Great Room Framing

February 7, 2012

When you walk into this great room, there is a pleasant transition formed by the ambulatory lower ceiling height into the double height vaulted ceiling above the Great Room. The lower ceiling heights are continued from the living room into the kitchen by the “hall” along the framed windows on the front facade of the house. Natural light pours into this hall and reaches into the Great Room providing quality ambient light. The builders have completely removed the faulty fireplace and chimney now, and are preparing for installation of a new fireplace and chimney. Progress is evident through the framing on the gazebo-type side entry to the kitchen. It’s much easier to visualize the final product at this point of construction.

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Ahh yes, we all love the nostalgia of the single pained windows with the swirls and dot engrained in the glass, but for efficiency of running your HVAC systems, those windows are just as good as having an open window during the coldest and hottest days of the year. To save themselves some money on their energy bills, the client chose to upgrade to energy star rated windows by Marvin Windows. These windows have a white  trim that will subtly contrast with the siding that will be a darker shade of gray. The window’s exterior header will also be re-constructed to mimic the original decorative headers that lived on the existing farm house.

New windows installed in the popped dormer and front facade

Craftsman renovating exterior window headers

Floor framing was extended out from the Great Room to provide more circulation to and from the Kitchen. This new framing sits upon the new brick piers where the existing enclosed porch once stood.

Extended great room floor

The new floor for the Kitchen on the far side of the Great Room has begun. This new floor will increase the size of the existing Kitchen and provide alternative access with an enclosed gazebo-type entry (on the far left), adding to the character and functionality of this old farm house.

View of new kitchen framing on first floor

New floor framing for proposed ktichen

Next, the concrete truck came and poured footings for the three porches as well as footings in the basement. This allowed the masons to get started on the brick pillars beneath the porch features. The brick pillars were incorporated to match the existing front porch pillars, as seen in the image below. It was our intention to preserve the existing style and bring it to life again.

Existing and New Brick Pillars

New Brick Pillars Beneath Gazebo Entrance

Concrete Footing for Pillars to come

Roof construction was completed. The wood shingles really light up in the morning sun. The remaining details to be finsihed on the facade are removing the old windows and reaplacing with new Marvin Windows (selected by the homeowner after an in-office consultation) as well as updating the siding with new primer and paint (the finished product will be gray). Lastly, updates to broken decorative trim deatils to restore what the farm house once was.

Front Facade with Finished Roof

Decorative Trim Detail

While the exterior was getting cleaned up, the second floor above the great room was removed to provide a double height space. The framing that is shown will be concealed with gypsum board, but the owners are considering salvaging large timbers to place as decorative exposed rafters over the great room. Below you can see the space before and after the removal of the floor, and the difference is incredible, especially in person!

Great Room Before & After


Great Room Ceiling Trusses

With this addition, more weight will be placed on the existing foundation walls. To ensure that loads are properly transferred to the ground, pillars will be constructed to distribute the loads throughout the basement level to relieve the foundation walls of the extra weight. Below you can see formwork laid for the concrete bases.
Formwork was also laid for the porch additions and front great room addition. All formwork was done simultaneously in preparation for the delivery of the concrete by truck to ensure all concrete work would be done at one time.
The existing roof was in need of replacement. You can see below that one side of the existing roof has been replaced, and the other is waiting to receive the roof application. The attic will remain for storage.
Expanding the kitchen requires a new floor to be constructed. Sill plates were laid on the existing foundation walls, and later floor joists added.

Roof Construction

December 22, 2011

The construction process reveals the first tangible stages of the design being lifted from the 2D Construction Documents and visualizing the spaces come to life before you. As mentioned before, Roof Construction was addressed first so that the contractors could access the underside of the roof from the second floor before they removed it to open up a double height space in the great room below.
Only weeks after construction began, the dormer pop-ups were receiving their flashing, the framing for the clerestory windows under the dormer pop-ups was completed and the wood shakes on the roof were nearly completed. The main house’s existing roofing was being pulled up in preparation for new wood shingles.
On the first floor you can see the walls were knocked out and supports for the floor beam above were supported by temporary steel posts. New sill plates were anchored into the existing kitchen foundation walls for the new floor joists.
One interesting factor of constructing an addition on a historical farm house  is the merging of new and old structural systems. In this home, the new rafters loads are transferred to an existing beam along the perimeter of the second floor walls.  Instead of ripping out EVERYTHING and replacing it ALL with new members, we evaluate the strength and durability of the existing structures. Is there significant rot, decay or termite/pest damage that has occurred? If the member is sound and has been supporting the existing structures for many years without bowing or shifting, it can be salvaged and re-used. However, when installing the new framing for windows, walls, and transferring the loads from the rafters, you will notice new members included to support the loads and be sure that all members are properly supported.

Construction Begins

December 16, 2011

The week following demolition of the old farm house the contractors began re-constructing the roof while they still had the second floor in place (as it is to be removed later in the process to provide a double height space). The first floor removed as expansion on to the existing porch was to occur to provide more room on the interior. Steel columns were placed on the first floor to hold the second floor in place.

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December 12, 2011

Do you remember this beautiful old farm house?
With all of it’s character…
And charm… 
Demolition is often thought of as recklessly tearing apart a building with no regards to the existing structure and materials. At Fitzgerald Architecture Studio, we have a respect for historic preservation and work with those we trust will not add any “character” to the portions of the home we wish to enhance. Demolition is often necessary in renovations/additions to serve as a “face-lift” for the architecture. It’s got to get bad before it gets better!
What’s beneficial about working with an Architect is that we see the potential within the ruins.

Construction Documents

December 9, 2011

Once the client and designer have ironed out the programming, aesthetics and design functionality together the designer finalizes the design in a Construction Documents drawing set. There are many details included in this drawing set that had not been brought forward to the client before. Zoning, Code, Notes to the Contractor, Demolition drawings, Specifications, Interior Elevations, Detailed connections, Door and Window Schedules, electric and Plumbing are all addressed in this final set. The level of detail is imperative as these drawings will be sent to the town for Permits, answering the zoning officials questions for the proposed construction.

Once approved, the drawings are distributed to the contractor for construction. The opening pages of the construction documents set the stage for the following pages by covering the broad items of project overview, code, zoning information, site limitations as well as demolition plans & notes. The next few pages are filled with notes and specifications for materials, products and construction practices. These pages are helpful when determining material and labor costs.

The plans below are a set of working drawings that call out construction methods, materials, dimensions as well as window & door schedules. Any specific changes being made are documented here. Keys for reading the drawings and special details are also highlighted on these pages.

A-10 Basement and First Floor Plans

A-11 Second Floor and Roof Plans

Elevations are helpful in showing what the home should look like after construction. Materials, products, and finishes are key here. Level heights are documented on these pages to provide important construction information as well as reflect back to building code concerns.

A-20 Elevations

The sections below are incredibly useful in the construction process. They assist in showing how all the parts connect together into one cohesive structure. These sections have also been helpful in providing the owner with a spatial  understanding of each room.

A-30 Sections

The details just might be one of the most important components of the construction set. This shows exactly how the structural pieces ie. walls, roof, floor, foundation, stairs and awnings get constructed. Having these details eliminates construction issues that arise in the field, providing a quick and often seamless construction getting you into your space sooner.

A-40 Details

The amount of schematic design meetings is based on the size of the job as well as the client’s needs. In this project many meeting were necessary to achieve exactly what the client was looking for. In the fifth schematic design meeting the first floor and facades were decided upon. What remained were options for the second floor, addressing the bathrooms, laundry room and closets/storage space.

Schematic Design Second Floor Plan A: Fifth Meeting

Schematic Design Second Floor Plan B: Fifth Meeting

Schematic Design Second Floor Plan C: Fifth Meeting

Schematic Design Second Floor Plan D: Fifth meeting

Schematic Design Attic Floor Plan A: Fifth Meeting

By the fourth meeting the architect has further developed the exterior elevations through conversation with the client and also by working from the inside plan to the exterior. We have found that these hand rendered drawings resonate with our clients and provides a better visualization with what the final outcome will look like. Colors and materiality are discussed at this point and included on the final drawings.

Schematic Design Front Elevation: Fourth Meeting

Schematic Design Side Elevation: Fourth Meeting