November Meeting Recap – 1924 Leyner

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We last visited this house in 2011 right after it had been moved just over a block from its original location behind Smokey Row. Here’s what it looked like back then:

1924 Leyner in 2011
1924 Leyner as it looked in 2011.

Here’s how it looked this summer:

1924 Leyner Recent
1924 Leyner as it looked in 2013.

We came back this month to see the amazing transformation just finishing up. This cottage in the Sherman Hill Historic District was moved to its current location by the neighborhood organization to save it from demolition. The new November 2013 Meeting 1owner/developer has turned it from a 750 square foot shell into a fully rehabilitated three-bedroom home using salvaged materials, energy-efficient and sustainable construction strategies, and integration of rain-water management. We heard from Chaden Halfhill about the moving process, the steps taken to create a well-drained foundation, his creative use of salvage materials and the financing patchwork used to fund the project (including historic tax credits).

We started our meeting in the kitchen/dining area which featured some new, innovative materials such as ReWall, a drywall alternative made from recycled plastic milk jugs (produced locally in Des Moines,) and a countertop made from a new paper resin that can be cut using standard woodworking tools. Chaden was eager to show off the reclaimed hutch found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and explained how its addition to the dining area influenced color choices in the nearby kitchen cabinets.

After explaining how he artfully merged the two original tiny bedrooms into one large bedroom suite, we went downstairs to the fully finished basement to find two more full-size bedrooms and a second full bath. Folks who were here for the 2011 meeting remembered climbing into the basement through an exterior window and were blown away by the transformation.

November 2013 Meeting 2The ability to start from scratch on the entire basement and foundation meant it could be built up to modern standards with adequate drainage outside, efficient insulation inside, and all the code requirements such as egress windows. The space was surprisingly spacious and seemed as comfortable as any finished basement in a modern house. The transformation was amazing and with the last finishing touches it’s going to make a lovely and affordable rental in the popular neighborhood of Sherman Hill.    For our December meeting we’ll be back at Historic Hatton House to help homeowner Tanya Keith make a plan for how to fix her many windows. Hope you can join us!