Posts tagged ‘gross’


The Dirty Secret of this Renovation

The Sea of Debris!

Well, the contractors are packing up to leave, and this leg of the renovation is just about over. I know I’ve been posting all of the changes, but I’ve hardly posted about one of the rather important remaining jobs… trash removal. We didn’t purchase a dumpster for this renovation. I priced them, but really, they are kind of expensive. So on the weekends, we’ve been loading up my father’s truck, driving it to my sister’s other piece of property, and burning the wood. So it does keep a lot of the wood out of the landfill…and we save money for more projects…or help fund this current project, whatever. The price? The huge pile of debris in the yard.

Yes, I’ve been hiding this (not so little) secret from you all. The house looks so glamorous and different, I wanted you to see the good things! I’ve been downplaying this rather huge blemish, but I guess it is time to reveal the ugly. So, here is my next project and the biggest money saver in the house re-imagination… the debris pile. Sadly, this is not it in all of its glory. We have already hauled away about 6 truckloads. I also held back some of the cooler old things. pieces of molding, porch posts, the few pieces of the bay molding that wasn’t rotten, some of the siding with the original milkpaint and the old square nails. Of course all the doors, windows, interior moldings, and hardware were saved, too. This pile is mostly old- termite chewed 2×4’s, siding, window frames, and cut offs from the new wood. Eh, the secret’s out now. Hopefully it will all be gone soon enough!


The House So Far…and Photo Update, May/June 2011

Ok, so I know I said I was going to try to update soon in my last post, but I didn’t and I’m sorry. I guess I’m terrible at keeping my word. I did have to go out of town again, this time for a high school graduation (congratulations, T!). That’s not really the reason I haven’t updated, though. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the house again, and the sheer amount of work to be done. It’s just all the decisions, and planning, and doing, and ordering things.  I’ve been waiting for my contractor to finish for four months now. All of it together, is just a lot of stress. Luckily, things are beginning to look up again. I have a renewed interest, mostly bolstered by the exciting things to come. More on those things later…

For now, let’s discuss what I have actually finished. I tool up the baseboards in the dining room, and all the moldings around the doors. I left the window moldings for now, due to thekunfortunate incident where I tried to remove the molding, and pulled the whole window out. Oops. I really have to watch those rotten sills! We also cleaned up a lot of the plaster. The most important thing I have completed recently is a plan. The plan is to get the house buttoned up before winter. Everything else can wait until next year. I also have come to terms with the fact that I am basically building the house from scratch. I tried to fight this for a long time, after my uncle pointed it out. It is true. It may be the same frame and blueprint, but I have to put in new windows, a new roof, new sheathing, new siding, drywall, insulation, plumbing, and wiring. Sure, it’ll have old doors and moldings, but the house is just too far deteriorated to pretend it can all be saved.

Ok, enough rambling and apologizing. Here are the pictures!


Creepy Crawlies

I decided to get the house sprayed for termites. Yes, it looks like the termites have been hitting the studs as if they were a buggy McDonalds, and these hungry beasties have lots of trails leading up the root cellar walls, as seen in this post. None of this was particularly alarming to me. I mean the house is 100+ years old. They did not have Terminex back then, right? There is no way to tell if the damage is new or old, and luckily, none of it so far has been majorly structural. Which I credit to the beams and studs being twice the size that builders use now, and that the wood being harder wood than is used today. While I planned to have the house sprayed eventually, we were going to put this job on the  to do list  a little later.

This all changed when I walked in and found hundreds of tiny wings all over my bay window. After consulting the internet, and determining that these transparent offerings were not signs of more pleasant winged things, like butterflies or even fairies. They are definitely signs of live termites. According to Terminex, who came to give me an estimate today, termites have a frantic orgy, lose their wings, and then go to start up brand new colonies where they are kings and queens. While I appreciate the establishment of new societies and a system of government, I do not like them trashing my house with their destruction and orgies.So, they need to be eradicated. However, I’m not particularly that freaked out about them. I mean, no structural damage, and honestly, I was expecting some problems like this. Apparently this attitude is not the norm, and the Terminex guy expected more histrionics and drama when he gave me  this news. He told me that I didn’t scare easily, which was pretty amusing. I don’t think you can afford to be dramatic over every little thing when undergoing a massive renovation. It just ups the stress level, and drives you crazy. Ultimately, they are just tiny squatters, right? I just have to kick them out!

Image from Google images


Amateur Entomology

Want to know what I’ve learned about old houses in the last few weeks? You suddenly spend vast quantities of time studying things you never thought you would ever need to know. I’m not talking about building knowledge, per se. I think it is a given that I will need to read up on that! It is the other things that I didn’t expect. I spent weeks studying Victorian architecture and insulation options; months studying the history of the area and the history of the house, and now…it is bugs. Yes, creepy crawly things have now become my current obsession and focus in leisure-time reading. This is not something I look forward to, or even expected to do. Not that I am really squeamish, bugs don’t really bother me…unless they are ants. The problem is, the obsession. “What kind of bugs are these? Are they hurting my house? How do I get rid of them?, Are they a symptom of a bigger problem?” are the key questions I have been asking myself on encountering a new species.

First, there were the spiders. In this house, there are spiders everywhere! I mean, the mummified spiders in the root cellar were a dead give away that they would be an issue. Now, egg sacs turn up everywhere in the house, behind a door, behind a mirror…stuck to wolf fur. Fortunately, I have always liked spiders. I even had a sort of pet writing spider for a year that I would feed by  finding other bugs (mostly ants) and dropping in her web for her. This kind of makes me sound like a sociopath, but I promise, I am not. I just love science and was really attached to Charlotte’s Web. Anyway, the spiders, mummified or in embryo form, don’t really bother me.

Those things that look like cracks? Yeah, termite mud tunnels

Then there were the termites. Turns out there is quite a bit of termite damage in the house. Nothing majorly structural, or too serious, thankfully…mostly damage on some moldings, or through a few floor boards. See, these are more worrisome than the spiders because they actually can damage the house. They also look like albino flying ants, so that’s just scary. They made weird mud tunnels in the basement to climb up to the wood. See? They are definitely high on the creepy meter and must be obliterated. The problem is, they may already have been destroyed. Perhaps the damage was done before the previous owner moved in, when the house was last renovated. There’s no way to tell if the damage is old or new. If it is bad, and needs to be taken care of soon, they should start swarming in April, so…we’ll see.

Yes, those are wasps in my windows

Then, last but not least, are the wasps. They aren’t the type that damage the house, so not so alarming. So what’s the problem with the wasps? They show up in the weirdest places! My first encounter with them was when I removed the wood blocking the chimney in the dining room to clean it out. No evidence of what was to come. The next day, when I went back to finish, wasps started coming out of the chimney. Not flying, just slowly crawling, confused and searching, out of  the chimney. It was so creepy! I quickly stunned them with Tilex, and stomped them. Then, this week, when I was ripping the window moldings out, I found nests in the wall, beside the window casings. Several of them all in one cavity. We also found a huge nest in the wall beneath the plaster in the kitchen.

Maybe it is because the house is next to a swamp, in disrepair for 20 years, or on a Hellmouth. I keep running into all these insects that I am just not prepared to deal with! At least I have the upper hand on them. I can dial the phone and connect with the exterminator, so maybe that phone number is all the research I need.


Plaster, Roof, and Junk- a small update

Yes, my gutters really are that wonky.

A lot of progress has been made on the house in the last few weeks. The new roof is almost finished. We decided on black architectural shingles, and I’m really happy with that choice. They look a little like slate, and are a vast improvement of the flaking green ones that were there previously.

On the inside, we’re still working on removing plaster. We gutted the pantry, which was covered in mud. I think that is where the previous owner kept the wolf.  That is the only excuse I can think of for that room to be filled with that much filth. Sadly, the beadboard under the wallboard had to go. It was mostly rotten. We did reveal some lovely old pine floors. There is a huge hole in one of the boards, but I’m still trying to think of a way to patch it and keep them. 

We’ve also been working on gutting the bathroom. It was moldy, and kind of gross. Yet, the walls are so tough, neither the reciprocating saw, nor my Thor hammer of doom were strong enough to bring them down. Those walls made me feel like a geologist looking at the patterns in the rock to date some fossils or something. First, there was a layer of wallboard, then a thin layer of plaster on 1 inch drywall, then two layers of wallpaper, then tile, next, more plaster and older drywall. Why??? My father’s friend has been helping us out, and he finally  managed to conquer the “Great Wall” of the Trimble House. Next is gutting the kitchen, and I am hoping it goes easier than the bathroom. The plaster in there is a horrendously patched mess.

This is after 2 days of work!

Also, we were having a local cleanup to have stuff hauled to the dump this weekend, so we decided to take advantage that and clean out the root cellar. After termite tunnel destruction, five 5 gallon buckets of dirt removed, and going through old, moldy books we have a fairly clean root cellar!



Staying Positive in the Midst of More Problems

Be still, my moldy heart!

So, my sister and I have been slowly and gradually cleaning up the house. The outside construction has yet to begin, and outside stuff is not really my area of expertise anyway. So, while I’ve been cleaning, I’ve made all kinds of little …discoveries. Most of these are not welcome discoveries. One of my moldings has succumbed to dry rot. Many of the floorboards will have to be replaced, as they have been eaten away by wolves, rotted, or are damaged by some other random occurence. Outside, one of the floor joists has rotted, and parts of the original porch posts have been demolished. I have some extras in the areas we are enclosing that I hope can be used to replace the others. This all brings me to today’s discovery…mold. I knew the house was moldy, it has been unoccupied for 9 months. Yet, I did not expect a veritable petri dish on my walls; a mini ecosystem inhabiting my home! Yes, today I found fuzzy walls, and not fuzzy from wolf fur! Luckily, I have never been prone to hysterics.

Lovely Hinges

So, it’s days like this I have to look at the positives. I mean, not all the discoveries are bad. The house has lovely, elaborate, Queen Anne style door hinges. You can’t buy those anymore, and they are definitely a nice feature. The cast iron fireplace inserts are all intact. I love the look of them. The living room and dining room floors  are in great shape. The foundation is solid, and so everything else can be repaired, right?  Truthfully, it is all a labor of love, I guess. That, or my over-developed visualization skills. I can see what it will look like when it is finished, and it’s beautiful. That is the image that drives me. Unfortunately, the distance from where the house is at now, to that image, is a little bit further, considering I didn’t envision living in a terrarium. Oh well, good thing I have a whole bottle of Clorox.