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305 W. Mulberry Street - Goldsboro, NC

This house had a bad fire that started on the first floor, went through the second floor, and then out the roof. After the fire, it sat abandoned for almost 10 years. So not only was it burned, but it now was rotting. Preservation North Carolina (PNC) stepped in to help rehabilitate the neighborhood, and they started with the biggest eye sore - this house. We were contacted to see if we could help, and we started working with architects, engineers and the city to make sure we met all codes and still kept the feel of the older architecture. The demo had to be done from boom lifts and cables since the structure was so compromised, and in doing so we were able to see how the original structure was laid out when it was built. The house had been turned into apartments, but the new goal was to put it back to single family.

As we demoed, we had to rebuild at the same time to keep the structure from collapsing and keep our workers safe. It was a real challenge supporting with temporary walls and floors, framing the new floor or ceiling systems, then building the new permanent walls, and finally removing the temporary framing. It would have been faster and cheaper to build new, but that was not the goal. The goal was to show the neighborhood and the city that the worst house could be saved. We worked with the PNC staff to ensure that their goals for the property were met, and we made the changes to the existing floor layout to put it back as it was originally based on shadow lines in the framing and old nail patterns. As always, PNC was great to work with. Once the framing was repaired, we then moved on to the roof, exterior trim and siding repairs.

We had some of the old slate, exterior trim, and siding to go by to be able to make proper material selections. Since we didn’t have all the original elements, we had to fabricate what we needed to match. We removed the lead paint from the elements that were going to be reused and then installed the new siding and trim. The old windows and new materials were glazed, primed and painted with the colors that PNC found to be appropriate. The original slate was reinstalled on the front of the house, and an asphalt shingle was used on the rear of the house since we didn’t have enough of the original slate due to the fire.

The site was cleaned up and a tree cut to show off the house and make it safer for the property to be shown. The interior was left unfinished (just framing) for the new buyer to complete as he or she wants. The room layout was established, but no electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall, trim, cabinets and interior paint were done in this phase.

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Branch Grove - Enfield, NC

This is an ongoing project that we started with Preservation North Carolina (PNC). The house had to be moved because it was going to be torn down at the original site. It is also the home place of the founder of BB&T and is made up of a tripartite section built in the 1840s and a Georgian section built in the 1780s.

The first phase was to get the structure sound so it could be moved to a different property, get the septic permit to verify that the new property would be suitable, survey the house location on the new property, have footings dug and poured, move the house, build the foundations, sit the house on its new foundation, build the chimneys, repair/ replace damaged framing and siding, restore the windows, remove the lead paint, prime and paint the exterior, and replace the roof.

The second phase is now our responsibility. Julia and I purchased the property from PNC around the first of January. The property not only comes with this great historic home, but it also has 40 acres. In this phase we will be completing the interior -- which includes electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, drywall, trim, cabinets, tile, and paint -- and landscaping. All the finishes are high-end, and the appliances come with the property.

We have tried very hard to get all the modern amenities into the home and still keep it as original as possible. Originally, the home never had a kitchen, baths or closets, so modernizing it while keeping its historical character has been a fun challenge.

Visit the Branch Grove Facebook Page > 

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Cotter Project

This project was a 3-4 year process to renovate a home built in the 1850s. We started with demo of the failing plaster and the removal of a modern garage, sunroom and storage rooms. We knew going in to the project that termites had damaged the floor system on the first floor, but once the plaster was removed the full extent of the damage was revealed. The termites had eaten from the first floor all the way to the second floor, and some damage was found even in the roof. It seemed like the only thing holding the house up was the exterior siding.

So now the real fun began. We supported the second floor with needle beams and removed the floor system on the first floor after documenting wall locations. We reframed the floor system, lowered the old walls back down on the new floor and then added new framing in the walls to reinforce the damaged walls. Then we lifted the entire house 3 feet so we could install new footing and foundations. This home was built without footings under the foundations making it extremely low, which also meant any HVAC work would be almost impossible, so lifting it was a win-win.

In the meantime, a local friend whose family used to live in the house had shared old photographs of the house with us. The photographs showed that the house had a rear addition that had been removed in the early 1900s.  So once the house was lowered onto its new foundations, we laid out the addition to recreate the turn-of-the-century floor plan. The owner’s architect did a wonderful job using the photos to create building plans for the addition, while also designing the space to fulfill the owners’ needs and vision. We laid out the new space and had the masons do all the block and brick work for both the original section and the new. That is where we stopped until the Cotters retired and were ready to move to the area.

About 3 years later the Cotters were ready to proceed with the next phase, getting the house and grounds finished. They chose all their finishes, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, tile and appliances; and I will say they did extremely well and knew exactly what they wanted. Once the details were ironed out, we began framing the new replica of the rear addition. The interior trim was unique but not much was still in the house, so we had the trim fabricated to match the original. For the flooring, the original flooring that we were able to salvage was de-nailed, re-milled and reinstalled.  For the remainder of the floors, we had reclaimed pine milled to replace the flooring damaged by termites.  The cabinets were custom made and very nice, and painted the colors the homeowners selected. 

The exterior was re-sided and trimmed to match what had been there, except we used HardiPlank and PVC and had the new trim materials milled to match the original profiles. This option was used to help the owner with future maintenance. The old materials that were salvageable were donated to non- profits to be used on another property where HardiPlank was not an option. The landscaping done helped pull the entire project together, and the home was very impressive inside and out when finished.

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