Sustainable Houses

Contractor Buys 125-Year-Old House to Prove He Can Make It Sustainable

John Plichta, a local contractor from Petoskey, Michigan, has recently bought a 125-year-old home to prove his point – that old houses can be more energy efficient.

Old houses in Northern Michigan have a certain charm, but that’s not why John Plichta, a contractor of J.R. Construction bought a century-old home in Downtown Petoskey on Elizabeth Street. He’s trying to show people older structures can be as, if not more sustainable as new ones, and hopes his example will help old house owners around the country. Plichta thinks his improvements will aid people understand how to improve the quality of living in an old housing. “By the knowledge we gained by doing this project, we have a lot to share, so why not take advantage of it,” the contractor says.

After he purchased the house on Elizabeth Street, Plichta tested the air and water quality, and its energy efficiency. All results came out pretty bad. There were terrible drafts inside the house and he found the heater was four times bigger than it needed to be, but was still overworked. The house had asbestos and a half-a-ton of coal still sitting in its basement. The ambitious contractor decided to give it not just a face-lift but a whole green makeover. After months of hard work, the old house is now truly sustainable; it has better insulation, cleaner water, a water heater powered by solar panels and new protective materials that will keep the house together for at least another 80 years.

Now John Plichta plans to show off his old sustainable house to the general public in an open house event on October 22, and also host series of seminars in which he will focus on the fact that several factors need to be looked at before renovations are done on the older homes, such as the dew points.  If renovations are done without the proper expertise, it could destroy a home.



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