Today’s finally a nice spring day, temps in the mid 50s, and I’m in the mood to start working on the house and yard. I have a lot I hope to do this year, but then that’s been the case for the past couple of years, too.
Here’s a picture. Ain’t it nice?
I do need to finish putting lattice on the bottom, but to do that the steps have to come off, and the stringers are old so I’ll probably end up just rebuilding those, and I’ll probably put a concrete pad under them, which will also solve the problem of the sidewalk stopping about three inches short of reaching the steps.
Look at the fish-scaling above the porch. Looks nice, doesn’t it? Below you can see what it looked like at the beginning of last summer.
This picture gives you a good idea of the color scheme: white with two tones of grey for the trim. That’s a travesty for a Victorian, and the place looked like a haunted house. Looking at it when I pulled into the driveway after work was invariably depressing–it was cold and dull, and looked like a place I didn’t want to come home to. Even the pink and purple that it was before the grey/grey/white would have been better, if a bit overdone. The new color scheme was chosen by my lovely spouse, and while I never would have settled on that kind of scheme myself, I love it, and now when I pull into the driveway I feel good about coming home. It’s also been nice, as we’ve been working on it, to have people stop while they’re walking or driving by to complement it.
But as can be seen below, we still have a corner of the house to finish, and reaching all the area of that tower to scrape and paint isn’t going to be easy. We’ll probably rent some scaffolding for that. The back side of that section of the house also has to be finished, but it only goes as high as the top of the windows on this side, without a dormer, so it’s much easier. We also have to replace a few pieces of siding here and there, but that won’t be too big an issue.
But the back corner of that tower, just in front of that diamond window (which, by the way, has small squares of red, yellow, and green glass surrounding it, like the small squares in the dormer window, which also are colored), was rotten at the base, and we had to get that fixed last year, as you can see in the following pictures. I wasn’t surprised, because the eavestroughs had been put on very stupidly in that section, so that the one end was away from the edge of the house and attached to the outside of the corner of the tower, allowing water to pour down behind it. Somebody’s idiocy cost me a few hundred bucks there.
As a bonus, here’s a picture of that diamond window. The wall around it is in the process of being redone, too, as it had an old peeling wallpaper on it and some areas of crumbling plaster, and is discolored from water leaking in due to ice dams in the past. The window’s not really warped, that’s just the angle of the photograph. Oh, and that china cabinet in the background, that’s getting painted white. There’s no end of stuff to do when you buy a house that’s 140 years old and has never been fully renovated.
Now to the backyard, which you can see here. This being an old neighborhood, our lot is narrow. There’s barely room to squeeze between our house and the one to our right (both of which, along with the house on the other side of that neighbor, were built by the guy the street is named after), and our driveway actually cuts a small portion of the other neighbor’s property. But the lot is deep. That white structure, my grape arbor, is 125 feet from the house. The trees on the right are on the south side of the property, so there’s too much shade for my grapes, and I have plans to turn the arbor into my own possum lodge, where I can drink a beer and recite the man’s prayer (“Oh, Lord, “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess”).
My yard has several trouble spots. Along the right side for quite a ways in there is a lot of gravel in the soil. It appears someone once had a driveway that stretched for 70 feet into the yard. Nothing but weeds grows there, so I’ve been cleaning up sections of that. That is, I cleaned up one section, started on another, built a bike shed over a third, am planning a pad for my utility trailer over yet another, and that will leave me with just the unfinished section and an 8 foot section between the driveway and trailer pad to finish. I actually built a big sifter–a frame of 2×4 lumber with screen material on it, to sift out the gravel. It works, but it’s very labor intensive.
In the picture to the right, the foreground is the one area I completed. The grass grows well there now. But that concrete pad you see, that’s been a puzzler. The lady who lived here before us poured it so her kids would have a place to bounce a basketball, and she made it 4 inches thick. And it’s sunk on the south and east sides. The smart thing might be to break it up and haul it out, but I haven’t wanted to do that labor. So I decided to build a screen room on top of it, so we can sit outside and be safe from the mosquitoes. I’ve puzzled all winter over what to do for a foundation, but now I’ve decided to just lay pressure treated 4x4s and build on top of them. It will just be a wood frame with aluminum window screen stapled to it, nothing fancy, just functional. Then we’ll put sand on the floor and lay some brick to level it out. I’m hoping to find a source of used brick, because I want this to be a low-cost project. They just tore down an old brick hardware store in my mom’s little farm town, and I’m hoping maybe I can get hold of some of that. In our bike shed (not seen in the picture), a simple 3 sided structure with no constructed floor, we laid brick that was laying around my mom’s yard when she bought her house–she was glad to see it go.)
So those are my summer outdoor plans. Anyone who likes physical labor is welcome to come help out. I pay in brats and beer and good companionship.
Update: Lance’s House
As promised, here’s a picture of Lance’s house. As he told me the story, it was originally a one-story house, and he literally cut the roof off, lifted it up with a crane, built a second story, then re-attached the roof. Pretty damned ambitious. And it looks great. I like a house with a nice porch and lots of plants growing around it.