Four years down and starting to see the results. I get a lot of compliments from people on the progress. Here is what I did during the year:
- I stripped all the paint on the 2nd story of the front of the house and the 3rd story dormer. I ended up sitting on the hot black asphalt roof for about a month during the hottest point of the summer, when the temps were in the 90s. I contorted myself into tiny areas under the dormer overhang, using an 1100 degree heat gun, trying to get all the paint off of everything. I got burns from touching the asphalt roof and burns from bumping the heat gun while trying to hold it in one hand and a scraper in the other and not slide off the roof without being able to hold on to anything due to the lack of a third hand. I also stripped the entire North side of the house down to bare wood in about a month, which I'm pretty sure is a world record. I can't say enough for scaffolding and the Paint Shaver Pro. I've had several people come over to ask how I did it and given enough demonstrations of the Paint Shaver that I think I should be an official salesperson at this point.
- All broken clapboard was replaced carefully. All holes, rotted edges, and the like were repaired using Abatron wood Restoration kit (another excellent product I'd recommend). All bare wood was sanded with 80 grit sandpaper. I then washed everything with TSP and a big deck/siding scrub brush and rinsed it clean. I then waited until the wood had less than 15% moisture content (using a moisture meter) before applying Sherwin Williams oil based primer.
- I removed all the gutters from the front of the house. Although I intend to ultimately install copper gutters when I win the lottery, for now I am going to clean and paint the aluminum gutters. I had to replace the entire fascia board along the front of the 2nd story. It was rotted along the top. The rafter tails were not cut at the right angle or cut evenly. So most needed to be re-cut so that the new fascia board would fit flush along the front.
- When winter arrived and I was forced to give up exterior projects, I decided to finally finish the front door project. I put up a sheet of plywood as a temporary front door, took my extremely heavy front door down for what was hopefully the last time, put it on sawhorses and decided I wasn't returning to work until it was completed. After about 5 days of bending over this thing, sanding, staining, sanding, cleaning, varnishing, sanding, varnishing, sanding, etc, I decided it was "good enough." I cleaned 100 yrs of gunk off the brass and was amazed at how shiny it became. I took off the masking tape that had been covering the windows for almost 2 years and rehung it. There is still some junk in the final coat of spar varnish but I wanted to let it completely cure/shrink before doing a final sand and buff on it.
- I continued with the floor leveling project but ran into more problems and put it off until later.
- I purchased an old porch light from an architectural salvage store, stripped it, and removed the old, broken, yellow glass. I repainted the metal frame black and purchased some really cool green stained glass, had it custom cut to fit. I still have to purchase a brass holder for it, the piece that actually attaches to the porch ceiling and holds the light bulb.
- One of my awesome neighbors gave me his original cast iron, 100 year old mailbox. I had previously intended to install a vertical mail slot next to the door. But this is a pretty cool mailbox and is probably the same as the one my house originally would have had. So I began stripping it. I'll repaint it and install it next to the door.
- I've also done a lot of salvage this year. I drove to an Architectural Salvage store in Columbus and picked up a beautiful quarter sawn oak banister, balusters, and newel post out of a 1910s house, with original stained finish in amazing condition that I will be installing on my staircase which was originally enclosed by two walls and had no newel or anything. Also, my neighbor has 3 gorgeous waterfront houses from the late 1800s that are being demolished for new condos. I purchased some salvage from him and they are all 99% original (one even has the original built in kitchen cabinets)! So far I have taken a beautiful claw foot tub, nice wood paneling that goes along the staircase - under the balusters, an amazing arts and crafts style Coffered (boxed beam) ceiling that will be going in my Dining room. Some extra clapboards and interior and exterior trim because you can never have enough of that, an awesome original balcony door and original storm door. Some built in cabinets with original brass butterfly hinges and latch, an amazing original garage with huge carriage doors (yes I'm taking the entire garage), an absolutely amazing original stained oak huge room divider with columns for between the living room and dining room, I'll be taking crown molding for my living room (which never had any), original laundry chute door, porch flooring and porch ceiling v-groove board which I need for repairs on mine, and a bunch of other misc items. I'm going to add a new section on my blog for architectural treasures and put pictures of all these items.
I've also learned this year that I have the most amazing neighbors on Earth. Since my story got out, I have had so many people from all over come to my house and offer support, offer free help, contact the city on my behalf, etc. It's been amazing to see how many good people there are and how many people had been following my progress all along but had never spoken to me until they saw my story. I had pretty much kept to myself, worked on my house, and didn't interact with anyone except for the occasional person who'd walk by and say I was doing a great job and I'd say "thanks" and that was it. But seeing how many total strangers were so outraged by what the city has done to me has been a true inspiration to me. Now when I see someone being victimized by something unfair, illegal, or wrong, I'm more likely to sign a petition, contact someone, write a letter, etc, rather than just sit around talking about how ridiculous it is.