Under Construction: Building an addition and a home office/garage

Expect the Unexpected

It's always something.

Everyone sensed trouble ahead when a half-circle of brick was discovered embedded at ground level in the existing house foundation after the deck was demolished. In fact, when digging began, the masons discovered an old cistern right where the foundation for the new addition would meet the existing house.

The foundation for the back part of the house (an old addition) was built right over the cistern, now filled with organic matter and old trash. The cistern was about 8 feet in diameter and 9 feet deep. Cisterns like this one are common in older Ann Arbor neighborhoods, and were used to collect soft rainwater for washing. But finding the foundation wall of the 1940's addition built straight across the cistern surprised even the oldest hands.

Moreover, the crew discovered that the foundation footings for that old addition - currently the back part of the house - are only 12 inches deep, 30 inches less than is required today. [The photo shows steel rebar poking into the dirt underneath the 12" footings of the old foundation.]

The organic matter in the cistern could not reliably hold the weight of the old and new foundations, so Studio Z assisted the contractor and homeowners in considering various options to bridge the cistern, including a grade beam and helical piers, or filling the cistern. Since the masons had found the cistern to be quite strong, it was agreed that the trash and dirt should be removed from the cistern, which was then filled with pea gravel up to the level of the new foundation footings. The top of the cistern was filled with concrete when the new footings were poured, resulting in a sound structure.

Studio Z also assisted the homeowners and contractor in finding an acceptable solution for the shallow footings on the old addition. A combination of rigid insulation laid in the ground along the outside of the old footings and more installed along the inside of the foundation walls would keep the ground under the old footings from freezing and heaving.

carpenter antsThe old house held one final surprise: carpenter ants. When the human carpenters went to remove the unsightly remains of a first-floor roof on the old house addition, they uncovered a substantial nest of carpenter ants. The ants were dispatched with boric acid dust blown into the space between the floors, and damaged lumber was replaced. The structural damage done by the ants was limited - less, in the eyes of the contractor, than the mistakes made by whoever had built the second floor on the old addition.



A Homeowner's Notebook (cont'd)








Page 1 | Page 2

Contractor: Washtenaw Woodwrights, Ann Arbor

Structural Engineer: SDI Structures, Ann Arbor

Project photography & diary text: Steven Norton


May 2-9:
Roof trusses were installed atop the second floor panels, and the roof is sheathed and covered with building paper - making it nearly weather-tight.


May 22:
Roof shingles for the new garage/office were delivered, and the next day the roofing subcontractor's crew completes the roof installation in one day.


May 31:
The siding is nearing completion on three sides of the garage/office; most windows have been installed, and the interior partition walls and the stairway have been framed.

June 1:
Insulation in the addition has been installed and inspected, and blocking for the bathroom fixtures has been added before the drywall is hung.


June 14:
The electricians have dug the trench that will carry power and telecom wiring from the house to the garage and laid the pipes which will hold the wires. The power and telecom pipes are kept two feet apart to minimize interference. Drywall has also been hung and taped in the addition, and covered with a coat of primer.

June 18:
As part of the effort to fix old problems (see Expect the Unexpected, this page) uncovered during construction, the contractors dug a trench around the foundation of the existing house addition. They later installed rigid insulation up against the shallow footings (and insulated the above ground foundation wall from the inside), a solution designed by Studio Z and accepted by the city authorities as protection against frost heaving.

June 25-26:
Drywall for the garage/office was delivered, and rough electrical work on the office interior has started.


July 9:
Rough electrical work has been finished, including running wiring through pre-molded channels in the structural panels to outlet box locations. (Lesson learned: when using SIPs for construction, it is easier to run wiring when the panels are being assembled than after they are in place.) Conduits were also added to bring telecom wiring, which will connect to the main house, into the future "server closet" in the office space.


July 13:
Siding is nearly finished on the garage/office and the addition, and construction has begun on the small deck attached to the addition. The underground wiring conduits have been hooked up at the garage, and the meter box and new electric mast are ready for connection by the electric utility to bring power to the garage for the first time.

Drywall is up and taped in the garage, and the floor tiles have been installed in the addition


July 23:
The project manager tells the startled homeowners that he's discovered a huge nest of carpenter ants (see Expect the Unexpected, this page) in the main house; the nest was uncovered while removing the roof overhang of the old, existing addition to the main house. The ants are dispatched with boric acid powder (as recommended by the county agricultural extension office), and the carpenters replace the damaged wood.

Problems left by the ants are less serious, in the carpenters' view, than those left by the mid-century workmen who failed to center the second floor of the old addition above the first.

August 13:
Painters have been working on the exteriors of the addition and garage and have nearly completed work on the interior of the garage/office. In addition, the local electric utility has made the service connection at the garage with a "mid-span" attachment to their power mains -- this will eventually service both buildings.

August 24:The electricians have returned to connect the buried conduits to the main house, and to pull the wiring through those conduits which will bring electric, telephone, cable TV, and computer network services to the house from the garage/office. Once the wiring is prepared, they disconnect the old electric service (and meter) from the house and hook the existing panel in the house to the buried line coming from the new main panel at the garage.


August 29:
The new cedar deck off the back door of the addition has been finished.


September 12-14:
Landscapers have come to install the "hardscape:" a new patio (made of tumbled concrete pavers) and walkways built with bluestone slabs cut on site. They also perform final site grading, restore the back lawn, and set in new plantings and trees along the driveway.

September 20:
One more visit from the cement mixers. The driveway contractor prepares for the new drive and pours the cement in one short day. They are careful to pitch the drive so water drains away from the garage and from the house.


Early October:
Once the (much-delayed) garage door arrives, and final touches are added, the project is finally compete.



Previous page.....
Page 1 | Page 2


Expect the Unexpected

It's always something.

Everyone sensed trouble ahead when a half-circle of brick was discovered embedded at ground level in the existing house foundation after the deck was demolished. In fact, when digging began, the masons discovered an old cistern right where the foundation for the new addition would meet the existing house.

The foundation for the back part of the house (an old addition) was built right over the cistern, now filled with organic matter and old trash. The cistern was about 8 feet in diameter and 9 feet deep. Cisterns like this one are common in older Ann Arbor neighborhoods, and were used to collect soft rainwater for washing. But finding the foundation wall of the 1940's addition built straight across the cistern surprised even the oldest hands.

Moreover, the crew discovered that the foundation footings for that old addition - currently the back part of the house - are only 12 inches deep, 30 inches less than is required today. [The photo shows steel rebar poking into the dirt underneath the 12" footings of the old foundation.]

The organic matter in the cistern could not reliably hold the weight of the old and new foundations, so Studio Z assisted the contractor and homeowners in considering various options to bridge the cistern, including a grade beam and helical piers, or filling the cistern. Since the masons had found the cistern to be quite strong, it was agreed that the trash and dirt should be removed from the cistern, which was then filled with pea gravel up to the level of the new foundation footings. The top of the cistern was filled with concrete when the new footings were poured, resulting in a sound structure.

Studio Z also assisted the homeowners and contractor in finding an acceptable solution for the shallow footings on the old addition. A combination of rigid insulation laid in the ground along the outside of the old footings and more installed along the inside of the foundation walls would keep the ground under the old footings from freezing and heaving.

carpenter antsThe old house held one final surprise: carpenter ants. When the human carpenters went to remove the unsightly remains of a first-floor roof on the old house addition, they uncovered a substantial nest of carpenter ants. The ants were dispatched with boric acid dust blown into the space between the floors, and damaged lumber was replaced. The structural damage done by the ants was limited - less, in the eyes of the contractor, than the mistakes made by whoever had built the second floor on the old addition.



Under Construction: Building an addition and a home office/garage

A Homeowner's Notebook (cont'd)








(hover cursor over small pictures below to see larger version)

Page 1 | Page 2

Contractor: Washtenaw Woodwrights, Ann Arbor

Structural Engineer: SDI Structures, Ann Arbor

Project photography & diary text: Steven Norton

May 2-9:
Roof trusses were installed atop the second floor panels, and the roof is sheathed and covered with building paper - making it nearly weather-tight.


May 22:
Roof shingles for the new garage/office were delivered, and the next day the roofing subcontractor's crew completes the roof installation in one day.


May 31:
The siding is nearing completion on three sides of the garage/office; most windows have been installed, and the interior partition walls and the stairway have been framed.

June 1:
Insulation in the addition has been installed and inspected, and blocking for the bathroom fixtures has been added before the drywall is hung.

June 14:
The electricians have dug the trench that will carry power and telecom wiring from the house to the garage and laid the pipes which will hold the wires. The power and telecom pipes are kept two feet apart to minimize interference. Drywall has also been hung and taped in the addition, and covered with a coat of primer.

June 18:
As part of the effort to fix old problems (see Expect the Unexpected, this page) uncovered during construction, the contractors dug a trench around the foundation of the existing house addition. They later installed rigid insulation up against the shallow footings (and insulated the above ground foundation wall from the inside), a solution designed by Studio Z and accepted by the city authorities as protection against frost heaving.

June 25-26:
Drywall for the garage/office was delivered, and rough electrical work on the office interior has started.


July 9:
Rough electrical work has been finished, including running wiring through pre-molded channels in the structural panels to outlet box locations. (Lesson learned: when using SIPs for construction, it is easier to run wiring when the panels are being assembled than after they are in place.) Conduits were also added to bring telecom wiring, which will connect to the main house, into the future "server closet" in the office space.


July 13:
Siding is nearly finished on the garage/office and the addition, and construction has begun on the small deck attached to the addition. The underground wiring conduits have been hooked up at the garage, and the meter box and new electric mast are ready for connection by the electric utility to bring power to the garage for the first time.

Drywall is up and taped in the garage, and the floor tiles have been installed in the addition


July 23:
The project manager tells the startled homeowners that he's discovered a huge nest of carpenter ants (see Expect the Unexpected, this page) in the main house; the nest was uncovered while removing the roof overhang of the old, existing addition to the main house. The ants are dispatched with boric acid powder (as recommended by the county agricultural extension office), and the carpenters replace the damaged wood.

Problems left by the ants are less serious, in the carpenters' view, than those left by the mid-century workmen who failed to center the second floor of the old addition above the first.

August 13:
Painters have been working on the exteriors of the addition and garage and have nearly completed work on the interior of the garage/office. In addition, the local electric utility has made the service connection at the garage with a "mid-span" attachment to their power mains -- this will eventually service both buildings.

August 24:The electricians have returned to connect the buried conduits to the main house, and to pull the wiring through those conduits which will bring electric, telephone, cable TV, and computer network services to the house from the garage/office. Once the wiring is prepared, they disconnect the old electric service (and meter) from the house and hook the existing panel in the house to the buried line coming from the new main panel at the garage.


August 29:
The new cedar deck off the back door of the addition has been finished.


September 12-14:
Landscapers have come to install the "hardscape:" a new patio (made of tumbled concrete pavers) and walkways built with bluestone slabs cut on site. They also perform final site grading, restore the back lawn, and set in new plantings and trees along the driveway.

September 20:
One more visit from the cement mixers. The driveway contractor prepares for the new drive and pours the cement in one short day. They are careful to pitch the drive so water drains away from the garage and from the house.


Early October:
Once the (much-delayed) garage door arrives, and final touches are added, the project is finally compete.



Previous page.....
Page 1 | Page 2



Dawn Zuber, AIA
Studio Z Architecture

190 N. Main St., Suite Z
Plymouth, MI 48170
houzz interior design ideas architecthouzz interior design ideas architect

studiozarch.com

phone: 734.394.9400
email: dzuber@studiozarch.com

Dawn Zuber, AIA
Studio Z Architecture

190 N. Main St., Suite Z
Plymouth, MI 48170

studiozarch.com


phone: 734.394.9400
email: dzuber@studiozarch.com
houzz interior design ideas architecthouzz interior design ideas architect

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