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B&B's: adaptive reuse of historic homes

Posted by Tom White on October 26, 2010
B&B's: adaptive reuse of historic homes
In the current economy, one bed and breakfast proprietor is looking to branch out from the romantic, weekend vacationer image of B&B's and serve weekday business clientele as well.  "There are only 52 weekends a year", Ed Caldwell told me over a delicious breakfast, "and that's not enough to keep this business in the black."  Ed is the proprietor of the Dicken's House Bed & Breakfast Inn, a few blocks from downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, where I'm attending the National Community Action Foundation and Community Investment Futures Energy Conference.

Ed took four years, with more than "a little paint and patch", to restore a rundown 1912 Arts & Crafts style home in the city's historic Old Northeast section.  To keep coolth in and moisture out, Ed placed two layers of 6 mil plastic on the basement dirt crawlspace floor and insulated between the first floor joists.  To insulate the walls, he added wallboard to foil-backed poly-iso foam board, installed on 3/4" furring strips attached to the existing lathe and plaster walls.  The existing sheathing is wood shingles on planks attached to studs.  Assuming the poly-iso insulation has a high enough R-value, that should keep moisture from condensing on the outside of foam board.  Even if it did, the moisture would likely evaporate and transpire back out through the lathe and shingle sheathing. 

Ed is a good example of micro-entrepreneurs who are helping to save United States housing stock through energy efficient "adaptive reuse" and lots of "sweat equity".  For his effort, Ed won a City of St. Petersburg Preservation Award, and garnered top reviews and recommendations from traveler's guides such as Frommers and Rough Guide.

So when you're next in St. Pete or another town where the conference hotel rooms are sold out (or even if they're not), consider spending your travel dollars on a local B&B.  You'll be supporting local business folk--who often are saving historic properties--and have a chance to learn about the local folk and housing stock!

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