The Woodka Remodel Week Three: Construction Begins!

Starting the third week of the Woodka Remodel, things are starting to pick up. The third week will see the start of the actual remodel construction after two weeks of very intensive deconstruction and removal of materials for reuse and recycling.

Since this is such an comprehensive remodel, the deconstruction of the old and construction of the new will take place simultaneously for the foreseeable future. The Habitat for Humanity volunteers have finished their work, and have hauled tons of old materials away from the site to be put to use in brand new homes throughout the local area, but work remains.

While the volunteers from Habitat have moved on, the builder and his team take their place to begin construction and continue with deconstructing and demolishing what couldn't be reused. They will be removing what's left of the old materials with the intent of recycling as much of it as possible: there is profit to be had from selling scrap metal, shingles, insulation, and other materials to be recycled into new products. Recycling, like reusing, greatly reduces the environmental impacts of the renovation process.

Construction Begins

The Woodka home is going to be undergoing a major transformation; not only is the structure going to be rebuilt to be more efficient and sustainable, but many changes to the homes' layout are planned.

The major changes to the home are addition of a tower to the front of the home and expansion of the ground and first floor levels on the lake side of the home. Before any of this can begin, some excavation is in order, which will be the main focus of week three.

Deconstruction Continues, With Some Surprises

As excavation for the tower footings and lakeside expansion begins, tearing out old materials presses on. This includes removing the old original siding (which had been covered by more recent siding) and old fiberglass batt insulation inside the home.

Stripping these old materials from the home has uncovered some very interesting things. Since all of these materials are original to the homes' construction dating back over 30 years, it is clear that Mother Nature has not been so kind.

For example, removing the siding has exposed the homes' original foam core wallboard, as well as several well-worn tunnels carved by mice as they traveled through the wallboard under the siding. The wallboard also contained many other holes of various sizes that have contributed to air infiltration into the home for years.

The fiberglass insulation also yields some disturbing finds. Several very large wasp and hornet nests have been built over the years inside the interior insulation through holes in the exterior siding. Even more disturbing is the discovery of large amounts of mold growing in much of the interior insulation; exposure to this mold can be detrimental to health and lead to various respiratory ailments. How many cold and flu symptoms over the years can be attributed to this mold growth is impossible to tell, but its presence is not a good sign. Mold is a sign that moisture (as well as air) has been getting into the homes' interior, a sign of less than adequate infiltration control.

There have been other alarming finds as the wall coverings have been peeled away. From an efficiency standpoint, the team has discovered many areas of inadequate insulation. The fiberglass batts have settled away from the wood studs in many areas, creating large gaps for air and moisture to penetrate the homes' envelopes.

From a safety standpoint, many examples of inferior and improper construction techniques were uncovered. These include insufficient bearing and electrical wiring that was probably not up to code even when it was installed.

Week Three Wrap-Up

Winding down the third week of the Woodka Project, there is great excitement as actual new construction begins. There has also been a realization of just how inefficient and possibly unhealthy the entire home has been, and for quite awhile. The insufficient insulation and poor construction techniques have led to energy costs being much higher for this home than they ever should have been. It's also dawning on the entire team just how important this renovation is, in order to bring the entire home up to modern safety and efficiency standards to save energy and create a much healthier indoor environment for the family.

Week three has also demonstrated to the design and construction team just how important green renovation is to securing a cleaner, more efficient future for the entire country. If this home, which was a very nice, upscale home only a few decades old, could have such poor insulation and degradation of its infrastructure, think of the millions of existing homes that could benefit from even the most basic green renovations.

Continue to Week Four of our remodel project HERE.

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