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John J. Ferriter: Experience, building permits part of process when renovating homes

To the editor:

While I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, the article on co-op power never mentioned any required building permits for renovations of homes. I saw the photo of cutting holes for supply and exhaust air through a window header. As a licensed construction supervisor I know putting two 8- to 10-inch holes in a support member compromises the integrity of the structure. Best intentions are no substitute for hard-earned knowledge in the building trades.

John J. Ferriter

Belchertown

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Thank you to John J. Ferriter for his letter to the editor. Yes, Co-op Power's Tim Holcomb is coring a 5-1/4" hole through a window header in the photo, but this does not compromise the structure. Were Four Coleman Road a stick framed structure (one that uses studs and joists on 16" centers) Mr. Ferrier would be entirely correct. This house has a post and beam frame, using 8" x 8" chestnut timbers that are tough as can be. It is probably a reused barn frame, re-erected in 1896. A small part of one of the beams is visible above the window where Tim is working. When I say the timbers are 8 x 8, that is full size--not the 7-1/4 x 7-1/4 you might expect with modern lumber. The ceiling above Tim is framed with 2 x 6s (full size), so the photo shows only the very bottom of the carrying beam. It was left partly exposed, as is a popular New England tradition, but the beam is much larger than what is shown. In my adjacent kitchen I have two double hung windows spanning close to seven feet. A double 2 x 8 header was unnecessary since the 8 x 8 beam is directly above. I will check in with the building inspector next week. I was unable to reach him today. If there was a better location for the second panel I would have chosen it. Retrofits offer comparatively few options. Chris Bowen

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