Monday, July 21, 2014

The Garage Gets New Windows

We replaced the windows on the garage. There. The preservationist said it. We replaced windows. This is certainly something we don't advocate if you've got old wood windows, because they'll last far longer than most replacements you can buy. We've been rebuilding all of the old wood windows on our 1913 house, adding storm windows, and insulating and caulking around them to make them just as energy efficient as replacement windows.

The garage, however, had 1960s single-paned aluminum windows and one huge single-paned 4-panel picture window. The glass was broken on a few of the windows and most of them wouldn't open anymore. Most of the glass was frosted, which is great for the doctor's office it was, but not so good if you want to know who is in the yard. We decided to replace.

The replacement windows are actually a good example of why we don't advocate replacing windows. We chose sliding windows rather than the double hung windows that were there, mostly for cost because the existing openings were quite wide. That means that the windows went from being a horizontal element to a vertical element. Vinyl windows also have much larger trim pieces than most old windows do, making the openings appear smaller. The new windows completely change the look of the building. Maybe okay for the garage, but not okay for a historic building. It's a garage though. So it's okay. Or so I keep telling myself.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Wall Comes Down!

You may have noticed that we lovingly refer to our latest project as "the garage", but it has no garage doors? Well, we have remedied that situation. One empty-ish wall with just a single pedestrian door in one of the gable ends now sports 2 garage doors!

This was a well-planned project. We cut out the outline for the doors with a concrete saw so we have didn't have to worry about bricks coming out that we didn't want to come out. And knowing that it would take a bit to install the garage doors and that we had some tools inside that we didn't want to move or risk having stolen while the wall was open, we installed the garage doors on the inside of the wall before we knocked it down. As soon as the walls came down, so could the garage doors - voila! Instant security!

Want to see how we got from the first photo to the second? Check out the video!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Remember the Garage?

Remember the building we bought to turn into a garage? And the never-ending roofing project of last summer? Well, we've finally gotten back to it. And made quite a bit of progress!

The building was a doctor's office, so it had a waiting area, 2 bathrooms, a utility room, and a number of examining rooms. This view is from the waiting area.

We tore down walls, walls, and more walls to clear out the area that will become the garage and workshop.

And ended up with a nice empty space. This is only one section of the building. It is really an L-shaped open space. Trusses provide the structure for the building so we were able to remove all of the interior walls without worry that it would fall down!

We rented a floor scraper to remove the tile floor from the concrete. Not asbestos. We had to have it tested so we could throw it in the dumpster.

We've started to put things back now. We've added the framing for the walls between the garage and studio and storage room. We've replaced the electrical panel and meter box and gotten an electrical rough-in inspection so we could have the electricity turned on. The HVAC was installed last week. Next up is installing the garage doors and framing and plumbing inspections!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Time for Work on Our Own House

Once we got that mid-century rancher on the market, we had some time to work on our own house. Remember that 1913 American Four Square that lends its name to this blog? Well, we've owned it for almost 11 years now, and it's still not done. And once in a while, we have the free time to work on it. Since we had such a cold and snowy winter and our other projects are unheated, our house won. 

The master bedroom was nearly done, but had been awaiting a ceiling, reworking one of the windows, and the stripping and reinstallation of the doors and trim for some time. We moved everything out of the room and polyurethaned the floor one more time for good measure too. 

The result feels posh, cozy, and hotel-like. What you don't see is all the work that went into that one room over the years. The roof leaked at the chimney and the dormer when we first moved in so we couldn't use the room until we got that fixed. The water damaged the ceiling and walls so we gutted the room to insulate the walls and put furring on the ceiling to allow us to cover it with a layer of sheetrock (which was the view from the bed for a number of years). We replaced all of the electrical wires in the house so we were able to put outlets and ceiling lights were we needed them. In a house without air conditioning, a ceiling fan is crucial! The wood windows have been reglazed, the weight pockets insulated, and the ropes reinstalled. The floor was sanded and refinished....Phew! Done! Now it's warm outside, so on to the garage!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Quick Flip: A Mid-Century Rancher

In the embarrassingly long time since the last post (has it really been 9 months?!), a lot has happened. Progress has been made on the garage, though it's not done yet. Progress has been made on our house, though it's not done yet either. But those are stories for another day. 

We spent much of the time between the last post and mid-January making an 8 hour round trip drive on the weekends to prepare my mother-in-law's house for sale. Some of that time was spent packing up the house, but the rest was spent prettying it up and fixing anything we thought the home inspector might pick up when we tried to sell it.

The house is a brick and frame mid-century rancher (historic now!) so it needed some updating. Fortunately, much of that had been done over the years. We had already upgraded the bathrooms and she had had the maple floors refinished and the outside repainted in recent years. We wanted people to see the unusual features like the sunken living room with the diagonal wide pine paneling and 2-sided fireplace and the high bedroom windows as positive elements and not as liabilities.  

We did that by modernizing as many other features as we could while still keeping the mid-century charm. We replaced the front door with more modern model, replaced the attic stairs with a less rickety model, adjusted doors that didn't close properly, repainted all of the rooms with fresher colors, upgraded the electrical panel, and many other smaller tasks.

We did a larger makeover of the kitchen. While we didn't want to spend too much money in case someone came in and redid it completely, we wanted to make it look as modern and inviting as we could while keeping the pine cabinets. We shortened the peninsula and curved it to make more seating at the breakfast bar. We added a glass tile back splash, replaced the vinyl floor, and flipped the electrical panel to a opposite side of the wall.

Our hard work paid off, because despite putting it on the market in January during the snowiest winter that part of Virginia has had in a while, the house has sold. And we're back home working on our own projects. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It. Is. Done. (The Roof That Is)

We actually finished the roof over a week ago, I just haven't gotten to updating the blog. My husband asked what I wanted for my birthday? I said, "to finish this stupid roof." Stupid roof finished. In a drizzly rain. On my birthday. But, it is done. Woo hoo!

Before we can get rid of the dumpster, we need to complete the interior demolition. Since this building had been a doctor's office, it is cut up into a bunch of little examining rooms off of the main hallway. This photo may not look like much, but it represents the brute labor of removing 2 of the walls to turn 3 rooms into 1. There's more sheetrock pulling and 2x4 smashing to come before all the walls are down, but it's looking more like a garage already!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Weather is Wonderful!

The weather is wonderful! Or so says the fortune cookie we got recently. Maybe in China! We started work on the garage roof almost 2 months ago. As we may have mentioned, it keeps raining. And raining. In case you don't believe us, here are some hard facts from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg for June 1st through today. At least 27 of the last 42 days have had measurable rain. Measurable to the tune of 13.26 inches! And that doesn't include the rain we fought in May. We just have the ridge and chimney flashing to finish, but guess what, it's raining again!