Last year, our company was hired to remodel the 24-by-30-foot kitchen ell of a 150-year old Vermont home. The owners wanted the renovation to retain the house’s vintage look while addressing some rather serious defects in the structure.

The second-floor living space of the balloon-framed ell was in good condition and definitely worth saving, as was the beautiful historic slate roof with fine period trim. The first floor, though, was in bad shape: Half the joists had previously been shimmed several inches, creating in effect two separate floor decks, and the entire floor sagged...

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