Structural Stability and Building Soils in Greater Boston and Cambridge

If you are buying or remodeling a house in any of the historic neighborhoods of Cambridge or greater Boston, it can be useful to know about the history, and geohistory, of the building soils that underlay them. The urban landscape appears to be one undifferentiated expanse, but due to glaciation, there is some variety to the materials we find below grade. If you are noting any subsidence (sinking) or cracking in the foundation area, and are concerned about the stability of the structure, understand that this can be a function of the composition of the soils that it was built upon.

Read more...
Structural Stability and Building Soils in Greater Boston and Cambridge

Zoning Regulations: What You Need to Know Before Starting Your Project

By Doug Hanna  

We regularly meet with homeowners who wish to build additions, add dormers or improve undeveloped areas such as basements and attics. One of the first questions we ask them is "have you contacted the city about possible zoning issues? " Often the answer is no, and a decent percentage of those people are not clear on zoning regulations or how they can affect planning for building and renovation. 

Read more...
Zoning Regulations: What You Need to Know Before  Starting Your Project

Prevent Winter Freeze Ups

By Doug Hanna

As I write this, we have a daytime high temperature of 9 deg F with a 22 mph wind, which makes me very thankful that I am no longer required to be outside swinging a hammer in all kinds of weather.

Read more...
Prevent Winter Freeze Ups

Protect Your Property from Extreme Weather

By Doug Hanna

I just recently returned from a week long, fun-in-the sun vacation and while I was there, I couldn't help but reflect on the impressive deposit of snow we received prior to my departure. And now, we have yet another snow storm to hit New England this week. While I'm getting ready to put on the snowshoes and have some fun (in what hopefully is our last round of snow), I'm sure it's no fun for the people along the North and South shores who are dealing with yet another storm surge. There's just no question that the climate is changing and getting more severe. "You don't need a weather man..." etc. 

Read more...
Protect Your Property from Extreme Weather

WHY WAIT? PLANTING A MATURE TREE

Mature trees perform many functions in a landscape, as screens and boundaries, providing shade and in dispersing groundwater. Usually, if one is starting from scratch, the procedure is to plant nursery trees and let them grow to fulfill these functions. If you can’t wait, you can move or plant a fully grown tree. It is certainly possible to move a fully grown tree on an inconvenient location to a better location on the same property.

 

Read more...
WHY WAIT? PLANTING A MATURE TREE

DIVERTING GROUNDWATER FROM BASEMENT

What goes on below grade will have a major impact on the livability of your property. A damp basement is not only unlivable, but it is unhealthy, as it promotes mold, not just in the basement but throughout the structure. There are effective basement waterproofing methods that we use, but often it is possible to divert the water elsewhere, using subsurface pipes terminating at drywells or cisterns that store the water as needed, and disperse it through a recharge system of perforated pipes, extending into the adjacent soils or installed gravel beds. In other words, we don’t try to stop the water, we just guide it elsewhere. We have even directed groundwater flows into water features on the property.

Read more...
DIVERTING GROUNDWATER FROM BASEMENT

DEMOLITION OF ROCK LEDGE FOR FOUNDATIONS

Bedrock is the most stable of foundation bearing site materials, but whether it is shale, granite ledge or any other type of solid rock, it must be cut away as specified by the engineer. Yes, stone can be demolished using explosives, but in an urban environment is not always feasible because of the proximity to neighbors and concerns that their use could damage nearby foundations. There are a couple of other options available to us, depending on the type of stone and the volume of work that needs to be done.

Read more...
DEMOLITION OF ROCK LEDGE FOR FOUNDATIONS

Excavating More Headroom for the Finished Basement

by Doug Hanna

Here in the Boston area, real estate prices seem to keep climbing higher and higher. As a result, homeowners are trying to find usable space wherever they can, and naturally look to under-utilized areas of their homes such as attics and basements for the solution. Development or expansion of these spaces, whether they are finished or unfinished, can add to the livability of the home, but can also come with unique challenges.

Read more...
Excavating More Headroom for the Finished Basement

The Basement Waterproofing Solution for High Water Tables

By Doug Hanna

Basement waterproofing is especially important if your property has a high water table, such as many in Cambridge, MA or Boston's Back Bay. S+H Construction has developed a unique process for waterproofing the basements of older and historic homes and structures. Rather than allowing water to penetrate foundation walls and then redirecting it to a sump pump, as many other systems do, our method absolutely STOPS WATER AND MOISTURE from entering through walls or slabs. We have performed hundreds of jobs over the last ten years using this method and have had ZERO callbacks.

Read more...
The Basement Waterproofing Solution for High Water Tables

Lessons from English Gardens for Americans: Hardscape

By Michael Weishan, Old House, Old Garden columnist

God is in the details they say, and I can assure you that the garden deity dwells most happily where the creator has paid attention to the quality of the hardscape. Let's face it - perennials come and go, trees rise and fall, seasons pass in a quick succession of constant flux - nothing is more ephemeral than a garden. But even the landscape has some limited element of resiliency, and that resiliency resides almost entirely in its bones, the hardscape.

Read more...
Lessons from English Gardens for Americans: Hardscape

Good Drainage Key to Good Landscaping

*DESIGNED BY MICHAEL WEISHAN, FORMER HOST OF THE VICTORYGARDEN ON WGBH*

With spring here, it's time to prepare your lawn for the warm weather. S+H  is here to help with any landscaping and drainage needs, but here are a few tips to keep in mind!

Read more...
Good Drainage Key to Good Landscaping

The Key to Design Outdoor Living Areas that Work

By Michael Weishan, Michael Weishan & Associates 

To my way of thinking, a relaxing, well-designed terrace or patio is the most important feature of the entire back yard. It’s here, after all, that you get to reap the rewards of all that hard labor – hours spent weeding, mulching and planting come to fruition when you sit down in a comfortable chair with a cool beverage, survey your domain, and drink in the pleasures of a job well done. But for the owner of a traditional home, obtaining this dream space can be full of pitfalls, as outdoor living areas can quickly turn from adjunct to albatross if improperly designed. The key to success is to consider the two most important aspects of any terrace or patio – dimensions and materials – long before you move the first shovelful of dirt.

Read more...
The Key to Design Outdoor Living Areas that Work