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Breaking into Dumbwaiter/Airshaft to Gain Space-Venting Issues

Posted by dreamojean (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 10:51

I’m interested in feedback, pictures etc. from people who have taken over an inside airshaft and/or dumbwaiter to gain space for a kitchen (or perhaps bathroom)- in our case we’re in New York City in an old brownstone. I’m particularly curious how much extra it cost people to do that and how it impacted their layout. We have a 3-story brownstone and are adding a kitchen back on the parlor floor and without taking over the airshaft we have a 10-foot wall for pretty much our kitchen counters and appliances (not including island countertop) which is pretty tight, but if we take over the airshaft we gain another foot or two of width and a few feet of depth (basically fridge space). But it seems like it will cost a pretty penny and I’m not sure how the kitchen even lays out well if we do it. We would leave the pipes at the back of the airshaft near the rear wall which also means it’s not like our fridge would be flush against the back wall, so either it will be bumped out OR will face into the kitchen on a bit of an L. And to complicate things, one bathroom plumbing pipe snakes out about a foot, maybe at knee level inside the air shaft, so unless we can move that one pipe we’re gaining very little by taking over most of the space.
Our alternative would be to use the former dumbwaiter space as a narrow pantry and perhaps build in shelving into the bathroom window where the air shaft is (around the pipes) which would certainly cost a lot less than taking out the ducting (but the ducting does seem like a waste of a lot of space, and outdated). The air shaft and dumbwaiter runs vertically the length of the house and has a relatively huge metal duct in the middle, compared to ducting these days which can be 6”. We would need to vent the first floor bathroom differently if we remove the current ducting; the parlor floor bathroom venting could be built into the renovated kitchen; and I don’t think the third floor is even vented right now.
Since so many of these old houses had the utility air shaft and dumbwaiter, I’d love to hear how others have solved this design issue! Our architect suggested we get our contractor candidates in and ask them the price to take over the space versus leaving it intact, and we may go this route but I wanted to ask this group as well. In case it helps I've posted a picture of a drawing using the current layout. Please ignore the sink by the window as that window will become the door to the outside. Plus we will have a kitchen island or maybe a peninsula jutting from the wall by the window/future door .

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