Havertown whole house remodel

Some great Pictures of a kitchen and bathroom renovation completed in November 2013. The bathroom was expandes by removing wall and relocating it 2′ over to provide for larger floating vanity and custom bath tub/shower enclosure. Hydronic radiant heat was also used set in wetbed under tile floor[/caption]

Radiant hydronic heat under new tile wetbed

href=”http://homeimprovementpa.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/country-club-la.-before-kitchen.jpg”>Before cabinet and tile installation

Share

Renovating St. Luke’s Methodist Church (Part 2)

The roof at St. Luke’s that we’re replacing presents a bit of a challenge because it’s a steep, 45-degree slope. So we have to remove and replace the shingles in sections, setting up our roof jack and platform scaffolding once to remove the old shingles and then again to install the new ones. We tackle about 20 feet across at a time, leaving the end shingles loose so we can weave the beginning of the next section before nailing them. It’s a bit of a painstaking process — the shingles and nail gun are now the easy part though it wasn’t always that way — it’s the preparation, ladders and scaffolding that require the most work.

I’ve mentioned that I started working with Jon at Cumming Construction in the fall of 2003. I had recently returned to Philadelphia after 10 years in New York City, dragging boxes of suits and client files behind me. I decided I didn’t want to open those boxes for a while.

So about a week in on this new job, Jon asked me to join him on the roof of an addition he was finishing in Wayne. There was a small section that still needed to be shingled. I climbed the 40-foot ladder and found him scooting around the roof like a squirrel. He tossed me the nail gun, which I trapped between my elbow and the roof, refusing to let go of the ladder. He held a shingle in place and told me to nail it, but upon pulling the trigger, the kickback blew the gun right out of my hand. Luckily he was also holding the air hose, saving the gun from shattering three stories below on a concrete patio.

“Is everything ok?” he asked (or some expletive-soaked version thereof).

I quickly reminded him of my sheltered upbringing and decade in Manhattan rental apartments. “I’ve never used a power tool before.”

Jon looked at me as if I had just told him I was a 31-year-old virgin. And (cue the melodrama) in a moment that changed both our lives forever, he thought a moment, took a deep breath, and said: “OK. This is how you hold the nail gun. You hold the shingle in this hand like this…”

Seven years later, those boxes remain closed. And I happily scoot around roofs without a care in the world (much to my wife’s chagrin).

I like to think it’s a testament to my progress (with a dash of obsession) that Jon will sometimes forget my prior inexperience with all things technical. We’ll have our heads buried deep in the engine of our 1986 Ford 350 dump truck, which sometimes has trouble starting. “Well of course it’s the starter solenoid,” he’ll say. “Haven’t you ever rebuilt an engine before?”

Share

Renovating St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr (Part 1)

Historically our frenetic pace slows a bit in the late fall, as people settle down from the summer and start preparing for the holidays. This lightening of the load is actually a blessing, so to speak; Jon and his family are very involved with St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr, which is well over 100 years old and usually in need of some cosmetic updating.

The church was founded in 1876 and its structure completed in 1879; of course the sanctuary and surrounding buildings were added onto as the area’s population increased (though the original sanctuary remains, safely ensconced in a section of the much larger one built in the 1960s).

When I first came back to Philadelphia in 2003 and began working with Jon, after nearly 15 years away, I spent a decent amount of time at the church, helping them set up for their annual Children’s Festival and other large events. I met a lot of good people, which was nice since I didn’t have a large circle of friends or my own family yet. They’re a group that focuses on spiritual growth and positive living, rather than a strict or harsh interpretation of the Bible — not the kind of crowd to get upset when they see a Jewish boy like me wandering the halls.

So during the months of November and December we’ll often set up shop on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Pennswood Road (next to Harcum College) and give the church’s buildings their required and earned attention.

In past years we installed all new windows in the large Lurwick Hall educational building, re-drywalled and painted the interior of the building, excavated and re-poured the cement sidewalk and walkway along Montgomery Avenue, and installed new siding on the church’s parsonage (which isn’t the candlelit cabin I associate with the word, but a beautiful 6-bedroom house with a detached garage. This is the Main Line, after all).

This year we’re removing the original, cement shingle roof of the Lurwick educational building (built in 1950) and replacing it with dimensional asphalt shingles. The entire process should take about two weeks. Although not roofers by trade, we do roofing pretty regularly in the course of our projects. Almost always when we build additions (a few times a year), we’ll re-roof and then usually re-side or re-surface the entire house so it looks uniform.

Check back to see the work in action and find out if we’ve fallen off any ladders.

Share