To live and work in the city of Charleston SC is a beautiful experience and yet in the immediacy of occasion or economic imperative, we often forget that it is our place to give back to as well. With this in mind, we accepted a request from Star Gospel Mission on Meeting Street to assist in the build of transitional housing for their congregation. 83 Nassau St is an 1840's historic home on the East Side, in a deplorable condition. We are converting it into four independent apartments that will serve as a first step in the ladder from homelessness to a more stable and productive life.
Star Gospel Mission is a part of old Charleston. The mission is to help the homeless men of this City find some sanctuary from their troubles and in a few cases, the stability that leads their life in a more promising direction. Led by the energetic Pastor Bill Christian and with a regiment of philanthropic support, it is a long-standing yet quiet beacon of hope in an often much darker world.
A project like this is a team effort, and in this instance, we have the Mission itself and their Board of Directors, Synchronicity as Architects and Luxury Simplified Construction acting as the General Contractors. We have also the offer to provide services at reduced costs from an army of our subcontractors all willing to help. The City of Charleston is keeping a keen eye on this and also offered to fast track any problems that arise. All in all, a promising start.
83 Nassau Street was a dilapidated and partly demolished building in a deplorable condition, FEMA Zone AE 13, with the first floor below flood and failed original footings. Zones at DR-2F (Residential) with plans for "Affordable Housing, City Code 54.207" meaning parking at 1 car per 3 units and 1-hour fire rated separation between each unit both vertically and horizontally. This contract is what we regretfully refer to as a "gut job," essentially meaning it will be reduced to original studs and floor boards. There is very little of any historical merit that we can save and even less of structural merit. What we can keep is the height, mass, look, and feel of the old home that contributes to the Charleston cityscape.
Stabilize the building firstly as it was in danger of collapse, often swaying when the wind blows. First floor beams were mainly good but rotten at the ends so were replaced, securing the walls together at the same time. In doing this, they were initially askew but would become level when repositioned on new footings. When lifting and leveling a building, it's best to consider where it will eventually rest rather than where it rests now. Luckily we are elevating 4 buildings on Nassau Street and Hannover Street on the opposite side of the road.
We elevated the building 3 feet, out of flood risk allowing us to replace the none existent footings and to both level and straighten the building (well, almost straight!). Once secured on new footings the rebuild can begin. Old siding was stripped away and salvaged where possible. The walls were repaired and aligned with new studs, exterior sheeting installed providing shear resistance where it never existed previously and allowing us to add a vapor barrier to Code. Our preferred route is to rebuild the wall where a large amount of siding is in poor condition. The interior was framed out to Code adding fire resistance and further strength to the building. Take a look at three weeks work, from the day the building sat on its new footings until the day we called into the City for a sheeting and strapping inspection. Stay tuned for our next blog on this project where you can see a video of the building being lifted.
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