Friday, July 30, 2010

Approaching Completion, Phase I

About time for some more progress photos. The shingles are 99% done, the trim is 90% done. We're just waiting on our columns, the new bulkhead door, and the front door, before the final touches can be made.

Here are some before and after shots. Notice there are no more wires coming to the front corner of the house! This may not look like much in the photo, but in real life it really opens up the front yard, and cleans up the feel of that front corner.

We have some decisions to make regarding the windows. We found another restoration guy who can do it for less. When we started really thinking about restoring all the old windows - the numbers started to get pretty painful. For the cost to restore one old window, you could almost buy two nice new windows. And with new windows you would not need storms.

In the end we decided that yes we do still want to restore. We're going to start with the front two on either side of the large bay window. In the meantime we need to get storms back up on the other windows. While its unusually hot here in Maine, winter will be here soon enough and the wind blows straight through these old windows.

Once we finish these open items, the exterior of the house will pretty much be done. I guess we can call this Phase I. Phase II and III being the interior and adding space.... both of which are still TBD.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When is a Door not a Door?

When it is a fine piece of modern craftsmanship that creates a water and air-tight, secure barrier between you and the world. And when it replaces a dilapidated, poorly built, drafty, 50 cent locks from Ace Hardware thing that barely kept out the mice.

Behold, our new cellar door. This is the door at the base of the bulkhead (see below). It may not look like much, but this puppy will pay for itself in one winter given the breeze and sunshine you could feel through the old one.

Unfortunately I did not take a good "before" shot of the old one, so here it is, lying in the dumpster in our front yard. Buh-Bye Old Door!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Is that your FINAL answer?

You have to be decisive and have a strong gut when you're renovating your home. You make a decision one day, and the next day it's implemented in the form of labor and materials. If you change your mind, it's either going to cost you, or you just have to live with your "mistake."

I've spent many a late night fretting over catching the builder first thing in the morning to share a revised detail -- before a truckload of bead board is purchased or the wrong paint color is mixed.

So we decided to go with "option c" for the soffit. We are applying new bead board to the existing soffit thereby encasing any lead paint AND improving the appearance.

Today when we stepped out to see the progress for the day, we saw bead board already applied to 1/3 of the soffit area. Luckily, we really like the result.

The painter will be here this week. Hopefully we picked the right color!

We ordered four new windows for the breakfast room about 2 weeks ago. Fortunately for us, Eagle takes 2 weeks just to process the order, and we only received a call to verify colors today. Turns out we DO want to change the order. This is one instance where slow processing works to our benefit.

We picked a front door design, and now we understand the process will be iterative. This brings great calm to the indecisive soul. The door manufacturer will create a design sketch and send it to us. We then get to "tweak" it if anything looks off. Basically we want something like the photo below, which is a historic door from our neighborhood. At the rate windows and doors are shipped, it may be winter before we see ours, but at least we know it will be exactly what we want.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

White is not White

Until you analyze a home inch by inch, you don't really think about all the details that go into your overall impression. You just drive by and think "that place is a dump" or "that looks cozy." But what exactly is it that makes a dump a Dump?

In the case of our Dump, there are many elements. The most noticeable problem for our house -- in our opinion -- was the shingles. They looked like a set of bad teeth. Fine from far away, but if you come close and get a big smile... it was unmistakably dilapidated.

And its not until you start fixing certain elements that you notice others that are less obvious (because you're distracted by the crooked teeth). For example - grossly crooked shingles will distract you from the chipped paint on the trim. So replace the shingles, fix the trim. Then you notice the soffit needs a little help.

So we've come to the soffit and our options are: a) paint them, including careful handling of existing lead paint; b) tear them off - including careful handling of lead painted boards; or c) place new bead board soffit on top of the existing boards thus encasing any lead painted surfaces.

The easiest (and cheapest) option is c.

We think, we hope, that this is the last bit we need to fix to completely eliminate all obvious elements of dumpiness from the place (at least from the exterior!).

Here's a photo of the same gable from the previous post - now newly shingled! It looks great! And I was going to point out on this photo how the soffit now looks crumbly in comparison, but you know what? In this photo you can't really tell. The builder was going on and on today about the 20 foot rule: from 20 feet away you can make anything look good with a new coat of paint. Maybe he's right.

In other riveting news, we picked one of the trim colors. Our basic scheme is Seacoast Gray Shingle, white trim, black accents. Of course "white" is any one of five hundred billion color options. We narrowed this down to 5 soft whites from Sherwin Williams, and finally decided on "Classical White" -- which, if you care, is a white with Raw Umber and Deep Gold mixed in. It is a nice warm white with brown and yellow undertones. In contrast we could have gone with a colder white with no yellow mixed in (see Sherwin Williams "Pure White" which is white with only Raw Umber mixed).

Photos on the Internet are never accurate when it comes to color, but this shows two of our choices (Downy on the left, Classical White on the right). Compare both of them to the white trim already in place - that is just a cold plain white primer coat on the wood. The Classical White will register "white" to a passer by, but in their heart they will think "my, that house looks so cozy and inviting!" Well at least that's what we hope.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A New First Impression

The shingling is coming along very nicely. It's amazing what some nice, even, smooth shingles can do for an old home. Even without new paint, the old windows look better, and if you don't look too closely the whole place really looks brand new.

The third photo shows a high gable where the last of the original shingles remain - quite rough in comparison.

I see now how the exterior of a home can really impact a buyer's interest in a home; the first impression is everything. But the thing is, we're not new buyers -- we've been living here for almost 2 years. So while the exterior now looks like a million bucks, we're not fooled. We know what the basement looks like. We know about that painted-over-wallpaper.

It does look great though. We can't say it doesn't make us happy to see the old place spiffed up.

That being said, we're ready for the builders to leave. It's sort of like a good date that has gone on just a wee bit too long.

At first everyone was giddy and smiling. A veritable love fest. Then the bill arrived and things went south fast. In all seriousness, it just gets old having guys working outside your windows all day long -- especially when you work from home. The debris on the lawn keeps the kids inside, the driveway is full of supplies. So, as much as we love these guys, we'll be happy when they go.

I guess this is a good lesson, and we will think very seriously before we embark on any further projects.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Progress Photos

Here are a few shots of this week's progress. You can see the exterior of the now-straight bay window up front. There are two other windows that could use straightening, but we're now asking ourselves: how much is a straight line worth?

The answer: probably not at much as it costs.