Monday, June 30, 2008

shut up!

Back when we were trying to close (another story for another day) all we had were photos to obsess over. What colors we were going to pick for inside and how we could spice up the outside. Now we are so far away from choosing paint colors... you need smooth walls with no holes in them for paint right? F. decided to clean up a photo of the house taken in the winter. I immediately decided that we needed shutters. Don't you agree?

When we had pulled off enough vines to see the front windows, my mother noticed hardware on the sides of the windows. I knew that visually it needed shutters but we didn't actually know that it had had shutters at one time! Then, Sunday night poking around the basement near the original storm windows stacked up in a pile, we had an amazing find - 8 of the original shutters! I know we are no where near putting the shutters back up but it's a nice feeling knowing I don't have to have them made and that we can just take them to our refinisher to get painted. I know there's enough to do all of the large windows on the front so eventually we'll have to have the two smaller 3rd floor window shutters made. But I don't care. I'm happy we have the original shutters.

you're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion...

What you can't tell from the previously posted photo of the outside of the house (taken in cold, cold winter) is that our house is COMPLETELY covered in ivy. Well, it's not just ivy, it's all kinds of grow-y, climb-y type stuff and probably a few trees. Someone has already commented that we even have poison ivy.

When I say completely covered you need to envision this: the house looks like a giant, unruly section of hedge. Add that to all of the surrounding foliage left to grow as it will on a fairly large lot and you have a nice recipe for mosquitoes. We have swarms of skitters - everywhere. My arms and legs and even one hip (?!) are full of swollen bumps and lumps.

Sunday was an amazing day. Our friend Chris (aka Tarzan) came over to swing from the vines and we actually were able to uncover a lot of the house. Chris even jumped out of one of the windows onto the roof of the glass vestibule. All this during a downpour of torrential rain.

Need proof?

Yes, there are windows under there.

That's Chris using amazing feats of strength to yank down thick, twisty, long vines in clumps! Clumps! The man is strong.

I haven't been slacking either - you see that lattice? It was full of twisted growth, in and out of every square opening. I felt like I was unraveling a wool sweater, pulling on the vines to get them off. I still have three sections to complete.

So now we have some windows that actually let in LIGHT. The former owners seemed to really hate light. Every window has blinds (very dirty blinds) and every room is dimly lit. There was a 15 watt bulb in the foyer fixture! One of the chandeliers has ten bulbs and only one was working.
And back to Chris - he didn't stop with the vines. The rain had stopped and the mosquitoes were out in full force again, so Chris moved to the inside and almost completely removed the wallpaper in an entire bedroom. We have really good friends.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

we bought a house.

"It needs work" does not even begin to describe it.

I suppose here is where I try to explain my reasons for starting a blog about said house. Here, I will try to document our progress as we plod through renovations. I can only imagine that there will be as many pitfalls as "money pit" jokes but I hope that there will be many more victories. I know I will be asked many questions by friends and family about the progress being made on this house you've heard and will be hearing so much about as it slowly overtakes our life. It is my hope that you will be able to follow our triumphs by reading along.
Here are a few photos of the house with all of the previous owner's contents (as you can see, there were a lot of contents) from the second time we walked through the house.

Yes, I agree, it is a mess. But we are trying to see the potential beyond the mess. No one in our family saw the house before we bought it so we never really had that slap of reality. You name it, the house needs it - roof, furnace, hot water heater, updated plumbing, plaster work, electrical work, washer/dryer hookups, a new back entrance, a new kitchen, bathroom updating, pointing, landscaping and an all around good cleaning - I'm sure I forgot something. It does not have a driveway or a garage.

Now, before you get all "are you crazy woman?" on me, yes we did have an inspection. We had an engineer's inspection which resulted in a 93 page detailed inspection report. It estimates projected costs and gives the order in which the major repairs should be addressed. If we didn't think we could do it, we wouldn't have bought the house (well, we may have bought it anyway - we do love the house.)
What we do have to work with: good bones, curved walls, bay window, a large yard, lots of big windows, four floors and a sub-basement, double brick walls, 2 fireplaces, a large open attic space with a skylite and in the front, enough space for a parking pad. And it is located in our favorite neighborhood - St. George. The previous owner did not change a thing and we saw it as an advantage. Rather than have to fix bad renovations, we're working with what's been in the house since it was last renovated in 1934.

Oh and I should mention that there are still quite a few contents left in the house and we will be having a yard sale Saturday and Sunday 7/5 - 7/6/08. I have some things that we need to get rid of from our last move too... so come one, come all. Most will be cheap or FREE. ;)