Archive for September, 2011

Vintage style farmhouse

Author: Travis Kinney

Here are some scope shots of a project that is just finishing. I met with the building inspector yesterday as he walked through for the Certificate of Occupancy permit inspection. This first rendering was completed after the drawings were nearly done. You can see that a few changes occurred along the way, but the feeling is what I had hoped for.



vintage New England house



The client and I both wanted the house to look like it’s been there awhile, so it was important to keep as many mature trees around the house as we could. The building site was challenging as it is very narrow and drops off quite a bit near the back and one side. I took advantage of natural contours and placed the daylight basement accordingly. The long side of the garage is quite close to the property line setback (property line is along that fence to the right in the photo). The large doors at the end of the garage slide open to allow the owner to back his Boston Whaler into the garage for seasonal maintenance or if he wanted to store it for the winter and do work on it. Above each garage door will be gooseneck barn lights that haven’t arrived yet. The driveway is cobble-edged with a gravel bed.


New England farmhouse


You can see in this photo how much the land slopes down toward the backyard. Notice the elevation of the truck to the right. I LOVE the square edged stone retaining walls. Almost feels like there was once an addition to house there, making the place seem genuinely old. There will be planting added to mulched beds around the house later on. Notice the chimney pots – sweet!


view from backyard

The kitchen still has some work to be done, missing cabinet doors and hardware. The island top is some exotic hardwood that the owner’s Dad had shipped back from some South American country when he was traveling down there years ago. My client kept these huge planks for years in hopes of using them. He’s also having a large dining room table made from it so it will match the island. Notice too, that the island is at 42″. Kitchen counters are at 36″. I like bar heights at island seating because it places the guests who choose to sit closer to eye height. If guests sit at a 36″ counter or table height at 30″, then it places them too low for comfortable communication. The three faucet sets shown in this photo are all from Steam Valve Original. The owner had this really cool instant hot water and instant filtered water thing installed to the left of the sink faucet. You can just make it out in the photo. Great for french press coffee drinkers or tea drinkers.


farm kitchen

Here’s a view of the kitchen from the dining room.

farm kitchen viewed from dining room



The owner and mason came up with this granite slab fireplace surround and I love it. I designed the mantel using the portions of the crown-molding assembly. The wall washer lights need to be adjusted as they are pointing every-which-way. I like using herringbone brick patterns in my fireplace designs. There’s an entertainment center being installed to the left of the fireplace. Some doors are missing and top hasn’t been installed. The flooring has a dark stain on plain sawn white oak.


The mudroom connects the garage to the kitchen and along one wall there’s the laundry, pantry and powder room. Across from those rooms are a narrow closet, this cubby unit and then another narrow closet. There’s hooks that need to be installed in the cubbies. I envision baskets below the bench for winter gear and excess boots and shoes. The bench also acts as the window sill.

mudroom cubbies


Here’s one corner of the laundry room. It’s a small laundry room, but has everything you could want, including a 42″ wide steam, rolling, ironing thing, that is very cool. The cherry counter top is from lumber cut on site. The faucet is a Steam Valve Original. The slate sink came from a farmer up north who has a number of them in his field.

laundry room

Photo of sink in field last summer.

old slate sink in field

Here’s a photo of the master vanity and part of the tub. Notice the outward curved shelf on vanity backsplash. Great place to set something. Medicine cabinets are extra deep (I had the walls framed with 2×6’s instead of 2×4’s) and there are recessed outlets in the medicine cabinets for shaving or toothbrush equipment. Vanity hardware hasn’t been installed yet. Notice the square sink.

master vanity

The glass installer just finished as I was going to take a photo of the shower.

master shower


toilet closet

Town Sewer

Author: Travis Kinney
In order to fit the house on the site a Town sewer line needed to be rerouted out and around the garage. There are a number of Town Sewer Lines without easements so the owners worked with the Town to develop. Town manhole in street is in the foreground.

Town sewer


The existing sewer line could not be plugged while work was going on, so the excavator has to install a temporary by-pass pump from a manhole upstream to another one down past where the work was being performed. That black ball and tire pump in the foreground is used for plugging and pressurizing any new pipe going in to make sure it is water-tight.


temporary by-pass pump


Here’s one of the excavators setting up a transit on a new manhole (that will be in driveway in front of garage) to check invert and outlet elevations as it’s being installed.

new manhole





Foundation footing

Author: Travis Kinney
The foudation footings were recently stripped of their forms and crushed rock is being installed along with perimeter drains. Those big bundles in the middle are the 10′ tall wall panels for the foundation wall.

concrete footings


These 10′ tall wall panels are lowered into foundation hole with a small crane. The rebar that sticks up from the footings will be tied into the concrete walls. The orange plastic caps are temporary so no one slips and impales themselves onto a piece of rebar.


footings with rebar


The foundation footing steps down at the daylight entrance in order to maintain proper frost protection. I have seen a lot of colonial spec houses with daylight basements that had foundations poured without proper frost protection. To protect the house from frost, the foundation footing needs to stay 4′ (approx.) below grade. The black metal straps coming out of the footing on the right were used to hold the forms together. The black corrugated piping is the perimeter drain set into a bed of crushed rock (not fully installed in this photo). I prefer rigid drain pipe as it harder to be sloppy with the installation. I have seen guys in the dead of winter just uncoil a huge roll of it and then dump gravel onto it while the pipe rolled uphill and down. It’s a shame what some people get away with. The installation here was great, so I don’t have a problem using it.



daylight basement footings

It’s also nice to see rebar on site with the correct sizing. My foundation details specify #4 and #5 rebar in different locations. These are the two sizes I saw on the site for the wall pour. I will stop by the site prior to wall pour and check rebar placement and layout of wall panels.







Stainless steel railing update

Author: Travis Kinney

My client who had the stainless steel handrail installed talked to the fabricator and he told her, she’d have to clean it occasionally. I was surprised, as I thought stainless steel was pretty much maintenance free. I voiced this to the owner who replied that they had to rub down the stainless steel on their boat a couple times each year. I wonder if a galvanized railing would be better, but I worry about the galvanizing wearing through and rust starting. The railing fabricator told my client to use a Scotch-Brite ┬ápad that is red to rub the railing down. She did and said it cleaned up great. She was just bummed because she thought she was getting something maintenance free. She said she had read using car wax to help slow down any aging or surface rust from iron particles in the ocean air or dust (lawn isn’t in yet). There’s also a product called Never-Dull that people use on their boats.

Balcony railing

Author: Travis Kinney
A small cottage on the coast needed a balcony railing and I didn’t want to go with the same old white square balusters. The homeowner also wanted something that didn’t block the view and didn’t need to be scraped and painted every year. I thought of using stainless steel cables and knew they would not block the view. However, I have seen stainless solid rod railings that look very nice and kinda ship-like. I saw this photo in a magazine and liked the clean look. The house in the photo is more modern than the houses I design, but I thought the railing would still work for my project.


metal rod railing

You can’t tell from the photo above if the metalwork is stainless or galvanized. Since my project is on the ocean, I felt better going with stainless steel. I have seen galvanized railings on the ocean and they look nice too, but I worry about them eventually rusting and also wondered how I was going to get them galvanized after all the welding that would be required.

railing sketch


You can see at the bottom of the sketch that I was thinking of two ways to weld the rod the upright posts. The fabricator opted for the one on the left and I kind of wish I had tried for the one on the right. I like the clean look of the one on the left as it appears that the rod runs continuous through post. However, I found that with the upright posts about 6′ apart, the rods are very flexible and apt to bend if someone rests their foot on a lower rung. I think the detail to the right of sketch would have made for a more rigid rod. If a railing like this interests you, make sure you check with your Code Enforcement Officer. Even though this railing meets code, some Towns will not allow horizontal rungs for fear that it makes it too easy for a child to climb the railing and fall over the top.


Here’s a partial cadd drawing of the railing assembly.


railing drawing

There are a number of companies that sell great mahogany railing profiles. I just needed to decide if I wanted it narrow or wide.

mahogany rail small


mahogany rail wide

Here’s the railing installed with a narrow mahogany handrail. The mahogany handrail was quite rough and kinda fuzzy. I don’t think this was a sanding issue, but rather a weathering issue. I hope that over time as the grain opens up and turns silver, that it will get smoother. The short length rods to the right in the photo were very rigid as were the bent rods in the corner. You could stand on them and they would barely flex. However, the longer rods in the middle which span about 6′ were quite flexible and I worry about trying to keep the lower ones from bending because you naturally want to place your foot on them. I’m not sure if my other detail of face welding the rods across the uprights would stiffen them that much. I know I could shorten the span to 4′, but I wanted something minimalistic. In looking at the initial photo which was my inspiration, I can see that there are two upright posts right by each other. I’m wondering if the rod passes through these without being welded, but provide the support required. I also wonder if a slightly larger rod diameter would help. I was hoping for a brushed stainless steel finish and the finish looked a little dirty near all the welds. I thought that it might have been caused by burn marks of welding, but I’ve seen plenty of stainless steel work to know that doesn’t have to be the case. The fabricator said it’s just surface rust from iron and could be rubbed off with stainless steel cleaner. He then told the owner that any iron in the air or debri clinging to the rail will cause that and the owner will need to occasionally clean it. That surprised me. Do people on boats have to do that? I doubt it. So I need to look into it. Maybe there are different grades of stainless steel that need to be used and maybe there are certain stainless steel welding rods that need to be used. I do like the look and it’s what I was after, so I’m happy with that.

installed railing




Gunite pool update

Author: Travis Kinney

Here’s an updated photo of the Gunite pool. You can see the stairs in the shallow end. The stone wall beyond is called Van Tassel.



Gunite pool


I love having Coastal Lawncare overseeing the Gunite installation. If you look at an earlier photo you will see a large round circle along the far side of the pool. This was to be the underwater light. They realized it would shining toward the hot-tub and rest of patio and create a bright spot when looking at the pool. They decided to move it to the deep end (seen in the left of this photo) where it won’t be as visible from the patio but still light up the pool.

Gunite pool