The Location: Pittsburgh, PA
The Neighborhood: Mexican War Streets Historic District (15212 zip-code)
House Details: 100+ year old masonry cavity brick construction with 1000+ square feet of living area. The structure has seen several remodels from its original design and therefore has very few original items.
The Project: Complete contemporary redesign and remodel of the existing structure. The plan is to restore the brick structure to its original condition while using improved building technology and practices on the interior. This includes creating a highly insulated (moisture and air infiltration resistant) interior space while keeping an open and warm aesthetic.
The work includes the demolition of all existing MEP equipment, framing, windows and some structural components. Design work included 2D CAD modeling of the existing structure with a focus on an open layout for 1st and 2nd floors. Installation involved the construction of 1st and 2nd floor girders, associated support columns and foundation footers, new and repaired joists, new custom step oak and popular steps, reconstruction of 40% of masonry exterior structure (new steel lintels, new brick, repointing, etc), all new sub-flooring, 50% window replacement, new front and rear doors, all new framing, spray foam and un-faced fiberglass insulation, new MEP equipment (duct-less heat pumps for heating / cooling), new hickory hardwood flooring and porcelain tile, new kitchen cabinets, new bathroom fixtures, and lastly new finished trim work.
Specific attention has been placed on sourcing materials made in the USA and from local distributors. The building materials (framing and finish) are of the highest quality (natural and recyclable) so that they will endure the life of the building structure. Through the proper sizing and spacing of nail and screw fasteners, the use of construction adhesives has been minimized to allow for the repair and reuse of nearly all wood materials. The floor layouts are designed to maximize open space and to minimize material utilization. To minimize our waste we recycled, clean fill dumped, and donated many of the existing structures items. Many of the framing and flooring members were rotted and were unable to be salvaged.
90% of the work has been conducted by myself, my immediate family, some very close friends, and my very patient and understanding wife. All demolition and installation work was conducted while I was living in the house, many times without a bathroom (use of a hose as shower device in the basement and a bucket for a toilet) or a kitchen. The perseverance, patience, effort, and sacrifices made during this 2+ year process have been many and intense. I have learned a great deal about myself through this process and I still learning. My friends and family just can’t wait for the project to be done!
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A “spartan” lifestyle.