In this video, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor takes us to Dorchester, Massachusetts to partner with Rebuilding Together Boston in helping a very special homeowner.
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Rebuilding Together Boston is a local chapter of a national organization that’s dedicated to repairing homes and revitalizing neighborhoods. Kevin met with Janice Walker, executive director of the local affiliate, to help a homeowner in Dorchester—a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts.
Rather than letting homes go into disrepair and subsequently forcing the homeowners to sell them, Rebuilding Together steps in. By focusing on veterans, senior citizens, and people with disabilities in communities that need it most, the company is able to help folks stay in their homes with donated materials and volunteer labor.
Meet Our Homeowner, Roz
Roz is a senior citizen who has lived in her house since she bought it in 1999. When the home was for sale, she purchased it for $119,900, which was a terrific deal. But, she also bought the adjoining empty lot for just $1, making it a steal. And while the two lots and home now appraise for much more than she paid, she wants to stay in her home.
Roz has special ties to her home and her neighborhood. When she bought the house in 1999, this area of Dorchester was facing pressure from drugs, crime, and gangs. However, as a determined woman and community liaison, Roz was able to help spearhead the revitalization of her neighborhood, where people now live and congregate in peace.
What the House Needs
While the neighborhood is now thriving thanks to Roz’s efforts, her outdoor entertaining spaces aren’t doing as well. As a corner lot, she has a lack of privacy from the street on one side of her property.
Also, she has a deck on the back of her home that she loves to entertain her friends and family on. However, it’s in disrepair, with a distinct lean, sub-code stairs, and railings that wobble when touched. It’s also a bit too high, making opening the storm door over a snowy deck a real challenge and safety hazard.
Coming Up With a Plan
After inspection, general contractor Tom Silva and builder Deliandro Dias come up with a plan for the deck framing. Due to its condition, the deck needs a full tear-down and rebuild, including new footings that extend below the frost line, and careful framing around air conditioning line sets.
Also, finish carpenter Bill Gilbert assesses the deck stairs and realizes that they’re not up to code. The steps are too high and the stair width is too narrow, so new stairs are a must-do project. Bill suggests adding an additional tread to lengthen the run of the stairs and bring them into code, allowing for a more comfortable climb that also works within regulations.
Carpenter Nathan Gilbert is on the top side of the deck assessing its condition. Agreeing that the deck needs to be reframed, Nathan suggests that the team lower the deck height an inch or two to make opening the storm door on the back of the house easier with snow on the deck.
Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada and mason Mark McCullough work on an additional project. Jenn sketches the backyard and points out areas she’d like to screen off with some evergreen trees to provide privacy. Also, the two found a corner of the spacious lot that was begging for a brick patio. The two design that a brick patio would provide a hangout space while still providing plenty of space for Roz’s grandkids to play.
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From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.
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