I can’t say this weekend was quiet. The folks across the alley and over a few doors are putting a deck up. So this was a weekend of hammering and guys yelling at each other.
They sort of had a small deck-like thing, a legacy from before they bought the house. It was grey warped wood with splotches of moss and mold. It was also small, just big enough for 2 guys to sit out on it to smoke. The deck they are getting would allow for a table, where two-four-six guys can sit, smoke and maybe have a few beers. Considering how much use the old deck got, new one will get used often.
I’m thinking of some home improvements as well for 2009. The 1st floor was to have a shower, but I didn’t have the money for it in the renovation. I’m thinking I’ll save up some money, talk to David my contractor, get a figure from him, and add 30% on top of that. Also scheduled for 2009 is repainting the house. With the colors B &IT have for their house and the color of the house next to me, the color I’m choosing will make the three houses my alma mater’s school colors. Though the neighboring house’s color is a little on the pastel side to truly be a fighting school colors. Eh, close enough.
I think there is something special about home improvements people do for themselves, and not to just try to sell the house. Considering the cost, the hassle of dust and discomfort of strangers tromping through your house (if paying someone else to do it), it pretty much keeps improvements down to things that are needed. Also the improvements are truly ‘custom’ to the way the residents live.
There’s a discussion on one of the listservs regarding radiators regarding a part. The radiator supply valve I gather… anyway, the beautiful internets can come to the rescue. I was looking for radiator keys and an air vent thing and got them from a hardware store on-line. Also when the plumbers hooked my radiators back up, they seemed to have had an ample supply of radiator bits, completely replacing the caked with 10 layers of paint parts. So though the radiator system is not widely used in the US, they aren’t rare, so there is information out there about parts and maintenance.
Also, things have been getting busy and as I’m waiting for certain things to fall into place to allow me to start yacking about bits of Shaw & DC history I haven’t been and probably won’t be posting much. Also I’m thinking of switching over to Moveable Type, which may or may not mean shutting down the Blogger version.
The census project chugs slowly along as I do the tedious task of data clean up.
One of the things I did, and felt was really important with the renovation was put in some insulation. The house had no insulation. Zip. Nada. None.
What does it mean to have a house with no insulation? Well from my 6 years of living in it, I’ll tell you. For one, you can hear everything that is going on in the streets. Of course, you can blame crappy windows for that too. Second, heat and air escape. I had a tough time getting the house up to 75F during the winter if I wasn’t cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Because I had to balance my desire to walk around the house in flip flops with wanting to conserve energy and not spend too much on heating fuel, I kept most of the house in the high 60s when at home (low 60s when not) and limited my heated paradise to my bedroom. Or, stayed in the kitchen, particularly after the installation of the heated floor.
Now, now I have insulation and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. The thermostat is timed to go to 71 in the morning, 60 when I leave, and 66 when I return. There were times when I came home and it was 70. The heat stayed in, all due to our friend, insulation.
I have a friend who has an older house too. Not as old as mine a 1930s(?) bungalow. He suspects it has no insulation in the bottom portion. He thinks the attic level bedroom might be insulated as it keeps in heat. But then again, it could be just the heat rising.
Looking out my back window I noticed something odd about one of the houses. And it is a weird little thing that I wondered about regarding my house, and other houses around. As these are townhouses, all connected and everything, is there like an easement or something that allows part of your house to be attached to your neighbors.
To better illustrate here’s the deal: Houses A has a closed in rear porch thing that leans (possibly due to age) into what looks to be House B’s side of the property line. What’s on House B’s side from House A are the gutters, roof overhang, and flashing. There is no adjoining structure like a porch on B’s side. Another example, my house, from the front it would appear that the fence and the paint line show where one house ends and the other begins. Nope. Discovered this when making a vent for the basement, the hole wound up on the other side of the fence in the neighbor’s yard. Similar problem in the back. Where the kitchen chimneys meet is a little less than a foot on the other side of the fence and the neighbor’s AC/heat pump thing sits right on the fence.
Now back in 1870-whatever when the landlord who owned my side of the block had these houses built, the exact line of where one house began and the other ended probably didn’t matter much. He owned the whole row of near cookie-cutter houses. But in time they got sold off bits and pieces to other landlords and until the late 20th century these units were almost always rental housing, so those with the responsibility to maintain and repair, didn’t have to live with the results.
The not-exactly cut and dry line of this side mine this side yours can create problems when it comes to fences, additions, weed trees, repairs, etc when the relationship you have with the owner of the neighboring house is not the best.
I must spread the good news.
Tilex is good for getting rid of nasty mold in your bathroom.
I may have mentioned before that there was some mold growing in our bathtub. Normally I don’t care about the bathroom since I spend so little time in it. But the mold got so bad I did notice it. Now cleaning the bathroom is not my duty. However the mold was untolerable so I took out the Tilex for mold, sprayed and the next day, no mold. No wiping ’cause then I would have taken on extra work. Spraying at things won’t kill me.
I told a friend of mine who lives with 3 guys about the wonders of Tilex. The mold in his bathroom was there longer than some of the guys. He sprayed, shut the door (the fumes are like toxic) and later that day no mold.
I wish there were other things that cleaned themselves. Oh a spray that cleans the kitchen floor (my area to clean) would be nice. Really not into the moping.
Ah what we really need around here is a maid. How much does bimonthly maid service cost?
The bathtub needs another treatment of the drain declogger. I suspect that there is a piece of soap stuck in the pipes, so it might need part of a stick as well to dig around. Anywho, this morning’s shower and clog got me thinking of maintenance and homeownership. Maintenance is drugery, and if we call a plumber, it’s expensive too. Maintenance makes the act of just getting a house look like the easy part, particularly if you have an older 100+ year old townhome.
When driving through New York City, my friend Nora B. pointed out a depressing looking apartments above a bridge. She said it looked liked someone designed it, built it and then didn’t keep it up. The once bright colorful paints were peeling, dingy and faded.
That could describe the history of many of the townhomes in my area. I’m still slowly, with fits and starts gathering census data for the area. I have recently stumbled onto 1880 households with white servants. The grand houses that held these important people and their live in staff, are a little less grand now. Big houses with ornate brickwork and large windows. Keeping up the brickwork, getting the birds’ nests out, removing that mini-tree that established itself in a crevice, costs either time or money or both. The building of the grand house, done. Keeping it grand, annoying and expensive.
This was a topic hammered home in those first-time home buyer seminars, maintenance, keeping the place up. So many people put so much energy and money into getting a house, and in this market, that is a requirement. Unfortunately, their spirits and bank accounts are drained by the time the first crisis comes around. Darned it, those crisises come early. Mine was a hole in the wall. $400. Second was running toilet. $200, and that was WITH the home warranty. Then the flood. Insurance took care of that. I guess I spent a coupla hundred just to deal with minor things like insulation, leaky valves, etc. Then there was taking time off to wait for the guy between 11 and 3 for the quirky phone lines, or to look at the furnace. Will the person who borrowed, scrimped saved, took on an extra job have the ability to deal with the $300 problem that shows up, followed by a $90 problem and another one, and another one. With homeownership, there is always something.
Note: The title was changed as it kept attracting questionable searches. 6/17/08
Not Penthouse but This Old House.
Stuff that excites, titillates, but has no resemblance to your reality. This is house porn or decorator porn. Face it you don’t have the money, time, or skill (in my case a lack of skill and money) to get the same look that you saw on HGTV.
Ah, HGTV. The good reason I don’t have cable. When I am in a hotel or visiting a place with cable I am glued to HGTV. It is the Playboy channel for me. My mother, the worst homemaker in the world (but I love her anyways) did not really understand this whole business of wanting to go through the trouble of painting and pasting and building just to change the “look” of a room.
I have a whole bunch of decorating DIY magazines littering the house, some stuffed under my bed so I can go to sleep with house fantasies in my head. I need to weed my house of these things ’cause the truth with house porn, as with most porn, it ain’t gonna happen. I am not putting on addition anytime soon. The spiral stair idea is not right for my house. Open space, well I’m going to hire people to do that and I’ll need the $$$$$. Kitchen, done, can’t do no more. Bathroom, see open space. Can’t even do some of the garden ideas due to lack of space and sun.
Like most porn, it just leaves you frustrated.
Somehow you are supposed to be able to repoint brick with a pointing trowel. This theory has not worked out for me. Most of the mortar wound up on the ground and not in between the bricks. A better method for me was to take a gloved hand, grab a glob of mortar and smash it into the bricks, smooshing it into the cavities.
3/2006 Update:Link for repointing is dead.
Paint slaves wanted
ET hinted that I might be able to use her paint crew. Her paint crew consisting of her roommate and odd science-fiction reading friends. Pizza and beer can get you a paint crew.
This weekend I hope to get on a ladder and do a bit more repointing. It won’t follow any nice rule, I might shoot the deep holes up with some insulation foam and put in 3/4 of an inch of mortar, then paint over it. The deeper holes I have filled, are a pain to wait for them to dry. The rains have not helped and I had to leave those areas bare of paint.
The sandy mortar mixture recommended for old houses does not stand up that well to moisture, well the mixes I’ve made with sand and limestone. Closer to the gutter I used the pure mortar mix from Home Depot, lest the work I did get washed away with the next downpour.