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3 Year Anniversary

Wow, three years already! I’m more than half way into my “five year plan”. I can’t manage to get much done during the winter months when I should be working on my interior projects. I have no motivation to even work inside when it’s cold, dreary, gloomy, and crappy outside. But I did get a lot of work done during the summer. We had an excellent summer, hot and sunny, hardly any rainy or cold days.
Here is what I accomplished in the third year:
  • In the basement, more support jacks were added. I had originally failed to recognize that the center beam I had been lifting didn’t support all of the floor joists. A few on one end were not supported due to the opening for the stairs being in the way. So as I lifted the main load-bearing wall through the middle of my house, alongside my staircase, the wall directly on the opposite side of the staircase (non-load-bearing) stayed in place. Basically the stairs went from leaning left to leaning right, as the left side was lifted and the right wasn’t. The leveling is still not complete. But I believe I finally have all the necessary supports in the right locations at least.
  • In the kitchen, I went demo-crazy and removed most of the walls. The plaster was in such bad shape and patched with so many sloppy drywall patches that it wasn’t salvageable. In the process, I found the hole in the chimney (still open) for the original stove pipe. I would like to get a price on having a plasterer put plaster back (not a fan of drywall at all).
  • I have decided to move the doorway between kitchen and dining room back to its original location. This creates a problem since I’ve already purchased most of the new kitchen cabinets that would have gone in that space that the doorway will now occupy. I will probably keep the other doorway (between kitchen and stairway) closed…still haven’t decided on this. I knocked out the drywall patch covering the original doorway from living room to stairway. I’ve decided I will remove the wall along the left side of the stairway to open the stairway up into the living room. I drove 3 hrs to an architectural salvage store in Columbus and bought the most beautiful banister, newel post, and balusters set from a 1910s house, quarter sawn oak. It will need to be slightly customized, along w/ my stairs to fit, but will look spectacular.
  • I stripped the aluminum siding off the remainder of the exterior of the house. I purchased 4 levels of contractor grade exterior scaffolding (love it) which helped tremendously. I found the original milk door (minus hardware) during this process.
  • I extended my 6 foot privacy fence to include my side yard in order to keep my neighbor from parking up against the side of my house on my 5 feet of side yard again, or climbing into my side window again.
  • I purchased the Paint Shaver Pro (amazing tool). Drove all the way to PA to pick it up so I could begin using it the next day and not have to wait for it to come in the mail. I stripped all the clapboard on the 1st story front of the house down to bare wood. I had to use the heat gun to get the paint off the trim around windows and doorways and edges that the paint shaver didn’t reach. I then sanded all this clapboard with an 80 grit palm sander and primed it. And also stripped and primed the additional side porch railing that I didn’t do last year.
  • I demolished the little exterior vestibule that extended out onto the front porch. It was not original but was probably added very early on in the house’s life. I did not like the look of it, and it caused a major draft and air leaks. I moved the main front door from the front of the vestibule to the main front wall, its original position I believe. Removing the vestibule meant that the side rail no longer connected to the front of the house from the front column. I took it to a local lumber store and had a longer banister custom milled to match, along with the square balusters and bottom rail as well. I assembled it, primed it, and attached it to the front wall, where it had originally connected before being cut to accommodate the vestibule when it was added.
  • I cleaned up the porch ceiling a little more and intended to refinish it as my last summer project. But found that a few boards need to be replaced and I have been unable to find matching v-groove boards (new ones are a totally different color compared to the old growth). I also noticed that the front edges of the boards were getting soft in some areas. I am hoping that I can get away with putting some wood epox on the top side (unseen side) of the boards and keep them. I also realized that the boards on the top of the porch roof are rotted in some places. The shingles are in poor condition and need removed and replaced. The one edge of the porch ceiling is sloping downward. Upon investigation, I realized that the edges of the joists for the porch roof were totally rotten and gone, and had new boards sistered to them unevenly. So a lot of work needs done here and I decided to hold off on the porch ceiling until the water/rot problems are taken care of.
  • I decided that the front door would be my final summer project instead. For some reason, I again mistakenly thought that this would be a “weekend project” (made this same mistake w/ the fireplace paint stripping the first year). I spent 2 months just stripping and sanding the door. Two months of 3-4 day weekends bending over this door, sanding endlessly to the point where I no longer had finger prints and my body would not stand upright anymore. I could not walk like a human being. The stupid “dentals” under the 6 window panes, and the trim work around the windows took FOREVER to get all the paint and stain out of. But I finally got it completely down to bare wood. It was so beautiful I almost didn’t want to stain it again. I then purchased Minwax gel stain for this project since none of Minwax’s other products are rated for exterior use (even with Spar varnish). Well, GEL STAIN SUCKS!!! Nobody told me this. Another thing they don’t tell you (unless you pick up the extra little brochure on the gel stain) is that you are supposed to do small sections of the door at a time, not all at once. I applied it to the whole door, then went and tried to “wipe it off” and it was like super glue. Panic set in. The possibility that 3 months of work on this door was all in vain began rushing through my mind. I finally realized that I could use mineral spirits to wipe the excess off the door after it’s dried up. I then applied 3-4 more coats of the gel stain (in small sections this time) and still had not achieved anywhere near the darkness of the stupid little oak sample at the store. I think it will take 20+ applications to get the darkness I need. But winter came before I finished. So I have not finished this project yet.


  1. Whoa- that is a ton of work! Must feel great! And, did you say your neighbor climbed into your window??

  2. Hey Nina, nice post! Congratulations for the 3 years. I wish all the luck for you in the next ones!


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