Rain, Rain, Go Away
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. It’s been a busy few weeks around here. Jason and I were in Chicago the week before the holiday at the International Greenbuild Convention. We go every year (it moves around so we get to visit different cities!) and it is the foremost gathering for all those who work in the green and healthy building world. I was nice to connect with old friends, make new ones, and learn about some of the new innovations available to design and build sustainably. Among others, we spent time with our colleagues from ESMG (Environmental Services Management Group) and CarpetCycle. Mike Buono, from ESMG, is a recycling and waste guru. He regularly works with us on large construction projects to achieve 95% or greater waste recycling. Seriously, the man knows where and how to recycle virtually anything. He’ll be helping us properly process any waste we’ll be producing from the renovation of the farmhouse. It was also fun to hang with Sean and Robert from CarpetCycle, a company based here in NJ that, in addition to recycling used carpet and ceiling tiles, also produces a fantastic batt insulation called QuietTech, which is made from post-consumer carpet and clothing. One of our goals with this project is to highlight the use of locally-made, sustainable materials wherever we can. With foot and half thick stone walls, insulation isn’t going to be an issue in most of the house, but we’ll certainly need some in the later additions, and QuietTech is what we plan to use.
Since we returned from Chicago it’s been a matter of dealing with the holiday and our entire family coming down with the plague. I don’t know about anyone else, but I loathe being sick. I’m going on a week now and it sucks!
Meanwhile, we knew there were some leak issues in the house, mostly concentrated around the chimneys, during this weeks’ heavy rain we discovered they had gotten exponentially worse. On Monday I stopped in the house to check, only to discover it raining inside, in more than one location. One fun aspect of old buildings is that nothing is plumb, thus finding where the actual leaks are can be a Where’s Waldo exercise, since water is going to run to the lowest point.
I spent a year working on the Peter Lewis Library at Princeton University while it was under construction, as an assistant superintendent. This building was designed by Frank Gehry, of Disney Opera House and Guggenheim Bilbao fame. The thing I learned about Gehry, aside from his fondness for aluminum, was his “intense dislike of continuous radiuses.” That means that for every leak we found in the building, chances were the actual hole was in some ridiculously far off location that it would never occur to someone to look at. It was my job for a year to try and waterproof that building. I had a crew, a cherry-picker, and a fire hose at my disposal. My conclusion after that year was that it’s not possible to waterproof a Gehry building. Luckily for us, waterproofing an old farmhouse should be a much less frustrating exercise.
Despite the fact that we don’t need a permit to replace a roof in Delaware Township, we do however need approvals from the Township Historic Committee, the State Historic Preservation office, and the D&R Canal Commission. We’re hoping to get those in the next month or two, but in the meantime, having it rain in the living room isn’t the best idea. So today the roofs got tarped! The last thing we want is to have to fix substantial water damage throughout the premises. We’re just happy one of the contractors we know was able to do it on short notice. In fact, it was beginning to drizzle while they were getting the last tarp up. This is officially the first thing we’ve done to the house from a renovation standpoint! Progress, however incremental, feels good.