Day 1 of the conservatory build!

While we were both at work, the crew from KoolView was doing some hard work of their own!

  • The whole side of the house was taped off as a 'lead hazard zone'!  (good idea, to keep the neighborhood kids out of the area while they're working)
  • The lower portion of the siding was removed, revealing the sill beam and foundation.
  • The footings were located and installed

The footings are installed!The site was fenced off and the footings have been installed!

The south side construction zoneLower portion of siding has been removed to gain access to the sill beam.

Massive sill beam over a limestone foundationThe sill beam, circa 1901.  The corner joint is awesome!  The foundation underneath the beam is not so awesome!  It's quite deteriorated and mice have gotten in!  That will soon be taken care of though.

Detail shot of one of the footingsHere's one of the footings - these things are pretty cool!  It's an engineered concrete piece with 4 long steel tubes driven through it into the ground.  These are supposed to be more stable than your typical poured concrete footing, and can be installed much more quickly with little or no digging!

Detail shot of one of the footingsI picked up a 50lb bag of mortar from the hardware store and got to work!  I had this corner rebuilt in about 2 hours.  It looks pretty darn good for my first time with a trowel!


The footings are installed!
The south side construction zone
Massive sill beam over a limestone foundation
Detail shot of one of the footings
Foundation repaired with mortar

Planning our new conservatory

First version - door on the end, too smallUsing Google Sketchup, I started designing our new conservatory to get an idea of what we wanted to build.
The roof pitch started out way too shallow, and I thought we were restricted in size due to the little bumpout in the house.
I located the door on the end, but this is not very convenient.

Larger, but details not in place yetHere, I was playing with the new window locations (darker).  The conservatory door is in the final location and the size has been finalized, but the roof detail is missing.  I think it's modeled a little too tall, though.

Even larger - roof detail addedThe additional roof line has been added, but this projection is too far out.  We have a 20ft setback from the property line, and this would have been over the setback by around 5 feet.
We ended up applying for a 3ft variance and GOT IT!!  (somewhat miraculous)

Final, approved versionHere's the final size and shape of the conservatory, even showing the electrical box.
We ended up going with split transoms and kick panels, with casement windows.  We thought the double-length transoms and kicks looked pretty tacky, and the side-sliding windows that are standard have an odd-looking narrow middle frame.  We were going for an old-english look, with even-width framing from top to bottom.  I hope it looks as good as we planned!

French doors (similar to what we are putting in)Here are some french doors I found online that best approximate what we'd like for the conservatory.  We actually found some doors just like these at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore!


First version - door on the end, too small
Larger, but details not in place yet
Even larger - roof detail added
Final, approved version
French doors (similar to what we are putting in)

The upstairs bedroom window is turning into an interesting story.

We wanted a window kinda high up on the wall, so we could put the bed below it.  When the guys were installing it, they kept asking if we really wanted it that high up, and I kept assuring them that it was fine.  It was very close to the eave and gutter, but I don't really see that as an issue.  Old Victorian houses have some odd little 'quirks' like strangely placed windows, and I don't mind looking at the gutter.

So after they put the window in and fully flashed the exterior, Z came home and informed me that she couldn't see out the window!!  (she's 7 inches shorter than I).

So I humbly wrote an email to the remodeling folks, asking for a quote on moving the window down a few inches.  OOPS!

Anyway, the view from the new window is quite breathtaking!  We have never been able to see the side yard from the house before, and with such an incredible view, I think Z should be able to see it too!

Cutting the studs
Framing the opening
Window is in!
Tucked right up under the eave - quirky indeed!
What a view!  Cemetery across the street and side yard.
Now we can see our garden from our bedroom!

The back hallway was one of the most tragic bits of the house.  The entrance in the back is on the south side, yet the only window back there was the one in the door.

The stairway up to the second floor hasn't seen sunlight in over 110 years!

That's all changed now!!  The two new windows completely transform the space we had into something bright and cheery.

Before - a dark spot that collected junk!
Stripped back to the studs
Getting ready to cut the studs
Rough opening framed in and opened to the outside world!
There's a window in thar!
Mudroom window, all buttoned up!
This stairway was perpetually dark and nasty
You can see the sky!!
First sunlight to hit this wall since the roof went on 111 years ago!
You can see the trees!!
Can you spot the new window?

The new window in the bathroom really helps bring some light into an otherwise dark hole.

We always had to switch the light on in there, even during the day.  I've actually caught myself trying to switch the light off when leaving the room, then realizing I never even turned it on!

Hooray for natural light!!

Removed some framing to make a bit more space
Stripped wall to the studs
Framing in the rough opening
From the outside - a gaping hole in the wall!
Window set in the opening
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