Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Papered House Project List: January - May Update

Back in January, I posted a list of projects we wanted to accomplish by the end of March. And now that it’s May (May!), I’m finally providing a long-overdue update on the progress we’ve made thus far. Summer is just around the corner, and we’re not yet finished with the things we wanted to complete by March. With each project, we're coming to the realization that everything takes much longer than expected. I suppose that delays are just a fact of life with renovation projects, particularly when working on an older home.  

Once I started to update this list, I realized that we actually have accomplished quite a bit. Obviously, we’re not nearly as far along as we wanted to be, but we’ve still made some good progress. Here’s where we stand as of today:

*Repair missing tiles on slate roof (hire professional): Done! There was a bona-fide hole in our roof when we bought this house. As soon as we moved in, we started searching for a contractor to repair our roof. It turns out that most roofers aren’t interested in working on slate roofs, so finding a contractor was more difficult than we had anticipated.  Every time it rained or snowed, I felt like crying. But we eventually found a roofer, and as of January, the hole is gone. This fact alone is worth celebrating.

*Repoint side chimney. Repair/install liner if needed (hire professional): In progress. The mason hasn't started repointing yet, but is evaluating the condition of the side chimney. He initially thought that it would just require repointing, but is now thinking that a full rebuild might be needed. He's going to examine it more this week and give us details. If a full rebuild is required, it will change the cost of this project considerably and we might need to go back to the city for another set of approvals. I'm hoping a full rebuild won't be necessary, but it might be. At this point, we’re not certain what work will be required on the liner, either.

*Rebuild rear chimney.  Repair/install liner if needed (hire professional): Also in progress, at this very moment. As I type this, the mason and his apprentice are chipping away at our rear chimney and preparing to rebuild it. We also have this awesome piece of construction equipment in our yard for the duration of the project:

*Install flashing on chimneys (hire professional). Outstanding; will happen once other chimney repairs are complete.  

One of our first realizations about exterior work is that it’s (of course!) highly dependent on the weather. We’ve had the permits and town approvals for the chimney repairs since late February. However, our mason wanted to wait for a stretch of warm, relatively dry days before starting repairs on our chimney. This is especially important since he’s using a lime-based mortar similar to what would have been used when our house was built in the 1880s. Apparently, this type of historic mortar takes much longer to cure than modern mortar, so one should avoid masonry work when there is the threat of inclement weather. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I thought we could have all this exterior work done by the end of March; my expectation wasn't realistic given that we were still getting considerable amounts of snow in late March.

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