Planning a Major Overhaul

kathartSeptember 28, 2009

Hi Everyone -

I'm reading these posts with great interest (and am learning a lot!) as I plan to embark on my largest, and hopefully last, major home overhaul. I recently bought an old home, early 1920's (although no one can really confirm) - a neglected American Four Square in an historic town. All plaster/lathe has been covered by '70's paneling - the plaster is crumbling. No insulation, 100amp knob & tube wiring and one small bath on the 2nd floor.

When I finish school next year, I plan to gut the entire house, reconfigure slightly, upgrade electric, install plumbing for another bath, etc. My plan was to remove the plaster/lathe, then insulate & drywall, however in reading up on plaster I'm starting to change my mind! Plus I prefer to keep things as original as possible. Perhaps I will remove the paneling (good riddance!) then reassess the plaster damage. I'll read-up on plastering - maybe I'll wet the lathe and just plaster again - foam insulation behind the walls also.

I don't have a particular question right now - this is my first post - but I'm getting a head start and when the work begins I'll be asking many questions, I'm sure.


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Welcome to the community, Kat! Doing lots of reading is the first step for sure, so you are on the right track. Time spent in planning and thinking things through is crucial and your preferance to keep things as original as possible is admirable. It is going to take lots of patience, money, hard work, and probably lots of time (unless you have lots of money! LOL). Good luck and keep us posted as you go along! -Kim

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 1:05PM
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Hi Kat! Sounds like you've been through some of this before? This is my first house (and an old one at that, silly me!) and I've gotten GREAT advice and encouragement here. Personally, I LOVE plaster walls. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Drywall is evil. It has no soul whatsoever. We have absolutely none of it in our house and use pine T & G instead of drywall in any areas of the house that have double wall construction.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 5:16AM
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Kat, I had to smile when I read your post. I started out thinking about how many changes we were going to make to our old house too. Then, I got educated about what it means to own an old home, how beautifully appropriate the original materials are, and how souless old houses become when they are gutted and reconfigured.

Please don't do anything to your house until you have spent many months learning about your home. The plaster can be repaired, it is easy to add insulation to an attic, which is all most houses really need, and you may find that the current layout of your house is fitting.

We patched large sections of our walls and ceilings after pulling off the ugly 1970's panelling and many layers of wallpaper. It was a bit time consuming, but was actually pretty easy. We have no insulation except for the attic and are very comfortable in the worst Colorado winters. I wanted to rip off the enclosed front porch as our very first project. Now I love it. We have stripped, sanded and reglazed our windows and found that to be pretty easy too. You never know how you are going live in the house until you spend a year or so in it. I hope that you find that the changes you want to make are minimal, keeping the character, details and charm of your home.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:58PM
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