Renovation Timeline: September - December 2008
Armstrong House Project: Renovation
photo by Robert Goodman
September through December, 2008
- The solar electric pv system is up and running, serving the house’s temporary electric needs during construction. In addition, the roof mounted solar hot water system has been installed and is ready to go when the interior plumbing is completed. (Our main wood-burning stove has been keeping us warm on nippy days.)
- The garage is in the process of being outfitted to serve as a mechanical equipment room for the hot water and solar electric system as well as a proposed rain-water harvesting tank which will supply water to the washing machine and toilets.
- A contractor has been selected to install a 8.5 KW Kohler propane-fired generator which will be used to charge the battery system when the solar panels can not meet the electric demand of the house. We estimate the generator will run between one and two hours per day based on careful electric load management.
- Rough electric has been completed to the stage which will enable us to install the bio-based spray-foam insulation in the exterior walls, ceilings and crawl-space. The insulation is made from domestically grown soy beans and will be installed by a Danbury-based contractor in November.
- The old plumbing waste lines in the crawl space have been demolished and replaced in order to allow the insulation to be installed.
- The kitchen window has been relocated in accordance with a new kitchen design. This required substantial structural reframing on one exterior wall. We removed one interior closet to accommodate the better placement of a refrigerator. The proposed high-efficiency appliances include a chest-style freezer, a refrigerator and a clothes dryer all fueled by propane gas to keep the electric loads to a minimum and to reduce the need to run the electric generator. It is our hope that we can convert the propane appliances and electric generator in the future to bio-gas. The biogas will be produced by a proposed on-site bio-gas digester which will generate methane through the anaerobic digestion of locally collected manure and kitchen waste.
- Over the past several months, we’ve attempted to locate sources of forest stewardship council certified lumber for structural exterior sheathing and for interior flooring. It has been a difficult task. If all goes well, it is hoped that the exterior sheathing will be FSC certified lumber.
- Window re-glazing continues with the first floor windows almost complete. Where needed, restoration glass has been installed.
Mid-November saw the application of the much anticipated bio-based closed-cell foam spray-on insulation to the exterior of the structure and open-cell spray foam insulation to the interior upstairs ceilings and attic spaces. Along with all the other projects outlined above, weeks of preparation included protecting all windows both from the exterior and interior prior to application. Protective plastic sheathing was re-used from other projects. The direct application took about 2 days. Thereafter, several weeks of volunteer clean-up were required as exterior and interior foam insulation had to be shaved back to the face of the framing members. In addition, all floors were scraped by hand to remove foam that had dropped from the ceilings upon application.
- Other small but necessary tasks have been completed including a storage area for split wood for the wood burning stoves, and site clean-up and sorting of recyclable metal, cardboard and plastics and glass—all of which has been taken to the town’s recycling center.