started today! We have the start of walls and a plywood floor for the roofers to roof over. Today was like a real construction project at 1700 Vine: the mason was fixing the brickwork, the roofers were working away and the carpenters were building walls!

This evening, Reid and I ran over to Vine Street to install four electrical boxes and wiring for future ceiling lights. We had to get it done before the roof is laid over the back room since it will be so much more difficult to access the area once the roof is completed. Thanks again Sam, for the anniversary gift of 50' of electrical wire! We used a lot of it today!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The roofer reinforced the roof beams in the front building. Some unknown number of years ago, there was a significant fire on the 3rd floor front of the building and the fire department had sawn through a large section of the roof. Over time, those weakened beams sunk and had to be pushed back up and sistered with new lumber.

As you can see, the roof has shingles and gutters! and is nearly completed on the back building.

The structural beams were rotten and failing under the old roof, so salvaged lumber from the demolition was used to reinforce and strengthen those beams.

We found the perfect-sized window for the dormer at Building Reuse Center on Gilbert Ave. The carpenter will install it next week! THen we'll be weather tight and ready for winter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The roofers have really done an awesome job laying the framework for the roof on the back building. When they first climbed up on the roof, they noticed it was not as sturdy as it should be due to several rotted support beams. In order to maintain the historic character of the inside space, the roofers replaced all of the rotted beams with the salvaged wood we saved from the demolition. (they're awesome!)
They also rebuilt the original roofline that was ripped off during demolition.
Soon there will be a beautiful, new, gray shingle roof that will actually keep water out. Then the roofers can start on the front building.

Reid, my dad, and I started the construction of what will become the new roof - under the roofdeck. It's a complicated job, but after 2 carpenters cheesed out on us, we decided to move forward and attempt the job ourselves. Thank goodness my dad has so much experience as it's very important we get the pitch right to prevent puddling under the new deck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And now for the Roof

This might be the most exciting thing we've done so far to 1700 Vine Street...
we're getting a roof!!!
A reputable roofer has returned our calls and given us an estimate for the work (we've found this kind of response to be a rarity). Hinson roofing will rebuild the historic cornice work across the Vine Street facade, replace the rubber membrane roof on the front building, and re-shingle the roof on the back building!
And he started replacing rotten roof beams the day after we hired him! Prompt, quality work!!! It's very exciting.

The New Marvin!

This week Reid and I fit the salvaged double hung, wood Marvin window into its new home in the 3rd floor bedroom. This window was originally intended for a building in New Orleans, but something happened - maybe it wasn't the right size or the building specs changed (who knows!) - and it ended up in the Convington Reuse Center.

Perfect timing since it rained the day after we put it in place.
We still have to secure it properly and insulate with spray foam, but it's keeping the water out for now!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Let there be light

Yesterday, Reid and I ripped the plywood off of the 6' x 4'6" skylight that is the most amazing feature of the property. This skylight is original to the construction of the house, a true old-fashioned way of daylighting a structure built prior to electricity. It's interesting that now, as society is shifting toward greener energy, the 1870's design of this skylight is exactly what we're looking for: a way to light a home without having to turn on the lights. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, the glass has been long since broken out of the frame and the frame itself it rotted. Having it open to the sun for 10 minutes yesterday was so exciting though. It gave us a glimpse of the grandness of the 2-story tall entry & hallway, lit by the skylight.

Demolition is complete!

The debris was cleared a couple of weeks ago. Now we have to install windows to keep the weather out of the new openings created by the demolition of the 3-story addition.