Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The fun of home remodeling

With a house that turned 115 years old this year, it is inevitable that there will be the need for repairs and remodeling. This year we ended up going (relatively) big on that front.

For years we mulled over what to do with our enclosed three-season porch. It had windows in it from the 1940s or earlier. The foundation was sinking and the fact that it sits (sat) at the front of our home made the rest of the large, white rectangular house look rather shitty.

This year, though, we pulled the trigger and  started assembling the materials we would need to basically tear down all but the roof of the old porch and rebuild it from the ground up. I scored a truckload of clearance vinyl windows from Menards. My parents had a truckload of 2x4s, 2x6s and plywood from a temporary wall liner they had built many years ago in their machine shed to store a bumper crop of corn. The rest, though, came from an extensive and ever-changing plan and a few trips to Menards. Another truckload of insulation, plywood, a door and dimensional lumber would build the bulk of the structure.

After an entire day of digging by hand and swinging sledgehammers inside relatively confined holes we were ready to pour the concrete pads on which the 6x6 posts would sit and provide the support for the new structure.

Next up was removing the existing walls and floor while propping up the existing roof at the same time. The construction of the new floor went surprisingly fast and so did boxing in the underside of the new floor joists with treated plywood so the new floor could be insulated. Along with these steps came wiring for an exterior light on the front of the new porch and running yet more wire for the eventual installation of electric baseboard heat.

Insulation went into the existing ceiling and the 1940s-era beadboard went back up. The home's first housewrap went on making this new piece of construction the best built piece of the house yet. Windows were installed and made weatherproof on the exterior. Vapor barrier went on after I insulated the walls and next up was the drywall.

On the exterior we installed new Cedar siding and sleek new trim harkening back to the simplicity of the original house built in 1899. I even went the extra mile and matched the existing wood drip cap installed above the rim board on the original house making the new porch look like a well-maintained original piece of the house.

The lengthiest portion of this project, though, has been painting. This 20-foot tall two-story home has a ton of surface area and trim. Using a total of three colors maintains the character but makes painting a straight up pain in the ass. While the wife tackles what she can from the ground and using a step ladder or two, I perilously cling to my trusty extension ladder and paint the upper story of the home's siding, soffits and window trim. And with changing the colors from white (siding) and blue and red/pink (window trim), much of the house requires two coats of paint. Having already gone through 13 gallons of paint and a trip to Menards for another gallon or two, the paint alone is costing us a small fortune.

With most of the garage left to paint, the two way-too-high-up dormers, hardwood floors to install and stain, a ton of interior window trim to cut, paint and install and new front steps to build; this project seems to have no end. I look forward to working on projects like this because it's not a part of my day job but I am looking forward to seeing the end of this one because after two-plus months, I just want to experience some summer weather that doesn't involve me on a ladder until 9 PM every night of the week.

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