New construction

Fixed-Price or Cost-Plus Fee: Which is better?

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A Tale of Two Cambridge Renovations

Two of our renovation projects, both in Cambridge, were recently featured in local magazines. The first, a renovation of a late 19th century home, was featured in New England Living Magazine. 

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Passive House: Construction Details

Our previous post introduced a Passive House project that we designed and carried out in Maine. This post will describe the building materials and methods used.
 
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A Passive House Project

My wife and I, both avid skiers, took the plunge a few years ago and bought some land in Bethel, Maine just a few miles from the slopes at Sunday River. In the course of designing the home that we wanted to build, a few things were important to us....

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Fixed-Price or Cost-Plus Fee: Which is better?

My dear friend David reached out recently on the eve of starting a construction project on his home. He said that he’d received two quotes from reputable builders and that one of them wanted to work Fixed-Price and the other offered a Cost-Plus Fee...

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Make Your Historic Home Energy Efficient!

A historic home has numerous perks for its owners; original hardwood floors, high ceilings, intricate detail, and the fact that you have, and are living in, your very own piece of history. However, with the good also comes the bad; poorly insulated...

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Renovation of an Historic Carriage House

As renovation contractors, we love it when we have the opportunity to take a neglected old building and - with the help of dedicated clients and a good designer- give it a new life.

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Project focus: Our new barn project

I posted a few months back about a new barn that we've been building in Weston, MA. Well, apart from the landscaping and a final coat of paint on the exterior, this project was wrapped up this week. 

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Project focus: A New Timber Frame Barn

We're known primarily as Old House Renovation guys. Maybe that's why we have so much fun when we get an opportunity to do some new construction from the ground up. A year or so ago we teamed up with the timber frame company Bensonwood to build a new...

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Historic houses: Beauty through imperfection

Several times a year I am asked to look at old houses for potential buyers.  I'll walk through the house and give them my opinion on the condition of the house, the feasibility of renovations and additions, ballpark costs, etc. 

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Renovating your home? Watch out for the hidden costs!

From time to time I see projects tabled or postponed due to budgetary reasons. It's unfortunate at any point in the process but it's particularly heartbreaking when the clients have spent many months and many thousands of dollars on design fees, only...

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Dealing with Lead Paint on Historic Houses

Most people have probably heard by now about the new rules put into place by the EPA concerning lead paint and renovations. The goal of the rules is to increase awareness of the danger of lead paint and decrease the risk of harm to occupants of old...

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Energy retrofitting and historic preservation. At odds?

Yesterday Landmark Services co-sponsored a symposium called "The Greenest Building is Already Built".  It was meant to explore the relationship- good or bad- between sustainability and historic preservation.  Five panelists provided wonderful...

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Case study: Planning a Kitchen Renovation

We have worked with the owners of a ca. 1895 Shingle Style house just south of Boston for over five years.  We started by renovating the exterior, stripping the house of its shingles and installing new ones, rebuilding the porches, and restoring the...

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Protecting Historic Houses

There are many methods to protect historic properties. Here's a quick primer.

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Managing Renovation Projects Effectively

I wanted to take an opportunity to explain our approach to managing renovation and addition projects. Residential construction is a challenging business but we've learned a lot in the twenty years since we started the company. That experience has led...

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One approach to old house kitchen renovations

Kitchen design is a very personal thing, especially when it comes to old houses. Some people want the kitchen to match the period look of their house while others don't mind having a more modern looking space.

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Restoring the original look of your historic house

Last time we did a survey of the Greek Revival houses in my town of Medway, Mass. There are some great examples of the style in town, ranging from humble to high style.  Now let's take a look at the potential pitfalls of altering the original siding...

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The Greek Revival in small town New England

One of the things that I appreciate about historic houses is the thought that the builders put into the ornamentation. They seemed to have an almost innate understanding of the use of proportion and, of course, a deeper understanding of the...

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Paint Color Do's and Dont's for Historic Houses

The selection of exterior paint colors for historic houses is, admittedly, a very subjective topic. Color schemes that please some people might give their neighbors nightmares. As subjective and personal issue as this topic is, however, it is clear...

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Project Update: A new timber frame home in MA

While we're primarily known as historic renovation contractors, we've broken ground on a new timber frame house on a picturesque horse farm west of Boston.  From time to time I'll be updating you on our progress.  It should be a pretty interesting...

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5 Reasons Not to Buy New Windows for Your Historic House

As an old house renovation contractor I am often approached by homeowners who want to replace their old windows. Sometimes this is the first item on their list when they buy an old house. They reason that the old, drafty windows are inefficient and...

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Additions to Historic Houses, more design guidelines

As a renovation and restoration contractor here in Massachusetts, I have built a lot of additions on to historic houses. Contrary to the philosophy of some preservationists, who feel that new additions should read as new additions and not pretend to...

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Additions to Old Houses Part 2: Exterior trim

Last time we discussed how important it is to place the roofline correctly when adding on to an old house.  If the roofline is too high or set at the wrong pitch, the addition could look awkward or even overwhelm the original part of the house.

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Building an addition on a historic house? Don't make these mistakes

How many times have you seen a nice old house ruined by an unsightly addition? Some additions "read" as additions from a mile away. It doesn't have to be that way. With some careful planning, it is quite possible to design and build an addition that...

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