Updating old houses

If a plumber did the replumbing, it certainly should be correct. On the supply side, all piping on the house side of the meter belongs to the homeowner, and everything on the street side belongs to the water district.If it was a do-it-yourself job, the homeowner may not have included the dielectric coupling. The meter should have a dial that shows minute water flow, so that if you turn off all the water inside the house, and the dial still moves, there is a leak in the system somewhere.Build in a flip-top bench and you've got room to stash extra scarves, gloves, and other coat-closet overflow.The brick Colonial Revival–style apartment house was boarded up, its interior dark and dusty.Here, a little window seat instantly turns what might have been dead space into a secret hideaway any kid would love.

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Those were just a few of the architectural elements that Jerry Janszen and his Cincinnati, Ohio, deconstruction crew were going to delicately remove from this and another circa-1900 building next door before a developer started building a new condo complex on the site.The homeowners opted to install this salvaged stair—found on Brownstoner, a neighborhood blog—when they designated the house's main staircase as tenants' access.It fits neatly into a 5-foot-square area and gives them a way to move between floors without stepping into the hallway.Creating access to an upper story—say, for an attic conversion or addition—can gobble up valuable square footage.A spiral staircase is a compact alternative to a traditional one.

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