My current project is the rebuild of an existing house. I’m fortunate to have a local historian passing along photos of the house from the early 1900s. Not only are they heartening and fun to see, they’re also a great help in determining how to proceed.

The house is large and I’ll work on it as time and money allow. The goal for the initial swoop is to complete the exterior. This includes structural repair to exterior walls and the repair and replacement of clapboards and trim. The roof and chimneys will need to be assessed and dealt with accordingly. Of the few windows remaining, none are salvageable, so all will be replaced. Perhaps the largest visual change will be the replacement of the porch. At 864 square feet, the porch is larger than the last house I built.

The exterior maintains much of its original detail. The interior is a gutted shell. The original floors are still in place but in very poor shape. I had it in my head from the start that I’d replace the floor systems for the first and second floors. I imagined new joists, subfloor, and floors. Squeaky clean, level, and stiff. When it came time to take a closer look, the existing floor systems appeared to be salvageable. This brings us to clarifying intent. The house is part of my long-term plan. I hope to offer it as a seasonal rental. Knowing the goal, I can ask myself before every decision, How does this impact achieving the goal? In the case of the floor systems, replacing them was more about my want than a need. Wants are important but need to be looked at in terms of effort and resources required to pull them off. The house is at least 130 years old. As long as they’re safe, having uneven and painted wood floors will work well in meeting the project’s goals.