Saturday, August 31, 2013

I'm back!

Hello folks!  I'm baaaack!

after an entire year without posting on this site, I am officially back.  much has happened over the last year in my personal and professional life so there's quite a bit to share with you.  thanks for sticking with me while I worked through some of the most exciting and joyous challenges in my life so far.  I look forward to reconnecting with you and telling you all about my adventures both in Scandinavia and back home in Boston.

speaking of Boston, I'm back living in a triple decker in jamaica plain.  triple deckers are the most common type of housing in Boston.  in fact, tens of thousands of these homes were built in the first twenty five years of the twentieth century in and around Boston and New England.  simply designed, well built, and economically viable, this style of house flourished during that time period and continues to be an important part of residential living today in the Hub.  in neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain, often called "streetcar suburbs", these houses account for the vast majority of the housing stock.  they have held up well over the years and are often converted into condos.
our three decker in jp right as we started the deep energy retrofit
our (soon to be) green triple decker in Jamaica Plain at the beginning of the deep energy retrofit

our condo is a 1,000 square foot space comprising the entire top floor of a three decker built in 1905.  before it was converted into a condo in the 1990's, the owner turned it into a three bedroom apartment, maximizing the rent potential.  rent prices, neighborhood demographics, and questionable decisions by the building owner led to the decline of the building.  at one point it had a leaky roof, mold growing in the walls, and a tenant suing the owner.  it seemed on the brink of collapse.  after a series of events including foreclosures and lawsuits, a thoughtful, forward thinking real estate lawyer came along and revitalized the ailing condo association and purchased the second floor unit.

the first floor, easily in the worst condition of the three, was purchased soon after, opening the door for a sale of the top floor.  suddenly we found ourselves handing over a check with our entire life savings to buy a beaten up condo.  since buying the condo more than three years ago, we've re-spent that initial "life savings" several times and completely renovated the inside and outside of the house.  one of the most exciting parts of this work is the overall building project that the three condo units tackled together.  this project, called a "deep energy retrofit" involved drastically improving the energy efficiency of the entire property.  it took more than a year of planning and preparation, quite a bit of teamwork and know how, and a grant from the City of Boston and the local energy companies to make it all happen.

rather than hit you over the head with all of this in one post, I will put together a series of posts, each explaining one aspect or theme of the project, hopefully making the subject interesting and digestible.  so... please let me know if you want to hear more about any specific aspects of the planning, design, construction, sustainable initiatives and strategies, or even just how the heck we survived renovating our entire home, inside and out, while living in in.  I will do my best to paint a relatively accurate picture of both what we did and how we did it.

as always, thanks for reading.  enjoy!