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Abington, PA 19001


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Silver Spring, MD 20902
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Current Projects and Advice

Rowhouse Reno done!

I'm worse at keeping curent that I thought! At least my Facebook page is up-to-date.

The rowhouse renovation below is done, with great success. Hopefully I can bring you "move-in" pix once the owners have fully moved in, but for now:

The balcony came out beautifully. We opted for a fairly traditional appearance, and it let them open up the bedroom.

The relocated fireplace will really center the renovated living room.

And the new laundry and powder room in the basement define the play/work and lounging areas while making daily life a bit easier!



Rowhouse Renovation

Time to share some progress on projects: many have been in designs but a couple are about to start. And a Center City row home renovation is underway! The owners bought a beautifully finished row in Center City, but needed to adjust it a bit for their lifestyle. We moved an historic fireplace mantle up to the living room, added laundry and powder room to the finished basement, altered the wine cellar, and created a cozy TV nook. Upstairs, minor modifications give us a linen closet and some, new walls and closets break the cavernous master BR into usable sizes. And a room for the new baby, not part of the original program!

Balcony 3d

2 Story Addition

We are designing a new rear addition for a young couple with a growing family. With 4 kids, and a tiny 6x10 kitchen, the house is bursting at the seams. This new addition will give the family some much needed kitchen/family dining space on the first floor. With a deep porch and large overhangs, the south-west facing rooms are sheltered from the summer sun while allowing winter access, and give the owners a great connection to the vegetable garden and back yard. The new mudroom is also a convenient way in for the kids coming home from school, and a place to clean the dog.

On the 2nd floor, we are providing a modest master suite. While it could be full width, there is no need for the extra costly square footage. By making it smaller than the first floor, we reduce the constructed square footage and have some space for an interesting shape and a porch roof. The new bedroom also opens up an existing bedroom for the older daughter and alleviates the stress on the single small bathroom.

Perri East CameraPerri West Camera

For cost reasons, we are looking at just a crawl space foundation, although the site's steep slope means the footings area almost low enough for a full basement. If this can be worked into the budget, it will give them more hobby and exersize space, and access to the basement from outside.  The addition will be sided rather than stucco in the tradition of many older homes that have grown through time, and the roof line will break up the mass of the tall walls. We are using thick heavily insulated walls and attic, Energy Star windows, no-VOC paints and finishes, and are adding new HVAC and re-zoning the whole house to upper and lower zones for greater control and efficacy. This addition will give this and future families plenty of space in a wonderful neighborhood, for years to come.

Almost done!


We are almost done with the Addition. This project has been a good example of what can go wrong and what goes right. A lot of planning went into the layout, especially details like insulation, lighting and switching, but it seemed like some of the subs just didn't pay attention. The foundation was a bit off, although it worked out. We had roof ponding issues, none of the switching was wired as layed out, the HVAC is still not right and the kitchen cabinet installation has some issues at the corners, and some others. I'm not sure they ever looked at the drawings. I think we are in the end-of-project need-my-crew-elsewhere blues.

However, it did get built quickly, problems are addressed and taken care of (just could have been avoided in the first place, sometimes). The GC has been very helpful with suggestions, went out of his way to make the roof work, taking care of unexpected water issues in this past season, and genuinely wants this to be done well.

And it is looking great!Sandra, almost done

Rooftop Decks and Rowhouses


Just in time for spring, my South Philly rowhouse renovation is nearing completion. The weather played havoc with the schedule since you don't want to open up a roof with rain expected! One of the last issues is the rooftop deck. We have run into a few issues that are worth exploring.


The first, surprisingly, was to have an arbor or not. In this case the roof orients dead south and August in Philly is tough, so I suggested one. It will also shade the new family room. Some folks just like having umbrellas which will open the sky a bit in those in between months. New new cantileverd umbrellas are a bit more flexible for this.


I had hoped to reduce costs and complexity by using a reinforced vinyl roofing that is common on condo decks (Duradek). The builder (Springfield Construction) also proposed fiberglass, which is also common down the shore. The vinyl proved unexpectedly costly and the problem with both was integrating the arbor posts. With fiberglass you stood a chance of cracking at the posts and the detailing for the vinyl was trickier, although still doable. Now, there are different ways of attaching posts and rails that will work well, but for our layout, these were the issues.

We finally went back to the tried and true rubber roof (EPDM) which has a monolithic application good for water control on flat roofs and a good life expectancy, with a wood deck above. The two remaining issues are decking material, and access to the roof for maintenance.


For the decking we are probably going with PT wood, the best quality we can find, since the costs for Trex etc are too high for this budget. This will add a maintenance factor to it, but so does having to clean a synthetic deck. For access, we are considering a substructure with removable 3' square sections. This will give us a nice pattern for the deck as well.


There are a lot of considerations, including safety for children (higher rails, no benches at the side rails) furniture sizes and view, let alone privacy. But the views of sunsets and fireworks, the breezes in summer and a bit of outdoor space in the city are worth it!




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