815 N Spring
Mike Howell with Carpentry with Integrity was asked to rehabilitate the old house porch at 815 N. Spring. Here is an old picture of the house and porch. The Xes in the balustrade were not original to the house. Notice the steps and sidewalk before being renovated.
Here is a more current picture of the porch. Notice the newer balusters that are too tall and too thin.
This shows the steps being rebuilt. Great new sidewalk. Check out the difference with the previous picture. New PVC flooring was used. All wood used has to be treated. Stair treads need to be painted on both sides before installation to reduce the warping. The paint is to be porch floor enamel, never white exterior primer.
I made new column bases and tops to replace the rotten ones. The wood is old growth cypress recycled from an old water tower taken down in Chicago. Everything was coated with Bora Care preservative.
This is an original post top before it was replaced.
Here is the finished porch.
You point out the non-original balusters that were on the house at the time were too narrow and tall. Does the city allow you to restore balusters to original height if you can make the case or provide documentation? Or is the height still the same but you’ve fixed proportions? Or is this don’t ask don’t tell or something other?
The old-timers typically lined the porch rail up with the bottom of the window. If you’re standing in front of the house looking at the balustrade it would not interrupt the window. If you’re inside of the house looking out the rail does not interrupt your view. The windows in this house are too low for that. Code says that the guard rail height must be 42 inches tall. That would be way too tall for this house and most old houses. The International Residential building code has a paragraph that says exceptions can be made to the code for historic homes if it is not life-threatening. BOCA has the same thing. Elgin actually wrote an ordinance allowing homeowners to vary rail heights on all historic homes. We routinely approve a 30 inch rail and often actually suggest it. Many houses have received 24 trails. Our front and back porches have 24 inch high rails. They would look absolutely ridiculous with anything else. Italianate porches are typically tall and slender with a very low balustrade.