This is the sorry state of the rear of the building. It has been languishing, lonely and unattended, since January 2015, 30 long months. Fortunately, the roof had been made water-tight just before we stopped work, so the building overall has been protected from the elements. The wall, as you see, was not. As I stated in a previous post, I have been persuaded by my team to remove all the new walls, joists, and roof we installed. In fact, the only part of the previous work that will be retained are the steel beams that carry the joists and floor around the staircase and elevator. We are all committed to recycling the materials we remove, which includes dismantling the SIPs into their components of plywood, insulation, wood, and Magnesium Oxide board, to be reused either on this project or another.
Effectively, we will be starting over. This adds up to designing the renovation of this house three times, starting work twice, and leaving the building standing unattended for more than three years...* No developer would stay in business for long if they did this on their projects. Its a good thing I dont claim to be a property developer!
On the other hand, this tortuous, stressful, and painful process has come to a point where we have a real shot at creating the first net zero energy** townhouse in Manhattan. Well, thinking about it, do you know of a net zero energy townhouse anywhere in New York, or in any other major metropolitan city? If you do please tell me, before I start thinking that we might be the first anywhere...
When I relaunched the project in October 2016, I imagined starting work before the end of the year, and wondered if working thru the winter would be problematic. So much for that! However, with the design complete at last, the approval and a work permit only weeks away, a contractor in place, and the finances all agreed upon, we are genuinely edging towards the starting line.
After the pictures drought, I look forward to posting ‘project progress’ pictures again, and showing and explaining what we are doing to achieve the goals we set.
As they say, Rome wasnt built in…well, you know the rest. Will the end result rival the glory of the ancient iconic city? Surely not, but maybe in the example we hope to set for the health of the planet, it just may be worth all the wait.
* For those of you who cannot remember the whole sorry story (and care to!), here is a brief recap. My ex-wife and I bought the townhouse in February 2013, and appointed a contractor and architect team, who claimed to be specialists in sustainable building. Whilst I was keen to build in a sustainable way, I had been out of the construction world for some time, and was not up to speed on either technology or standards. As I started educating myself, it became clear that not only was the architect we hired incapable of designing a building to be energy efficient, but was not even cognisant of New York building code regulations. We ended up with a building that was both inefficient and non-compliant. I still believe that the architect was simply incompetent, rather than deliberate in his errors and omissions.
When we learned that we were non-compliant, we stopped work and appointed a new architect and design team. They set about coming up with a solution that would be both energy efficient and code compliant.
During this period,my ex-wife resigned her post in the US, and we moved back to Europe. She persuaded me to put the property on the market in its unfinished and non compliant condition. With no buyers coming forward to offer a sensible price, and the marriage ending, I decided to finish the project myself.
Having taken a break, I felt free to re-examine the specifications. I realized that they needed to change from a house that my ex-wife and I would live in to a house I would resell. In addition, my team, having been given the chance to look at the design from a fresh perspective - and considering the time the building had been exposed with a half finished exterior -- persuaded me that, to ensure a safe and reliable job, we needed to remove the SIP walls and the roof, and start afresh.
* Net Zero Energy is the term for a building that, over the course of a year, generates all the energy it uses. In our case, all the power for electrical appliances, heating, cooling, and hot water, will come from our solar system.