Monday, April 23, 2007

Windows are open for business.......

I wonder when was the last time these windows were open???

Or these windows????

I can't imagine why anyone would paint windows shut. Sure it might keep air from infiltrating in during the winter. also keeps air from coming in during the summer. If Sunday was any indication, I think we will only need to use the A/C when it is humid out.

Sunday was a perfect day. Even though it reached 80 degrees it wasn't at all hot. A nice breeze made working out in the yard very comfortable. I trimmed all the rosebushes, except for the climbing ones. All bushes appeared to have new growth. I really can't wait to see the roses on the bushes I bought last year at Frost Gardens. They are a shrub rose called Midnight Blue. The color is between black and royal purple. Hopefully they will grow together and form a low hedge on the inside curve of my circular driveway. I am hoping they smell half as good as they look since it will be close to the front door.

All my Knockout roses did great last year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all the climbing roses I planted last year along the fence, really take off. I usually don't plant hot or warm color flowers but I couldn't resist the climbing rose called Joseph's Coat.

I plan on planting a climbing rose on each side of the dining room bay window. With some luck, I should be able to get them to grow right over the top of the window. I'm considering planting a white climber called Iceberg. That should show up nicely against the dark grey.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stripping paint...oh so much fun...

On Sunday, I started stripping the paint around the exterior of the windows. I am using a heat gun and as long as the wind stays below gale force and the air temp is above 55 degrees, I can make pretty good time.

So far I have stripped 3 complete windows and 3 additional bottom sashes. I have, so far,only found one damaged/rotted part. It is in the middle of the bottom rail and is 1 inch by 3 inches and about 1/2 inch deep. Should be a fairly easy patch, I hope.

I am amazed at the thickness of the paint is some areas. Overall I'd say the paint is 1/16th of an inch with areas as thick as 1/8th of an inch. The original shingle color, as well as the trim color appears to be a medium to light grey. We will be painting a darker grey with white trim.

The original roof was cedar shakes painted a dark emerald green. When I stripped the front door (40" v groove 2 1/2" thick), I found it to have been painted white, tan, turquoise, red, and dark green. The body of the house, as best as I can tell, was originally grey, then white, tan, white, and light yellow. It also appears that they painted the trim more often than the body of the house.

Here are the windows before I started paint removal using a heat gun.

Here are the windows, 2 1/2 hrs later.

Approximately 5 hours of scraping to finish this set of windows. Hopefully, on Sunday, they will be sanded and permitting.

Here is a photo of the first flowers to bloom in my yard this spring.

They are very tiny. For reference, those stones are the size of quarters, nickels, and dimes. But they are still purdy!!!!!!! Real purdy!!!!

Here they are 2 days later. Even more purdy.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I painted the house today!!!!!

I painted the house today!!! On the computer, that is. I only wish it was as easy as a click here, click there. The bonus part is absolutely "NO" scraping involved.

Here's my feeble attempt at computer painting my house. I still need to "paint" 2 of the dormers.....but my arm was tired.

The house looks better dark grey than the light yellow with pale yellow trim. I love the contrast of the dark grey and crisp white.

The shutters that I am installing were built last summer by my father and I. Thanks to eBay I purchased black hinges and scroll shaped shutter dogs. The dogs are vintage, the hinges are new.

My window boxes and brackets were purchased from Dave Ciliberto in Vermont. I've been very please with the quality, packaging, and swiftness of delivery. He also makes planters and shutters.

Roger doesn't I guess I can't say...Roger, you missed a spot!!!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Knotty pine...nope, nodda, NOT!!!!

I know I have a before photo somewhere but until then, you'll have to trust me when I say...."this looks better than before the demo". No does.

This is the current state of our kitchen at "The Gear".

I love knotty pine...........NOT!!!!!!!

This is our current project, removal of the many layers of ceiling in the kitchen. Originally the ceiling was plaster and at some time was covered in 1/2" drywall. On top of the plaster is blown cellulose insulation, half eaten walnuts, straw, twigs, and the most awful smelly dust in the world. No matter what kind of respirator you wear, you still end up inhaling the dust.

Ok, so what kind of ceiling are you putting up after this comes down???

Thank you for asking. I'm thinking bead board. The plan is to paint all the knotty pine white, lay absolute black granite tile for counter tops, and use stainless appliances. The kitchen faces the south but the dark knotty pine soaks up all the light. My plan is to get the kitchen brighter without spending a lot of $$$$$. I would like to eventually gut the entire kitchen. Walls...floor...everything, and rewire, reconfigure, and re 5 years. Currently the working triangle is more of a parallelogram or a rhombus (I get those confused) and the floor is pine not oak and it has seen better days.

By exposing the studs, floor joists, and ceiling we can rewire properly and make certain that there is no KNOB and TUBE wiring. We have already found one spot of knob and tube where the wire is melted. I would estimate that at least 80% of the house is new wiring. I really won't feel safe until it is 100% new wiring.

We decided last Sunday to remove the small section of upper cabinets on each side of the sink. Neither cabinet was wide enough for a full size dinner plate. We are going to use open shelves with thick brackets. I'll use these to display my vase collection (white pottery and black amethyst) and my dinnerware which is white and pink Fiesta ware. That will give me a reason to buy a 4 piece place setting in black. I know....did I really need a reason????

Here's Roger.......posing with his trusty hammer and standing on an aluminum ladder that someone threw in the trash just because the paint tray was bent. for us and the price was right. We'll probably recycle it after we wear it out doing this restoration.

Roger....I think you missed a spot!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Saving $$$$$$

In yesterday's post, I said I would explain why we rented a jack hammer attachment. The below photo shows why.

Side porch after manual jack hammer.

This is the results after two weekends of using a jack hammer on the side entry porch. The porch was poured in 1960 according to the inscription on the landing.

Side porch gone after using jack hammer attachment on skid steer.

This took 45 minutes. Roger ran the jack hammer and while I pulled the chunks of concrete out of the way. This yielded a large pile of concrete on the driveway. Last weekend between snowflakes, we loaded 2/3 of the concrete into the utility trailer with the idea that it would go to the landfill on Monday. Then I remembered Freecycle. Sunday night I posted an entry offering concrete chunks for fill. By Tuesday I had received 5 replies to my offer. The concrete chunks are gone and it didn't cost of a penny nor did it contribute to filling a landfill. I also found out that if you have an asphalt plant in your area they will take concrete for free as long as there isn't any re bar or wire in it.

Speaking of saving a buck. When we first got the house the utility bills were huge and hardly anything was plugged in, plus the heat was turned down. I went to the circuit breaker box and threw the main disconnect, then went outside and checked my meter. Since everything was disconnected the meter shouldn't be moving at ALL. That wasn't the case. It was spinning like a top. Slowly for half a revolution and then very fast for two revolutions. The next day I called Consumer Energy . After relaying my story to their customer service person, I was told it would be 3 weeks before they could come and check out my meter problem and that I would have to be there between the hours of 9am and noon. I thought that was strange since the meter is outside, but on the appointed day I was there at 9am and waited until noon. Nobody showed. I called their customer service again, this time I was told there was no reason for me to be there and that they would get to it when they had available people. I was a little hot under the collar to say the least. As I sat in my car, on the phone with customer service, I noticed how awful looking the gas meter was. So I asked "what do I have to do to get a new gas meter?" She asked if I could smell gas and I thought for a moment....hmmmmmmm...I have smelled gas in the I said "yes, I smell gas". "SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT OUT." Well, someone did come right out. Thirty minutes tops. I explained to the guy what had happened and he agreed that it was ugly but in order for him to change it, it had to leak. He sprayed it with soapy water and intially there were no leaks. After talking a bit, I happened to look over and saw a huge pile of foam on one of the fittings. Yea!...we have a leak!!!!! He agreed to bring a new meter the next day. I asked him about some copper tubing and a valve that were located on our side of the meter. He didn't know what it was for, possibly a gas grill or lamp post? I told him to install the new meter without hooking that up. Two days later we had a nice new shiny grey meter. Three weeks later we received our new electric meter. I checked to make sure it wasn't spinning when disconnected and sure enough it was stopped dead in it's tracks. Plus, when it did spin, it barely moved. Now the fun begins.

I contacted Consumer Energy customer service department. Explained to them that due to their faulty equipment I was overcharged. I also told them that I had to wait 6 weeks from the time I filed my compliant until the time they fixed it. I mentioned that "if I was calling to tell you my meter wasn't spinning, you would be in my driveway before I hung up." So for my troubles they credited my account $25.00. LOL To make a long story short, every couple of months I would call and threaten them with the Energy Commission. They were able to use the new consumption figures to give me credit for the overcharging. From March to October I paid $0.00 for my electricity.

New gas meter hidden behind spiral juniper and ladder.

In the fall while planting shrubs around the gas meter, we dug up the copper tubing. We found that the tubing previously fed a greenhouse located in what is now a vacant lot next to our home. When we first noticed the tubing, the valve was half open. We have no way of knowing how much natural gas was leaked into the ground.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Boys and their toys

Since it is snowing once again...grrrrr and brrrrr, I'll write about something that we did in November. Before skid steer rental. Notice the grass covered mound of dirt.

When we purchased the house, the north side yard was completely overgrown. Close to the fence was a large mound of dirt that woodchucks and chipmunks were calling "Home Sweet Home". To this day we have no idea what it's purpose was or if it was just a staging area and was really meant to go elsewhere. Our new neighbor "Gary" said it had been there as long as they had been in their home (16yrs). Oh's gone now!!!!!! Also in the "after" photo you can see a concrete bench. While we were clearing the side yard we found the walkway first, then the raised area, then one end of a bench, and then another end of the bench. I figured the top broke at some point and that is why the end pieces were tossed into the brush pile. A year later we found the top. Yeah!!!! One of the end pieces had broken into two pieces. Roger drilled two holes in each piece and inserted threaded rod then epoxied the two pieces together. Good as new!!!!!

As you can see from the "before" photo, it was waaaaaaaaaay too much dirt to shovel by hand. So it was off to the heavy equipment rental store to rent a skid steer with a scoop shovel. Roger was in seventh heaven....oooooh baby......heavy equipment......."I need one of these"....ya right.

The rental cost for a skid steer with shovel and jack hammer attachment (I'll talk about that in a later post) from Friday evening (6pm) to Monday morning (9am) was $400.00. Definitely worth the cost. We completed the following tasks....dirt rearranging, boulder rearranging, shrub stump removal (6), and the removal of the side concrete porch and the small concrete landing at the back door. During the dirt rearranging...a little more over here.....I think you missed a spot!!!!

After a brief 10 minutes test drive, my husband was off and running. I guess all those years of racing cars finally paid off. Any job is easier and goes faster with the right tool. As you can see from the "after" photo, all that is left to do is rake and plant grass seed.

The raised area at the end of the walkway looks like it may have had a fountain. The center part has been filled in with sand. During the winter we purchased a 7' 6" cast iron 3 tier fountain. Hopefully this summer we will be able to install it. My plan is to run the fountain off a small solar panel.

After 4 hours of fun and games...all it needs is a little raking...ya right!!!

Double hung windows...let the fun begin

Over the last 3 or 4 months, I've read just about everything there is to read about double hung windows. I even bought a DVD, on double hung window repair, off of eBay. I now know just enough about double hung windows to be I guess it is time to start refurbishing THE DOUBLE HUNG WINDOWS!!!!!!

Removing the sash stop wasn't too bad. Three little nails and poof they were out all in one piece. Even the bottom sash came out fairly easy, once I was able to cut the proverbial cord. Holy cow. I don't see how a sash cord could ever possibly break, especially once it is encased in a bazillion layers of oil base paint.

Now the parting bead was a WHOLE different story. It came out in splinters. As a matter of fact some of it is still in place. I'll need to use a small chisel to remove the remaining parting bead.

The top sash is a different story. It is firmly stuck in place. I will need to score the paint on the outside before I can even think about removing it. But since Mother Nature hasn't cooperated this past weekend, removal of top sash will have to wait. I was in no hurry to remove the wooden storm window and let all the warm air out of the house while I tried to remove the top sashes of the three dining room windows.

I spent the majority of the Easter holiday weekend with heat gun in one hand and scrapper in the other. All three sashes and sash stops are paint free. We have removed the loose glazing compound and the two broken panes. Over the next week I'll try and get them sanded, primed, and glazed. AND if it ever decides to quit snowing and warm up, I'll remove the top sashes and strip the outside trim. Who would have known a week ago that it was 80 degrees. Only in Michigan. Where's global warming when you need it?????

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

In the beginning......

In March of 2004, by chance I picked up a local real estate listings pamphlet. I like to peruse these things for ideas...can never have too many ideas. Well, lo and behold....there it was...somewhere behind all those bushes, the house of my dreams. I really wanted to see this place. Why???? We weren't really in the market for a house, but then again the best houses, relationships, etc. are always stumbled upon. After a lot of prodding, my husband Roger, called our friend and real estate agent Char Mozader

Well, let's just say the house didn't show very well. My husband was not impressed at ALL. He couldn't see all the hidden potential under the smell of cigarettes, dogs, and your basic run of the mill "old house" smell. The house was currently leased and the renters didn't leave during the showing, which added to the awkwardness of our walk through. Needless to say, after many...ahem..."discussions" and additional viewings, he agreed to have an inspection AND if the house passed inspection without TOO many red flags, we would make an offer.

The inspection was worth every penny of the $300.00. Basically, the inspector said the house was sound (not what my husband wanted to hear!!) but needed immediate attention, which we could already see. Some electrical, some paint, some plumbing, some this, some that. We made an offer and on October 31, 2004, a mere 7 months after our first walk through, it was ours. it took 7 months....but how did it get the name Gear Acres??? Your last name isn't Gear...or is it??

No, our last name isn't Gear. But we are gear know car enthusiasts. During the many discussions concerning moving, it was brought up that maybe our new neighbors wouldn't take too kindly to race cars and hot rods. What??? you're kidding me. This is Michigan, doesn't everyone love cars??? Detroit is the Motor City and nearby Flint is the Vehicle City I mentioned that I noticed several of our possible new neighbors had classic cars. I said something to the effect, "it's like Gear Acres around there." Char picked up on that and at the closing, presented us with a lovely slate plaque inscribed with Gear Acres.

So that is how it all began. In the next few weeks I will try and bring everyone up to speed on our past, current, and future projects.