Monday, October 31, 2011

House rape

This is Halloween, and I am particularly missing my lovely rambling old house today.

I called the friend back home who is checking up on things.

The Very Bad People have been at it again. This time they have sliced through all the wires coming from the road and actually stolen the meter box. That's right, the meter box that belongs to the power company.

What the? Did I put a sign out on my house, saying "cut me apart to little pieces, I'll like it?"

A friend of mine commented today on how so many girls like to dress up for Halloween by wearing "as little as possible," the implication being that this was a Bad Thing.

If the girl wants to do that, that's her business.

If I have pressing business taking me away from my house for 6 months (or more, dammit!), that's my business.

Neither one gives anyone the right to touch.

My house can't scream and identify its attacker and press charges, though.

It's an old, old house.

I hope it's haunted, and I hope they try something tonight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

People are mean

We've received many reports back from the PolyCottage from our friend who is trying to mind our business (at our request) while we are out of town. These reports are not so good.

A month after we left, apparently someone decided a battering ram would be a good idea, and broke in one of the back doors. This door just so happened to be boarded shut WITH 3-INCH SCREWS from the inside. After this, the battering-ram operator proceeded to our great room and ripped down our new drywall and tore out I'm-not-sure-I-want-to-know-how much of our new electrical cables, in addition to the old copper water pipes we had left in the ceiling for a lark. This led to much much depression on my part, because wiring the ceiling of that room (and the attic above it) was one of the great time-suckers of the weeks before we left. I'm sure they got, like, $20 for the copper. Yay for them.

Our friend has since re-boarded up the place, and there have been other attempts made on it, but apparently people are mostly dragging nasty mattresses under our back patio and sleeping there. Disgusting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to abandon your house, post-haste

There was a crazy flurry of work there for a couple of weeks during which I was too busy to really make posts - I'll be rectifying that soon, and posting about all of the work that we did. Following the crazy flurry of work, there was another crazy flurry of us moving.

My husband got this amazing job offer (pretty much out of nowhere) all the way across the country and it was one of those offers we couldn't refuse, so we dutifully boarded up the PolyCottage and then boarded the plane and moved into an apartment. This leaves me with no electrical work, no plumbing, no walls to fix or build and no light fixtures to change. This apartment complex won't even let us change the light bulbs! The apartment is beige and I do not like it. We did have a little accident with one of the walls that left an enormous hole punched into it, so I get to try and seamlessly patch that so no one finds out about it! Yay!

We'll be going back to work on the house, and we do plan to move back and finish it at some point. Leaving it like that was very unsatisfying, but I still have lots of content for this blog! So while I can't work on the house, I can write about working on the house.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So. Much. Progress.

No, really. My brain hurts. In the last few weeks we've:

Pretty much completely rewalled/receilinged our great room (minus the part were we put the last coat of joint compound on, smooth it out, prime and paint).

Restored a doorway opening where someone had decided a door shouldn't be (need to find/make trim to match the rest of the house).

Installed three of our beautiful new cabinets, plus the section of our counter top with the sink in it.

Connected the drain AND water line/faucet for the kitchen sink.

 Installed an outside covered GFCI receptacle that I've been putting off for ages because I had to work in the moat:

Cleaned up our future office/laundry room (we've been keeping materials there) so that you can actually see three of the walls and the floor! The floor is gorgeous.

Ground in dirt from the carpet pad on the right side,
the nasty cleaned off on the left.

Discovered a cool wallpaper pattern beneath years of replacements, and actually saved enough of it to see what it was really like!
It's a very neat, very thin, very delicate paper. Water completely peels it off the wall. The pattern is cool, and seems like it's the first one to have been put on the wall (or someone took any old paper off first).
Connected the toilet to the new water lines and actually put the tank on it!

Any one of these things deserves a post all to itself. Cramming them all into one seems kind of disrespectful. I should work on that. There are more projects we've done as well! I'll be more descriptive as soon as I can pull off stopping work on the house before dark.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We're still alive

Just working like crazy and not a moment to do anything else, it seems.

Major update: Kitchen sink is in, and drain is connected! Some photos might be nice sometime soon, and a proper write-up.

Nearing the end of this phase of fixing things and just finding more things to fix, and we're actually able to start finishing things. It's a very exciting time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Steel casement story, part 2

In the previous post, I mentioned our first plan of attack was to fix the windows. We definitely had our work cut out for us. You know something's not quite right when you're happy to find one of your window panes has been taped in.

Steel casement story, part 1

We have 9 gorgeous steel casement windows manufactured by Hope's. We have three different sizes/kinds in four areas. They've suffered from many many many years of neglect and many layers of paint that clearly wasn't the kind they needed to keep them from rusting. A shower covers the left half of one, which you can see from the outside, but not the inside.

When we bought the house, our first angle of attack was to FIX THE WINDOWS (not just the steel ones), so that the elements weren't coming in through the broken glass and not-closed frames.

The previous owners were such
handy folks. I know their
neighbors were demanding
help from them all the time.
The steel windows are not original to the house, but were put in in a series of additions sometime after the 1930s, when Hope's became Hope's. The entire shed dormer addition to the big attic/library was once windowed with them, but sometime in the past some previous owner ripped out two of them. The old trim was still there, but the outside wall had been resheathed and sided, and then some other owner had cut a giant, badly planned hole in the wall for a window air conditioner.

In our consideration for how to deal with that hole, we decided we might just need an air conditioner up there as well, so instead of just walling it over, we put in a new window, which does not match the casements at all, but is there for a purpose and certainly looks better (and is more weatherproof!) than the nasty hole that was there. I do plan to use the original trim around it, so at least that will match. The window stool was partially rotted where water was getting inside the hole, but I salvaged enough of it to work on the new window, which is considerably smaller. It might look odd on one side where I had to cut it a bit too short because of the rot, but I really want to keep the old wood, so we'll manage with it looking ever so slightly off from perfect.

I digress! Most of the casement operators were badly worn and when they did work they did so only after pushing or pulling the window a little first so the gears would catch. A few of the handle locks were completely missing, and one is broken. I contacted Hope's, and they got back to me very quickly. However, I was distressed when I discovered replacements from the manufacturer would run me in the neighborhood of $150 per operator. Quick math told me this was $300 per window, $2700 for all of them! Just to open and close the existing windows! I balked. That was a quarter what we paid for the whole house, and that didn't even include the prices for the locks, which my brain can't even remember after the drooling sticker shock on the operators. I considered just getting 4 for the downstairs windows (the most important ones to close properly, since they're right on the ground and an open casement window = a door). I wanted to have some with Hope's on them, so a future owner would be able to discover the same thing about the windows that I did. I'm still debating this.

A friend told me the machine shop at the local college would probably be able to work the original hardware so the gears would operate. This is another thing I need to check into.

I did a ton more research, found a lot of sites that offered window hardware. I had a very difficult time finding any hardware on any of these sites to match my windows. I measured the screw hole spacing, then I measured again. I swear, these guys had the strangest, most non-standard sort of spacing (4 and 1/8 inches on the operator, 1 and 13/16ths on the handle...thirteen sixteenths?) and I just couldn't be certain that my measurements were right, because nothing I could find matched them.

Then I discovered Blaine Window Hardware, which had a ton of stuff. I got very very excited that I'd find my operators. I didn't. BUT. The handles were there! $29.50 each. That's in the neighborhood of $60 per window, but they are exact matches to the handles I already have, so I only needed three. I ordered two, to make certain they would work. They fit, but didn't come with fasteners, and no standard one would work due to the way it was shaped and the length having to be exact. So, grabbing a fastener from another handle, we made a trip to Lowe's to try to match it. After half an hour adventuring in the specialty fastener drawers, we did. They look a little odd as the color doesn't match, but for now I just rejoice in the fact that I can lock the upstairs windows.

After I ordered the locks, I kept looking for the operators. Site after site passed by. Truth, Fenestra. No, no. Finally, Hope's! At Robert Brooke and Associates, there they were. $22.95 per operator. I bought six and had them shipped for around the price of one from Hope's. Thankfully, they do come with fasteners. With the six that I have I figured I would replace the more non-working ones in the attic, and bring those downstairs, since at least downstairs you can push the window all the way closed from the outside. The old ones from upstairs say Hope's, and work a little better than the ones that were downstairs, I imagine from less frequent use (or abuse). Now I can both crank the upstairs windows open/closed and lock them. It's quite the coup.

New handles on the left window, old ones on the right. Ditto on the operators.
Will eventually replace the operators on the right window, but for now it's not necessary
since we can open the other windows and just leave that one closed.
The fasteners don't match, but that's okay! Really!

Next up, adventures in restoring steel casement windows!