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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


1. Getting to know my house. We're going to be best friends for the next nine months that I am working full time on this project, so I'd better know it's likes/dislikes, wants/desires. The only way to understand a house is to walk in it and to be what my mother calls a "hungry noticer." Like that game Hungry Hungry Hippos, only not eating plastic white balls. Luckily I inherited the "hungry noticer" genes from her and so took it upon myself to document every part of the house. Problems, things I like, things I want to change, things that I want to like but most likely will change. I took a pencil, measuring tape, and a piece of paper.

First things to go...
Hideous 70s paneling
Ripped linoleum
Pumpkin orange wallpaper
Cracked Toilet

But these are minor changes. In the long run my vision is to open up the side entryway by ripping out a non load bearing wall and expanding the kitchen. This will make for a more communal space. Who doesn't want to gather in the kitchen?? It's where all the food is!

2. Finding Structural Problems. Ok, so this really should be first, but it's a scary subject so I
like to think that it can be second. Nothing should really be done with the interior before any structural adjustments are made. This includes reframing/restructuring/resupporting, jacking the house if it's sinking, reroofing...basically anything that could allow for water damage or for the house to ultimately collapse. Yeah, pretty important.

The structure of the house is remarkably sound. As my friend Kevin says, "these old houses are built with so many little pieces that it is very difficult to completely collapse the structure." Even if people cut support beams. My problem here lies in the back addition...the addition is attached to the front of the house with rafters. Unfortunately, the addition is sinking, pulling on the front of the house, making the house all out of whack. The first attempt to fix this will be to jack up the back of the house and see if I can realign the structure.

So I have a few leaks evident in my house, but it's difficult to tell whether they're new or if they've been patched up. My guess is that someone attempted to patch up holes but did a pretty shoddy job. Call me crazy, but duct tape isn't going to be useful in this. It solves almost everything, but it doesn't solve the fact that I can see to the outside in places. Unfortunately I can't really do much until spring because I need to get onto the roof and check out the flashing, especially around the chimney (looks like swiss cheese it has so many holes!). I don't really want to be walking on an ice-laden roof...

Major Updates: I'm getting the electricity on tomorrow, so we'll see what works. Some rewiring will be necessary for sure, but it'd be nice to have a space heater to take out the chill. It's 25 degrees here and I'm freezing my little piggies off!

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