The 'Stonehouse' as it is locally known, had suffered through a long period of neglect. Structurally it was more or less intact, but just about everything else, plumbing, roof, electrical, and especially the interior needed a complete re-do.
The building includes a ground floor commercial space, with an apartment above. My realtor said "It's the worst listing I ever sold!"
Here on the left is the front of the building as it appeared in the fall of 2011.
The upstairs apartment. This was, as you can see, a dingy, airless hole. It's low ceilings, ill conceived layout, and absolutely horrendous paintjob made it feel even smaller than it's already tiny 460 square feet. Here, a wall that cut the space in two has already been removed
One of the biggest changes made to the building was the demolition, and reconfiguration of a dormer on the east side of the upper apartment. There were actually two small dormers in this area. An original one over the door, and a newer one tacked on over the bathroom, so you could stand up in the shower! The new dormer added an enormous amount of interior volume, and makes the apartment seem much bigger than it actually is.
The bathroom and plumbing were utterly hopeless. Everything needed to be redone.
The following shots are of the completed upstairs apartment. The addition of skylights and the open framing, allowed by placing the foam insulation outside the original roof sheathing gives the place a wonderful airy vibe.
Squeezing everything you need to live into 460 square feet can be a challenge, but with plenty of built in cabinets, everything manages to fit nicely. Living in a small space has been a real pleasure. And after all, we're not living in SW Colorado so we can sit around the house all day!
All the plumbing and heating systems were updated and replaced. The installation of a gas on demand water heater - (no bigger than an airplane carry on!) was a majorly good move.
The apartment was ready to move into on new years eve, at the finish of 2011. Just a few short months after demolition had begun at the beginning of October. The real work was only beginning, the downstairs was a horrible utter ruin!
The ground floor of the building was a rats nest of poorly executed quick fixes that were tacked on over the course of 130 years or so. It added up to layer upon layer of total crap that had to be stripped off and removed. Often enough, unpleasant discoveries were made when huge chunks of plaster were yanked down. Walls collapsed, pits and holes were dug, chimneys demolished, doors discovered, and vast amounts of dust flew. The floor joists were laying in the dirt, which apparently was pretty common practice a century ago, but they were riddled with dry rot, so essentially the whole shebang had to get torn out. In a way, this was a good thing because we needed to run a new sewer line so we had to get everything out of the way anyhow. The plan was to tear out the floor, replumb everything and install an in-floor radiant heating system in a new concrete slab. That's just what we did.
The concrete was poured, the ceiling got drywalled, new electrical lines were run, windows and doors were replaced, new plaster work was done, the boiler and heating system were up and running, just in time for winter the place was ready!
The ceiling downstairs and some of the walls upstairs are paneled in locally harvested and milled tongue and groove aspen, which is a wonderfully light, bright, and easy wood to work with. It really gives the spaces a warm, mountain cabin vibe.
The downstairs bathroom is one of my favorite features. The radiant heated floor is always nice and warm, and the shower drain is right in the middle of the floor. The on demand boiler ensures a steady, endless stream of piping hot water, and the paneled cedar ceiling smells incredible after the steam starts billowing up.
There is absolutely no way that I could have completed this project without the hard work and cooperation of an awesome team of really great people! I'd like to thank you all. Sean, the mason who just happened to show up one day, Cookie and Joey - Durango's greatest plumbers, Ben Fisher, Bob Rule, Everyone at Durango Glass, Bill Selecki and his crew, who did an excellent job with all the concrete, Phillips Electric, Durango Roofing, Lars Hansen, Jake Ehlers, and my dear Dad. Lastly, and most particularly I need to thank Amber Johnson, who, when walls were collapsing around me, held my hand and pulled me up out of dark, dusty pits of despair. There were quite a few of them!