Archive for the ‘historic preservation’ category

Hidden Challenges of Historic Preservation

November 3rd, 2014

Imagine, if you will, the historic preservation of a building that was once ten to twelve small apartments. Now you’ll find four multi-million dollar condominiums in prime location of Back Bay Boston; where luxury design unravels.

From a homeowners point of view, you might want to know you can experience this Grand Back Bay multi-million dollar condo, enjoying living on sunny side of Commonwealth Avenue. Live in a magnificent residence restored to a stately 2 story home with incredible 11 foot high ceilings, ornate detail and impeccable design.

 Coffered Ceilings, A Chef Kitchen Any chef would enjoy whipping up an extravagant meal in this kitchen. A joy to be in with the abundance of natural light. Not to mention everything right at your fingertips, plenty of counter space to design your meals. 3 bedrooms, 3.5 luxury baths, 3 fireplaces: living room, dining room and family room; Balcony to Roof Deck 40 sf deck off dining room, 300 sf private patio.

Hardly a project for the inexperienced. This type of restoration takes the skill and expertise of a team that includes an architect and a contractor who know the ins and outs of the land here in Boston.  The partnership between the architect and the contractor does not stop at the office. As business associates, Guy Grassi and John Connaughton share a vision when they collaborate. This particular project took 14 months and many tradesman; carpenters, demolition experts, roofers, welders, steel experts, tilers, brick layers. How do they all work together to make magic happen? Read on.

Hidden Challenges of Historic Preservation

What were the challenges you faced? How did you craft through them?

Exterior Brick Restored to Historic Preservation Requirements

Back Exterior

The Historic District of Boston has strict permitting guidelines. It takes an experienced and diligent team of architect and contractor to know the Back Bay Architectural Commission requirements. All exterior work (whether or not it is visible from a public way) requires the review of the Back Bay Architectural Commission.  A Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, or Exemption Application must be submitted to and approved by the Commission prior to beginning any exterior work.

To keep a project moving, the Architect lays out the design and obtains the commission approval. The Contractor obtains the proper permits and keeps the project moving forward organizing many tradesman toward completion of the project.

This particular project at 313 Commonwealth Avenue, Connaughton Construction and Grassi Architectural Design Group added a penthouse to the fifth floor. This meant taking the roof off, raising the fifth floor; the ceiling height was too low. This modification raised a five story building to a five and a half story building.  “This is technical work!”, says John, President of Connaughton Construction. ” The amount of planning is intense. The materials that are required, planning with the weather, and length of time needed to complete this addition. Mix with the proper permitting involved, city officials, fire department, inspectors, Back Bay Architectural Commission need to be coordinated and satisfied.”

Custom Designs that were included?

On the exterior of the back of the building, space was added to the back. New bricks were custom made to match the existing bricks in size, color and texture.

The trim on the bowed windows is all custom milled. The outside trim had to be matched exactly.Then there’s the glass windows. This has  to be in line with upgrading historic building windows guidelines.  New window glass has to be matched exactly in size, color, the curved shape and wave in the glass. The windows installed in this building improve blast resistance and thermal performance.

The high performance retrofitting options meeting federal preservation standards are weatherstripping and glazing film,  blast curtains and shades,  laminated glass interior storm windows, and replacement glazing.

Personal Touches

Staircase Restored to Historic Preservation Requirements

Original Main Entrance

The original design of the main stairway from the Main lobby is preserved to look like new but its all original. Just beautiful paneling and framing on the walls, painted in bright and rich creamy whites. Accenting the dark wooden stair steps on white risers is pristine.

Library with Mahogany Paneling and Limestone Fireplace - Historic Preservation

Library

The Library, on the first floor, is restored to original design with Mahogany wall paneling and moldings along with the italian style limestone fireplace.

Unseen challenges

What you don’t see is the foundation of the Boston’s Back Bay buildings. They are built on wood piles. These wood piles exist submerged in water. The wood piles have to be under water. If they dry, they rot. When they rot, the building foundation becomes unstable. The entire building can sink or settle. If the earth shifts, the building shifts. If the building shifts, walls crack and structure becomes unlivable, and expensive to repair.

Our solution was to build a retention system under the parking area. This retention system collects all the water from rain or runoff, keeping the wood piles immersed in water. Open holes below allow water to drain into the soil.

That’s why a project of this caliber and scope, you need an architect and a contractor that keeps policing the project, keeps it moving forward, gathers all the approvals of all the players. Permitting for this takes time and its a huge challenge coordinating all the requirements.

You can count on our team to deliver a quality project on time and on budget. This is one area Connaughton Construction’s expertise pays for itself.

Book case flanked Limestone Fireplace

Picture 1 of 22

Book case flanked Limestone Fireplace Connaughton Construction

Contact Connaughton Construction

to discuss renovation of your project. We specialize in historic preservation. Set up your personal Consultation. If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or Ellen at x13.

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Connaughton Construction Featured in New England Home

 

Six Critical Decisions a Construction Manager helps you make

June 30th, 2014

There are so many decisions a home owner must make to get through a renovation project. This article narrows it down to six critical decisions a construction manager helps you make. Your custom builder will work with you and your Architect to get the job off to the right start.

If your project costs more than a few thousand dollars, it may be time to call in the professionals.

Six critical decisions a Construction Manager helps you make

  1. Lighting and electrical layout
  2. Selection of plumbing fixtures
  3. Appliance selections
  4. Selection of cabinets and any built-in cabinets
  5. Tile and stone selections
  6. Flooring selections

Lighting and electrical layout

Unless you’re an experienced electrician, it’s advisable to leave this part of the project to professionals. However, you should know your needs and be in on the planning of wiring and lighting installation. As with the functional design of the home living space, a good electrical plan begins with a diagram.

Home electrical wiring covers a lot of different things; the breaker box panel, home lighting, appliances and other high voltage electrical systems. Ovens, water heaters, clothes dryers, and HVAC (heating, venting, and air-conditioning) systems need high voltage. It might include low voltage systems like phone systems, doorbells, computer networks and home security systems as part of the wiring process.

Your construction manager knows the local codes and requirements for the kitchen, bathrooms, and outside outlets. There will be code requirements about dedicated circuits, a minimum number of kitchen circuits, minimum of outlets on each wall, and many others that might seem overwhelming at first. Once it is all done though, you’ll really be glad you followed all the regulations. It makes for a better house.

Selection of plumbing fixtures

Building a home requires installing systems to deliver water and remove waste. Determining the size and type of pipes needed for the drain, waste and vent (DWV) system, and your local plumbing codes is critical to success of your new or renovation project. Each jurisdiction follows specific Uniform Plumbing Code requirements for pipe sizes, they may need additions or deletions to the code. Your contractor must calculate the correct plumbing waste line sizes required for your construction project. Connaughton Construction will gladly guide you through the best choices for your home and project. Six Critical Decisions a Construction Manager helps you make. 3. Select Plumbing and Fixtures

Once the plumbing behind the walls is determined, selecting the fixtures for kitchen and baths include toiletsfaucets, sinks, and showers. Connaughton Construction can recommend the latest in technologies and features for your home, while maintaining the style of your existing room.

Appliance selections

We help clients select appliances and sinks during the preliminary design phase, which often comes before selecting the rest of the finishes and fixtures. This is so the plans can reflect the proper sizes, which will in turn affect the cabinetry layout.

It’s also time to decide whether or not you want a prep sink in addition to your main sink. At this point, by the way, it’s fine if you decide to change from a 36-inch range to a cooktop and wall oven.

By the time you get to final construction documents or order cabinets, however, these decisions must be finalized. The nice thing is that there are now a few big decisions that you can check off your list.

The decision on how many pendants to use affects how many junction boxes you need on the ceiling — and that decision needs to be made before plans get approved for permits and before the contractor closes up the drywall after rough electrical is done.

This is why the professional you hire may focus you on figuring out the lighting plan before picking out the countertops.

Selection of cabinets and any built-in cabinets

Six Critical Decisions a Construction Manager helps you make: 4. Cabinets and Built-in CabinetsThe selection of cabinets starts with the style – maybe classic, modernist, or old world charm – you envision in the appearance you want to portray in the room.

Rather than picking the cabinet wood species and finish color by itself, and then picking countertops and tile, I like to have my clients work on an overall palette of materials at the same time. Layer the materials and create collages of patterns, textures and colors to see what works best together.

Tile and stone selections

Order current samples of the materials you’re considering. Get a door sample with your style and finish for final approval. Make sure you go to the stone supplier and view and tag the actual slab of marble for your countertops, and make sure to order a current control sample of tile for your backsplash. All these extra steps will cut down on costly mistakes.

Decorative tile in the kitchen is a great way to express your personality and style, but proportion and scale are critical. Tile is a pretty permanent decision; once it’s up, it’s expensive to change. You or your designer should do color studies and pattern studies, and look at them alongside photos and samples to be absolutely sure you’re making the right choices.

Flooring selections

Matching the floor stain color is one of the most challenging phases of a project. If you’ve got original floors and plan to refinish just the kitchen — or are laying new wood floors to match the old for continuity — don’t expect a perfect match. Many floors in old homes are made of old-growth wood, and flooring is manufactured differently now. The natural patina of an old floor also is nearly impossible to match. Companies offering reclaimed wood floors can make that matching process easier.

In Summary

A good rule of thumb is if your project costs more than a few thousand dollars, it may be time to call in a pro. A construction manager has access to planning tools and technology that most homeowners do not. They have the inside scoop on trends, new materials, building codes and technical quirks. And their remodeling expertise can save you a lot of time, money and frustration. Use our tips to help the process flow smoothly from start to finish. Be prepared to share with your architect and PM what you like and what you hope to change to give a firm place to start. Do your research. Stay Flexible. Know your budget. Settle on a timeline and a number of draft plans. Keep changes minimal.

Finally be patient. A good plan takes time to create, and so does bringing it to life. Putting in effort on the front end, from choosing finishes to thinking through the work zone, will pay off in the long run. And the last thing you want is a rushed construction job — no matter how anxious you are to put your new kitchen to work.


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Do you have your own stairway design and need the hand of an experienced custom home builder?

Contact Connaughton Construction to discuss your luxury design project.

Set up your personal Design Consultation.

If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or  Ellen at x13.

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Luxury home renovation – Featured in New England Home

June 10th, 2014

The May/June 2014 Issue of New England Home magazine is featuring a luxury home renovation in a Boston brownstone with Connaughton Construction as the builder of choice. This renovation includes a refurbished grand staircase, a stairway turned into an elevator, a coal shoot turned wine cellar, an ornate skylight in a bathroom floor, and a roof deck. We tell it from the ground up.

A single family home, built in the late 1900’s, divided into multiple units decades later is once again renovated back to a single family. Who wouldn’t be seduced by its charm and elegance? Here you’ll find traditional architecture meets contemporary design.

Creative designs in this luxury home renovation

A wine cellar

An old coal shoot gets a new lease on life as a wine cellar. This was no easy task. There is always a water  issue in basements, or any room under ground. This room was no exception. However, professionals were hired to seal the deal. Luxury Home Renovation - coal shoot turned wine cellar

Stain glass skylight in bathroom floor

Luxury Home Renovation - stained glass skylight in bathroom floorA stain glass floor in the master bath is a skylight to the stairwell below. An amazing way to light up a bath with natural light while adding unique architectural charm.

A new elevator

A stairway was turned into an elevator accessible from all five stories. The stair hall had to be reconfigured to fit the elevator. The elevator runs from the basement to the roof deck where you’re view of the iconic prudential building. Who wouldn’t enjoy this  private deck for sunning during the day until cocktails and star lit skies at night?

Roof deck

The roof deck is private lounging area looking toward the prudential building. Looking east is set for dining and cocktails with a vision of starry skies and the city all light up. Luxury Home Renovation - Elevator to roof deck

 

 

 

 

 

Luxury home renovation – Featured in New England Home


Contact Connaughton Construction

to discuss whether solar panels are a good choice for your home. Set up your personal Consultation. If you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, please call John with Connaughton Construction at 781-899-1438 x 14 or Ellen at x13.

Get quarterly up-to-date information on other environmentally savvy home renovations.
Sign Up for The Builders Notebook Newsletter

More Inspiring Articles

Hidden Challenges of Historic Preservation in Boston’s Back Bay
Connaughton Construction Featured in New England Home

Selecting Reclaimed Flooring for the Home or Store
5 Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling Part 1 of 2
5 Eco Friendly Choices for Building and Remodeling Part 2 of 2
Six Critical Decisions a Construction Manager Helps You Make
Caesarstone: Colors, Textures, and Applications

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