Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

With temperatures dropping into the low 30's the past several weeks, establishing a heat source is vital. The two existing chimneys are far from safe standards of use, especially for our intended wood burning stove. Needing to remove the chimneys anyway for safety reasons (each 20' tower of brick rests just on two 2x4's, several feet off the ground), we deconstruct it from the top down, taking apart the adjacent walls with it, setting aside the materials gained for future use. The change in spatial quality is received instantly. With the brick mass that walled off our sleeping space gone, the space becomes lighter and more connected. Elements begin to be seen as continual rather than compartmentalized and start to suggest new programmatic possibilities.

We use the open space left in the central chimney's wake for the installation of our new steel chimney. As something that contains a series of strict safety regulations and inspection requirements, the UL certified material to construct the chimney is purchased from Lowes and IRR Supply. As a relatively expensive investment, we need to be especially sensitive to our installation decisions. We give ourselves two choices: use the UL certified double or triple wall insulated pipe to pass through the ceiling (which runs at about $100/2' section), or adhere to the NYS specified minimum clearance of 18" from single wall pipe from combustibles ($10/2' section). Capitalizing on the latter we save money, establish a longer length of single wall pipe which lets heat radiate into the space rather than straight upward, open up the space that becomes the new center of activity for the entire house, and ultimately challenge typical responses to building codes.

All the while, we continue to organize our constantly changing and growing stock of materials, and start to implement the basic systems we need to live: heat, water, cooking, and sanitation.

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