Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring brings challenges

Now that the weather has improved, we're feeling the pressure to complete some of the ongoing work inside the house so we can concentrate on all the outdoor tasks we have. The second floor bathroom is moving slowly, but we're going to have to kick it into high-gear.

We picked up the windows that were kindly donated to us by Kate over at We weren't able to take all the frames, which wouldn't have been much use to us anyway, but we got many sashes with intact wavy glass (perfect for restoration of our windows), lots of window hardward and some window weights. It took four trips to pick up everything we wanted and one of the back school buildings looks like a salvage depot now, but we're happy to have them.

The pigeons that have been nesting in our front dormers have babies now. We had wanted to have them removed prior to the eggs hatching and we had a half-dozen local wildlife control companies come by to examine the situation. Some of them didn't have tall enough ladders to address the situation (40' needed), others refused to take on the job because we had "too many issues" to address, and some of them were just too expensive. Now that the baby birds have hatched, we're going to wait until they've fledged, use that time to do some repairs to other possible areas of animal infiltration (the 6-7 squirrel-chewed holes in our fascia boards), and then have one of the companies back to deal with the pigeons.

We've had some roofing quotes for our side porch and to repair the front dormers. The opinions on the front dormers from the roofers have been varied. Some of them say to just flash over the opening created by the valley that was put in place where the dormer eaves almost touch. This isn't our preferred solution. One company is bringing their carpenter back this week to look into changing the size of the eaves on the small dormer, allowing us to have a larger space between the two dormers. They also suggested removing all the metal ice apron around the area to be replaced with full ice/water shield and shingles. The quotes for the small standing seam roof have been high, some as high as $4000. This is for a standing seam steel roof with new flashing, ice/water shield, some new decking, and a drip edge. Seems high to me considering the roof is 2nd storey (not hard to access), only about 15' x 8' and doesn't have eavestroughs. We're waiting on some more quotes.

We had a chance to go into a neighbours house recently. The house has been in their family for around 70 years and has a lot of the original interior features intact. I suspect that the builder is the same as ours, as so many elements are the same. They have the same fireplace mantel as us in their parlor, the same coal inserts, the same electric fireplace as us, and much of their wood and tile work is the same. I took a few pictures on my phone for our own reference. I'm going to ask permission to take some better quality pictures for the blog when I have a chance. It's nice to see original features intact and in better condition that ours. It gives me hope for the restoration we're undertaking. The other great thing about a house being in the family that long is that we now have confirmation that Carleton College built the rear school rooms. There was some doubt as to whether they put them up or if a later owner who ran an electronics college out of them was responsible, but they confirmed that Carleton had asked permission of the family to build right on their property line. It was somewhat of a debate in the family as to whether to allow this, but they eventually agreed and the school buildings were erected. I hope to talk to them further to get more historical information.

We've also had quotes for upgrading our attic insulation. It looks like the cost will be around $1700 to bring it up to R-50 for the main attic and to properly insulate all the knee walls. The government rebate is around $1200 for the work given that we've had an energy audit, so the cost is justified. We expect to save probably 10-20% off our heating bill as we have the equivalent of R-0 up their right now.

A couple other items of note... We've cleaned out the rear second floor sunroom. It was filled with construction debris and we decided to reclaim the space given the nice weather. Cleaning it out involved removing an old broken cast iron radiator that weighed close to 500 lbs, unsticking the 12 in-swing casement windows, replacing some trim that was removed during the electrical rewire and much cleaning. I'll post some pictures of the sunroom shortly; I'm waiting for a sunny day. Also, we're in the process of relocating all of our computer servers to a newly designated server room in the basement. It's actually the old storeroom under the stairs where previous owners stored jams and other pantry items, but it has ready made shelving and a door to keep the dust out from any other work going on down there. This will eliminate all the computer noise and heat from our 3rd floor office.

Sorry for the long rambling post. This would have been better as several smaller posts, but it's becoming harder to find time to post with everything going on.

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