Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

February 1, 2010

Problem du Jour

Filed under: Framing — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:02 pm

The weather has been cold but overall pretty good because no precipitation – and temperatures below freezing mean no mud.  Friday was horribly cold with a high of about 20 degrees and the wind was whipping 15-20 mph from the north – so the framing crew took the day off.  Saturday wasn’t much better but there wasn’t any wind and the crew arrived to continue framing.

I drove over to Montgomery, PA (about 60 mi east of here) to pick up some hemlock timbers for the porches – 6×6 and 6×3 posts and 6×10 beams in 8′ and 10′ lengths (at 50¢ a bd ft I should have built the whole house of hemlock).  It was about all my F150 could carry. On the way home I detoured to Jersey Shore (not THE Jersey Shore, just the Pennsylvania Jersey Shore) to check out some hand-hewn beams for the master bedroom. They had some from an old log cabin but were about 1 foot too short.  It is turning out to be difficult to find what we need.

When I got home around 10am I had some of the guys help me unload the beams. I stickered them in my woodshop in hopes they will dry enough that I can surface plane them and chamfer the edges before they need to frame the porches. I crawled up on the second floor where they started framing the wall that will go against the master bedroom cathedral ceiling and were installing the parallam joist that will support the addition against the stone house. I commented that the house was within 1/4″ of plumb along the one corner when they mentioned the front of the house was about 2″ out of plumb.

Here’s the problem du jour. The front of the house is out of plumb but the addition is nicely constructed square and plumb. At the bottom of the second floor the addition extended 1-1/4″ beyond the stone where it was matched at the base. That means where the two buildings meet was an increasing mismatch as you go up the building. My first inclination would be to make the addition out of plumb exactly like the stone house.  The framers looked at me like I was crazy and said “Well, your the one we have to make happy.” Even my father didn’t think too much of building an addition that was out of plumb.

When I met with our builder, Lee, on Monday we discussed the issue and he agreed there is a compromise between being square and plumb and matching an existing building that isn’t. We discussed it and my first choice would be to make the addition out of plumb identical to the stone house. Second choice would be to make whatever mismatch existed at the second floor level to not increase as we continued up the building.

When I got home that evening it looks like they were able to move the wall of the addition to match the stone house. So now our addition will already be similarly crooked like our old house – true historical renovation at its finest!

Plus the guys got most of the rafter framing over the master bedroom and master bath completed.

Here’s a photo from the common area looking into the master bedroom.

This Wed-Sat Lisa has the PASA Conference to help run and I have a workshop with DCNR in Wellsboro. We’ll probably have lots of progress this week but no pictures or news until this weekend.  And that’s when the snow might arrive…

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