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Showing posts from March, 2010

Flat Roof aka The Sieve

So, I am laying in bed yesterday morning, trying to clear the cobwebs from my eyes, when I hear a distinct dripping noise, muffled by some sort of fabric. I kept thinking, no way, no way, it can't be. But, I couldn't wish it away.

Oh, yeah. Another leak. This time, in our bedroom, two feet away from our bed, dripping on our antique Kazak rug. It's almost funny. Almost. Frantically, I get up and call just about everybody, architect, contractor, contractor's employees. By the time I got back upstairs, there was a huge yellow stain on the ceiling. Oh, brother.

Well, apparently, the permit will be ready in 2 weeks. With this rain, maybe I should start building an arc. Or move into the basement. It's dry.

And, we're back!

Only to find the front porch overflowing with mail. This is NOT an exaggeration. Apparently, some contractors and magazines have heard about this blog, are clearly reading it, and have all decided to send us marketing materials. At the same time. I am now very glad that we installed the bigger mailbox.

So, thanks guys. This is actually very helpful in terms of ideas for projects and creative solutions for the existing problems.

Looking forward to working with some of you. No phone calls, please.

We are off!

To the warmer climates, for a few days. Just enough to soak up some sun and get the vitamin D levels up. That's how we call our vacations - vitamin replenishment.

We have some other improvements in mind that we wanted to share when we get back. The nitty-gritty stuff, but very important in the big picture kind of way.

The in-laws are house-sitting, so I am off to show them the ropes. Don't want to find them again huddled next to the stove, warming up. Don't ask...

Your Old House Workshops - Part III: Landscape and Grounds

Just wanted to remind all the readers that the third workshop in the Your Old House series will take place this Saturday, March 20 from 10 to 12 noon at the Van Vleck House and Gardens, at 21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair.

This Landscape and Grounds workshop, presented by horticulturist and author Marta McDowell, will be part lecture, part exercises including a short history of American residential garden styles. You will be able to learn the basics of designing period-appropriate, aesthetically pleasing planting for your style home and join in a landscape design scavenger hunt on the Van Vleck grounds.

Co-sponsored by MHS and the Van Vleck House and Gardens, the workshops are designed to introduce you to the knowledge you need to plan and execute a restoration or remodeling of your older home. Upcoming workshops include Landscape and Grounds and The Exterior.

The cost is $10 per person per workshop. If you register for the remaining three workshops, the cost is $25, and …

The Spring is here

A few weeks ago I started thinking about Spring, and all the snowdrops we had in the backyard, which we will not have this year, after moving all the dirt.

Well, thankfully, I was wrong. There are still some left.

What a storm!

I know, you are going to hate me for saying this, but it was magnificent! And I feel really bad for all the people that have experienced property damage. We know that some of our neighbors had to move out of their homes because of the fallen trees. My heart goes out to them. My in-laws are still without power and are moving in with us until it is restored.

But, but, it was really humbling to watch the nature show us just how small we actually are. We, as a family, are giving our thanks because we haven't experienced any problems. I haven't been to the basement, cause I'm kid of afraid, but the French drains we have haven't failed us... yet. OK, I have to go look now.

Dry! Yes! Very cool. Guys, French drains are a worth while investment.

We did loose some roof tiles, 5 to be exact. Not sure where they were, but when the roofer comes for the flat roof job, we'll just ask him to take a look. It will be easier with the scaffolding up, rather than trying to do it right now…

Basement work and the replationship to the chimney

We have the contractor coming in today to talk about the basement. Yes, again. I've probably hinted this before in my previous posts, but here is the whole story:

Before we moved into the House in October of 2008, we had a chimney liner replaced in the chimney that serves the furnace. What we were assured would be "a piece of cake" job, turned into a complete nightmare. I've been going over this in my head for over a year now, and I think I might be able to finally re-tell the story and make sense.

Mistake #1: We hired, I believe, the first contractor that came through the door, despite our better judgment. My better half liked him. Apparently, that was all the research he needed. Personally, I think he simply didn't want to be stuck in the House all day talking to the chimney guys. I can't blame him, it was a beautiful day outside. So, I canceled all the other appointments and hoped for the best.

Mistake #2: We never checked the references and talked to other p…

Closet draft - fixed!

Jason Aksman from Fine Custom Carpentry came back today to take a look at the closet draft. He filled the holes with caulk, insulated everything, and closed it with a small piece of sheetrock. So, the draft stoppers have been officially retired. At least from this door.

New ceiling in the basement

Here is the image of the new, insulated ceiling. Very nice.

Unfortunately, this has us now talking about finishing the basement, which is really unrealistic, with all the other projects that are more of the "emergency" nature.

But, one can dream, no?

What a difference a day makes!

Or a few, give or take.

But, it has to be said, we noticed the difference in the temperature IMMEDIATELY. The temperature on the Living Room floor was always about 59 degrees. Today, it is 68. And the temperature in the room is around 70. When I was making dinner, it was 72. 72 degrees! The only time we had that this winter is when we had 2 space heaters working at the same time.

Needless to say, we are ecstatic about the results. We've asked the contractor, Fine Custom Carpentry, to give a quote for insulating the perimeter of the foundations and installing the sheetrock throughout the Basement ceiling, along with spackling it. He doesn't recommend insulating the entire ceiling, since the Basement is very warm. But, we want to put the sheetrock and spackle, because at this point we are certain that whoever laid the wood floors didn't put the shield or subfloor, because we have so much dust and soot rising up, it is almost impossible to clean. More on this later.

Basement work

Monday marked the beginning of the Basement (former garage)/Living Room floor insulation work. This is what was taken out after the demolition was finished. It took them almost 6 hours to remove all of this stuff, from that one little room. I guess we should be lucky it's not the entire Basement ceiling covered in this plaster..


And this is what was underneath all that.


Some really good bones. We just stood there for about 15 minutes, admiring.

After all was cleared, the contractor for this job, Jason Aksman of Fine Custom Carpentry, told me that in his opinion our walls are not insulated. Which is an important point. He also suggested we seriously think about blown in insulation, and that will probably be a next step. But, don't want to get ahead of myself here.

This project also allowed us to conclude a few things:
The new floors were laid over the existing floors, so if we were really, really, really going strong with the restoration, we should probably rip out the wide-plank th…