House renovation plans, 1st draft
House renovation plans, 1st draft,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

When we had the incredibly outrageous heating bills this winter, we had several experts come out to look at our setup: a guy from the gas company, who verified that there were no leaks and we were not, in fact, providing gas for the entire neighborhood and said the house has the cheapest, least efficient furnace on the market; two energy auditors, who gave us a full report of how to better insulate the house and some ideas for the future renovations about what we can improve, including replacing our cheap, inefficient furnace; and a furnace sales team from Sears to show us what kind of replacement options we had for our cheap, inefficient furnace.

We ended up signing to buy a new furnace from Sears — almost their top-of-the-line model, as far as energy efficiency is concerned anyway — and were eagerly awaiting its installation.

A few weeks later, the installation guy came out and determined that there is no way in hell we’re getting the new furnace into the attic through the itty-bitty teeny-weeny access door. Even if we cut through more of the drywall on the ceiling, the joists were set too close to one another for the new furnace to get through. In fact, he pondered aloud, how the hell did they get the existing one up there?

It’s a mystery, but anyway, he left saying nothing could be done until we hired a carpenter to install a bonafide attic access door. Which meant cutting through the 170-year-plus-old joists, which are effectively petrified. Not an easy task. And not one to be taken lightly, as there’s no replacing the heft and sturdiness of these timbers.

So after talking about it a bit, we decided to hire one of the architects in the neighborhood to draw up some plans for the future renovation so that, if we had to have a new attic access installed, at least it would be in a logical, permanent place.

The linked image is of the first draft of the architect’s plans. The attic issue isn’t really solved in these, which is one of the comments we gave him when we met again last week. We had a great creative session poking holes into this design, and came up with some amazing results. I’ll definitely share those drawings when we get them, but for now, here’s what we have.

House renovation plans, 1st draft

4 thoughts on “House renovation plans, 1st draft

  • April 9, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Two questions:

    1) Why the heck is your furnace in your *attic*? Since heat rises, that in and of itself sounds remarkably inefficient.

    2) If you’re renovating anyway, is there any reason why it has to stay there?


  • April 9, 2006 at 11:54 am

    No other good place for it to go, really. Since all the original walls, both interior and exterior, are three-brick-thick, having the furnace above everything and running ductwork down from there rather than through walls makes some sense. As most of the folks we’ve talked to have said, the attic location wouldn’t be nearly so inefficient if it weren’t for the fact that the living room vent is within a few feet of the return, both of which are on the ceiling.

    We’re not changing the original house in the renovation, so the brick walls still complicate the options for location of the furnace. So it will be best for it to stay in the attic, but we will be trying to find a new location for the return and the vents.

  • April 9, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    I suppose you could flip the whole concept over if you’ve got a basement to put it in.

    Your house must be fascinating. Living in a place with that much history in it would be really interesting. Three-brick-thick walls!

  • April 10, 2006 at 2:23 am

    Three-brick-thick walls don’t stop the heartbeats from keeping me awake at night.

    Do you guys have any renovation restrictions because of the age and/or historical aspects of your house? Remember the house we’ve been renting? It’s considered a historical home. Insane. This whole neighborhood was built in the 50s, ffs.


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