Project Update: Arlington, MA Historic Home Renovation & Addition


This is the third installment in our monthly chronicle of a major historic home renovation and addition project in Arlington, MA. The first installment laid out the scope of the project. If you missed it, you can read it here.

There are always stages in a project when most of the work is behind-the-scenes. Rather than obvious transformations such as new walls or finishes, daily progress is measured by less visible – but essential -changes to the guts of the home.

December was such a month on the Arlington project. Our work focused on infrastructure improvements – some of which were planned and others the result of the surprises that so often come with historic renovations. Let’s start with the surprises.

MA historic renovation floor joistsWe discovered that the existing attic floor joists were cracked and the main carrying beam had shifted from its supports. As a result, the house had a lot of interior movement and walls that splayed outward. Before proceeding, our top priority was to restore the home’s structural integrity.

We partnered with a structural engineer to evaluate the problem and develop cost-effective solutions. Morse Constructions installed steel brackets and metal connectors to support the main carrying beam. We then sistered new 2” x 8” joists  to the existing floor joists to add support.

Once we ensured the structural integrity of the home, we:

  • Began rough electrical and plumbing work;

  • Installed two, high-efficiency HVAC systems, including a basement system to heat and cool the first floor and an attic system to serve the second and third floors;

  • Installed (2) double windows in kitchen wall at the new sink location

  • Measured for kitchen cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms

  • Designed a solution to different ceiling heights that would have converged right in the new kitchen

Modern framing sizes are different than those used a century ago. A new addition must adhere to current framing requirements. This means that the Arlington kitchen, which spanned both the old and new sections of the home, would have a different ceiling height in different parts of the space unless we were clever with design. Instead of meeting in the middle of the kitchen, we dropped the existing ceiling down 2” where the flooring surface changed in the foyer hallway of the existing house. This way, ceiling height and flooring made a logical transition at the same place.

 Arlington first floor plan

First Floor Plan


By the end of January we will have completed the rough electrical, plumbing and heating work, insulated the entire house and be underway with the blueboard and plastering. The exterior trim and siding will be complete.Watch for details and photos!


If we may help you with your renovation or addition, please contact us for more information!

Tags: Historic Renovations, remodeling project photos