Thursday, May 27, 2010

The GREAT Wall

It's been about 5 weeks since I left this project at the stage you saw in the last photos. Lots of progress has been made, and I think it's beautiful!

I can't for the life of me figure out how they got that huge piece of field stone, that is the street-level step, in place. My only guess is that, just as in the building of the Great Pyramids, aliens from outer space must come in at night to help out.

Whatever is the case, we're very anxious to see it. Back to Maine tomorrow to see how much further they've gotten....hopefully, it will be nearly complete. I'll let you know what we find!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

He Said, He Said

I know I left you all hanging on this project a couple of weeks ago, with the threat of a visit from a City Inspector looming overhead.

As should happen, we had a survey done on our property before beginning this work. (Any work of this nature that involves a property line should start this way.) We found a discrepancy between two older surveys over a corner pin placement on the street side, which would pull our property line away from the street at an odd angle.

Since the street in front of the house is actually a Maine state road, a state official came to the site and said we could consider the previous wall "grandfathered" and put the new wall back in it's place. Footers were poured according to this plan, and the mason started laying the foundation course for the wall.

Now, from stage left enters "The Villain"! A city code inspector came to the site and said that the wall could absolutely NOT be outside the property line, even by 4" at one corner. We couldn't quite convince him that we weren't encroaching on city property, since it's a state road, and it was one of those battles just not worth fighting.

So...from the center point of the wall, (which will be a walkway and steps ultimately), one side of the wall had to be angled slightly toward the house. Not a huge problem, and once all is complete you will never know. But the kind of situation that sends you back to the drawing board to find solutions, since one change often has consequences that drift down to other aspects of the design.
Back fill and a French drain go in as soon as the base wall is in to hold back the road and help channel the rain water. A final layer of loam went in on top of the crushed rock, for eventual planting on the street side.

This was the state of the project when I left, about five weeks ago. We've had a couple of pictures from the contractor in the mean time, but we are very anxious to see the finished (or nearly finished) project when we are there over Memorial weekend. More pictures to follow!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pictures Tell The Story

The bathroom renovation that started a couple of months ago is now complete! I think these pictures will speak for themselves, but if you need a refresher, page back through some previous posts for "before" and "during" photos.

Same layout, but otherwise a refreshing, new space! An appropriately vintage look, that actually feels timeless.

Kudos to the contractor, tile installer, and especially to the homeowners for their patience (and checkbook!). And maybe just a small pat on the back to the designer....(ouch!!...I think i just hurt myself.)

Bring on the Champagne and bubble-bath!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Obligation

Back when I was embroiled in my most recent retail venture, I purchased a wonderful antique fan on eBay. It was a chrome and Bakelite seat/table fan...really special! Unfortunately, the seller carelessly packed it in newspaper and shipped it in a cardboard box that was too small to protect it, and predictably, the fan arrived broken. I was not only frustrated because something I wanted was broken, but disgusted that because of someones cavalier actions, a wonderful piece that had survived intact for 50+ years was virtually destroyed!

This is a rather windy anecdote to tell you my attitude about purchasing--and in fact being the "caretaker"--of an older home. I believe that when you purchase an older home, whether it is "officially" historic or not, you take on the responsibility of caring for that home. This can be an expensive, and time-consuming venture. But most homes and structures that were built in the early 20th Century were built with the intention of lasting, and deserve to be maintained appropriately.

Another windy course back to my Maine project! You recall the good/bad surprise scenario? Well, now for the bad...or at least the not-so-good.

As you can probably tell from this photo, soil had been allowed to build up at the foundation of the house over the years, causing decay.

There are no termites in Maine (Oh, blessed state!), but generally speaking, soil sitting up against wood (particularly before there was pressure-treated wood) is not a good thing. You can even see exactly where the runoff from the non-guttered roof has splashed back and rotted the wood underneath the front door. So, now is the time to replace wood along the foundation, and clean up the exposed vinyl siding. (A future project will be to remove all the vinyl siding and reface the home with a lap/shingle combination...but, another day!)

Though this obviously adds $$ to the project cost, it actually makes me feel good to know that we're finding and repairing problems now, and problems that would only be worse down the road.

The next surprise on this project comes in the form of a visit from the city code enforcement! Now that's always fun!!