Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy 142nd Birthday!

Addison says: any excuse for an ice cream cake is a good one!

So today is the house's 142nd birthday. You may think it is odd that know the date, but we actually found it inscribed on the sill of the original portion of the house.

We made our discovery after we pulled out the old, narrow set of stairs and the old clapboard siding along the now interior stair wall. From what we can tell, that wall was the original exterior wall of a much smaller version of our house.

Addison's eagle eye noticed faint lettering, and after much deciphering we were able to read: May the 27th 1867 L.W. Needham. A quick Google search identified Lyman Needham as a local carpenter in our Village during the mid-1800s (how cool is it that we could Google that!). We did tax roll research to determine who Needham built the house for - John Denu Sr., a German immigrant that arrived in Wisconsin in 1866, shortly before he bought our lot.

Knowing that the house has been standing for 142 years has caused us to think about all the lives that have passed through these walls before us. How many babies were born here and how many families called this their home?

It's just a vernacular old house, but it's ours. And we plan to leave it better than we found it. Maybe a future family will celebrate the 200th birthday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Addition Part 2

We invited everyone we knew, and a lot of people came hundreds of miles to help us build an addition. We were very optimistic and thought it would after a long weekend with a lot of hands, we'd end up with a working, interior, stairway. Taking it down was the easy part. We encountered rain, which started as soon as the floor of the old addition was pulled, causing standing water in the basement and a work stoppage (good thing we drylocked). We also found that the concrete block foundation was not level and required several hours of sawing to fix. We also found that no one at the super home center knew what a potato shovel is. We planned to use it to strip the old roof. One guy asked if my husband made it up to keep me out of the house.

We chose to balloon frame with 22-foot 2x6s for the wall frame with a cathedral ceiling. The interior would house stairs going up and down. We figured we'd worry about windows, siding, and all the other details later. We did have to pick out the roof shingle color at the time and looking ahead to the future painting of the entire house, went with a lovely Estate Gray architectural shingle. Although this was our first roofing project (of our own), we bought enough shingles to do the entire house (nothing like planning ahead).

Once we got started late in the afternoon, the wall framing went up quickly and we were done by nightfall. Next we tackled the roof. We had to tear off the old layers of individual lock-down asphalt shingles and wood shake and the original decking on the side of the house where the addition was. Then we had to attach new decking, tie in the roofline of the addition, attach tar paper, and shingle. We were fortunate to have an adjacent one-story roof that provided a staging area. After the roof was on, we attached the exterior sheeting and wrapped it with house wrap. Then everyone decided it was time to go home.

It was a very long and tiring weekend and we got a lot done. We appreciate everyone's time and contribution and would never be where we are now without them. We continued to work on the interior stairs for a long time, and will include more details later.

(Turn your head sideways for this one)

Lessons learned: There is such a thing as a potato shovel, patience is a virtue, drinking cream-based alcohol beverages (i.e. Hot Sex) all day is never a good idea, if the foundation isn't quite level just shoot a level line at the top, 12 people in a single house with one bathroom is very cozy.

Items found: A lot of plastic shopping bags stuck into nooks and crannies, the Arnolds like to use tar to patch everything, the original storyboard for the clapboards, and years worth of dust and grime.

Thank you: Tom, Kathie, Trina, Isaac, Loren, Amanda, Derek, Adam, Eric, Nicole, Crystal, and Eddie.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Real Master Bedroom

Today was the day, we just couldn't wait any longer. We moved into the new master bedroom, formerly the "guitar room." There are still finishing touches, like the trim, crown moulding, touch-up paint, closet doors (who'd think that they'd be special order??), and real bedroom furniture (hello Ikea!). Even Frank's bed has made it's way upstairs. He's still not sure what to think, but it won't be long before he realizes that he's at eye level with the squirrels outside.

Since we've been so focused on moving into the new room, we've neglected blogging on the BIG addition project, stay tuned...