This Old House

Ok! I’m back to bring you the first installment in a new series I’m calling: “Holy S**t There’s A Lot To Do!”

On this week’s episode I will give you an overview of the projects and work needed on the PB House. This list is, in part, derived from my initial walkthrough of the house from back before we committed to moving in and it’s broken up into a room-by-room analysis of the work that needs to be done. This walkthrough resulted in 6 pages of bullet points that I will supplement with pictures and some extra details. For me, this the meat of a project like this. I LOVE diving in and analyzing and getting a game plan, and I can talk about plans and schemes all day! If you don’t enjoy woodworkers talking about woodworking, or DIY-ers talking about the challenge they ran into and the clever solution they came up with, then you likely won’t find much joy in this episode. But if you, like me, are fascinated by just how dirty, screwy, complicated, bizarre, out of square, cracked, peeling, sticky, bumpy and funky a 300+ year old house can be, then strap in and enjoy!

The Kitchen

The first stop on our tour is the kitchen. Out of 3 possible doors into our section of this old house, ostensibly the “Main Door” leads into the kitchen. This portion of the house is actually the newest, though it’s not known when exactly it was added. It is well known that the original house did not include this room, nor the adjacent dining room, but the oldest existing picture of the house, dating back to 1866, does include it. So we know it’s at least that old. Any other information on this addition seems absent from the public record and so it’s up to us to speculate on when it could have been added. My only input in this regard is that it must have been built in a time when people measured closer to 4ft tall than 6ft, because the “front door” comes in at a whopping 5′ 4″. The kitchen measures only about 10′ wide, but stretches nearly 30′ long giving ample room as long as you don’t mind cooking side by side.

Here’s the panoramic view
Long and thin. Just like me

In the kitchen, here’s a quick list of some of the work that needs doing:

  • Wash the walls
  • Repair cracks in plaster
  • Repair water damage in plaster
  • Seal peeling paint on ceiling and walls
  • Repaint all the walls, trim, baseboard, ceiling and cabinets
  • Fix the hole in the wall
  • Fills gasp around the doors
  • Get the windows to open and close
  • Realign window clasps
  • Repaint cabinets
  • Remove cabinet doors
  • Clean cabinets
  • Replace and reattach pulls
Cleaned right through the laminate

Gotta love that repair. Why not tape a piece of plastic of a hole in the plaster?
Has the house finished settling yet?
A topographical wall map!
This probably has nothing to do with the pipes
This looks good…
Cookies anyone?
  • Clean under toe kicks
  • Replace countertops
  • Replace stove
  • Replace sink plumbing
  • Affix floor vent to the floor
  • Glue down vinyl floor
  • Fix vent fan
  • Repair broken glass panes
  • Clean up rusty fridge
  • SO MUCH CLEANING!

That should keep us busy for a little while.

The Dining Room

Cute right? The wallpaper has cats on it

This room is lined with pegs. They look like they are meant to hang coats on, which would make sense because this room has yet another exterior door in it. But it’s been speculated that they were actually for hanging up the chairs after dinner to make the room usable for other things. Keep in mind this was most likely where servants and staff would have eaten.

Technically a dining room, this little space with a cute wallpaper boarder will likely be an office or workspace for us. Or possibly something called a breakfast nook 🤷

This room was built at the same time as the kitchen and so is in better foundational shape than the earlier era rooms. The checklist here is fairly short:

  • Clean and wash walls and windows
  • Wrangle that cable
  • Scrape peeling ceiling paint
  • Prime and paint walls and ceiling
Cool door bro…
  • Repair plaster cracks
  • Paint floor? (Maybe?)
  • Repair broken window pane
  • Deal with whatever that door mess is

Living Room

Once the house’s kitchen, this monstrous room is now a sizable living area. Complete with two whole windows at one end and a fireplace at the other, this 10,000ft long room features a ceiling that towers above at a cavernous 7ft tall. It’s not like a cave at all. This room is probably the one that needs to most love. While not having a particularly long list, every project in this room is amplified due to its size. It also includes one of the worst areas of the house: “The Wall.” OooHoOOOoHhOhoo…

This is “The Wall.”
The wind and water has wreaked havoc and taken a toll from these old timbers…
It is literally falling apart…
If you think it looks bad now…wait until we start trying to make it look better!

I had Megan spray that window with the hose to see if it was leaking. What we discovered was that at least 2 sides of every pane in that window (20 panes) were basically made of cheese cloth. The water, even when directed from above, water absolutely RAINED down the inside of the glass. So that answered the question of why that wall was rotting away.

Now we just have to get it to stop…

Not creepy at all…
That insulation is probably helping a lot, considering water runs freely through the joints

So here’s the list for the living room, starting with “The Wall.”

  • Remove all the panes on both windows (40 panes)
  • Re-glaze the windows
  • Replace all 10 broken window panes (with era appropriate glass)
  • Clean off the foam “insulation” from between the sashes
  • Scrape clean the widow frames
  • Get rid of those curtains
  • Peel the desiccating paint
  • Infuse rotting wood with epoxy
  • Fill, sand, and smooth
  • Paint with Lead Blocker Latex Paint (oh yeah, did I mention there’s exposed peeling leaded paint in this room?)
  • Prime and paint walls
  • Repair plaster on ceiling
  • Scrape ceiling and beams **SO MUCH LOOSE PAINT**
  • Prime and Paint Ceiling

I’ll pause the list here to bring a moment’s attention to another feature of this room. The Floor

The floor is actually one of the most amazing true features of this house. Unironically, its beautiful and made from old growth boards, not one of which is narrower than my spread fingers. The unfortunate reality is that these 300+ year old boards are not in the shape to show off their beauty. Years of familiar patterns have worn through the utilitarian finishing, leaving the wood worn, dirty, and disheveled. The fireplace brick flooring has also suffered from age and use. One area is sinking and much of the dust in the room comes from the pulverized brick. It’s a lot of square footage, but it’s some of the work I’m most excited about.

  • Nail down loose floorboards
  • Set nails
  • Sand wooden floor
  • Refinish floor
  • Reset brick in the fireplace
  • Clean brick floor
  • Seal brick

We’ve got some fun and new projects in the Living Room. I’m really excited to get into these projects and see what’s waiting under the paint and stain and finish.

The Washroom

Hey this place has a washroom! Washer and dryer not included.
It’s small, musty and actually super useful! It’s got a work sink, washer and dryer hookups and storage. In a house like this, having a place to store tools, paints, materials, extra window panes, etc., is going to be helpful. The space is a workroom so it doesn’t need to have the same level of attention (or time pressure) as the rest of the house. Despite that, there’s still plenty to do.

  • Clean junk out of cabinets
  • Wash walls, floor and countertops
  • Refit cabinet doors
  • Fix plaster cracks
  • Fix broken window pane
  • Clean work sink
  • Repaint walls and cabinetry
  • Fix window counterweights

This post is already too long so I’m going to call it here. We’re basically done with the “Downstairs” list (keep in mind there are 3 floors to this house), so we’ll pick up with upstairs next time. We’ll also have some posts coming up soon with the progress we’ve started making!

Thanks for reading this episode of “Holy S**t There’s A Lot To Do!”

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