Can This Home Be Greened? Staying Put in New Jersey

A New Jersey couple decides to greenovate their home rather than move.

| January/February 2006

  • Try to reuse the existing attic wood floor by patching and refinishing it. If a new floor is necessary, use bamboo, cork, natural linoleum, or reclaimed wood. Increase attic floor and ceiling insulation with a formaldehyde-free product.

  • Install a new leader from the gutter on the side of the house to ensure that stormwater is directed away from the foundation wall.

  • Monica and Bruce want to stay put in their lovely home.

Monica Hennessy and Bruce Pedretti live in Haddonfield, New Jersey, which I understand from Monica has an excellent school district. These days, any house situated in a lovely New Jersey town with good schools is bound to be stratospherically expensive. And so, rather than move from their 1,200-square-foot house with a converted garage/recreation room, Monica, Bruce, and their two young children have decided to stay put and renovate.

Their goals include building a new driveway and addressing the stormwater drainage problem; renovating the old roof; creating a study in the attic; and some painting and floor refinishing. Consistent with the Toyota Prius they drive, the couple is committed to going green with their renovation. As always, this should also mean saving some of that green paper that most of us work so hard to earn.

Going with the flow

Problem: Addressing water problems in a house before they become disastrous and show up as wood rot, structural impairment, and/or mold growth is of paramount importance. On Monica and Bruce's property, a driveway adjacent to the house diverts stormwater into the basement. Fortunately, there's no drywall in the basement to become infested with mold. However, the water infiltration has and will continue to degrade the structural integrity of the foundation wall, which currently leaks after it rains.

Solultion: The existing hardened driveway material needs to be dug up. In its place should be a porous material that lets stormwater percolate into the ground where it falls along with landscaping that directs surface water away from the home. If the budget allows, it also would be advisable to dig up the dirt next to the leaking foundation wall and apply new waterproofing.

Invisible Structures makes a product called Grasspave, which is placed in the ground underneath new sod and grass—its interlocking structure contains up to 50 percent post-consumer, recycled, high-impact polypropylene plastic. This structure provides load-bearing strength while protecting vegetation root systems from deadly compaction. It makes a driveway literally look like a lawn. Another alternative is StoneyCrete, a pervious concrete pavement from Stoney Creek Materials.

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