Residential Addition ~ Highland Mills, NY


The Plans


One of the most important parts of any building project are the plans.  It is in the plans that dreams comes to life.  When 5 Star Construction met with this customer, the need was clear.  A family of 5 was dwelling in an approximately 1,000 sf home, with 1 bathroom.  The home was lovely, it had character and it was charming.  The problem was that it was just too small for this family.  We sat down and discussed options.  No pressure.  The home was built around 1900 and older homes, while filled with history, can present certain challenges.  Like all projects, it was important to plan properly.  Do we build out to the side, or to the back?  What special considerations need to be accounted for while tying into the fieldstone foundation?  These were some of the first questions we addressed.  Eventually, we decided it would be best to extend the home by leveraging the existing space in the backyard and preserve the distance on the side between the existing neighbor’s property line.  As you can tell from the drawing below (right), the footprint of the house will be doubled.


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In June of 2015, the 5 Star Construction crew showed up in Highland Mills, NY with hammers, saws and crowbars.  We started by removing an existing deck and taking off what used to be an enclosed porch but was later renovated to extend the kitchen.  In its place, a secure, temporary wall was constructed.  While this actually made the house smaller for a short period of time, the family’s perspective was that it “had to get smaller, before it got bigger.”


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Rerouting the Sewer Line


One of the first parts of the project involved rerouting the existing sewer line.  Adding on to the back of the house was absolutely the right decision, but it meant rerouting the sewer line which currently exited the house there.  Building on top of that critical pipe was not an option as it would have “buried” the pipe, effectively eliminating future access to it.  Creating an exit point for a new sewer line was the first order of business.  Drilling through about 18 inches of a stone foundation is not an easy job.  It took 3 men over a day, but they got the job done.


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Pouring the Foundation


Concrete trucks are very heavy.  In order to prevent any potential damage to the driveway, we decided to pump in the concrete from the street.  A special pump truck is shown below.



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There is something special about the foundation being poured. It’s one of the first times that the project really feels “real”. The entire foundation is not poured in one day. First, a footer is poured (left). A footer is a short, wider concrete border upon which the narrower foundation wall sits. You can think of the footer as the base of the foundation wall.  After the foundation walls are built, additional concrete is poured in the middle of them (right).  This is referred to as a slab.   Lastly, the outside walls are coated with tar to prevent water from seeping in (center).  The gravel around the foundation walls house footing drains to route the water away from the house.



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Each step of the project is unique and framing is when the work begins to go “up”.  Framing is the step where the rooms and hallways start to appear in 3D.  It’s often the time when you start to hear from the homeowner “wow, it really looks big”, or, “I can’t believe it’s really happening.”  It is also the step where you hear, “can we move this closet 6 inches to the left.”  This is a very exciting step for the homeowner as it is a very tangible stage of seeing their dream progress.


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Siding / Windows / Roof


We refer to this step as “drying in” the house.  Up until now, rain was not an issue.  In this stage of the project we want to get the house sealed up against the elements as quickly as possible.  Getting the roof on and windows in is how we do that.  Once the siding is on, someone driving by the home might think the addition is complete.


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Electric / Plumbing / Insulation


While it may look like the house is almost complete from the outside, there is still a lot of work to be done inside, namely the electric, plumbing and insulation.  The electric is an area where the customer may have some special requests.  This is often in regard to where they will place their TV, tables, couches and the like.






Seeing the sheetrock go up is an exciting step for the homeowner as the transformation is one from 2 x 4’s to visible  walls.  This is when the homeowner can really visualize the rooms and the colors on the walls that they likely painstakingly picked out. Sheetrock is very heavy and getting the material into the house requires special delivery and skill.  Hanging the sheetrock goes faster than most homeowners expect and taping is an art that only a few are skilled at.  Take a look at the steps involved below.



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While there is still a lot to do in the project, when painting begins, it feels like a turning point into the home stretch.  Painting is where the fun begins.  It’s the time in the project where smiles start to get a little bigger.  We think it’s because the homeowners start to see the beginnings of the finished work and the very direct results of their specific choices.  It the sheetrock was done well, the painting has little choice but to look fabulous.  Color is such a personal preference.  What one person may think of as the perfect color, another person would never consider.  That is the beauty of it.  Painting is something that takes a lot of patience.  It’s not something that can be rushed if one hopes to have clean, straight paint lines.  Note in the pictures below that the painting is done before the flooring and trim work.




Trim (Molding) and Flooring


As alluded to above, right after the painting is completed, it’s time to lay the floor and add trim around the windows, doors and floor.  This project was particularly special in that the homeowner made the trim one of the higher priorities.  It was important to the homeowner to preserve the original character of the home and choosing the right molding was one way to keep the consistency between the original home and new construction.  Since the home was built in the early 1900’s, the trim used around the windows and doors was clearly not available, even at the highest end lumber yards.  How was this handled?  The good news is that the molding was able to be reproduced to the exact specifications of the original.  There is an extra cost involved in going this route as a special knife needs to be created from a sample of the existing molding.  Once the knife is created, an exact replica of the molding profile is made.       5 Star Construction worked with the homeowner and lumber yard and the molding in the new construction is indistinguishable from the original.  The molding compliments the character and value of the beautiful Red Oak floor.  In the pictures below, the floors have not yet been sanded and sealed with polyurethane, but the baseboard heating has been installed.




Finished Hardwood Floors


When it come to construction, if you have never seen newly finished hardwood floors, you are missing one of the more beautiful sites.  Using high quality natural wood products like Red Oak flooring really adds a level of beauty (and value) to a home that is hard to rival.  After 3 coats of polyurethane, the pictures below really speak for themselves.   As some simple pieces of furniture are moved back in, it really begins to look like home again.




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