Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

June 28, 2013

What I've Been Doing ...

Not in the least RV, travel, or van related ...

I have a house with a little acreage that I want to sell. I've lived here for 20 years and always had planned on doing some remodeling. Strip wallpaper and paint. Fix some stupid things the builder did like delete a small coat closet straight in front of the front door and put a spacious one in the hallway at the sacrifice of a bit of space in the unused front room. Remodel the kitchen. Put in hardwood flooring. De-decorate what the previous owners did.

While working in my demanding career that required a lot of travel, I did achieve a lot of stuff. I heavily indulged in my gardening fantasies as I really enjoy being outside whenever the weather isn't awful. I got the closet moved and flooring in the dining room years ago. Made a start on the de-decorating. I rearranged the kitchen in a half move to put a new stove against the wall so it could have an outside vent and test the layout I had in mind. But always, my limited time kept me not quite finishing up and not quite completing what I thought would never take so long to do.

My desire now is to get the house in good condition  and attractive so prospective buyers will walk in and their immediate impression is, "how cute." House sell for most people in the 1st 5 minutes. And I have to fix anything that isn't right anyway before I could close on it.

After spending a good part of my time since retiring getting my van set up the way it works for me and fixing problems I've had with it, this year, I am determined to work steadily at the house and get it done so I can get this anchor off my foot. To that end, I just finished up putting in a new front door and fixed up and replaced the frame on my old walk-in garage door and had a new patio door put in last fall. Now, just the kitchen-garage door needs to be replaced and this house is much more weather tight than it ever has been. Over the winter, I put up crown molding in the master bedroom and front room along with chair rail in the front room and painted it. My house is a colonial style that always had an unfinished feel to it since the hall way had crown and chair rail and most of the other 1st floor rooms had it. Now it matches! Last year, I got the 13 doors and upstairs and down stairs halls painted in a job I thought would never end. So much surface area! I also rebuilt my stairs so I can put down the new flooring I had planned for them and make them much sturdier.

Last fall, tried and failed to fix rot at the bottom of all the outside door frames but the more I worked at it, the worse it got as I uncovered rust and more rot. So I ended up replacing the patio door and fixing a 6"x12" rotted piece of subfloor. (yikes!) I paid to have that installed because it is just too heavy for me to manage. The new door lets in more light but is much more comfortable because it has the low-e glass. That and it is sealed against the weather, unlike the old door. Winter set in before I gave up on the front door.

This spring, I was faced with the same problem - the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got so I gave up and bought a new and much prettier door.  The old door was set in line with the brick facade which is rather weird. When I removed it to put in the new door, I discovered why. The builder had a series of cascading mistakes - they didn't set the header for the door opening quite high enough and then the brick layer set the bottom brick a bit higher than the subfloor, leaving about a quarter inch too little height to set it where it belongs - in line with the house framing. The old door was never fully tight and had managed to come loose to move at the top a half inch. I never could find any nails or screws holding it in place so I think they just glued it in and the glue failed. So with the opening wide open, I got my grinder to flatten the bricks even with the subfloor and surgically removed a bit of the header to have just enough room for the new door frame.  Good thing the house frame is still plumb. I put flashing under the whole door and a threshold extension to cover up the brick. It was a long hard slog of a day but I got the new door in place in one day. It took me another day to get it solidly fastened together and to the wall framing, all plumb.

Then I worked on the trim. I had to devise a jamb extension to bring the door frame out to the brick. Many doors just go to the brick but mine had a column/pediment facing and they never intended to have the brick opening exposed so it was a little rough. I had bought Fypon no-rot replacements for the rotted facing last fall. I used plastic exterior trim boards to line the door frame out to the brick edge so the columns could meet up with it. Lots of painting and caulking. On rainy days, I got the inside trim and painting done to match what I had put up on the front room opening.

In the end, it is a big improvement both inside and outside with a door that lets in a lot of nice light but with the low-e glass so it doesn't get too hot. And, there are no more bug collections on the floor now that it is weather-tight and solid. There were always a bunch of carpenter bees buzzing around the front door as they had set up housekeeping in the old trim boards. It took them a little while, but they have now found other quarters someplace else!

Next up is the powder room, then the flooring can go down in the front of the house. The new flooring will go into the powder room too so it makes sense to fix up the walls in there. I already painted the ceiling and put up crown molding in there. Decided to just keep the wall paper and put patches on it in a couple of places. But that probably won't get done until August because I have to make a run out to Colorado in July.


  1. I've painted doors before. They really never seem to end.

    1. Hi Kate, boy isn't that the truth!

  2. Your house is beautiful! What an undertaking you've given yourself ... I am waiting for the kids to move on so I can begin tearing this house apart!

    I don't have your skills or patience... sure wish I did because I don't have the money to do all I want. BUT the first thing is getting the electricity checked out and outlets put where I want them... including two outside.

    THEN central heat and air... THEN the walls and I'm telling you when I can put in new flooring? you will hear my doing a jig all the way to your house... haha

    I would love to pull this carpet right now. It's old but it's a very good one. The padding underneath is very good. It's just ... carpet. I hate carpet and I don't like beige!

    I want to put the laminate in ... Allure or Prego? whatever that is. This neighborhood was built during the war and after ... asbestos glue stuff was used on the tiles. So... I have to have floating planks.... seems relatively easy to put down but then ... you could but me? oh, baruther.

    plus the heat! and I like your route to Colorado... shouldn't be too hot... certainly not as hot coming the southern route... HOT

    I hope you keep posting updates ... I'm very interested in what you're doing because it will give me ideas and such... love light airy stuff

    1. Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for the compliments. Yep, light and airy is what I am after. Makes the house feel bigger. All this stuff is easy if you take it one step at a time and are careful with the measurements and know how to hide your mistakes (ha ha). There is just a lot of work to do to get each job done. I hate carpet too and I hate beige. Carpet can never get clean. My carpet is not only old, it was never any good. But the floor is the last thing to go down. Ceiling, then walls, then the floor, because you know - gravity.


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