Now that the water drainage and stairs are in, time to lay down the stone in a new pattern. The old stone will be reused in the middle of the yard, and new stone, not cut in geometric shapes, so natral looking, will be on the edges, as a design feature.
Here is the beginning stage. It is almost like a giant puzzle. Except that each piece weighs a ton.
Once the stone was laid, it was time to move to the back corner of the yard. Basically, the one with the chronic problem of water, no shade, and really just a mud pit for most of the time. To manage the water, we have dug up the trenches, with will hold corrugated pipes and rocks, and will take the water away from the house and into the french drains. Here is one of the ditches.
And here is the final result.
The water drainage and the ditches are hidden by the river rock, so it looks like a dry river bed. That section of the yard that was always the mud pit, has now been covered with pebbles. We already…
If you may recall, back in 2015 we had a master landscaping done by Jennifer Bakshi of Urban Oasis. Here it is. This Spring, in addition to doing the work on the chimney at the front of the house, we also decided to do the phase 1 of the landscape plan. It was time. So, this post describes the work already completed several months ago, but it gives me something to write about, as we are not going to be doing any work this Fall.
This is our starting point. When we first purchased the house, the section of the yard that was above the retaining wall was a forest. Lots of trees, tall bushes, grasses, not very hospitable. Within a year of moving in, we hired Terra Graphics to level it, and fence it off, since herds of deer had a tendency to spend a lot of time there. This worked beautifully. But, now is time to address the area directly outside of the house. Because the top was wild, the previous owners, basically used the bottom part as both seating…
It is remarkable things one learns when doing construction and restoration project. This is how I learned today that sides of the insert, which will contain tiles, are called "cheeks". Go figure. This is what our cheeks will look like:
One of the reasons the insert has been on back order for 6 months are these tiles. They are historic reproduction, much like the insert itself. However, these are hand painted. It turned out that we would have actually had to wait another 3 months for these, but our contractor, Mark Schaub from Chimney Savers, actually had a set in his storage. So, we are using these, which are about 20 years old. And, I hope, all the better for it.
This project is moving so smoothly, it's daunting. It looks like we will have a new, working, nonsmoking fireplace in time for, well, this weekend. Here is what the filled in box looks like:
After the not-so-original firebox was removed, the space needed to be re-framed, as the insert is cast iron, so very heavy. This is why you see the new sheet-rock in the background. And this is what the insert looks like from the back:
I must admit, I didn't realize it will be that shallow, but our contractor tell us there will be a very significant difference in the amount of heat generated, not to mention absence of draft. We shall see.
Now that the chimney is finished, time to move the work inside. This is where we are right now.
The current mantel already has a new home. We sold it to a local family, and we hope they will enjoy it.
The next step is to remove the existing firebox, as well as the granite hearth, and the granite surround.
And this is where we are after the first day of demolition. You can see the new flue opening in the back of the firebox. The insert will be fitted to that opening. Obviously, it will also need to be filled in, as it is a different shape than this current opening. Keep reading.
They are back. Thank god. And small print on contracts. It turns out, despite the fact that the contract doesn't spell out specifically that the contractor should build the chimney as it was, we were explained by an attorney that there is no reason for us to expect anything else. And, apparently, the court would be on our side. So, they are back. And demolishing the chimney they built last week. Sigh.
In my conversations with the mason, the guy who was actually doing the work, he apologized profusely. Said that nobody told him he should rebuild it as it was. They just told him to get it done. This almost made my blood boil. But, then, he said something interesting: building the chimney as it originally was, requires double the materials, and double the time, as it can't be built fast. Basically, because of the shape of the original chimney, he can only build a couple of rows, wait for them to cure overnight, and repeat the slow process every day until it is done.
So, being busy with work and travel sports, we haven't really paid much attention to the chimney. Well, that and the fact that it was covered most of the time. In any case, they uncovered it today, and needless to say, this is NOT what we expected to see.
Both hubby and I had this nagging suspicion that the chimney was looking a little too slender. That's because it was. The contractor has taken upon himself to rebuild the chimney not like it was, but what they thought it should be. Note to reader, if you ever drive by our house, you will notice that the chimney is a rather unique and rather distinct architectural feature on our house. And it's original shape balances the house well. The new shape, let's just say, did not.
The situation got pretty ugly pretty fast, I am sorry to say. To the point that my usually calm and collected husband chased the workers of the property when they tried to collect the tools and take down the scaffold, and told them to tell their boss…
It has been a long winter. It has been a good winter, too. Lots of snow, big fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, and a lot of sledding and skiing. But, the snow has melted. And that means it's time to get to work at The Cedars. And, because we like a good challenge, we decided to tackle not one, but two major outdoor projects. Yes, you read that right. Two.
Let's start with the chimney.
For years now, we have been talking about rebuilding the top of the chimney. It has been in bad shape when we bought the house, and the time we spent in the house not fixing it, didn't help. This turned out to be a 3-step process. We had to hire 2 different contractors, and coordinate import of a fireplace insert from England.
The company is called Stovax. They make reproduction fireplaces and fireplace inserts, among other things, that very closely mirror any particular time in history. These fireplaces are quite spectacular, and we thought one of these inserts will be a great solution…