Renovations are full of hard decisions about what stays and what goes from the original structure. Every decision to make a change is pondered from all angles -- How will this affect the structural integrity of the building? How will a change affect the building's aesthetics? Does this feature have significant historical value? And so on.
We actually love it when we are stopped on the street and asked why we are making a particular change because it gives us a chance to explain the issues. For those of you who haven't bumped into us to ask a question, here are a few of the most frequently asked "How Come" questions for the Pickering House renovation project to date:
How come you took down the fence?
According to our historian, the fence at Pickering House dates from the mid-1800's. We have taken down the sections to restore them. The fence will go back in place, but, sadly, we do not have the original ornate gates.
How come you took off the porch?
The porch was in complete disrepair and was literally falling off the house. We are replacing the porch with its original detail, including the post brackets that have been stripped and restored.
How come you took off the siding?
Like the porch, the siding was rotting and in poor condition. While we considered cedar siding, we decided to use fiber cement siding from James Hardie Building Products. We used HardiePlank on our 1850's home on North Main Street and love its combination of low maintenance, outstanding durability and authentic aesthetics. We are grateful that James Hardie Building Products is participating in our vendor program to make this decision financially feasible.
How come you replaced the windows?
Window Woman of New England -- an Amesbury, MA company dedicated to window restoration rather than replacement -- did a full assessment of all 93 windows. We learned that many of the back windows at Pickering House were replacements and had no historical value. Of the remaining originals, most were in such a state of disrepair that the restoration and custom storms would exceed $2,000 per window. We decided to restore the eight front and side windows on the first floor of the house. Thanks to a pricing break from Pella Windows & Doors for the remaining 85 windows, we will be using their Architect Series Reserve windows, which are custom crafted with intricate, historical detailing (read more about this in our next blog post).
How come you put a foundation under the Barn?
The primary reason was that it was literally falling off its granite posts and what little foundation there was. This new foundation (with a steel frame below the floor of the barn) provides both long-term stability and valued storage space.
How come there is so much new lumber in the house?
Over years of numerous renovations, many key structural supports had been cut and compromised. Our structural engineer did a full assessment and plan that included new support systems in the basement, re-shoring of all floors and roofs, and stronger framing in the exterior walls. All of this work also took into account a revised floor plan and added "sound walls" for a quiet inn.
Minimal changes to the front section of the house bring it back to very close to the original floor plan.
How come you cut those big trees?
One tree was embedded in the power lines and was a safety hazard. We really wanted to save the larger maple but, according to the tree professionals who looked at it, the tree was nearing the end of its life. It was also pushing into the granite foundation of the house and was growing into the porch. We would have been unable to replace the porch if we did not replace the tree.
How come you "filled in" the section of porch to the left of the barn?
In photos from the 1800's, there was actually no porch there at all. By bumping the house structure out to the porch line, we were able to expand the Gathering Kitchen space and let in more light without changing the aesthetics of the expansive, wraparound porch.
Do you have questions that have not been answered here? Send us an email at email@example.com!