Saturday, May 24, 2014

Baby steps

So we began this project at the end of April.  Totally ripping off the entire roof and putting a new one back on took two days.  It was amazing.  The house shook like someone was ripping it apart, which they were, but, bam, it was done.  It looked great.  So we expected the same thing from the painters.  After 25 days, we still haven't gotten the first coat of color on the whole house.  Here's where the process began to take shape, when the tinted primer went up.  Everyone loved the blue, but it was so bright!  I wasn't sure that was the color we chose, but they assured us it was.


It was nice to see something besides the peeling or now scraped wood siding.  



Once they got more and more of the primer up, we could finally see the architectural details of the house that disappeared with the old pale yellow siding and white trim.



Here you can finally see the dramatic change taking place.  So eventually they got the primer up on everything except the attic dormer and the side of the house that needed repairs.


This is what needed to be fixed.  The previous owner remodeled the kitchen himself.  He pulled out the windows that were there so he would have more wall space for upper cabinets.  Then he stuck a smaller window in and filled the hole in with whatever wood he had on hand.  Then he planted trees in front of this mess so it couldn't be seen.  M said we should just plant trees like the previous owner did.  I said we were spending so much money to make this house look good, it would be silly not to do it right.  I offered up my summer pay to cover the repair costs because it meant so much to me to have it done right.  So we also had to wait weeks for this repair to get done.  Back in the day when this house was originally built, the width of the wood siding was wider than siding we use today.  So there was no wood siding available to repair it with.  We have no saw mills anywhere around where they could mill the correct width for us.  So our contractor had to search for siding in the right width.  The only thing he could find that would work was concrete siding.  He ordered it, then we had to wait for it to come in.


Here the carpenter begins ripping off the old siding.  Replacing wooden siding apparently is like repairing a wood floor.  You can't just cut out what you want and slap new pieces in because you will see the straight lines where you replaced the wood.  Instead you need to feather in the pieces so none of the seams are directly over each other.  Here's where everything gets more interesting.  The master carpenter who had to do this showed me the cut nails in the original siding.  He said, "did you know your house was about 100 years old?"  I told him my research showed that this was a mail order kit house that was sold from 1914-1938.  I assumed it was built late 20s or early 30s.  He said no, the nails were hand cut (whatever that means) and they stopped using those about 100 years ago, so he estimates our house was one of the earliest kits, around 1915.  Cool.


What we discovered next was not cool.  I went to to run errands when they started the demolition, by the time I got back, there were holes in our house and you could all our glasses sitting inside at the top of the window.


So apparently the former homeowner when he pulled out the old windows, he never framed in the new one, it wasn't even nailed in there, the siding was holding it in place, but wait, it gets better.  On the inside, where he had gaps around the window, he filled it in with concrete.  When they pulled the wood siding, the window sagged and the concrete crumbled.  So we had to pay extra for the carpenters to properly frame the window and put wood inside to cover the holes.  I will have to patch and skim coat them to cover the damage.  One more thing on my summer to-do list.

So the framing and repairs were done properly.


Tyvek liner and concrete siding went up next.


The painters finally returned, primed over the repaired spot, and FINALLY began putting the first coat of the colored paint up.  They did the front of the house and half of this side and then left for the holiday weekend.  Argh.  This has been the routine of the painters, they show up late morning and leave early afternoon, maybe two or three days a week.  The house might be finished by the Fall.  I am just so ready for this all to be done and for all the messes to be cleaned up.



Friday, May 23, 2014

So much change


So we moved into our house in February, 2005, and since that time, as you've all witnessed, we have done one home improvement project after another.  We've done the majority of the work ourselves, but other than painting our porch, the front of the house and plantings around the property, the outside has been sorely neglected.  We needed a new roof, new gutters, and the whole house needed to be scraped clean of it's peeling paint and get re-painted.  This was something we couldn't do ourselves and we certainly didn't have the fortune it would cost to get it done.  So everything waited, and decayed, and began looking more and more shabby. 

We thought we were going to take care of everything two years ago, but then decided to wait.  Well, this year it could no longer wait.  We knew the roof could probably last another couple of years, but the gutters had to be replaced because they were rusted out and leaking all over.  We began talking to people about doing the gutters, but then kept seeing more and more of the paint peeling off in big strips.  So then we started talking to people about whether to paint the house or wrap it in aluminum siding.  Everyone said the painting should be last, do the roof and gutters first, otherwise any paint job we did would get scratched up.  

So then we began getting estimates and sticker shock, prices had doubled in the two years since we first started looking at the costs of all these repairs.  Still, it had to be done, so we also began thinking about colors, and looking at other American Foursquares (which is the type of house we have) to see what choices other people made for their houses to get an idea of what we liked.  At first we were thinking of elegant taupe, with black shutters and white trim.  Then we though of yellow, black and white, but nearly every house for miles around was white, yellow, taupe, or gray.  How boring.  We would see the occasional blue or green house, we even have a purple house on our street, but none of them were to our taste.


Still, we had to come up with a color pallette because the work would have to be done soon.
The old girl was in desperate need of a new hat and dress.  We finally found a house in the neighborhood that we liked, it's blue with black shutters and white trim.  We asked the owners about their paint color, but they didn't keep a record of it.  So I began getting paint samples and bringing them to that house, but I could never match the color.  So we began getting paint samples and painting stripes on the side of our house, trying to find a blue we could love.


This is kind of the type of blue we decided we liked, but we couldn't find the right blue at our paint store, they were all too bright and circus-like.  Just when we were about to give up, I found a teal blue that looked awesome when we painted it on our house.


The color we picked is on the bottom of this picture.  It was interesting, people in our neighborhood were coming by as we painted different blue stripes on the house and weighing in on which blues they liked.  Ninety-nine percent of the neighbors liked the teal as well.  So now we had a paint color, now for all the work to begin.  First the roof had to be replaced.  The original roof was still on the house, covered in multiple layers of asphal shingles.  Everything had to be removed down to the rafters.


Above is a shot of the roof being removed.  Below is what the attic looked like from the inside.  I really wanted to add big dormers to the attic to get more headroom and light, but we just couldn't afford it.

The roof was ripped off and a completely new one put on in two days.  We went with a charcoal gray architectural style shingle for the roof.  


It's hard to see the ridges and texture on the roof, but trust me, it's a great improvement and looks so much better.  Here's a picture of another house that has them and you can see the detail better.


So once the roof was done, the weeks long process of scraping and re-caulking the house began.  It was a messy, tedious process and it made the house look like hell, but it had to be done.  We were chomping at the bit waiting for the actual painting to begin, but the painters were slow when they showed up, plus the weather kept turning to rain delaying matters further.  Also, can you see that window down there on the far right and bottom? There used to be two large double-hung windows there with a previous homeowner, but that homeowner removed them and never framed the new window properly.  Also to the right of that little window is a dark silver (metal) vent cover that is disconnected and walled over in the kitchen.  That needed to be removed and then re-side that part of the house.  M suggest we just plant trees in front of it to hide it like the previous owner did, um, no.  Next up, finally a little color with the primer, and the repairs.  You will not believe what happened with the repairs.  



Friday, May 2, 2014

Too much going on

The end of the semester is coming near and I can hardly wait!  I've been peddling as fast as I can all semester, just trying to keep up.  I will never take on a brand new class again without having it fully prepped in advance.  Add to that stress taking a week off to go to Ohio for the birth of my niece, and then having to clean out nine years worth of stuff from the attic so our roof could be removed and replaced, and you'll understand what kind of chaos I've been living in.  Oh, and just for good measure add a broken washing machine and having to haul laundry for a week, then the dryer broke.  It never rains but it pours.

Here's a peek into our attic before.  Half the attic was filled with my daughter's stuff.  She hasn't lived at home for 7 years.  I really wanted to bump out the attic while we had the roof off, but the cost to do the roof, gutters and paint the outside of the house was double what we were expecting.  So no nice attic room for me.  I'll have to make the best of what it is without a bank of windows bringing in headspace and light.  I'm hoping to fix it up and use it for a sewing and craft room.




There's plenty of space for what I want to use it for, but I will probably spend the next year insulating and dry walling it myself.  Then I will have to figure out the air conditioning issue.  


My son's room is filled with stuff from the attic belonging to three of us.  Our sunroom is packed with my daughter's stuff.  So she and I spent one Saturday going through buckets of childhood things deciding what to keep, throw away, give to family members, or sell at a yard sale.  She gave away a huge storage box of Barbie dolls to the daughter of a friend of ours.



My daughter and I had some bonding time over treasured old items.  She told me she wanted to show me something.  She was hesitant because she didn't know what my reaction would be.  I told her she was an adult now and shouldn't worry what I would think.  Then she revealed her latest tattoo to me.  It runs from the top of her ribs down to her hip, and it's not done yet.  It will eventually be a tree of life made up of various animals.  It is a work of art.  The shading is gorgeous.  I don't think this picture does it justice.   Then she told me she wanted to give some of her baby stuff to her new cousin.  I said, "don't you want to keep these for your kids one day?"  Then she told me with great finality, "mom, I'm not going to have kids.  I don't want them.  I have my horses, they're my babies and will be with me for the next twenty years."  I know she's only 25, she could change her mind, but I don't think she will.  She's never liked kids, never liked babysitting, and always preferred animals to people.  I told her, "that's okay.  That's your choice.  Don't ever feel obligated to have children if you don't want them.  It's  very hard to raise children and you shouldn't do it if you're not totally committed to doing it."  Then a little sadness crept into my heart knowing I probably won't see any grandchildren from her.









Lake Ontario

I've taken to strolling the shores of Lake Ontario lately.  I like that it's no longer tourist season so the dog and I can have the ...