Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Like Fine Wine Old Houses Are Never Cheap or Easy

So, the next time you visit, please, please, please take notice of the chimneys. Perhaps even gasp while you point and exclaim, "My word, those are the most striking chimneys I have ever seen!" Because let me tell you, they ain't cheap.

You will recall in a previous post if you look closely you can see that the two chimneys on the south elevation were decidedly different. The one on the left retained it's original architectural detail. The one on the right, not so much.

At some point the previous owner fixed the leaking chimney. The architectural detail caused part of the leaking issue over time so the previous owner just eliminated the detail altogether. Allow me to present Exhibit A: Sucky Previous Owner's Chimney Top.

At this point, both chimneys are bad. Like seriously needing to be completely rebuilt. Like when the guys got up there things started just falling down around them bad. I mean we knew there were issues, a raccoon had gained entrance to the house via the chimney just before we moved in. The same chimney that leads directly to my bedroom I might add. Anyway, we knew they had issues, we just  didn't realize they needed to be completely taken down and rebuilt. So, there goes the budget on this project.

I am happy to report though that we not only rebuilt the front chimney, but we came up with a slight modification the the top so it will not collect water yet still retain some of the architectural detail.

The second chimney is getting the same treatment. In fact, all three chimneys will be rebuilt and all look the same. If you look closely at the photo below you can see through the scaffold that the top of the chimney is no longer flat, all of the spalling has been repaired as well. Which was no easy task. These are old bricks that are not the same size as modern brick. The guys are having to cut each and every brick to size. It has been a long dusty journey and we haven't even gotten to the pointing yet, or replacing the window sills, or fixing the porch entry.

The very first day of the project the electrical equipment blew the fuse on the front porch. Then we realized it also blew all the lights in the front of the house as well. Nothing would fix it, something was seriously amiss. The previous owner was a bit of a do-it-yourselfer with both electricity and plumbing. A professional electrician came today and two-and-a-half hours later we had a whole new laundry list of issues we need to work on. We started today with a new outdoor outlet to keep work progressing.

Replacing a few outdoor fixtures that have seen better days and no longer work will be the next thing.

In the mean time, we found out we are finalists for the preservation grant. I sure hope we get it, but even it won't cover the extra chimney costs. But they are lovely, lovely chimneys. Right? Totally worth it.

Maybe I'll make a sign to leave at the entry asking people to take notice of the chimneys. Yeah, a big sign. Maybe a bronze plaque even.

At least I will sleep better knowing I won't be snuggling up to a raccoon.


Elaine said...

Christine, I'll just bet your dear house is humming to herself (when you can't hear her) about the care you are taking to restore her. That's really a lot of tuck pointing that needs to be done too. What is that little entrance that looks like it goes underground under your big windows--storm cellar, root cellar, racoon condo? Do you have bad storms over there?

Gone Country said...

I believe I actually saw the house smiling in one of the photos, lol!

The chimneys look fabulous!

Susie said...

Wow! Just saw yr blog and now look forward to more renovation or restoration posts. All the best.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Good luck on the grant, maybe you should go to "This Old House" it would give them lots of topics for their show. Hopefully you won't keep finding setbacks as you go. Good luck, good to have you back blogging again.

Christine said...

Elaine, that is the basement. Probably a root cellar when the house was first built but now a full basement. Most old houses here had an exterior entrance. Think The Wizard of Oz.

Tyche's Minder said...

Gasp! Would you look at those chimneys! Take a gander at that architectural detail. Ssssaaaaweeeeeeet. Wish I had a chimney like that.

:) Good enough?

Mad Red Hare said...

Why, YES, those are gorgeous chimneys! In fact, they are the most beautiful chimneys I have ever seen! Seriously, they are going to be fabulous.