Dwelling on #DesignersBuilding – A DIY Blog Series

This blog series is an account of what happens when an architect, me, pushes past design and single-handedly tackles renovation from design through demolition and to construction. I look forward to sharing with you my discoveries, the challenges, and the solutions. Please share your stories of renovation and remodeling in the comments, DIY or not.

Sun-room - Before

Sunroom – Before

 Beginning

A highlighting feature of our house was the enclosed sunroom which overlooked our wooded backyard. As the house is situated on a sloped lot, with the higher side being on the front of the property, when in the sunroom, situated on the backside of the house you got the impression of being in a tree house. We wanted to spend more time in there but the enclosure did not allow for the best air flow leaving it hot and stifling in the summer and cold and uncomfortable in the winter. Still, we did like it but upon consideration, we knew it could be so much better.

The sunroom construction appeared to have been completed by a lesser skilled handy man. The T1-11 siding that made up the majority of the interior walls was rather dated, the linoleum tiles curled in some areas, and the drainage was not optimal leaving multiple areas of visible rotted siding. In addition, the overall weight of the elevated structure put stress on the retaining wall, evidenced by some bulging, that supports the weight of the house on the moderately sloped lot.

To enjoy this space as well as increase the value of our home we knew it was time to improve the sunroom. We decided the best way to accomplish this is to convert the sunroom into a screened-in deck. The elimination of walls and windows will provide ample airflow and give us a more enjoyable space that we will use practically year around.

West Wall Damage

West Wall Damage

File May 23, 16 44 44

Windowsill Damage

The Unforeseen But Anticipated

More Rot Than Not

Single pane panel windows spanned the perimeter of the sunroom and opened with an inside swing, so moisture control was complicated. Rain hit the window and got trapped on the interior side of the stops at the sill. The result was that most sills were rotten. But it didn’t end there. Water would puddle where the west wall base sat on the original decking, adjacent the open air deck that extend about ten feet outside of the sunroom. This problem area also collected fallen leaves, which further retained moisture. The water that wasn’t absorbed into the wood dripped through the space between the decking to saturate the plywood soffit underneath, again causing rotting. It will be almost a miracle if we peel all this off to find deck boards and joists that are in good shape. The construction short cuts which caused the problems with rot could have been avoided with careful planning, research, licensed contractors, and professional advice.

Demolition Pile

Demolition Pile

Demolished to Porch

Demolished to Porch

Surgical Approach

Demolition began. I am not talking about the run of the mill TV style demolition with sledgehammers and running starts. The approach was surgical removal of piece by piece to get down to the remaining cedar posts and beams which will support the framing for the screen tight system. More on that later. The pile of demolished material has built up along with the removal of the weight of the porch from the once strained retaining wall. It feels good to have this rotten material off our house and to be on the way to a new screened-in porch

In the next post I will transition from demolition to the installation of framing. Come back to “Homework” to read about the next round of construction challenges and how we overcame them.

Demolition Wide Open

Demolition Wide Open