Ongoing house projects

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As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been taking stock of the progress that Laura and I have made in our quest to lead a more sustainable life. I look around our house and there is a lot to feel good about, and despite our best intentions a lot that is still to be done. Many of the things we’ve managed to do around the house are things that we’d all probably consider low-hanging fruit.

In 2006, we’re going to have to start tackling some of the bigger things. Our house was built in 1923 and is in need of some serious upgrading. Our windows and doors are pretty leaky. We’ve done some research into restoration and found that there are a couple companies in the Chicago area that restore wooden double hung windows. We’ve found the House in Progress to be a great source of information (and also pretty funny). It’s a journal maintained by a couple who are restoring a 90 year old bungalow in Chicago.

I was really pleased to find that we’ll be able to restore our wooden windows for about the same cost as installing new vinyl windows and way way cheaper than new wood windows.

Our other major project will be getting our house re-roofed. There are a lot of choices for material, so we haven’t quite made up our mind there. We’ve found an interesting roll-on roof made from recycled tires, a bunch of shingle choices and we’ve even had steel roof panels suggested to us.

We’ve found some resources, but nothing that gets us any closer to a decision. If anyone reading this has been through the whole picking the best roof thing, please feel free to share your opinion with us.

While the roof is off, I’m hoping to add some new insulation in our attic crawlspace and into the walls as well. There is some pretty neat soy-based foam that expands like crazy and makes for a really good insulator. I only wonder if it’s too good, because from my understanding you need some air flow in you roof and walls to prevent mold.

This is going to be some new territory for us, but we wanted an old house, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. As I fight to open each and every one of our windows so that I can clean all of our annoying triple-track storms in preparation for putting up plastic and weatherstripping I’ll be looking forward to next fall and newly restored windows.