Friday, December 6, 2013
This week the roofers found a hidden chimney (which makes 3 original chimneys) that had been removed from the roof-line up. It runs right along the inside of the fireplace chimney, with a separate flue. It has been blocked off on the inside. It is completely separate from the fireplace chimney which runs up the outside of the house. This hidden one is right alongside it but just INSIDE the exterior wall of the house, with the wall separating the two. I had no idea what it could have been.
It doesn't seem like there was ever a fireplace in my bedroom -there is a bump out in my bedroom where the chimney runs down the wall, but the plaster appears to be original (I removed the baseboard to check).
It couldn't go down to the basement because the firebox of the fireplace would prevent it from going down any further.
If it was the original chimney for the fireplace, why did they build another one?
And if the original one fell down, why not rebuild on the existing footprint?
The bricks of the current chimney appear to be original (except above the roof line because it has probably been rebuilt at some point, which is normal at this age).
And in my picture from 1955, the chimney looks exactly the same as it does now. It had already been closed off and removed in 1955.
Then I decided it must have been for a wood/coal burner in the bedroom. There was probably a hole, higher up the wall, where the stove pipe went into the chimney. I looked closer at the plaster in the bedroom and about 5' up there has definitely been some plaster repair work done. Not as exciting as a fireplace in the bedroom, but the flue wasn't big enough for a fireplace. If there had originally been a fireplace in the bedroom, I would have it rebuilt, but I don't think it's worth it for a wood burner.
I still haven't found the clean-out for it. That's probably where the bag of money is hidden.
Friday, November 1, 2013
This has been one of the biggest projects ever, but one of the most fun. I had help from my grandpa and an uncle, plus consultation with another uncle for this project. The porch roof has been leaking forever. The asphalt shingles were completely disintegrated. There was a big sag in the ridge. I knew there were going to be issues. Since the new slate roof is getting installed soon, I figured this was a project I could tackle myself to save a few thousand dollars.
I started by tearing off the existing asphalt shingles. The original slate had already been removed from the porch roof, even though it still exists under the rest of the roof, and there were 2 layers of asphalt shingles over the porch, indicating someone had already attempted to repair some issues before. I stripped the asphalt off, no pieces larger than 3 sq inches. It just disintegrated and came off in tiny little bits. A lot of the decking was rotted, which I already knew would be the case. I decided that I'd just go ahead and replace ALL of it. At least half of the beadboard on the eave was rotten, which I had already known from when I replaced the cedar shake on the front. What I was more interested in finding out was WHY there was a big sag in the ridge.
Once the tearoff was done, the source of the sag was obvious, a crack in the ridge board along a knot in the wood. I originally thought we'd have to cut the rafters away from the ridge board and replace it. I had a new one custom milled to the old wood dimensions but 2x8 instead of the original 2x6. Then I consulted with my uncle and learned of a much easier way to deal with it: put the new 2x8 underneath the original cracked ridge board and force it up, thereby straightening the cracked/sagging 2x6.
To do this, we had to support the porch while we worked. I placed two column jacks on the porch, lined up with a 2x8 that is directly below the cracked ridge, right on the top side of the tongue and groove porch ceiling boards. We had to make sure we had these column jacks directly under that 2x8 since that's what we'd be using to jack up the sag. Then we had to make sure that these column jacks were also sitting on the porch floor right on top of the joists that ran beneath, to transfer the load to a bearing area.
Once everything was properly placed, we tore off the 1x8 decking along the ridge so that I could climb inside. We sandwiched metal brackets along each side of the cracked board so that the new one could slide in underneath it and would not flip sideways while jacking. Then, pinning one end of the new 2x8 to the wall of the house, underneath the cracked board, we jacked up the other end with a bottle jack, about 4 inches to force the cracked board straight. Once it was seated along the bottom of the cracked beam, all the way across, and everything was straight again, we tied the two together with structural ties. Then installed joist hangers and other supports to make sure neither end will ever sink down.
After that milestone, I tore all the decking off of the north half of the porch roof. I had to leave the beadboard up temporarily as it was holding up the large fascia board. I removed all the old rusty nails from the rafters and cleaned up all the asphalt, slate chunks, dirt, birds nests, roofing nails, etc from the top side of the porch ceiling boards where it had collected for 100 years. I then reinforced EVERYTHING with joist hangers since the original nails that were used back then are getting rusty and disintegrated and can't be relied upon anymore.
After the teardown, it was obvious that some rafters would need to be replaced or sistered with new. Out of the 5 rafters on the north side, 3 had so much rot that it was best to just replace them, then I sistered one all the way, top to bottom, and sistered a 3 foot section at the bottom of the final one. After we had jacked up the ridge, a couple of the rafters had pulled away from the ridge so replacing the rafters also solved that problem. All the rafters were secured to the ridge with rafter ties or angled brackets. And 3" deck screws were added all over to tie things together that were originally nailed.
Once everything was structurally sound, the deck replacement began. There was no way I'd use plywood on my house (especially under a slate roof), so I bought all brand new 1x8 pine decking and beadboard. Rather than nailing it, I chose to screw the boards down with 2.5" deck screws, 2 per board per rafter. I also left a small (about 1/8") gap between each board to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood.
Originally, almost all the beadboard (which is the only thing holding up that big thick fascia board), only came in to the first rafter. Over time, the weight of that large fascia board, the slate on top of it eave, and the lack of support, causes the eaves to sag down. It's a common problem in this city where apparently no builder figured out how stupid this was. So it is common here for roofers to have to jack up these eaves and replace some of these short beadboards with longer ones that go in at least a couple rafters. So when I replaced the beadboard, I used much longer pieces.
Then, I basically repeated that entire process for the south side. Plus, the end of the south side had always been sagging. At one point, someone attempted to fix this by sistering in some 2x4s but they were not level and only reinforced the drooping. I tore all that out and started over, making sure to level it and support it all with rafter ties. Also, the top of the fascia board on this side, a thick 2x8, was rotted. Removing it entirely and having one custom milled to those dimensions and reinstalling would have been a huge project. Since it was only rotted about an inch deep at the top, for a few feet in length, I just cut out the rotted section and glued and screwed a piece in that section (taken from a good portion of one of the removed rafters, so it was old growth and the correct thickness). Once the seam is puttied and it's all painted, it won't be visible.
This was a large job. It broke down something like this:
- 1 day roof tear off and cleanup
- 1 day pulling nails from deck and staring at cracked ridge, brainstorming
- 1 day jacking cracked ridge and tying in new board
- 1 day deck tear off (north side) and clean up
- 1 day replacing and sistering rafters (north side)
- 1 day installing new deck and beadboard (north side)
- 1 day deck tear off (south side) and cleanup
- 1 day replacing and sistering rafters (south side)
- 1 day installing new deck and beadboard (south side)
- 1 day misc
Saturday, October 5, 2013
I love finding old treasures. And the best place to find them in this house is in the attic. Lately, I've been cleaning the attic because my new slate roof is going to be installed in a couple weeks. Today I discovered these! Two unopened boxes of 1915 light bulbs. They were both underneath the floorboards. Amazingly, they survived the leaky section of roof, the mice, and the pigeons that used to live up there.
They were apparently made by Shelby Lamps, which was owned by General Electric. I just found that Shelby has a museum in Shelby, Ohio. Here is some info from their site:
In 1912, General Electric built a large production facility in Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio and began absorbing many of the smaller lamp companies. Shelby's "Lamp works" continued to manufacture lamps until 1914, when they too, were acquired by General Electric. The "Mazda" and "Shelby" names and trademarks continued to be used at the Nela Park, Cleveland facility, because the Shelby name was widely known for quality.
Friday, September 27, 2013
The final side of the house! The rear (East facing) side of the house has offered some new experiences and challenges.
Originally, the rear of the house was much different than it was when I moved in. There was an exterior open back porch originally, much like the front porch but smaller, coming off of the kitchen. At some point, long ago, that porch was enclosed. I typically HATE enclosures but in this case, it was done well and I need the added space in the kitchen so I'm leaving it enclosed rather than trying to restore the original back porch.
The basement includes the area under this porch which I believe was the coal room. My house does not have a traditional coal chute and I cannot see an area where one would have been. However, the basement window on the side of this enclosed porch is tilted at an angle, and none of the other basement windows are. So I believe the window was used as the coal chute.
Above the porch was a balcony. The door to the balcony was located in the bathroom. The door had long been closed off along with a small bathroom window which was right next to the door. There were clear lines of clapboards filling in where the door and window used to be. The balcony railings had been removed but you could see where they had attached to the house.
I salvaged an original balcony door and original storm door with frame from a house last year. When I removed the clapboard and sheathing that filled in where the door was, the new salvaged door and frame fit like a glove. Height and width were absolutely spot on! It was amazing. Once it was installed, the top trim lined up perfectly, and there was exactly enough space to fit the side trim against the ends of the clapboard on both sides. I haven't installed the storm door yet.
I scored some balcony railings from someone's tree lawn on garbage day. They match my original front porch railings but taller, EXACTLY what I needed for the balcony. That will be installed once the new roof is installed.
I will eventually put a window back where it was closed off but currently the tile for the shower is right there and I'm not demolishing my bathroom (yet). When I install the clawfoot tub, I will put the window back. I will install a separate shower on the other side of the bathroom.
There were 3 windows installed, one on each side of the enclosed porch. The windows were French style windows, not double hung like the rest of the house. I hated them! My plan has always been to replace the windows so they'd match the double hung style of the rest of the house. Of course I would never use replacement windows for reasons stated in a previous post. I wanted the windows to match the rest of the house as much as possible. Wood framed, double hung, pulleys, weights, the whole 9 yards. The best way to accomplish that? Take windows from another historic house. So on the 3 houses that I salvaged last year, I removed 2 windows, frames, weights, everything. The challenge was that the windows would need to be really short, since this room has a shorter ceiling height than the rest of the kitchen. And I wanted the new windows to be above counter level.
The 2 windows I salvaged were nearly identical in width but way too tall. Simple fix, I thought, just cut them shorter. Not quite that simple. Once you cut them shorter, new holes need to be cut for the pulleys. The little access doors for weight access were too tall once the frame was shorter. The sash, fully open, would have prevented the access door from being opened. So those had to be cut smaller. Then, of course, the sashes themselves would be too tall. I had to have custom sashes built (over $200 for one pair of sashes). The downside of new sashes is that they are new growth wood instead of the old growth that the originals were made out of. I considered disassembling the original sashes and shortening them but I don't have the time or patience for that job. The original sills had the edges broken off, for aluminum siding. I removed them and had new ones custom milled to match. The weights will need to be cut to balance the weight of smaller sashes (that will be an interesting guessing game). Then, after all that trouble, might as well put wavy antique glass in. So I removed glass from my collection of old rescued sashes I've recovered from people's tree lawns and had it cut and installed in the new sashes. Not really a fun job. It'd be nice if you could just go to the store and buy brand new wood old-style double hung windows, frames and all.
On the 3rd side of the enclosure, my plan has always been to install a small back door. I salvaged a 30" door and frame from one of those houses last year for just this purpose. However, there is no existing framing to accommodate a door, like there was on the balcony. Also, the central air conditioning unit is exactly in the way and needs to be moved first. So for now, I just closed off this window completely. I will probably revisit this back door project at a later date.
There was one interior corner of the enclosure where there was no corner trim. Every other interior corner has a small square piece of corner trim that the clapboards butts
up against. This one corner was missing this trim piece and the clapboard butted into each other at a 90 deg angle. This bothered me. I decided to install the trim. This is quite the challenge when the clapboard is still there. I had a piece of trim custom cut by the lumber yard to match the dimension of the others. Then I had to cut the ends off of all the clapboard to accommodate the trim, not fun when the clapboard is still attached to the house. Then I had to loosen the ends of the clapboard, remove nails, pry it away from the house, and try to slide the trim into place.
On top of all that, I still had to strip the paint, repair and replace clapboard, replace the sill edges on the windows of the built ins, sand, prime, and caulk.
In summary, the rear restoration included:
-Installing a balcony door
-Replacing 2 windows with custom built double hung windows
-Closing off 1 window
-Replacing 8 window sill edges
-Replacing 2 drip edges
-Repairing broken trim
-Installing interior corner trim
-Replacing a lot of clapboard
-Stripping all the paint
-Sanding everything with 80 grit
-Washing with TSP
Monday, April 1, 2013
Hard to believe it's been five years already. Funny that I thought I'd have the whole house restored in five years. Now I see why people laughed when I said that was the goal. Here is what was accomplished in the past year:
- I painstakingly disassembled an entire 2-car carriage house in less than a week and moved all the materials to my yard where I built a rack for all the 2x4s and siding and it is stacked neatly.
- I acquired a lot of architectural salvage for resale or use in my home. The things I've acquired that will be used in my house someday are: a full size clawfoot tub, a very unique 2-basin 100 year old pedestal bathroom sink, coffered ceiling, wide crown molding, a big oak room divider with square columns, sandstone stair treads, heat registers, and some other misc items.
- I purchased 18 sq of new Vermont slate in random widths and historic color blend. I plan to have the new roof installed sometime in the next few weeks. The current roof, consisting of original slate covered with asphalt, will be completely torn down, some wood repairs are necessary, and the new slate will be installed with copper accents. The roof over the built-in cabinet kick out in the back of the house will be done in standing seam copper. And I will put a copper ridge vent along the entire peak as well as eave vents to circulate air in the attic.
- I completed the restoration of the South side of the house. This consisted of stripping all the paint down to bare wood, replacing all of the window sill edges and drip caps of every window, repairing or replacing all broken clapboards, sanding the entire surface with 80 grit, washing with TSP, priming with Sherwin Williams oil based primer, and caulking all vertical seams.
- I also removed the gutters, cleaned them with degreaser, primed with an appropriate primer, and rehung them. They will be painted along with the house until I am able to put copper half-round gutters on the house.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Merry Christmas everyone! I have a sneak peak of a 2013 project coming soon. Today I received a truckload of 7 pallets of brand new Vermont roofing slate. This is my Christmas present to my house.
I am using slate with random widths in a historical blend of colors consisting of grays, greens, blacks, and purples, like the picture to the right. Of course, all the flashing, valleys, vents, etc will be copper. It will transform the house and last forever.
I have been planning on getting a slate roof and was taking steps in that direction when we got hit by part of the hurricane a few months ago. There was a lot of damage throughout the city, trees and power lines down, roofs damaged by the high winds. Some areas of the city were without power for a week.
I put in a claim for the wind damage to the roof and received a check which enabled me to pay for all the roofing slate with some left to spare. I got an amazing deal from Greenstone Slate and got 18 sq of slate plus 100 linear feet of starter slate delivered from Vermont for under $6000. That was cheaper than a lot of the reclaimed salvage slate I had seen.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Along this journey I have salvaged many architectural treasures for use in my home. Some items I've discovered while scouring architectural salvage/antique stores, some have been given to me by awesome neighbors, some I have salvaged from houses and a church slated to be demolished... This is a list of some of them.
The clawfoot tub above was salvaged from a nearby house that was recently demolished. I got 3 of them: that full size clawfoot, 1 full size pedestal tub, and the smaller 4 1/2 ft size clawfoot tub. The one above I kept for my house. I sold the smaller one and the pedestal tub here. The fun part was removing them all from the 2nd and 3rd stories of the houses they came from.
One of my favorites is something I've wanted for a long time. A room divider between Living Room and Dining Room. I salvaged the one below from one of the houses that the tubs came from. I paid a pretty penny for it. But it will look amazing in my house.
And again from those houses I got a Coffered ceiling. It has been painted over but was originally stained oak, and will be again someday, when I install it in my dining room.
And some big wide crown molding for the living room.
Here is a porch light I found in a salvage store. I think I paid like $5 for it. The original glass was an ugly yellow color and it was missing one piece of glass and another was cracked. So I ordered some of this cool green stained glass and repainted the frame black. This will go on my front porch ceiling.
One of my awesome neighbors was kind enough to give me their original mailbox, which they had kept in their basement. I had wanted a mail slot but refuse to cut a hole in my door for one and had no room on either side of the door for a horizontal mail slot. I considered a vertical mail slot but couldn't pass up this original mailbox from the neighbor. It is made of very heavy cast iron.
FOR SALE: I got 2 sets of sandstone stair treads from the demolished houses as well. One for my own house (the narrower rock faced ones in the back), and a set of five 4-inch thick ones that I have for sale. There was also one additional piece of long narrow sandstone that went along the side of the porch. I recently sold that.
I got this set of 13 original sunroom 9-lite windows from one of the demolished houses as well. They are all the same size, original stained interior, white painted exterior. They had two brass turn style knobs and catches. I sold the whole set to an art studio in Michigan.
I got this wood staircase panel out of one of the demolished houses as well. It was originally stained, not painted. I will strip it and install it in my house. My staircase is enclosed by two walls. I am removing one wall and installing a beautiful salvaged newel and banister. This will go on the living room side of the staircase.
I rescued a lot of doors from the houses right before they were demolished. I've sold them all except one of the mirrored closet doors which I kept for myself, and one regular closet door which is still for sale. These mirrored closet doors weigh a TON. It is the original beveled mirror, built into the door with a matching stain wood trim border.
I make a weekly Saturday morning trip to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (if you have one in your area, I'd recommend checking it out, you never know what they'll have). They usually have some vintage stuff at mine. Today I spotted this pedestal sink made in 1919. I had to have it. I tried to leave it there. I really did. It wouldn't let me. I kept getting sucked back toward it. I even made it as far as back out to my car, and even got it started, but then was sucked back in again and had to buy it. I might try to fit it into my bathroom remodel plans. If I can't, I'll sell it. Paid $65 for it. They also had a really cool 1899 toilet. Too old for my house but it was cool.
And of course, the carriage house that I disassembled in record time which will one day be my garage.
I saw this 1910s salvaged newel, banister, and balusters set listed online at a Columbus architectural salvage store. I had to have it. I drove 3 hrs to Columbus to buy it. It's all quarter sawn oak. It all has to be modified to fit the angle of my staircase.
I recently went to a huge liquidation auction of a local architectural salvage store. Everything went for pennies on the dollar. A lot of 50+ historic front doors went for $25. This happened again and again. There was so much stuff. I didn't feel like hauling anything though. So all I bought was a lot of about 45 baseboard registers. I needed some for my house. The rest I will sell. I'm going to sandblast them first.
At the same auction was a bunch of wrought iron fencing. I did not want to haul it but I wanted enough to make some security bars for my basement windows. I bought 3 of these fence panels from the high bidder. I will sandblast them, cut off the top rail, cut them down to size, weld some brackets onto them, paint them black, and make security bars for all 6 basement windows out of them.
More to come...
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Here is the story from Old House Journal:
Restoration in Violation?by Clare Martin
Nina Smith thought she was doing the right thing when she bought a 1914 Foursquare in Lakewood, Ohio, and carefully began stripping off its aluminum siding to restore the original clapboards underneath. So a few months into the project, she was understandably surprised when she received a notice from the local building department to maintain her siding. Despite attempts to cooperate with the authorities (while still taking the time to properly strip, repair, prime, and paint the original clapboards), Smith has found herself in the midst of a protracted court battle to fend of criminal charges of noncompliance levied by the building department.
Smith admits her case is somewhat extreme, provoked by a harassing neighbor and a building department with a less-than-stellar reputation. Still, it's not uncommon for DIY restorers to run up against local governments during the restoration process.
If you're restoring a property that's been vacant or is particularly derelict, check your city's property maintenance requirements to make sure those items - which can include things like peeling paint, sagging gutters, missing shingles, and rotting eaves - go to the top of your to-do list to avoid being dinged for a violation by a neighbor or building inspector.
Most homeowners know to check whether permits are required before beginning repairs, and to follow all regulations and approvals mandated by local historic preservation commissions. However, keep in mind that permits may require the work to be performed within a certain time limit, though extensions are often possible if you can show progress (though in Smith's case, her careful prep work has repeatedly been met with claims from the inspector that "prep work doesn't equal progress"). Many homeowners are able to get around time-limit restrictions for exterior work by completely restoring one side of a building at a time, but Smith points out this probably wouldn't have helped her.
"This all started when I only had siding removed from the front of the house," she says. "I honestly have no idea what I could have done to prevent this from happening." For more on Smith's story, visit 1914foursquare.com.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Recently, I've acquired a lot of architectural salvage. A neighbor a few houses away from me, who owned 3 waterfront houses, sold his property to a developer who's building condos there. The 3 historic houses, around 110+ yrs old, are being demolished this week. I approached the neighbor several months ago and purchased a lot of the architectural pieces for my house. One of the things purchased were the carriage doors on his historic garage. These are huge, heavy wooden carriage doors with 6 panes of glass on top. They had the original steel tracks and hardware. The method for removal of these was quite comical. Each one weighs a TON! We carefully pulled them down and then put them on a furniture dolly and rolled them down the street, one at a time, at night, in the dark. Most of the neighborhood was watching, trying to figure out what that noise was (furniture dollies are quite loud when traveling down the street).
My garage is a POS built in the 90s from the cheapest materials available. It's total garbage. I've been wanting to rebuild my garage and use the historically accurate siding that garages in my area have. So the more I looked at my neighbor's historic garage, the more I fell in love with it. It was in very good condition, still standing up straight, and solid. I decided to not only take the carriage doors, but the entire garage. Beats paying $5k+ to build a similar one.
But this was no walk in the park. I had less than 5 days to get the entire thing disassembled and relocated before the demo crew showed up. I had just spent 5 days straight working on my house to the point of complete exhaustion. Then I had a 2 day break, and by "break" I mean I went to my normal full time job. Then I started the 5 days of taking more architectural salvage, including this garage, 2 claw foot tubs (one from a 3rd story, one from a 2nd story), and a ton of other stuff.
If you want to know who your real friends are, disassemble a garage. You'll find out real fast. My "friends" who promised to help must be in a coma somewhere because I haven't heard from them since they were supposed to show up on day 1. Fortunately I had real friends that I didn't even know about and they stepped up to the plate. And, as I've stated before, I have the awesomist neighbors on earth and they pitched in and the one next door to the garage let me use his power for the tools. And my 80 year old grandpa helped every day.
One day in the distant future, when I'm done with the serious stuff on my house restoration, I will strip the paint off this garage siding, cut off the bad ends, demo my current POS garage, build this one back up, probably make it deeper and maybe wider, and have a historically accurate garage to match my house. In the meantime, I will pull all the exposed nails from the lumber and stack it neatly, wrapped it in plastic.