East 8th Street: Rebuilding Has Begun

After a whole lot of demo, we are finally putting E 8th St back together! Our subcontractors have been busy digging out and prepping the garden level, spraying new shotcrete to sure up the foundation, and reframing the entire property. In this post, we are going to walk through all the steps we took to make sure the house has a solid foundation for years to come.

Most importantly, we are teaming up with Sell Boston to sell these two townhomes! Stay tuned for more info...

 After gutting the old garden floor, the foundation needed a lot of work to get it up to todays standards.

After gutting the old garden floor, the foundation needed a lot of work to get it up to todays standards.

 We decided to use reinforced rebar sheet and 3-4 inches of 7500 PSI shotcrete in order to rebuild and stabilize the foundation.

We decided to use reinforced rebar sheet and 3-4 inches of 7500 PSI shotcrete in order to rebuild and stabilize the foundation.

 Our expert team in action spraying the shotcrete. Shotcrete is typically used in commercial applications such as Sea Walls and Subway stations due to its strength and longevity. 

Our expert team in action spraying the shotcrete. Shotcrete is typically used in commercial applications such as Sea Walls and Subway stations due to its strength and longevity. 

 An after shot of the newly improved and strengthened foundation wall. 

An after shot of the newly improved and strengthened foundation wall. 

 Now that the foundation has been fixed, its time to dig and form footings to ensure that the new home has a stable base. 

Now that the foundation has been fixed, its time to dig and form footings to ensure that the new home has a stable base. 

 Now that the inside of the foundation is secure, its time to take down and rebuild the exterior brick.

Now that the inside of the foundation is secure, its time to take down and rebuild the exterior brick.

 After the brick is rebuilt, the entire foundation gets a brown coat and a smooth coat of stucco!

After the brick is rebuilt, the entire foundation gets a brown coat and a smooth coat of stucco!

 Now that we have fixed the foundation issues, its time to get materials delivered so we can start framing! Check back in shortly to see the framing process.

Now that we have fixed the foundation issues, its time to get materials delivered so we can start framing! Check back in shortly to see the framing process.

East 8th Street: Demo Phase

We are well under way with the demo phase at our E 8th Street project in South Boston. The interiors of both properties have been gutted down to the studs and three layers of siding have been stripped off the exterior. In case you missed the "before" pictures of these properties, check out this post!

 With few load-bearing walls, we were able to open up the space.

With few load-bearing walls, we were able to open up the space.

 Gutting the bathrooms exposed a lot of old plumbing that we will need to replace.

Gutting the bathrooms exposed a lot of old plumbing that we will need to replace.

 This is one of many dumpsters the demo crew filled.

This is one of many dumpsters the demo crew filled.

 As you can see, there were multiple layers of siding we had to strip off.

As you can see, there were multiple layers of siding we had to strip off.

 The crew working on exterior side 3 of 4. 

The crew working on exterior side 3 of 4. 

East 8th Street: Our Newest Acquisition(s)

In late April, we aquired two side-by-side properties on East 8th Street in Southie. We will be turning these decrepit properties into two beautiful four-story townhouses. For both properties, we plan to gut the house, reconfigure the floorplan to create a dreamy master suite on the top floor, update the exterior, and choose high end finishes that will make buyers' jaws drop.  

The team couldn't be more excited to get started on this project! Stay tuned for updates on the demo phase...

 Both properties are in serious need of a facelift.

Both properties are in serious need of a facelift.

 The cramped kitchen layout needs to be re-worked.

The cramped kitchen layout needs to be re-worked.

 The bedrooms are small and drab. Our new floorplans will make maximize bedroom space.

The bedrooms are small and drab. Our new floorplans will make maximize bedroom space.

 The existing bathrooms are dark and dated.

The existing bathrooms are dark and dated.

 The disorganized basement made it impossible to take advantage of the walk-out into the back yard.

The disorganized basement made it impossible to take advantage of the walk-out into the back yard.

Maverick Street: Putting the House Back Together

Our house on Maverick Street posed a lot of structural challenges at the beginning of this project, but the extra work was well worth it. Because we gutted this house, we were able to completely reconfigure the floor plan to maximize space and to make the home flow more naturally. We reconfigured this home into three units, each unit having an open-concept kitchen and living area, two spacious bedrooms, and two bathrooms. With jaw-dropping 10 foot ceilings and custom finishes throughout, we transformed this previously uninhabitable property into what we hope will be someone's dream home. 

 We sided the house in a two-tone green siding and added a staircase to the exterior deck so that we could remove one of the  interior staircases , creating more square footage indoors.

We sided the house in a two-tone green siding and added a staircase to the exterior deck so that we could remove one of the interior staircases, creating more square footage indoors.

 These are the completely reconfigured floor plans for two of the three units. 

These are the completely reconfigured floor plans for two of the three units. 

 After gutting this house, we realized this home had hidden 10 foot ceilings on every floor of the house!

After gutting this house, we realized this home had hidden 10 foot ceilings on every floor of the house!

 Putting up new drywall allows us to see our vision for a space become a reality. 

Putting up new drywall allows us to see our vision for a space become a reality. 

 We installed gorgeous dark wood cabinets in the kitchen.

We installed gorgeous dark wood cabinets in the kitchen.

 We loved these natural looking stone tiles for the shower floor.

We loved these natural looking stone tiles for the shower floor.

Maverick Street: Structural Rehab in East Boston

When we purchased this house truly ugly house in East Boston, we knew we might have signed on for more work than some of our previous projects. The foundation was cracking, an outer wall of the home was rotting away, the deck on the back of the house was unsafe to the point we could not walk on it, and the roof was in such bad shape that we could see sunlight shining through holes in the ceiling. With the help of a brilliant Brazilian craftsman, we were able to tackle the structural challenges of this house and turn it into a beautiful home.

 The home was sided with fake brick and worn-out shingles.

The home was sided with fake brick and worn-out shingles.

 The decks on the rear of the house were sagging and the fake brick exterior was peeling off the walls.

The decks on the rear of the house were sagging and the fake brick exterior was peeling off the walls.

 Inside the home, so much had collapsed or decayed that it seemed nature was taking this building back.

Inside the home, so much had collapsed or decayed that it seemed nature was taking this building back.

 It goes without saying that this house was uninhabitable.

It goes without saying that this house was uninhabitable.

 To gain space in this home, we removed this extra interior staircase and built a staircase into the exterior decks on the back of the house.

To gain space in this home, we removed this extra interior staircase and built a staircase into the exterior decks on the back of the house.

 The new concrete in the upper right of this picture was piped into this basement through a 3 foot wide walkway between this home and the next door neighbors. 

The new concrete in the upper right of this picture was piped into this basement through a 3 foot wide walkway between this home and the next door neighbors. 

 In order to rebuild this exterior wall that had rotted away, we had to put up temporary bracing to prevent the whole building from collapsing - this was scary stuff. 

In order to rebuild this exterior wall that had rotted away, we had to put up temporary bracing to prevent the whole building from collapsing - this was scary stuff. 

Squantum Saltbox: Ugliest House Transformed Into Our Most Beautiful House

We learn from each project and with this Squantum Saltbox disaster we bought back in April, years of design learnings came together. We learned about flow, smart storage, and design finishes. We spent days designing and redesigning the layout to make the flow as effortless as breathing and then spent five months gut rehabbing it. The list of design improvements runs long:

  1. Opened the wall to give line of sight to the living room from the kitchen
  2. Converted two bedrooms into a master bathroom suite.
  3. Turned one of two living rooms into a dining room
  4. Added a second bathroom upstairs
  5. Cut back the jungle and planted new grass
  6. Added a closet, pantry, and bench

We initially planned to list it in the mid $600s but after all the extra expenses we listed it for $729,000. Let's see what buyers think at the open house.

The before and after photos tell the rest of the story.

 Stripped the shingles and added new siding.

Stripped the shingles and added new siding.

 Hickory floors are 40% harder than oak.

Hickory floors are 40% harder than oak.

 New dining room

New dining room

 Two small bathrooms turned into a master bathroom and en-suite

Two small bathrooms turned into a master bathroom and en-suite

 Welcome to the jungle

Welcome to the jungle

Squantum Saltbox Renovation: Our Ugliest House Was Rotten On The Inside

We purchased the Squantum Saltbox in April, 2016 and it had the toughest, most chopped-up layout of any house we purchased. In addition, the addition built in the 1950s turned out to be rotten once you exposed the wood and framing. And the plumbing system looked like a kindergarten science experiment. The original scope of work was to replace kitchens, baths, floors, paint and open up two walls.  The new scope became a full gut rehab plus new siding.

 Opening the wall from kitchen to living room gives line of sight into the kitchen front the entryway.

Opening the wall from kitchen to living room gives line of sight into the kitchen front the entryway.

 Surprise! Baby squirrels in the attic. We brought them to an animal shelter

Surprise! Baby squirrels in the attic. We brought them to an animal shelter

 We reframed and re-plumbed most of this house. Careful coming out of the door.

We reframed and re-plumbed most of this house. Careful coming out of the door.

 Some serious reframing

Some serious reframing

 Closed-cell spray foam insulation cuts down energy bills

Closed-cell spray foam insulation cuts down energy bills

 Bathroom niches maximize space

Bathroom niches maximize space

 Hickory floors cost more but they're 40% harder than oak and owners love them.

Hickory floors cost more but they're 40% harder than oak and owners love them.

semi-custom-kitchen
 Paint quality is all about prep quality

Paint quality is all about prep quality

 Entryway bench and hooks

Entryway bench and hooks

insulation-before-siding

Squantum Saltbox Disaster: Ugly house in a beautiful waterfront neighborhood

I was away in Cuba when Garrett got this house under agreement and I never saw it until we already owned it.  When I pulled up to the house I cringed and said, "Yikes. That's the ugliest house we've ever bought".

Inside was just as ugly: this poor little seaside saltbox cottage was a victim of many counterintuitive additions. The rooms were tiny and chopped up and the interior flow was worse than the Downtown Crossing T-Stop.

Our mission, which we were forced to accept, is to undo the madness and make a clean flow for this wack job

Purchase Price: $382,000

 Our favorite carpenters, Mr. Huang and Mr. Huang, said, "this house very ugly."

Our favorite carpenters, Mr. Huang and Mr. Huang, said, "this house very ugly."

 Yellow and brown: so hot right now.

Yellow and brown: so hot right now.

 We hope these posts are non-structural because they're coming out.

We hope these posts are non-structural because they're coming out.

ugly-house
 The staircase has 5 feet of headroom at the top. We'll have to fix that.

The staircase has 5 feet of headroom at the top. We'll have to fix that.

squantum-real-estate
 This is part of the addition and the floors are completely rotted. We'll need to reframe it.

This is part of the addition and the floors are completely rotted. We'll need to reframe it.

 This study had many leather-bound books and smelled of rich mahogany. Or cheap parquet.

This study had many leather-bound books and smelled of rich mahogany. Or cheap parquet.

Finding time capsules when gutting a house

Normally we don't like surprises when opening up walls. But occasionally when we renovate a house in Boston we'll find time capsules. It's as if the carpenters understood that their work would live longer than them - that the next time this wall would be opened and reframed they'd be long gone.  Here's a project from our Quincy Renovation where we found time capsules from three different eras: 1912 when the house was originally built,  WW1 in 1916, WW2 when Churchill was running the show, and 1959 when an addition was built. There was a bombing in North Station in 1959 and the bomber was never caught.  Scroll through the gallery to see more.  We would've loved to respond to those Want Ads in 1912 and bought all the houses for sale for as advertised $10/month.