Remodeling Before Baby and Insulating the House

Project: Babyproofing the House, Episode 1, Part 1

Bob is in Melrose, MA, to update a 100-year-old home in preparation for a new baby.  Since home building and remodeling can introduce hazards into the home, Bob is looking at how to reduce unwanted toxins and select healthy alternatives.  He visits the American Lung Association’s designer showhouse in West Palm Beach, FL, where EcoDecor’s Bernadette Upton reviews healthy choices like using no-VOC paints, choosing natural, washable throw rugs instead of synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, buying natural bedding and mattresses, avoiding treated fabrics, purchasing formaldehyde-free furniture, using non-vinyl wall treatments, and airing wallpaper before applying non-toxic glues.  Back in Melrose, Bob talks with homeowner Nick Beasley about the decision to purchase a two-family home and use the upper two floors for their primary residence.  Maggie Beasley shows Bob the main living areas, the kitchen they hope to safety proof, the upstairs bedrooms that need insulation and renovating, and the original beadboard room that will become a child's bathroom.  Nick shows Bob the demolition and new partition wall for the master bath.  Joe Arrigo from Resource Development Partners explains the challenges of insulating an old house and how loose-fill fiberglass insulation is blown in to achieve an R-value of 4.25 per inch or R-30 overall.


Part 1: Remodeling Before Baby and Insulating the House

Bob talks with homeowner and general contractor Nick Beasley. Beasley and his family bought a two-family home in Melrose, Massachusetts. The house was originally built as a single-family home but later converted. Beasley and his wife are expecting a baby in six weeks. Maggie Beasley shows Bob the basic layout of the house, the improvements they have made, and the paint colors they have selected with the help of a colorist. She shows Bob the kitchen, which they are hoping to babyproof before the baby is born. On the third floor, there is a nursery, two bedrooms, and a small room the Beasleys will convert to a bathroom. A larger master bath will be created, with the smaller bath moving to the hall. Nick Beasley reviews the demolition of the existing small bath and the new partition wall that has been built to frame out the new space. Bob talks with Nick about insulating his 100-year-old home. Insulation contractors are installing Pro Pink blown-in fiberglass insulation. Joe Arrigo from Owens Corning talks about the challenges of insulating old houses. The spray-in, loose-fill insulation being used is effective and will translate into big savings in heating costs next winter. Coming up: projects for the baby's room including sound insulation from Owens Corning and construction of the new bathrooms.

Part 2: Learning How to Set Up a Healthy and Safe Room for Baby
Part 3: Touring a Designer Showhouse and Baby's Bathroom
In Melrose, MA, Bob Vila helps a young couple expecting their first child to prepare their home. The focus is on creating a safe place with a strong emphasis on indoor air quality and a healthy living environment. Bob reviews child safety products with industry specialists, as they outfit the home from top to bottom in preparation for the new baby.

Also from Babyproofing the House

  • Episode 2 - Work's Underway with Enclosed-Blind Windows, Window Installation, and Master Bath


    <p>Bob is back in Melrose, MA, to look at window options and installation. First he meets with Cordell Burton from Pella Windows to look at their Designer Series snap-in between-the-glass blinds. These blinds are contained between moveable panes that allow homeowners to change colors. They are easily drawn with a sliding button on the sash, have no dangerous cords, and reduce dust and allergens by 200 percent. Their Energy Star low-e, double-pane, Architecture Series two-over-ones replicate the period windows in this 1895 two-family home. Nick Beasley, the homeowner and general contractor, demonstrates how to install the windows and shares advice for sealing the opening against water intrusion or heat loss. In the newly framed master bath, Beasley installs custom poplar and MDF wood panels against the tub wall and shows Bob the Daltile subway tiles and glass edge tiles for the wall. The tub enclosure and shelf will be of impervious Corian solid surfacing. We also learn how to install an American Standard Champion low-flush toilet by leveling the floor, sealing the flange, and bolting it to the floor. This low-flush toilet has the largest siphon on the market, so the bowl clears with less water, just 1.6 gallons per flush.</p>
  • Episode 3 - Preparing a Quiet and Healthy Home for Baby Through Sound Reduction and Non-Toxic Paints


    <p>Bob&rsquo;s third visit to the 1895 Melrose, MA, home focuses on insulating for sound reduction and painting the guestroom across from the nursery.&nbsp; He opens the show by discussing the effects of sound in the home with Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist whose doctorate in child psychology helps her relate issues of home environment to healthy child development.&nbsp; She explains that healthful sleep for infants from birth to seven months is critical to their growth and development and requires quiet.&nbsp; To ensure a quiet nursery, Harry Alter from Owens Corning shows Bob how QuietZone acoustic batt insulation is installed in the stud cavities, nailed in place, fitted around wiring cut for outlet boxes, and caulked with QuietZone siliconized acrylic caulk to block sound entry.&nbsp; Edward Waller of CertaPro Paints shows Bob how they apply the Sherwin-Williams Harmony<sup></sup> no VOC paint in the guest room and explains why this latex paint is safe and superior to other latex paints.&nbsp; He also shows Bob how to apply paint properly and with the right tools for a quality, finished job.&nbsp; Bob wraps this episode with Ken Lanoie of Owens Corning as the QuietZone Solserene three-part fabric system is installed for an absorptive acoustic ceiling.&nbsp; Bob previews upcoming tasks to complete this project, including finishing touches in the bathroom, natural products for the nursery, and baby safety products such as gates and outlet covers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
  • Episode 4 - Finishing Touches: Baby Safety Products and a Corian Tub Deck


    <p>In Melrose, MA, finishing touches are in progress in the master bath, and childproofing is in full swing throughout the home. Jay Martel of the International Association for Child Safety shows Bob an adjustable child safety gate for wide spaces that is removable and configures to varying angles, as well as the critical safety gate for the top of the stairs. Other child safety measures include latching kitchen appliances and cabinet doors and covering stove dials and electrical outlets. Ginny Turner, from Ecobaby Organics and Pure Rest, shows Bob healthy alternatives such as organic baby bedding products and clothing. In the master bath, Grant Garcia and Chris Dada of Sterling Surfaces install the Corian tub surround that was fabricated off site using digital-photo templating. The custom installation accommodates the tub wall, a tile cove, and a water dam to prevent water intrusion behind the solid surface. Upstairs, a completed nursery awaits the newborn.</p>
  • Episode 5 - Touring the Completed Nursery and Bathrooms

Nick Beasley is the proud owner of this terrific house right behind us here and we met Nick once before when he was at the North Bennett Street School here in Boston. He is now a successful remodeling and restoration contractor right?


With your buddy Mr. Reedy.


Did i pronounce that right?

You got it.

Good, well tell me about finding this house and coming to Melrose because you grew up in another part of Boston.

Correct, I grew up in Brookline which is about eight miles south of here and we started looking at houses. This market here was very steep all the houses were very expensive and looking at different neighborhoods.

Little bit further out you got the more affordable it became and we knew Melrose from some family and friends who lived here, and knew that the schools were good and that Mark was pretty good and we originally were looking for single family homes, but then our realtor said you might want to consider a two family because you can get more house for less money, basically, and so.

Yeah, you can get more value.

Correct. And, of course, the income from the lower rental unit helps with the monthly mortgage payments, right?

Very helpful.

Isn't this a single family originally, though?

It was built originally as a single family about 1895 .

So, it's a true 19th century house, let's relax, and at some point it got converted into a two family.


And right now we live on the second and third floors, and we rent out the first floor.

OK, well I'm not going to ask you how much rent you get, but I think it's the great formula for first time homeowners. Your wife's happy with it?

She is. She is adjusting to it but she's happy living here, and we're finally being able to get the house put together.

Of course, you bought the house before you realized that the stork was on it's way.


Great. Congratulations. When's the baby due?

End of June. About six weeks.

Oh boy.

So, it was built as a single family and these were great big bedrooms that you see in this space, and then some time in the 1940's and 50's we I know exactly when it was converted to a single, rather a two-family, so the spaces that once were bedrooms are now our living room and dining room.

Originally, when we talked about buying a home, I hadn't thought of a two-family. It seemed daunting to take on tenants and a big old house. But I went ahead and made the leap, and it's been a great home for us so far.

We've had to do a few things. Out this door there was a leaky roof, so we had to rip off the deck to access the roof to re-cover that, and so that's a project that is waiting to be completed, but besides that it hasn't been so much work.

The other thing that we did when we first moved in is we thought a lot about color. And we ended up getting help with a color, because it turns out we weren't so great at picking things out things on our own.

So we chose a blue for the living room, which we love, and then at the suggestion of the colorist who we worked with, we painted this a very different color than the dining room and the living room and she also suggested painting the ceiling so that it would really delineate the space and have it be, to stand out on its own.

The dining room that you see, purple, was inspired by my grandmother's china, so we have the china that you see there, and it really was the reason for us picking the color, and we're thrilled with it.

So we go from the blue living room to the transition space, purple dining room, and then we'll head into the green kitchen.

So we're heading into our kitchen, and right behind the kitchen connected is this alcove space which makes a great office. It's not our dream kitchen in terms of the fixtures and the cabinets, but it has great space, and we're thrilled to have a place where kids can be.

One of the things that we're thinking about is making it a safe kitchen for kids so that things like cabinets and doors wont be opened. We're also thinking about safety for the third floor nursery. So, that's part of the focus. We have two other bedrooms upstairs and we also have a teeny tiny room that we plan to convert to a bathroom.

It's got great original beadboard, planted EV ceilings, but its going to take a lot of work to get it into shape, as well as the two bathrooms on the second floor that we're working to... hoping to convert as well.

What was wrong with the bathroom?

Well, off the main hall was the main bathroom, and off the master bedroom was a little powder room. So we've decided to change that and make the powder room off the hallway , and a full bath off the master bedroom.

Sure. It sounds like a very good plan. I mean otherwise your guests would have to go through the bedroom to get to the powder room.


So someone had it backwards, right?

We used to have a little a powder room off the master bedroom that was only from here to this wall. And we had a big bathroom off the hallway, that was the bath for the entire house.

We decided to switch them, and put a little powder room off the hallway. and to put in a big bathroom of the master bedroom.

And so we started that process, by putting a partition wall between the two and now we're moving into rough plumbing.

Once we removed the floor you can see that we have all the damage that the original plumbers did. This bathroom was probably done in the 1940's or 50's and they hogged out all material in the original, in the structural members. Which, honestly, creates a problem.

But, we're lucky enough that we can run our new pipes underneath the joists. Because we found a drop ceiling below, which has allowed us to plumb both the powder room, in the master bathroom, and we're able to get lines up to the new bathroom that we're going to put on the third floor

So, Nick, I guess the first step for you was to figure out how to get that whole roof insulated, right?

That's right. When we bought the house there was no insulation, at all. And this winter, the warmest room in the house was the cupola, which was supposed to be cold storage.

Cold storage?

That's right.

Yeah, so last week you had the fellows from Owens Corning Pro Pink running through the house.

Yes. It's blown insulation upstairs, that way they can do it without damaging any of the plaster, or the walls, or the ceiling which is great.

That's a good approach.

Old houses can be difficult to insulate. The odd space framing really creates a different difficult thing for us to use conventional bat material.

The bats themselves are pre-manufactured to be normal spacing, 16 or 24 inches on-center. This house has a lot of 19 or 17 inch on-center framing, and if the two by fours are actually two real two by fours, and so it makes it difficult to insulate correctly.

Yeah, well the idea is you want to fill all the nooks and crannies in there so that the insulation works well. The loose fiber glass is mixed with air and blown up through a hose into the house . Wherever they can can get small into a cavity, they can blow insulation in through the walls, under the attic floor boards and they can even apply it to open stud work.

As in the new construction or in the attic roofs, like this one, up under the copula by stretching a fabric across , stapling it.

Nineteen I guess.

At least.

And blowing the insulation in through the holes.

So Nick what's the r factor up there?

Well, the R value's about 4.25 per inch, and so since we've got 8 inch rafters we get over 30, and are valuable by 30.

That's gonna translate into some serious savings next heating season.

We're hoping so.

Yeah great.

Well our thermal insulation will do a great job of keeping baby's room cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and the next project that we're going to tackle is adding some sound attenuation, also a fiberglass product that will help keep the babies room nice and quiet for those lullabies.

And along the way, we'll spend a fair amount of time re-doing the bathrooms.

That's it for this week, 'til next time, I'm Bob Villa.

Thanks for joining us. This is probably the most elegant baby's room I've ever seen.

Well thank you.

And the theme continues with the circus tent.

Yes it does. This our big top, and we're coming into a room which is a healthy baby's room.


We wanted to feature the baby's breath program by the American Lung Association that is available to all expecting parents. And it's about bringing the baby home to a healthy room.

Now, it's awfully elegant and elaborate for a baby. What happens when you have a toddler? Well, this is, this room is designed for an infant. For mom coming home with the baby, and this is their room, their special room.

So mom's included in the equation.

Yes, mom is included in this equation.


However, when baby becomes toddler the first thing we want to start looking at is removing tablecloths, the drop cloths to the floor, anchoring furniture, which is very important. Even that table, if it's free-standing, it should be anchored to the wall.


We actually...

And covering up the receptacles and the electrical plugs.

All of that. Absolutely for toddlers. Removing furniture. the climbable furniture that could get near windows and that would have to be brought forward.

So you've done this really for, mother and child returning.

Returning home from the hospital, that's right.

And it's the first stage, so that's why it's so elegant.

Beginning home, coming home from the hospital.

In terms of healthy air, don't you have to worry a lot about the stuff that makes up window treatments?

Absolutely. A lot of fabrics today have sizing and has a lot of formaldehyde and other chemicals in it. And so, therefore, this is all washable cotton and actually the big top as we see it is made up of all washable cotton again and the frame underneath is all solid wood.
There is no particle board, so therefore we have no formaldehyde emissions.

That's one of the key things is to use natural wood not man-made lumber products.

Absolutely, in a baby's room unless you were using, if you 're starting from scratch, there is MDF - medium density fiberboard.


There's ply wood and there are even some particle boards that are made without formaldehyde and that's what you look for - formaldehyde free.

So if you're a do it yourselfer and you're planning and building baby furniture and stuff. That's what you want to look for.

Absolutely, and if for some reason you are hard pressed and you use regular particle board that does have formaldehyde. Whether you building closets or shelves or whatever, you must seal off every part of the particle board that can be seen, or hat's where the emission can come out and you seal it with a nontoxic sealer.

Right. Now this looks like it's an antique sofa.

It 's an older sofa, it's a recycled sofa. It happens to be, and this is a big clue, it happens to be an ight way hand tie which means the spring system, the spring construction is all eight way hand tie.

You mean the springs down here.

Yes the springs down there.

And what does that indicate?

That indicates that eight way hand tie can only be constructed on solid, a solid wood. frame. So you know again we're not getting a particle board frame because a particle board could never hold an eight way hand tie construction.

Oh, I see what you mean.

And in getting solid wood, once again, we know we're not getting formaldehyde.

What about the is it again a mural painted, or what?

Actually, this is not a mural people think it is because
the color was matched so well to the background. This is a wallpaper and I recommend wallpaper over vinyl, particularly in a baby's room.


Vinyl doesn't have the breathe-ability especially in hot, humid climates.


But, even when you have something, keep your wallpaper to a minimum. I've only selected one wall. Or borders are great.


We actually off gas. We unroll this wallpaper for two and a half days, and it would have absolutely no odors what-so-ever.

Before you installed it ?

Before we've installed it. Now. Yeah. We used a non-toxic adhesive also. Right.

Now is the crib an antique?

The crib is recycled. It's not necessarily antique. However even with using older or recycled cribs, we want to be using something preferably from 1991. Because we want to stay according to the codes that are within 2 3/8 inches. You don't want it any larger than that.

The openings between the bars cannot be greater than that.

That is correct. And cribs, a lot of cribs before nineteen ninety one may have

Chemicals in the paint that are very undesirable.

What about the actual mattress?

The actual mattress is an organic mattress, and it...

Can I look at it?

Go right ahead. Oh, there you go. That's an organic mattress, and it has...

Which means it's rubber?

Well no, organic is-- yes it means it's rubber but it could also be a cotton insulated so this particular mattress is real rubber foam on the inside. Insulated with wool, which is naturally, inherently flame-retardant. So there's no chemicals in this.


And then the organic cotton that surround it.

Okay, so everything is natural, as much natural product as you possibly can get near the baby.

Absolutely because most mattresses or phones will have what's known as PBDE; poly brominated diphenyl ether's which means PBDEs and that's an off gassing, a toxic off gassing that comes from foams, from the flame retardants.

The more natural the better.

The more natural the better.

And of course we're in a 1920's, house so we've got things like this beautiful hardwood floor?


You told about recycle. This is the ultimate, we are sitting on something that is as old as the house.

But my point is that you wanted to avoid the wall carpeting, right?

Oh, if you can, I would.


If you're going to use wall to wall carpeting, first thing is, are you going to use a synthetic or if you going to use a wool? If your going to use a natural wool then won't have have the problems of the Phenylcyclohexene which is the 4 PC's that off gas.

But you're better off with scatter rug like this which is washable.

Absolutely and you can take it out to be cleaned . The wall to wall carpeting has to be cleaned in a room and that is not preferred.

And you've done such a great job and you can get the babies breath brochure from the American Lung Association?


Bernadette, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Congratulations, it's a beauty. Hi, I'm Bob Vila. Welcome to the show. We're in Melrose, Massachusetts where we're starting a brand new project today, all about remodeling some of the third floor attic rooms in this 100 year old house with a new baby in mind.

We'll also be taking you today to the American Lung Association show house down in Palm Beach Florida. We are going to learn a lot about the latest materials that should be used in the nursery. And we'll be meeting the homeowners. Stick around. It's good to have you with us.

Building or remodeling a house can be a dusty and sometimes uncomfortable and even unhealthy problem. position. Some of the materials that are used in house construction today, man-made chemical products that are not necessary good for your health.

I think there's a direct link to asthma and allergies and other respiratory problems and, this is something we're looking at here ,in West Palm Beach at the American Lung Associations designer show house.

A 1926 Mediterranean revival house that has been totally re-done by a local interior designer. So we are going to go inside and take a closer look, but one of the things that we are interested in is the health of the inside of the house.

This 1920's Mediterranean house has been done up in high style from top to bottom. By some of the area's most sought after interior designers. There's a formal living room done by Joanne Monroe with twin arched French doors leading to a tropical, scenic view of Providencia Park, the intracoastal waterway and Palm Beach.
The fireplace is the focus, faux painted to look like a solid piece of coral stone known as cochina with a foiegua Cypress mantle. 100% natural Italian limestone plaster coats the walls, giving it a stucco texture in old world golds and neutrals.

The kitchen, done by Carol Knapp and Brandon Moore, has some uniquely furniture-styled walnut cabinetry, unique mosaic wall tile and azul macauba counter tops along with an aged Pecky Cypress ceiling vault.

In the spectacular sun room, Vivian Rios gives us 1930's Hollywood , in silver, gold, blue, mother of pearl, and mirrors.

The rear wing of the house is connected to the kitchen by a passageway that's faux finished to look like ostrich leather by a local Artist Rita Stankus.

The powder room by Sid Delmar Leech has some truly original tile work made from antique English molds and brass tacks. In the elegant Moroccan room by the pool, Maureen Suarez has devised a really clever Treatment that disguises a rather insignificant little window and centers the room.

The guest bedroom by Joseph Gubionez is a 1930s bachelor's den with a truly amazing bathroom. A stenciled Moroccan design in Venetian plaster, finished to look like mother of pearl. The ceiling is done in jade decor - a mixture of cloth fiber mica and metallic threads.

At the center of many of these themes is Eco-decor, the design firm of Bernadette Upton. She did the nursery which is the room we're really here to see. Let's go meet her.

So Bernadette, in addition to all the interior design work that you do, you're also involved with the Baby's Breath program, right?

Yes. That was initiated by myself and the American Lung Association.

And this is a perfect place to be talking about these issues. This is the baby's bathroom.

Yes it is.

Tell us about what some of the features are in here.

The major feature here is this mural. Which was done by Susan Bridgeforth, not only is inspiring to look at and so educational and adorable.

It really is very good.

Yeah, it's great. It's all done with no VOC paints which means volatile organic compounds, something we don't want in our air quality.

So there aren't any chemicals in the paints used here that can out gas and affect the air that we breath.

That's correct. That's correct

Alright. Now the other materials used in here are all natural? Ceramic tile.

It's got marble, natural wood, so that you've got a situation where you don't have any products used that could be affecting the quality of the air.

That's correct and the nose knows. Can you smell it? There's nothing.

Even the little carpet is not synthetic?

Even the carpet is a cotton washable. Washable cotton.

That's so important. Well, let's look at the grand creation. Let's look at the nursery here.




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