225 Congress Ave, Pacific Grove, Ca.
Ca. License # B 349605
Edmonds Design & Construction
Greener 1904 home renovation
225 Congress Ave. Pacific Grove, Ca.   
March 1st, 2008.
  • We purchased this home after moving back to P.G. from a one year retreat into upstate
    NY.  This home was built in 1904, and had real character and a wonderful setting.  It
    was in great need of renovation.  The home had been lived in, but not improved upon
    for many years.  Maintenance had been minimal.
  • Our thinking about home construction projects has evolved.  We were blessed with the
    birth of a grandson in January, and we now feel more of a need to focus on the future
    of our society.  
  • The green and sustainable movements, the apparent plateauing and decline of fossil
    fuels, and the very practical considerations of dollar costs led us to our plan for this
    renovation.  We needed to create a minimal renovation budget, and find a quicker way
    to move into the house.

Are 3 bedrooms and a 2- car garage really necessary?  For us, the current answer is;
not now..   

This house was built in 1904 which makes it 104 years old!  Most homes evolve throughout
their long lives.  Therefore, planning for future evolution and knowing that new owners in the
future will have uses and needs, is, a consideration.

Renovating an old home and trying to be “green” means what?  Just the fact that you
are re-cycling an old home is green.   All of the construction materials for the original
house had been cut and milled in 1904!  Therefore, re-using what is already there is
important.   It is just as important to be able to use the house efficiently.. this means,
space heating, hot water heating and distribution, daylighting, electrical system, phone,
cable and internet distribution.  Also, can this be done affordably?

  • Can you enjoy living in this renovated home,  work at a job, payoff the mortgage and
    enjoy life?
  • Does being green mean that you can live close-in to town, where you can walk to:
    banks, post offices, coffeehouses, restaurants, meet and greet your neighbors, etc,
    without getting in a car?
  • Honoring the history of a place or home by rejuvenation is also important.   It is
    important to the owners, people who gather there, and to the following generations, as
    they accumulate a sense of place and their own history.

The current renovation will include: all new electrical, all new water, gas, and sewer lines, new
insulation, repair of wood rope and pulley windows, replacement of sash, removal of carpets
and vinyl and refinishing of Douglas  Fir floors and stairway, reconstruction of 2 bathrooms, all
new kitchen, new bath and kitchen tile floors, new heating system, repair of all doors and
hardware, all new painting inside and out, new appliances, kitchen cabinets, cable and phone

We wanted to proceed using “green” and affordable  methods.  Here is how things have

Plumbing:  We removed all of the old water, gas & sewer lines, composed of; galvanized
iron, black iron, and cast-iron, all the above in various stages of disrepair and leaking.

  • We installed new plastic and copper water lines, DWV plastic sewer and vent lines, and
    flexible plastic coated aluminum gas lines.  This work should last for another hundred
    years or more. Although, we do not really know how long our more modern plumbing
    materials will last effectively!
  • Copper has been proven to be a long life and durable material,, but is it really known
    how long plastic will be effective?  We hope that the manufacturer’s testing results
    prove to have longevity.
  • For fixtures:  Water Ridge brand, dual flush toilets, 1.6 gpm and .6 gpm options. Low
    flow shower heads and faucets, and low water use dishwasher and laundry machines.

The city of Pacific Grove requires the sewer line from the house to the street to be replaced
and attached to the main city sewer correctly, and  this was done as well. The water main line
was upgraded to 1” copper, and a water pressure regulator installed.  After discussions with
plumbing contractors, we decided to keep the almost new 40 gallon, tank gas water heater.

Ikea Farmer's Sink                              Dual Flush Toilet           New Water Service

Electrical:  We removed the entire knob and tube electrical wiring and all the subsequent
wiring, which had been installed.

  • We installed a new 200 amp electrical service. This size service may be somewhat
    oversized, but the equipment was affordable, and more useful for any future
  • We also, plan to install photovoltaic panels on our direct southern facing exposed
    roof.   As electricity becomes more expensive, and as the cost of solar electrical
    generation comes down, (it is hoped), there should be a near future time point where
    photovoltaics will make more economic sense.  The larger service will provide more
    options for connecting to the future solar system.
  • All new wiring is copper and up to current 2008 codes.  
  • We use no recessed lights in the home.  Recess lights just do not look authentic in an
    historic home.
  • We plan to use all surface mounted or hanging fixtures with  fluorescent bulbs in the
    kitchen and baths.    The GU24 bulbs are very close to being correct color fluorescent
    lighting as well as being very efficient.  (www.rejuvenation.com/GU24bulbs) .  
  • Current Ca. code requires dimmers at all locations where incandescent bulbs are used
    in fixtures.  
Electrical re-work in old homes is difficult.  Access areas called chases need to be found
to run wiring and utilities to all the rooms in the home. Wiring into lath and plaster walls can be
done with very long flexible bits, pull wires and 2 experienced electricians.  Here is a; photo of  
holes left from wiring runs that need to be patched,  and the new service.  We are doing
of plaster patching.

Heating :   The obvious solution is a forced air, gas-fired, furnace.  It has been the lowest
cost and most predictable solution for many homes.  
  • The downside is: ductworks can leak air, and often do;  the loss of heat through
    these hot air ducts is significant.
  • Air being pushed throughout a home can bring in and move lots of dust and pollen.
  • There needs to be a place to put all the distribution ductwork, as well as an exhaust
    flue for the furnace.       
Therefore, our solution, is
  • A.  direct-vent, gas fired, fireplaces, and
  • B. electric resistance floor heating in the 2 bathrooms and the kitchen.  
The fireplaces are great to look at, have a sealed, burner system with a blower and a
thermostat,  and are very (86%), fuel efficient.  There is no ducting to deal with, and no duct
leaks or heat loss.  We have installed one downstairs in the old fireplace, and one upstairs in
the master bedroom.

The tile floors in the bathrooms and the kitchen are heated with thermostatically controlled,
under tile, electric heat pads called Nuheat.
(www.nuheat.com).  This heating is electric, but
uses a minimal amount of electricity, (which can later be produced with solar panels).  The
heating is uniform, and comfortable from your feet up, it heats a room, and no air needs to be

  • Water heating is conventional, gas fired, 40 gallon tank with insulation jacket. Since the
    water heater is centrally located under the kitchen and bathrooms, this may be the most
    efficient option.. (Upon living in the house we discovered that the centrally located water
    heater, directly under the 2 bathrooms was a great idea, no recirculation pump
  • We also plan on using solar hot water collectors.  Since the tank is right in the middle of
    the house and in the basement, directly under all the points of use, we feel that hot
    water distribution will be very effective.  Also we are using an insulation blanket, and
    insulating the pipes that leave the hot water heater.   
  • We are using a timer operated, hot water circulation pump, so water does not go down
    the drain while waiting for it to become hot.  This is a great idea to save water, as you
    do not have to wait for hot water when you turn your shower on,, the hot water is
    already there and continually circulating.  
  • The downside to this system, is that it requires an electrical pump, which is continually
    running and circulating the water, even when you don’t need it to be running.  At a
    recent seminar in San Francisco at the P.G. & E Energy Center (http://www.pge.
    com/mybusiness/edusafety/training/pec/.com) we learned that the cost of operating a
    continuous electric pump for the recirculation system is excessive and to be avoided.   
  • Metlund company makes a demand only circulating system that operates when you
    push a button and is on a timer.    
  • An alternative:  there has been a good deal of discussion about demand hot water
    heaters.  They are gas fired, and do not have a tank.  They heat the water only as it is
    needed.  They cost a good deal more to install but the prices have come down
    recently.    These have been shown to save energy in the long run, since you are not
    heating and storing water continually, but only heat the water when it is demanded.

Since Pacific Grove is a relatively cool but temperate climate, these heating solutions will heat
the house, efficiently, and comfortably.  Along with heating, of course, is a good insulation

  • Insulation:  Insulation needed to be added to the home, as none was ever used.  To
    accomplish the wall insulation, where the walls were not opened, we used blown-in
    fiberglass called (Optima).
  • 2” holes are drilled through the lath and plaster at the top and bottom of the stud bays,
    insulation is then blown in, and the holes plugged.  
  • Ceiling insulation in the attic is 12” thick, Optima, R-30, blown in for consistency.  In
    areas where the 2*4 roof rafters are exposed, we installed 3” thick, Hi-R foil faced foam
    insulation.  The material needs to be cut to size, and then glued and screwed into the
  • The entire 1st floor frame will be insulated with R-21  batt insulation after all utility work
    is done.   The house envelope will then be insulated to nearly current standards.  
  • Finally, all exterior doors will be weatherstripped around the perimeter, and at the sill to
    stop air movement.  Unfortunately we have found no good way, yet, to weatherstrip the
    antique double hung, rope and pulley windows.

Windows:  We struggled with  this decision, but decided to keep the original sash windows,
with their rope and weight operating system for the following reasons:
  • The historical look and feel of the operation of these windows is unique.  
  • Also, where the original glass is intact, there is a waviness and imperfection to the
    glass that is beautiful.
  • New, replacement windows would have been expensive, and not conformed to the
    historical accuracy recommended by the P.G. historical review board.
  • New windows would be much more energy efficient, however.
  • We decided for the sake of cost and historical accuracy, to re-use that which had
    already been manufactured and used for 100 years.
  • The re-roping, and repair of the sash turned out to be a big job. Trims need to be
    carefully removed, new ropes installed and re-tied to the weights, new weights found,
    where some had been lost, all sash repaired, replaced and sanded and primed.   Here
    are a few photos of stages of that operation.
  • We refinished and re-installed the original window locks. We installed new sash lift
    handles to make the opening and closing of the windows smoother.

If air leaking and energy inefficiency turn out to be a problem with these old windows,
selected  sash can be changed out to double glazed wood windows without damaging the
existing frames and trim.  100 year old sash & frames,,can usually be repaired and
reglazed…time consuming but authentic and “green” as fewer new materials are used…

Flooring:     When we bought the house, we had decided to re-sand and re- finish the 2
bedrooms, stairs,  and hallway upstairs, the floors were vertical grain douglas fir.  
  • After looking at lots of flooring, and deciding upon Brazilian Cherry, t & g, solid wood
    floors, we ordered enough for the entire downstairs.   As the weeks went by, and
    carpets and vinyl were removed, we realized that we would like to re-sand, and re-finish
    the downstairs fir floors as well.  We cancelled the Brazilian cherry order, and had our
    refinisher re-price the project including all the fir floors.  There is some repair needed, a
    few small damaged sections, but we will get, (for much less expense), an all new
    refinished floor, with all the patina of age.  The color of the stain will not be absolutely
    perfect or uniform, and the 100 years of use will show some dings and gouges.  It felt
    good and appropriate to not be using rainforest produced lumber, that really
    has no business in a 100 year old home in Pacific Grove!  
  • The kitchen floor and the 2 bathrooms, will be ceramic tile, which is abundant, and is
    durable, inexpensive, and easy to clean.  It also transfers the heat from the Nuheat
    electric pads very efficiently.  
  • We are using mostly white tiles for the tub and shower walls, of different sizes and with
    white trims, to create patterns and details, but with budget costing.  The shower and tub
    tiles will be mortar set, which will provide many years of crack free service.  

Drywall & Painting:    We are using all Kelly-Moore paints, all from their charts.  We did
not see the need to use “odor free” paints, as the house is unoccupied and will have plenty of
time to dry out before we move in.  We used all high quality latex paints, but we did use oil
based primers.  We used drywall to cover all new and renovated walls, and a drywall “float”
texture to cover all the old walls and patches.  The new texture is mild but reminiscent of  the
original plaster texture.  

Doors:  We are fortunate to have all the original, 5 panel, doors and original hardware from
1904!  Several of the doors were re-used, cut down, and re-hung to fit our new locations.  All
these original doors are solid, old growth redwood.  They will now be adjusted and re-hung, to
be used another 100 years.  These are mortise locks, and ceramic and glass knobs are

Kitchen Cabinets:   We wanted to be thrifty with cabinets, and, if we had time, I would have
built them all.  This project had to be move-in ready in 4 months, so cabinets were
  • We were ready to buy IKEA off the shelf, assemble yourself, cabinets, but we found a
    local supplier that could come close to matching the IKEA costs, especially when you
    factor in freight, and assembly of the cabinets.  
  • We bought Atristokraft cabinets, which have solid thermofoil doors that don’t warp and
    are prepainted.  We added extra costs to use dovetail maple drawers, and to have self-
    closing hardware installed on all the drawers.   
  • The Aristokraft  cabinets cost $4900.00, delivered and assembled, as opposed to IKEA  
    which cost:$2938.00 + freight (estimated $500.00) and + assembly(estimated$850.00).  
  • I have used IKEA quite successfully in recent projects on the Monterey Peninsula. They
    are well made, very well engineered, and stylish as well. www.Ikea.com.

Countertops & Backsplash:  We decided that honed. Carrera Marble would be a great look
for our kitchen countertops.  
  • When we priced up the cost of the work, including: slab, labor to fabricate and edge,
    and then installation, it turned out to be costly. Approx. $4000.00. We eliminated the
    1+1/2” edging work, and used the ¾” edge, the same thickness as the slab is made.  
    This brought the price down to $3000.00.  We will cover the plywood edging, which is
    seen below the slab, with wood trimwork, which we ordered with the cabinets in the
    same finish.
  • Carrera marble is not an easy material to maintain.  It can stain, scratch, and is
    breakable!   We really love the classic look of the material, and purchased the material
    honed rather than polished to reduce the shiny glare.  We did seal the material
    carefully with a very good marble sealer, and will continue to seal it.  We really wanted
    this look, so we will endure the inconvenience and continue to  maintain the slab as we
    enjoy its’ good looks.   
  • The backsplash is subway tile, with a rope detail.  This is a classic material and look,
    and is quite affordable.

Light Fixtures:  Four of the light fixtures are period fixtures from the Cannery Row Antique
Mall.  We bought them at a Memorial Day Sale.  We could not find enough original fixtures for
the whole house, so we  shopped at Lowe’s and found fixtures that were classic looking
enough to go with our historical detailing.  Since the kitchen and bath require fluorescent
lighting, (GU24 standard plug in bulbs), we bought fixtures from Home Depot which complied
with code, and we will change the globes from the round globes supplied,  to period style
glass covers from Rejuvenation Light Fixtures.   This company has wonderful and high quality
fixtures for any old house.       The cost is, however, significant.

CONCLUSION:  We really love this house.
  • The location is great, ½ block from the main street of Lighthouse Ave.
  • We are enjoying what we did, especially; the lovely antique stained floors & stairs,  the
    heated kitchen and bath floors, the remote controlled fireplace/heaters.
  • It is comforting to have all the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems new and
  • It is great to be able to open the windows on a nice day, and to feel the ocean breeze.  
    This is now a home we can live in for a long time.

Fireplaces: Coast Insulation;  408-690-2226
Tile Supply;  Tileco- Salinas- 831-759-8453
Kitchen Cabinets: Mill Direct Cabinets; Eileen Love- 831-375-4433
Stone Countertops: J & M Marble;  831-633-0152
Carpentry & Contracting & Coordinating:  Jeff Edmonds/Edmonds Design & Construction 831-
402-1347.  With the indispensable creative help of Carolee Edmonds.  
 Il mio amore un
Foil Face
Foam & R-13
Rope and
pulley wood
Ceramic tile floor with
thermostatically controlled
Nu-Heat heating pads
Douglas Fir
original floors