In our largest DER (deep energy retrofit) to date, we have completely gutted and renovated a 4000 sq ft victorian. With this scale of demolition and re-insulation it was inevitable that much of the house would be affected, which has prompted us to take extra care in preserving the details of the home’s individuality. Our focus for the past few months has been on the envelope of the dwelling: air barriers, achieving max R-values, and installation of  new windows and all the rough mechanicals, but all the while we have not forgotten why this property was so appealing and what gave it character in the first place.

On much of the first and second floors, the typical 90 degree intersection between the walls and ceiling was replaced by a soft curve, making a smooth transition between verticals and horizontals. This curve will be duplicated by both of our plastering teams as they work on each half of the house.

Similarly, the baseboards, wainscoting, staircases, and moldings that frame the doors and windows all were beautifully detailed and needed to be preserved. Thus, while major demolition and remodeling took place, these elements have been kept in place and protected, ready to be unveiled at final completion. Shown at right is one of the pocket doors that has been salvaged, which, along with 100% of the first floor moldings and hardware, will allow the original character of the home to persevere.


Some of the other details that were important to be aware of were the sprinklers and the smoke and carbon detectors, which are all hardwired to connect from each of the three units to a zone panel at the entry of the dwelling.

And of course, the exquisite exterior details have not been overlooked. The soffits and fascias featured historic brackets and corbels that accented the roof lines, which have been saved, and the soffit projections have stayed intact in order to duplicate the original look of the exterior facade.

Ultimately, while the overt goal of this project has been to super insulate the building in order to create more comfortable and usable living environments, it had to be done without sacrificing the historic ambience of the existing structure.

Currently, the plaster is being finished and the exterior of the building is at 80% completion. With all the excitement we have been running behind on our blog submissions, but we promise to catch up in the following weeks.


One thought on “The Three D’s: Dorchester, DER and Details

  1. Pingback: Dorchester Renovation Wrap Up | BOSTON GREEN BUILDING BLOG

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