Saturday, April 18, 2009 hard can that be?

something's done.
We did it!
We have a roof, we have siding.....and now we have the window in.
This is part of the story of buying an old abandoned victorian. When we first saw the house, there was one top pane of glass shattered. The realtor put it's cause down to wind and a branch. By the time we closed on the victorian...dubbed my mansion in Arkansas, there were obvious bb holes in the panes on glass. Everything on that side of the house had been available for target practice.
The top half of the window soon spread it's damage to the bottom half.
Now we had a 52 inch wide hole in the side of the went up eight feet. Yes, each pane of glass on the main floor is four feet tall.
You can not imagine the wind that can blow thru eight feet of hole in the wall!
I dreaded that window. The plastic kept blowing down...the shade kept ripping and blowing outside the window. The red duct tape holding the whole mess to the middle bars of the empty window casings just made the whole thing worse.
Months went contractor said they could fix it...but he was busy, and he didn't own an eight foot hole in the wall of his house. I did.
Looking at those huge skinny casings....I thought we would have to special order big glass and have men with suction cups stand on scaffolding outside to put the panes of glass in for us.
So naturally, on Thursday, I decided today-is-the-day. I brought my brand new 10 foot tall step-ladder down to the house. I carefully slid the heavy ladder into the open front door. Then I brought my green plastic lawn cart over to the door, and "gracefully" climbed into the doorway on my hands and knees.
I am almost strong enough to move the giant ladder into position. By the time I had climbed up enough steps to be dizzy...I still had more steps to get to the top of my giant hole in the wall.
I pried the moulding off, only breaking one side, and drove the empty bottom casing to a glass store.
I was shocked! The glass man wasn't at all worried about my glassless window. Sure...he could replace the glass. "Bring in the other piece."
Oh...that it was that easy. I finally pried the stop out of the side of the window frame. The casing was stuck at the top. Maybe it was held by old paint....I stood near the top of my ladder , waving over the eight foot hole and the ground another eight feet below....and hammered and pried the frame. It felt like swinging in a tree. Finally it budged open a little bit. Funny, it was moving only a little and kind of needed prying at both sides to open....I climbed up and down my ladder...turning it 180 degrees each time, so I could wind up near the edge of the gaping hole in the wall when I stood on the high steps. Finally, I stuck my hand into the crack in the window, between the sash and the top of the frame to pull. It shut on my fingers!
Seems both sides of the window weights were still attached, pulling the empty window casing tightly shut because there was no heavy glass in it.
As I told the glass man later...I "greased" the casing out of the window frame with "language".
The two men standing on tall ladders painting the top trim of the house didn't seem to hear me.
So, Friday, yesterday....I picked up the repaired glass casings....and showered in paint chips scraping old paint off the frame and the casings. Then I called my two painters in to help.
Good thing!
One, they are taller than I am. Two, they have strong arms to hold the heavy wide window now filled with glass. Three....they have the amazing ability to stand on, and climb step ladders backwards! Go figure!!!!
I can't do that!....but it made it a lot easier to reach the top and grab the weight cords, and pull, while holding a glass window.
We finally got the top pane back in, and one man held it high in the wind while the other fixed the weight cords and hammered in the stops to keep the sash from blowing out of the window frame.
I looked busy by passing the wood pieces up to the man on the ladder. In a few more minutes the lower window sash was also in place. And do you know what happened? It got hot. Immediately, the cool high powered winds that had blown doors shut for almost four month....They STOPPED!
It was like a room appeared suddenly out of the trees. It was a window!
I told the men how happy I was, and that I was so glad they were there to help....not that I wasn't paying them by the hour anyway....but I sure wouldn't have wanted to try and put that monster window in with my husband. Neither of us are tall enough or strong enough to do that job. We would have had a lot of "grease" between us tho.
Next time, I will tell you how houses pick out paint colors.
One window done, three broken ones to go....and then there are all the sash cords.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

why I'm not there.

It's spring, and for most livestock owners....that means babies. I tried to stop breeding, but I owed some lambs. So I am here in Missouri, not in Arkansas. I don't like to leave ewes alone if they are almost ready to lamb.
What I wanted to say, was that I called my contracter today. You have to be a squeaky wheel with contracters. I called to tell him the siding looked great. He said there was some missing. That was news....looked good to me.
But I also wanted to tell him that I fell out of the front door yesterday. Fortunately, I didn't break anything....I'm old enough that I could easily break something with a fall from that height.
The ladder was leaning against the cut off flooring from the old porch, causing some binding on the threshhold. When I pulled hard enough to get the door closed, the ladder tipped and sent me dropping to the ground. Don't ask how I got turned 180 degrees in the fall. But I quickly looked to see if any neighbors had seen me fall.....then limped to the car to recover. I figured the contracter would feel guilty enough to think about getting those porches back on before I wound up in a nursing home. He mentioned painter too. I suppose he was thinking about this old lady standing on a tall ladder instead of a short one. Oh my.....wonder what all that will cost.
I do like doing my own painting. It helps to know the good points and bad of the trim and eves. But this working on a house away from home is tough. There is so much to do...and so little time when I do get there. Right now I am lucky to be gone for a half day. And perhaps until there are more lambs on the ground....we need to keep one of us at much as I would love to have some help that I don't have to pay!
So for right now...the primer is in the can, and the cans are not here. So I may as well sweep the floor in this old house.
Peeps...older but not very wiser.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

what am i doing here?

Certainly, I ask myself that question. Lot's of times. Maybe everyday.
Don't you?
What is the meaning of life?
Hey...I knew that one once. It has something to do with the people in your life.
Anyway, here I my feeble old age....trying to manage lots of upstart young men. Men who really really want to be working on a NEW house. There are little remarks...made just within my hearing, "If this was my house, I would have put plastic soffits on painting." Opps, almost said a bad word there. I always volunteer that I HATE plastic, I HATE plywood....and don't even think about it.
On that point, of trying to anticipate the new and novel treatments these builders always try to sneak into their work on MY old house. I try to be there as many days in the week as I can. Like last Thursday, when my contracter came with siding that was a shade too light. Gee, I'm really sorry to make you go back to the lumber company and get a different color....but that one looks too light. Three trips back to the house later, I'm sure he was spitting tacks.
The new roof looks great. People stop me on the street to say the house looks so good! I was surprised, when I finally brought a ladder to climb the five feet up into my front door, and finally went upstairs. I was anticipating a nice solid roof...instead I saw daylight and trees thru the jungle of cracks on the side of the house and the dormers. Rain may not have gotten into the roof, but it sure came in thru the sides of the house and the three new broken windows. Seems after BBs are shot thru windows...they break at the sound of hammers on the roof. The other strange sight was the piles of sand on the floors from the old shingles....Oh well, I hadn't gotten to sweeping in the attic yet anyway.
This house, as I said is different. This is my swan song....I am not doing this activity for some cheap person to buy. I am doing it for me. My husband, who loves those tiffany lights, has bowed to my taste on this one. NO stained glass looking plastic lights for me. I want NEW, and FANCY!!!!
The last house that we renovated for resale....I would just tell the electrician to pick out something cheap. "Anything you pick up is fine", I would say. I don't even remember picking out a fancy ceiling fixture for the table area. You know, like those sell-this-house-folks are always adding. Hey, the light goes off and on...and the switch works...What more would a person want?
My kitchen area for eating in that old house was newly painted, with nice white paint over the horrid teapot patterned textured wallboard, and the floor was new pergo tile laminate. Carefully glued to keep moisture out. Those folks were lucky I put a table in there for them to write their offer on.
This old house, MY old house, does not have kitchen patterns...except in the pantry, where old silk patterned wallpaper hangs in shreds off the walls and ceiling past the lone bulb hanging on those tristed fabric wires. Why this house is still beyond understanding, when you look at the wiring they used. Argh!
What I wanted to say is....I'm fussy! Not only am I pouring over on-line sites trying to find THE perfect lights....but I now want to use the push bottons. Yes, they make new safe push button light switches. Our son just bought an old house in the city, and even he is adding new push button switches. Yes, that is silly....but I LIKE silly. Anyone who knows me...knows I have a quirky sense of silly. Besides, most of the old push buttons, like my Grandma used to have are still there on the walls.
I remember Grandma's old push button lights, because for most of a year, I stayed with Grandma at night. Grandpa had passed, and Grandma was afraid of being in her house after dark. Yes, Grandma was afraid of the dark. So my job, was to stand at the push buttons in the dining room, while my dear Grandmother walked upstairs and turned on the hall light. Then, I threw the button, and fairly ran up the stairs to join her. Afraid of the dark???? Naa....well.
I've had some experience along those lines.
So here I am....with one light bought.....and one picked out....and trying to visualize a dining room chandelier. must be tough to build a house from the ground up.....all those choices!
This old house....that's it. As close as I'm ever coming to building or choosing a house. We did pick out a ceiling fixture for the house in the city once. Right after we had moved in...we left it there 25 years later...should have taken it with us, and put up one of those fancy new lights like the sell-this-house-folks do. I had carryed a magazine with me for years....of a house I loved the look of. It was kind of castle like....and when we chose two chairs for the living a clearance sale in a furniture warehouse....I tried to get them to look like the ones in the magazine too. We put fake rock on the firepalce wall, to make it look like the real rock fireplace in my magazine. Yes, I definitely AM quirky. Oh well....won't you be surprised at what I am going to do in this old house? Heh heh...

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm messy

Well, I am....ask my old school buddy. My mom had to clean my room everytime I invited my friend home. Right? I just never grew out of it. I have my geneaology papers in the living room, on top of my sheep papers. I have most of my notebooks on the computer room floor. And, I have my old house papers on the couch, where the cats constantly lay on top of them. Sometimes they even slide under the couch.
I wouldn't mind so much....I live in the country. victorian old house is in town. I haven't lived in the city for over ten years. I's a constant battle to keep up with your neighbors. I would say the old phrase "Keep-up-with-the-Jones."But my neighbors ARE the Jones. Argh!
I now have the only messy yard on the block. OK so there are only four of us. There is one more house across the alley from me but they have a high wood fence around it. There is a big brown barking dog inside, who takes long sniffs in my direction, when I come close. I'm guessing the fence is to keep the dog inside....well, it could be to keep me outside too. Anyway. That yard isn't visible, so except for that one....I have the messiest yard.
Oh dear.
The lady behind me had her church group come and cut up her downed trees, stacking everything neatly near her house. The neighbor beside me, cut all the trees out of his yard....including the big one from my yard laying across his front yard. Then he neatly stacked all the evenly cut and measured firewood into exact piles according to wood type. AND....he raked his yard totally! How embarassing!
The lady across the street had a hired man there for five days. He tied the branches into neat bundles and stacked them on the side of the road.
My yard is still hip deep in oak branches too big for me to drag away. I told my contractor....I don't DO chain saws. He must have sawed enough branches to pull his truck in....I could tell because there are deep ruts where he got stuck. Oh dear, maybe that is why he wasn't there working. I did move what I could out of his way.....
But I still have a messy yard. The worst one on the street. The street looks even worse. All the wood that fell on main street is pushed in front....and I threw everything I could carry over the stone wall. So, it is laying there too. Not in neat stacks tied with bows....but in criss-crossed jumbles of branches and tree trunks woven together by chance.
The winter is not being kind to me. I'll get it right, one of these days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

say yes

When your contractor calls, just say yes. Those guys are hard to find. Hopefully you have found one you trust. Mine called with the final roof estimate yesterday....I AM sitting down, I said.
OK, now I have a figure....of course, now he has to start NOW. Sure. I'll ask the banker for money as soon as I can. Until then, do something...anything. First thing he has to do is cut his way into my back yard to park a car. Did I mention the oak trees down?
I did have bad nows too. The ice storm that tried to drop my porch roof, managed to pull the supports half way out of the brick work. A place they were happily living for over 100 years. So now they have to take the porches off and rebuild them....dang! Not much I can do about it. I am going to be stuck in my valley for days because there are more storm coming over night with heavy rains. Wonder if he can really rebuild a porch to look like the old ones?
On the subject of roofs....he called back to say I must go and pick out my shingle. YOU go pick out my shingles, I am going to be stuck in this valley all week. Oh it's hard to be a house-mother to a victorian. I suppose they are happily tearing my old roof off, right before the storms move in. Wonder where my sleeping bag is? I could use one right now.
Guess I'll go do the dishes and pace the floor for a while.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

time to re-evaluate

OK....We have now owned this particular victorian house for five weeks. If I was fixing this house for resale, I would be anxious to be making progress on something.
Yes, I am anxious to be making progress....any progress forward. So far, we are going the other way.
To date:
1.... A lovely neighboring child used my windows for target practice. He got pretty good shooting out the stained glass pieces in the attic dormer. Fortunately, he wasn't going in the front, because he could have been seen from the street.
2....An historic ice storm crippled the town and surrounding area. Making it impossible for any roofer-so inclined- to climb onto my roof and get a good estimate of the many problems up there.
3....The ice storm also took down many of the trees we had so carefully had trimmed, by our first ever hired tree trimming expert. Those trees are being pushed around on the street by city crews, cut off the wires by the electric crews, guarded by neighbors who have them across their front yard...whoops....and stepped over by me. Stepped over, when I can lift my legs high enough. The entire south west part of the property is so deep in huge oak branches that it can't be navigated. Our tree timmer isn't yet answering his phone....I don't blame him.
4....The ice storm also tried to drop the side porch. This caused several tears to fall, when I sat on the front porch....which did not seem ready to fall on my head, as I surveyed the damage. Oh happy day, we have had an historic ice storm. Wow....lucky huh? My contractor on seeing the situation was moved to prop said porch back up. So now we have two propped up porches and two we have to avoid for our safe-being.
5....The largest window in the house. 52 X 48.....times two. Was broken by the tree limbs or the wind, because it was cracked by a BB gun. Although I tried to pull plastic over the gaping 8 foot hole, I didn't have the tools to fix a lasting repair....or a ladder high enough. So as the severe thunder storms loom over head tomorrow, I will be going to glass or cabinet shops trying to figure out the next thing to do. I don't even know if I can get glass that big....let alone have the old sashes hold it in. Bother.

Now, as I mentioned, I see the house done.....fixed....perfect. I don't see holes in the ceiling, holes in the windows, holes in the floor, broken headers. None of that. I see the house in it's finished state. So today I am excited, because I found a pair of victorian glass wall vases for the entry. Inexpensive too. I had drawn them into my planned room diagrams. The entry is too narrow for a center table, so now I can put flowers on the wall instead.
Nice huh?
Being a victorian lover, I am also totally impractical too. Oh, who cares? We saw a flock of robins moving north last week. Maybe the contracters and tree trimmers will also show up pretty soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

and do it with one hand tied behind your back

For some "flippin'" reason, blogger doesn't like my recent attempt at humor and house fixing.
Sorry, the title was my choice.

On the subject of my old house....It still doesn't have a roof....or a bid on the roof. Unfortunately, it is also in the path of the winter ice storm currently raining ice on my present home.
It did have a nice haircut on the big old oak trees. They are only about 100 years old....and we didn't have to remove them. Yaay! When I last saw them, they were waving proudly over the south lawn...and not over the top of my house. The weather has been crumby for climbing on roofs here in the south. I can only imagine what it is like farther north.
By the way, our oldest son just made an offer on a house today. I hope he gets it. He has already lost out on one house he wanted. I know it is very hard for first time buyers to lose out on a house they fall in love with.
Let me tell you about the first house I fell in love with....It was a doll house, maybe 900 sq ft....but in the best part of town. A winding street with older houses, and a long lot with flowers.
Did I say it was totally impractical? We had two small boys, there were two tiny bedrooms upstairs....a windy stairs with windows stuck in randomly. This house even had windows inside the closet. I can't remember the bathroom....I think it had one. There were arts and crafts type colored tiles on the fireplace, and a big hole in the kitchen floor. You could see down to the dirt basement. The back yard was anchored by a huge fishpond of concrete. Great place for little boys to play! There were no storm windows or screens, because the windows actually folded up when they were pushed open....great for little boys to play in. My dear father looked at the kitchen-hole and put his foot down. I loved that house....we got a sturdy bungalow with a fenced in back yard instead. So much for falling in love with houses.
When we bought our second city house, we looked at houses for a year. I can't remember how many we looked inside....but we ran our realtor ragged. We had three children by that time, and required schools. We made two offers on houses we thought we wanted....but backed out when they made counters. I can't remember if they countered on the home we finally bought....but it was a bad scene.....The husband had transfered. The wife and her mother didn't want to sell....we couldn't go back to look at the house before closing. Closing was postponed several times....The house was a good fit for us tho, we lived there for 25 years.
We actually didn't think we would ever need to buy another house....but as the children grew, and the city grew, I felt a pull towards the country. My husband and my banker were both very good to me, and let me move.
Have you noticed that the house you live in has a totally different "feel" because it is your home?
If you are going to flip a need to keep those personal feelings out of your "flip-house". You are not improving that house for are improving it for the next buyer.
Have you lived in a house that doesn't "fit" you? Maybe that's your present house....maybe one from your past. No matter what color you use on the walls....or what furniture grouping you make in the living just isn't "you". That's OK, houses can be changed.....lives change.
After living in the same city house for 25 years....this is the first time I have hired a tree trimmer. How neat. First, I could pay to have a real tree trimmer....and second, I don't have to worry about the trees falling....
Well, maybe. There is this ice storm, It is now sleeting on my metal ozark roof. I will lay awake and wonder if it is sleeting on my arkansas roof. Hope won't take much to take down the porches. W0nder how long it will take to get the roofer out and up on the roof there? hope everything is OK there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm back!

I am sorry about that, but getting trades people to come and give an estimate is an important part of flipping.
By the way, I spent a little time measuring my victorian yesterday. The more time I have to walk around the place....the more it grows on me. My new tree-trimmer said something about being glad someone was going to fix the house up....because it was a "piece of history". I brought him through the house to admire the falling plaster...and lovely high ceilings. I think he was more impressed with our 150 year old "pin oak" in the front yard.
I decided that the old pedestle sink in the only bathroom is actually nice. If I can only figure out how to close up the holes in the floor used to plumb the fixtures. Seems there is no under the house access to the bathroom....oh well....I like trap doors.
I know, I was trying to impart good information for you on buying as house to fix up.....And, believe me....there are plenty out there at cheap prices right now. If I had time...I would be snooping around Florida right now. Missouri, according to my years of watching the market down valued at about half price of that four years ago.....Some other areas may not be hit quite that hard....maybe 1/3 down. It sure makes it hard to resist looking at another house right now. But, my loyalties are to this lovely old neglected victorian.
My particular house has not had anyone living in it for a long time. The family that moved in before 1930 thinned down to an older man...who clipped coupons, and likely lived alone for10 or 20 years. I heard he saved foil food packages on the stairway. Maybe he wasn't a good cook. I wonder what he had to cook on? No evidence of a stove or refrigerator. Just an old cast iron sink with a wood shelf next to it. No cabinets either. Well, that leaves a lot to my imagination. I am really BAD at kitchen remodels. Ask my former city realtor. I lived in the city house for 25 years....and never remodeled. We had the old cast iron sink there too. But, it was a bigger had a built-in drainboard, and that drainboard was right over a radiator. Instant dish drying and towel drying.....I LIKED my old sink. Even tho it was a second with a circular saw mark across the bottom of the bowl. I haven't cleaned the victorian's kitchen sink out to see how it looks. It has two cast iron legs.....when I walk in the kitchen, I think maybe everything will fit for a modern kitchen....when I come home, I look at the measurements and mentally tear out the wall. Wonder what I will do?
Are you good at kitchen triangles? I can't even remember how many feet are supposed to be left inbetween the sink, stove, and frig. Unfortunately....I don't even like stainless steel. Argh!
Wish there was a kitchen already there....and I could just "save" it.
Peps, going back to my drawing board.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is it possible to flip a victorian?

So far, my answer is no.
I didn't intend to adopt a victorian. Ask me.....never LIKE the house you are planning to flip. Always look at a possible flipper through your next buyer's eyes. Never, never want to live in your flipper! We looked at a dozen possible houses the day I walked into the victorian-in-trouble. Flippers come in all sorts of packages. Some look perfectly normal from the front....until you walk into the room that has the trampoline floor. You know, the ones that bounce down...but not back up. Some flippers had "handy-men" owners.....the ones who start a project but never finish it. One cute bungalow had some sort of two story structure between the house and the garage. Since it never had a was hard to understand what it was supposed to become. Without the was fast on it's way to becoming a back-yard pool.
I like one story houses. They are easier to paint. I like to paint. My husband likes the demo part. I like the finishing part. We don't do the electrical part. Don't ask me how an electrician puts wires into an old plaster wall....I expect to find out. Our new victorian has no electric.....I took one look at the box on the outside of the back wall, and had the wires disconnected. Many old old houses had "post and wire" electrical. This is kind of the edison look. White ceramic posts connected by frayed wires. It's OK, our victorian doesn't have water either. Those things come after fixing the roof.
Never buy a flipper house that needs roofing, wiring, plumbing and heating systems. These things are money-pits. And, new owners can't appreciate the money you poured into these things. What you really want to buy is an ugly house. You know....brown paneled walls, blue drapes, wrinkled red carpet with big burned spots. Maybe a nice moldy bath-tub, thrown in for fun. I had one of those. At least after you turn that kind of house into a have a sense of satisfaction. I am not sure how much satisfaction I will gain from having someone else fix my roof....but it is necessary.
So my premise is that a victorian is not a good flipper. They are usually two stories. Their plumbing, electrical, and heating parts are old. They may be too big to finance the repairs. People are looking for "smaller" new houses these days. But.....victorians CAN grab you. Your breath catches as you look up at the high ceiling, and wavy window glass. Visions of ruffled dresses sweeping the floors, and white aproned maids bringing iced tea on glass trays. Wicker rockers creak on the veranda. Victorians seem to be peopled with memories of former owners.
I admit it. I walked into this victorian and was hooked. It didn't matter that many of the high ceilings had plaster on the floor. I didn't really see the broken windows....I saw them washed with flowing drapes. Who cared if there were spots in the floor where folks had fallen in? I walked carefully around the edge.
To be to meet the tree trimmer.