Winchester house
Photo: Kindra Clineff
While tradesmen work on every inch of the Winchester house, homeowners Kim Whittemore and Bruce Leasure meet with TOH general contractor Tom Silva to check on progress.
Since May, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and his crew of carpenters have been working on the TV project house in Winchester, Massachusetts, building a new kitchen addition and sunroom, reconfiguring the master bedroom suite and basement media room, and beefing up weakened or undersized parts of the original structure. As autumn gives way to winter and the rough carpentry is finished, Tom has put down his tool belt (for awhile, at least) so that he can orchestrate the next phase of the remodeling process. "When the framing is all done, "says Tom, "the subcontractors arrive." Plumbers, electricians, plasterers, and roofers have descended on the house, and the property is swarming with subs.

The job is far from over, and there are still plenty of decisions to be made — Tom and other members of the TOH team confer almost daily with homeowners Kim Whittemore and Bruce Leasure. Says Tom of the hubbub at the house: "Everybody here is real good at their job. The hardest thing is keeping them out of each others' way."

Metal and Asphalt Roofing
Most of the roof is being covered in architectural asphalt shingles, a durable and inexpensive roofing material. But asphalt is not recommended for a roof with a pitch shallower than 4 in 12 (meaning for every horizontal foot the roof covers, it rises 4 inches) because wind and rain can force their way underneath. So on the kitchen addition, Tom Silva called for a metal roof. The roofers soldered together sheets of lead-coated copper over the plywood sheathing to form an impermeable barrier against the elements, then added integral lead-coated copper gutters with decorative copper hangers. "The asphalt has a 40-year warranty," says Tom. "The metal will probably last into the next century."

Insulation Inspection
Buttoning up the house against cold New England winters (and the occasional scorching summer day) requires a tight and thorough insulation barrier. It's also a requirement of the Massachusetts building code, which is why an inspector showed up to meet with Tom and verify the completion of the installation, peering into walls and crawl spaces to examine the goods. Tom used two types of insulation: blown-in mineral wool for the walls and sprayed-on Icynene foam on the underside of the roofs. "Mineral wool has excellent insulating abilities, but if you use it on the underside of a roof, it has to be vented, just like fiberglass batts,"he explains. "We could have put in roof ridge and soffits vents, but by using the Icynene, which doesn't need venting, we saved some money in the long run."

Planting Trees
TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook to the rescue: To screen out the new neighbors after they cut down all the trees on their side of the backyard property line, Roger and crew planted three blue spruces, six giant western red cedars, and seven pyramidal white pines — chosen for their shape and dense foliage. The effect on viewing the neighbor's house, as Roger puts it: "Now you see it, now you don't."
Ask TOH users about Befores and Afters

Contribute to This Story Below