Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Third Floor Deck?

We have a pretty long list of 'must haves' for this house renovation.  And one of them is a third floor deck that we could tuck into the back of the house.  That way it's hidden from the front of the house and it provides lots of privacy.  We had one on another house and it was the perfect perch to get away from it all - to watch the sunrise or have a glass of wine at the end of the day.  We really wanted to have one again. 

Sunrise view from 3rd floor deck at our old house
3rd floor deck - tucked into roofline 

But it's tricky.  To build a deck when you're designing new construction, isn't a big deal.  But to add it on a 100+ year old structure is a lot different.  As we started to look at the feasibility of adding one, we started to realize it would be 1) very expensive and 2) very complicated without adding some unsightly support beams in the rooms below.

We also had some drone photos done at the 3rd floor level and were a bit surprised to see that the view from that elevation wasn't substantially different than the view on the lower levels.  There are some big trees in the neighborhood that we can't see over.  And sure, the view will be better in the winter with no leaves on the trees, but it would be pretty chilly to sit out there in the winter!

We could remove the large tree in the photo below to slightly enhance the view, but it's special to the previous owners and we like how it defines the edge of the yard.  

So guess what, our 'must have' list just got a bit shorter!  We plan a first floor deck off of the living room and that will be enough!  For once, we have selected a money saving option!!! 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Ceiling Conundrum

There is so much we love about this house, but one big problem for us is the ceiling height.  We're not super tall people, but a 7 foot 2 inch ceiling is pretty low for most anyone.  I shouldn't be able to touch it with my knuckles! 

We knew this when we bought the house, but we thought maybe we could raise the ceilings.  Many times in old houses, the ceilings have been lowered.  Sometimes it's to hide old, cracking plaster.  Sometimes it's to keep the heat in, so the heat doesn't rise and sit up in a tall ceiling.  We were hoping something like that had happened in our house.  So we started some investigation and opened up a couple of little spots.

And we got some good news - in the kitchen.  The kitchen has 2 layers of ceiling, which gained us about 7 inches of ceiling height.  Not a lot (still not an 8 foot ceiling), but it's an improvement.

In the living room and dining room, we weren't so lucky.  There wasn't any room to be gained.  But we did make an important discovery.  Originally, these ceilings were left exposed!  The joists are all finished and the actual ceiling is fir bead board.  And it's pretty gorgeous! (there are a few nails from the flooring above, but still - it looks nice!)

The underside of the flooring above has bead board it must have been exposed originally!

So the big question is should we expose the ceiling?  Pros: it gives the illusion of a taller ceiling and historically is must have originally been this way.  Cons:  it might not all look as good as the little section that we opened and it doesn't have as much sound isolation between the two floors as a typical finished ceiling.

And to tear the existing ceiling out is a bit of a gamble.  Will all of the ceiling look this nice?  Will we get a nasty surprise?  The existing coffered ceiling looks nice and would be expensive to recreate. 

Honestly, we keep vacillating back and forth.  Stay tuned, eventually we have to make a decision!  What are your thoughts? 

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

What Kind of Poop Is That?

What kind of poop is this?  This photo was from the inspection report and it doesn't ID the poop.   It's big (hence the comparison with the VCR tape) and once we looked up in the top of the garage we found a LOT of it!!!  We're still trying to get up the gumption to get it bagged up for the trash - I bought us the kind of Tyvek suit with hoods built in, which I will probably burn when we're done 😂. It won't be a fun job!

And just for background, we've had lots of animal issues in other houses.  Here's the typical Q&A that I get:

Q- Is it normal to have that many animal traps?

A - Probably not!

Q - Have you used them all? 

A - Oh yes indeed! 

Q - Why do you have so many? 

A - Old houses typically come with some kind of critters!!

Q - What have you caught? 

A - Squirrels (lots), chipmunks, neighborhood cats (who are not amused, but seriously, who would have thought they liked peanut butter?), and one skunk. 

Q - What animals do you think come with this house? 

A - We have seen squirrels dart in behind the gutters, chipmunks running through the garage/sunroom, the neighbors told us they've seen a fox that goes in and out of the garage and the previous owners had to have raccoons removed. Oh and it’s time time of year for mice to find homes indoors! 

Oh yeah, it's critter time in this house!!  As we've started investigating, we're finding all kinds of interesting things.

First - meet Mr. Possum.  He's been here a really long time, in a crawl space under the back porch and is essentially just fur and teeth. (and seriously creepy) 

Next - we've watched a squirrel darting in and out of this hole.  When we start doing full demo, we will probably discover where he's living! 

Is that all?  Nope!!  We opened up the dining room ceiling so the structural engineer could see the full impact of the problems to the building.  And then we discovered some critter had been snacking, a lot, on this wood! See all the light areas?  That's where they chewed away all this old wood!

Is that all?  We're not sure yet.  Old houses always have animal infestations, but hopefully we have found them all at this point!!  

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