Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Winter's Nap

Today's temperature in Jamaica, VT: a balmy 20 degrees! All in all, that is actually pretty warm for this time of year. Winter has been fairly 'mild' here in Brooklyn... 'pathetic' might be another word I'd use to describe this lack of snowfall and warm temps! Indeed, Old Man Winter has made a poor showing thus far, but 20 degrees is still cold enough to make two people in an ice box of a house with no heat pretty uncomfortable.

That's right, no heat! Updating the blog has been delayed for the past few months thanks to grad school, which fills up my time with writings on public health challenges and community building, but leaves little time for much else. While I haven't had the chance to update this thing in awhile, we did work on the house the entire fall season. Some big changes have happened, including... PLUMBING!... but unfortunately we ran out of time to finish securing the basement before winter set in. Without a properly closed up basement, the pipes for the heating system would have frozen almost instantly, so it made no sense to run the heaters.

She's entered into hibernation mode for the next few months...

After two years of waiting, the prospect of a heated house during the winter months seemed so close! Instead, we once again find ourselves shivering in front of the woodstove like two human icicles. While another winter with no heat was a disappointing blow (I believe it was spring 2011 when I swore never to be cold in that house again), we've decided to shift gears and approach working on the house differently this season. Our new game plan is... don't go! Basically, it's just too damn cold to be inside that house for very long, especially when there's no hardcore demo'ing left to do. As unpleasant as it was, at least knocking down ceilings and walls kept our body temperatures up. With the inside of the house in fairly decent shape, we've decided to tuck the farmhouse in for a long winter's nap, and will continue to check on it every few weeks until the weather thaws a little. Worry not, though, we have plenty of house-related work to keep us busy on the weekends down here, which I will talk about in a bit. In the meantime, let's get to updating on what we've accomplished since August!

Perhaps it's best to start with our most exciting and visible change from 2012...

Painting Progresses!
 Yellow? What yellow?

Flashback to May 2012. My painting goal at the beginning of my summer vacation: sand, prime and paint the entire house by October.

My adjusted goal once reality set in, October 2012: stop making completely unfeasible goals for myself!

It's amazing that, after owning this house for over two years, I am still surprised by how long things take. This should be a mantra running continually through my mind every weekend we are up there. This work just takes time, LOTS of time, especially when you don't have a huge team of professionals helping you crank it out. One girl with a paintbrush and a small team of dedicated friends and family who make appearances up at the house cannot sand, prime and paint an entire two-story Victorian house in 3 months. It's just not possible, especially when you're doing the majority of the work only on weekends.

Thanks to a lot of tag-team efforts, we got a huge amount done on the house, and came SO close to having the entire thing at least sanded and primed! As you can see from the photo above, we fell short on the right side of the house thanks to the section above the 1st floor bathroom. We still need to replace the siding along the new roof, and repair some rotten wood along the roof life. It was too much work for one lady to do alone, so Tony and I plan on tackling this corner together as soon as the weather warms. We also got a nice amount sanded and primed on the left side of the house, but ran into a few issues here and there. Painting over the bay window proved to be a bit tricky, with ladders balanced on a block of wood and a prayer, but so far so good. Before we finish sanding and priming this side, I'd also like to take down that sad excuse of a side porch. It isn't safe to stand on and worst of all, is a preferred nesting ground for the monstrous spiders that take over our house in the summer. Once it's gone, we can properly finish prepping this side of the house for paint.

Maybe that giant pile of snow will finally demo the side porch for me

The only heartbreaking thing I must mention is... it was only this summer that we realized we needed to cover all of the nailheads in aluminum paint before putting on the primer. Therefore, I have to go back and redo the entire paint job on the front porch and front of the house :( It's almost too sad for me to even think about, so I'll just put that thought off until May or so, when I will have no choice but to face the music.

In other news...


While these pictures are far from the sexiest thing around, plumbing might be the most exciting thing to happen to this house in awhile. In November our talented plumbing team came in and ran all of the lines throughout the house. We also got our oil tank and water heater installed down in the basement. Barring a few errors and unexpected complications here and there, everything was in pretty good shape! Seeing everything laid out did show us a few changes that needed to be made to our own plumbing plans, but unfortunately none of the changes could be made before winter set in. I think it's safe to say plumbing installation is about 75% complete at this point, and will be all wrapped up before summer. Hopefully, if Tony and I have all of our radiators sandblasted and painted by then, these brawny plumbing men can have the pleasurable job of hauling those babies up and into the house for installation.

Verrrry early stages of the master bathroom

In the meantime, Tony and I would like to have some of the fixtures we'll be making/restoring for the bathrooms (because we hate for things to be easy, and won't buy anything unless it needs work) done so they can be properly installed. That includes our 3 vanities, one of which Tony will be building from scratch. The above photo shows the rough layout for the master bath, including our vanity in the 'before' stages. I've purchased antique hardware to match the hinges and latch already on this old dresser, and we have a nice large slab of marble sitting on top that will need to be properly installed. Thanks to the terrible shape this thing is in, I should be able to take some kickin before and after photos!

Other Fixes 'Round the Farm

Plumbing and painting aren't the only things we've been up to! There's a million big and little projects we've been keeping ourselves occupied with aside from the two big Ps. It'd be too boring to list them all,  so I'll let these photos do the talking...

Finally, a basement door! Tony installs and secures our sweet new basement door. One less way for furry woodland animals to find their way into the house, and it keeps the entire place a heck of a lot warmer. No more gusts of freezing wind coming up from the basement!

So... 30 windows, double hung, 2 panes per window =  120 panes of glass to that need to be carefully removed, cleaned, reinstalled, and then glazed so they can face another 100 years of bad weather. Sounds like a big job? You bet it is! Good ole Momma Merkel and Mairim have been tackling this job for months on end. Susie slowly scrapes out the old caulking, removes the glass, cleans the frame, and then passes it off to Mairim to be reinstalled and glazed (a heartier form of caulking). And considering how fragile antique wavy glass is, it's a miracle when just one window is finished without cracking. To say we're halfway there would be... optimistic (or an outright lie).

 And who could forget about our old friend, the foundation??? Tony has turned into a true master mason, and after taking down that hot mess of a wall he and I constructed together last fall, he redid all of the brick work in the back. By October, the foundation was done!! We'll still have other small foundation fixes to do next summer, but this guy definitely has bricklaying down to a science and should get it done in no time flat.

Insulation is back! On probably the last decent weekend of the year, Tony and I brought another sprayfoam insulation kit up to the house and went to town on the first and second floors. We finished the library, living room, hallway, and almost all of the second floor. With only two rooms to go upstairs, we should have the whole house insulated before too long! As soon as the weather warms (if I had a penny for every time I said that...) we'll finish up the insulation and have this place all nice and cozy :)

And one final bit of big news...

Tony and I are no longer just the boyfriend and girlfriend with the crazy farmhouse project in VT! We had a proper Vermont engagement at the farmhouse with a proper antique engagement ring purchased at our favorite antique auction in Townshend, VT. Now, on top of everything else... time to plan a proper VT wedding! We certainly like to keep busy :)

Thank you all for reading this VERY lengthy blog update! As always, we've been keeping track of our  progress by taking tons of photos. The slideshow function seems to be disabled on the Photobucket website currently, but check out links to all of our new albums!

Here's to hoping that I find a little more time to update in the coming months! We won't be spending too much time up at the house, but hope to use our weekends to finish some of these furniture projects we've taken on, including one big one. Since we are aiming to leave our mark on every inch of this house, our brave master carpenter has decided to take on building custom cabinets for the entire kitchen! Tony is finishing up the kitchen layout and then intends to start laying out plans for building the cabinets. Hopefully his know-how and the cabinet book I bought him from Home Depot should leave him well-prepared for this gargantuan task :) Here's a peek at the layout he is currently building in a program called Sketch Up. He's only just getting started but it looks pretty awesome already!

Love that giant dining table... can't wait to fill it with friends in our warm and beautiful dining room!

Thanks again for reading! We'll be back with another entry soon! Happy 2013, all :)
- Melissa

1 comment:

  1. You do have a huge house! It will take a lot of time to renovate it. By the way, you should take precautions when repairing the house. Wear some protective gears such as mask, helmet, protective gloves, and shoes. When repainting those roof and sidings make sure that your ladder is well positioned on the ground.