Nothing in the 150-year-old timberframe building was plumb, level, or square. The tops of the walls had bowed out from the weight of the roof and were as much as 2-1/2 inches out of plumb over 9 feet.
 Nothing in the 150-year-old timberframe building was plumb, level, or square. The tops of the walls had bowed out from the weight of the roof and were as much as 2-1/2 inches out of plumb over 9 feet.

When I was invited to bid on the complete renovation of a 150-year-old house, I knew the project would pose some major challenges. While the interior needed all-new plumbing, electric, and hvac systems, the real trick would be executing the architect’s design: to create a contemporary interior with an open floor plan inside the traditional exterior. Nothing was plumb, level, or square in the old structure, which would make layout and alignment of the aesthetic elements very difficult. In a traditional interior, you can scribe the trim and fudge reveals to hide the defects; in this case, there would be very little trim to work with. The framing would have to be dead on.

Originally built in the mid-1800s as a boarding school for girls, the house had been converted some 50 or so years later into a private residence (see slideshow). When my clients purchased the building a couple of years ago, it was in the midst of an extensive but incomplete renovation. Like many old houses, this one had serious structural...

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