As with all projects, we started by looking for solutions within the existing footprint. On the first floor, we removed the partition walls between the entry way and the living room to provide a more spacious entry area, while also demarcating the entry from the living room with a half wall and providing storage with a custom built-in. By taking down the wall between the living room and the dining room we created visual connection and flow between the two rooms. Similarly, we replaced the doors between the living room and sunroom with a half wall, preserving light and visual connection without sacrificing prime seating area.
Upstairs, there was no way to get an additional bathroom and sufficient sleeping and storage space within the existing structure. So we buit a small addition over the sunroom, transforming the small master bedroom into a gracious suite with a walk-in closet and a small work or sitting area. The removal of the chimney along with modest space reconfigurations to the kids’ bedrooms gave the two boys a larger bedroom and created easier access to the attic storage.
Since the siding needed to be replaced, we took the opportunity to add 2” of insulation to the outside of the house, reducing air leakage and conductive heat loss. We also air sealed the band joist area in the basement. (The underside of the roof was already insulated, and the roof was in good shape, so we did not add insulation there). We replaced the oil boiler and window air conditioning units with heat pumps for heating and cooling, installing a lower capacity system than we otherwise would have if we hadn’t added exterior wall insulation. We replaced the gas hot water heater with an electric heat pump water heater and added an energy recovery ventilator to provide a steady supply of fresh air to the bedrooms. Last but not least, the clients installed an 8.3 kw solar photovoltaic system, which we estimate will generate roughly 2/3 of their annual energy needs.
They have also told us that their home is much more comfortable now. It's quieter, less drafty, and less dusty. In short, they have more of what they do want: improved functionality, greater comfort, and bit more living and storage space. And they have less of what they don’t want: drafts, dust and noise; high energy bills and a high carbon footprint. Correction: they still have a fair bit of (internally generated) noise. Even the best renovation project can’t create quiet children.