Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Summer Forecast

Beautiful and breezy with a chance of plumbing!

Also, an advisory is in effect for “lead paint dust” fogs on the horizon. 

Gird your lungs, Stevie. There's lead in dem paints!

How can it be that after so many cold months filled with anticipation and dreams of warmth and sunny days, summer is... (gulp)... coming to an end?? As always, the weeks fly by so quickly and we find ourselves approaching the middle of August. I think I can now officially say that summer is my favorite season in Vermont. I never thought that would be possible, since winter, snowbording and fires roaring in the fireplace are what most people dreamily envision when they think of this state. Alas, beautiful sunsets over mountain peaks, wildflower fields and cool evenings have won my heart. Even though heating is a genuine reality for this winter, I am going to miss the heck out of these summer months. You've been good to us, you lovely season!

He's truly a winter pup

 Despite the steamy summer days of the past 2 months, which knock Bailey out as soon as the sun goes up, the humans have been hauling arse from sun up to sun down. Our family and friends have been making regular visits to the house this summer and happily put in long, exhausting hours to help us git 'er done. House sanding, demo, window repairs, painting. You name it, they do it! Maybe they really love us, or maybe they just love the promise of hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob and other delights of summer cooking.

So, what have we been up to for the past 7 weeks??  It's called the three P's...

Pre-Plumbing and Painting!

Let's start with painting, because let's face it, it's just more fun to talk about... although, according to Lisa, not as much fun to do...

Sanding, schmanding... when do we paint?!

Reality set in during early July when I realized the entire house would not be painted to perfection by the fall. In fact, parts of it may not be painted, period! The truth of the matter is, it is just damn time consuming. Sanding can take a day alone, especially when working in difficult areas such as the roofline, with it's weird angles and hard-to-reach-corners. There is nothing more pleasant than tucking your head under the roof soffit to scrape down corners filled with giant spiders and wasp nests, all the while being showered with lead paint chips. It. Is. Not. Fun. But if we're going to do this job we're going to do it right, so... horrible sanding work continues.

 My loving, dedicated friends Steve and Lisa joined us for a weekend at the end of July and helped to sand the heck out of the side of the house and the second story of the front of the house. It's amazing what a difference having the second floor painted makes! As you can tell from the photo above, sanding was not our favorite task. We also now have to spray aluminum paint over all of the nail heads after sanding to ensure the nail heads do not rust through the paint. Rust has already begun to show through on the porch and front of the house, which means I have to go and re-do my work from last summer by spray painting all of the nails, priming over them, then painting again with Pinedale Shores. My heart breaks at the thought, so let's not go there...

Second floor, done!

We have also completely sanded the first story along the two sides of the house, and have started priming that area. I believe by mid-September, with all hands on deck, we should be able to have all of the house primed (with the exception of the gable peaks, which are tricky to reach by ladder). I'd love to start painting the sides of the house with at least one coat of blue, but we'll see where time and weather get us. Either way, the majority of the house won't be yellow anymore and that is all that matters! The painting saga continues for another year...

Artie Joe Merkel working his magic on the side of the house

As painting continues, things are speeding up inside the house as we prep for that holiest of words...


Now that I have seen first-hand the amount of work that has been done, and still needs to be done, before our plumbers can come in to run our heat and plumbing lines, it's insane to think I once believed this could have been done last summer. We were NOWHERE near being ready. Now, we're almost there!

The list of preparations feels a little endless, but here's a few of the things on our to-do list.
  • Complete foundation work under the downstairs bathroom (almost done)
  • Buy and prepare all bathroom fixtures (sort-of done)
  • Sister beams to all of the ceiling joists under the two upstairs bathrooms (done!)
  • Finish bathroom layouts (done!)
  • Sand bathroom floors (nope)
  • Finish insulating walls (nope)
  • Prepare all radiators and bring up to house (nope)
  • Buy bubble bath for long, relaxing baths in the clawfoot tubs (nope)

Clearly, we still have a lot to do! First and foremost is FINALLY finishing the foundation work in the back, which we are very close to completing. Last weekend Tony finished laying the inside walls of cinder block for the two remaining foundation walls under the bathroom. Though I hate to say it, we also made the oh-so-sad decision to knock down the snaking, uneven brick foundation wall Tony and I built last September. Other than looking like a hot mess, it also was barely supporting the longest wall of the bathroom. With us taking such care with everything that we do, it made no sense to try and Macgyver the poorly constructed wall to make it work as best as possible. With heavy heart and an even heavier crowbar, Tony dismantled the entire brick wall.

Once we return this weekend, Tony will build a new, straight wall out of cinder blocks to replace the one we knocked down. Then all 3 foundation walls will require the front layer of brick, which will hide the cinder blocks and make our foundation 'strong as bull.' Once all of this hullabaloo is complete, the foundation work will truly be done. A grand finale 1.5 years in the making!

Let's see clawfoot tubs fall through this floor!

With the foundation completed, a flurry of plumbing-related work will take place over the coming weeks. Sprayfoam insulation, sanding, shopping, and the backbreaking task of transporting 14 cast iron radiators! Are there enough hours in the day to get it all done before winter sets in once again??

Let us hope, because I don't think my little soul could stand up to a 3rd winter of renovating in 0 degree weather! You'll find me collapsed in a snow bank along the road, waving the white flag of home renovation.
Love these summer nights!

Itching to see some photos? Enjoy our slideshows of sanding and priming the front, the approaching end of demo, and a sanding/priming marathon!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, all! Keep checking back for updates and thanks for reading!
- Melissa


  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


    1. Hi Brian! So sorry that I am just getting back to this comment now! I've been do distracted with school work that the blog has been put on the backburner. This blogger account doesn't let me reply directly to comments through email, so try e-mailing me at with your question. Thanks!

  2. The house is looking good! It's a good thing now that it has been painted and the framework for the plumbing laid out! How come you guys no longer posted more pictures of the house? It'd be very interesting how it looks after the overall restoration.

    Darryl Iorio

    1. Hey Darryl! Thanks for writing! We just updated the blog (finally) this past week with new photos of the plumbing and what not. We had it all installed in November but it became too cold too quickly, so we weren't able to get the heat up and running. We're taking a break until things warm up in the spring. Hopefully we'll be back up there and working hard again by April! Thanks for reading our blog and keep coming back for more updates in the next few months!

  3. You must’ve been very eager all winter long wanting to speed up the process of finishing the house. Now that winter is almost over, I'm pretty sure that it will go a lot faster than it was then. I'm glad you posted recently to show the overall progress.

    Carmella Vancil

    1. Hi Carmella! Thanks for writing. We're definitely sad that we have to take a break for the winter months, but it's just not worth getting pneumonia to spend the weekend up there working! We don't have too much heavy labor left before we can start putting new walls up, so hopefully things will really start to turn around this summer! So glad to see that people are reading this blog :) Please keep checking back in the next few months, we should have plenty more photos and updates to come!