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Recycling Houses in Old St. John’s

Recycling Houses in Old St. John’s Newfoundland is a simplified guide to assessing and renovating heritage homes. It was written by Peter Pope and illustrated by architect Joe Carter through Affinities Ltd., an architecture/construction/restoration firm of the late 1970s to early 1980s. The guide was written based on the restoration of a duplex on Masonic Terrace by the author and others. Pope refers to the project and his team’s approach to exemplify a number of his points.

Most of Pope’s points are general, though he does offer specific suggestions at times. Locating washrooms and kitchen near the plumbing stack or large appliances near the electrical panel are recommendations which would benefit any project, new or old. He describes in more detail the inspection of the foundation and sill, highlighting conditions which would promote rot. He describes briefly how to sister joists and studs, but does not specify how to jack the house or replace the sill. Instead, he encourages the reader to seek professional help for any and all issues out of the reader’s skill-set. Other specific suggestions include uncovering and leaving bare wooden walls and brick chimneys for visual effect. He adheres to the still-popular idea that structure itself can be beautiful, and he promotes conservation where restoration may be out of current financial reach.

Recycling Houses is written with humour and without restraint. Pope does not shy from describing the difficulties of working with contractors, inspectors, suppliers, and government departments. While the book holds a good deal of timeless information, however, it is unfortunately dated. Businesses and craftspeople Pope refers to are no longer operating and government programs are no longer available. An updated guide might be a useful resource for modern owners of heritage homes in St. John’s