House Love – Getting to the Heart of My Exterior Reno

It’s official.  The honeymoon phase of our relationship is over.  Sooo over!  I’m talking about my 49 year-old modernist house, of course.  (Because every minute with my husband of 18 years has been sublime, and exponentially honeymoony.  Ha!)

It’s nothing I didn’t see coming.  I knew this house needed a lot of work, and eventually the renovation would go from fun and games to a bit of a drag.  But as the saying goes “No pain, no gain”, I am hoping the “gain” manifests itself soon, or I may LOSE MY MARBLES!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my house.

Our relationship is much too strong to throw in the proverbial towel.  I have seen it at its worst, looked beyond its rotting wood and peeling paint, and fell head-over-heels.  And , inside, it cleaned up really well.  So smitten with its new handsome maple floors and open-plan layout!  Who says they’ll never change?

Outside, the transformation has been slow, and things seem to be going in the wrong direction. What was supposed to take the month of June, start to finish, is now in its 3rd month, with no end in sight.  Why?  This bad-boy of a house has some serious problems, more than first understood.   Hint: That’s where this post is coming from.

And because no one likes a Negative Nelly, I want to assure you I have tons to be grateful for in terms of the house reno:  (45 minutes later…)  Well, I guess “tons” is a bit of a stretch, but I can say that I know in my heart that we will get the results we set out to achieve.  It just might take a lot more time than expected (and our first-born’s projected college tuition – Sorry Kiddo!).

Enough chattering….Here’s the photo scoop from the past couple of weeks:

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Guys hard at work installing the soffit material.

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You can see the soffit all closed up, with the continuous venting, cut around each and every of the 24 fin walls that enclose the window and door areas.

Just to be clear, the work shown above took about a week, and two of the days included a second “crew” on a second lift.

That Friday morning, there was an unfortunate (but not completely unexpected) discovery.  When starting to replace the worst siding panels, it was determined the wood underneath was rotten in the areas by the fin walls/windows and compounding the problem, the windows were improperly installed and flashed.  A meeting of the minds resulted in an entirely new plan.  The fin walls were to come off.  All of the siding was to come off.  The soffits and venting completed the previous week would have to be redone.  And when that got going, the observation of little/missing insulation in the walls led to upgrading the basic house wrap to a 1″ thick foam board.  Ultimately, this was good for the house.  But bad for the wallet.  Gulp.

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Removing the fin walls was a big job. The method of choice involved cutting it and prying it loose, and finally pulling it off the main body of the house using a chain.

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The lift supplied the power necessary.

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Lowering the top half to the ground.

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Temping where the fins are off.

Working in sections, the guys removed the fin walls and put up the insulation panels.

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1″ foam board will insulate and bring the wall almost flush to the window framing.

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The front of the house. Foam panels are on most of the house by the end of last week. The seams are still being taped today.

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Where there once stood a fin wall, a concrete support must be removed to the ground.

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Taking down one of 22 cement supports….

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Deck boards coming up to get at the concrete supports.

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The concrete needs to be taken below deck level.

I bet you may be wondering where we may be going with the design, now that we removed another original architectural element.  Our architect came out and drew up another rendering.  Here it is:

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It’s kind of hard to see the details, but we plan to trim out the windows with larger vertical boards to create new, but less dramatic fin walls to contain the stained cedar accents. The decking on the balconies will be cedar, and the railings painted black.  The siding material is still getting figured out, but we like the idea of painting it a dark charcoal.

As much as it’s difficult to be changing things up so late in the game, we know we need to do it right.  In the meantime we will be practicing patience and hope the change-order monster stays away going forward!

Oh, and I wanted to share what we found when we returned from a 5-day vacation!

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Surprise!

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Sure it’s a broken window….And we still don’t know the cause, but can you see the glass shattered away leaving the shape of a heart? I am taking it as a sign that our house loves us back.

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8 comments

  1. We have parallel lives, I do believe. After 4 years of renovating and another year before we move in, I can feel your love – and pain of renovation. I’ll be watching.

    1. Hi Curt,

      Have been visiting your blog….You do amazing work! Your project is truly a labor of love. It must be so gratifying to make such major improvements with your own hands! We have been hiring just about everything out, which is nice in many ways, but has its own set of frustrations, of course. Thanks for following and I will keep up with your work, as well!

  2. Oh…I feel for you. We found a LOT of rotten wood our first year but we only had to rebuild the screen porch and re-side one side of the house. Good luck…I hope it is over soon!

    1. Hello there, modernT!

      It’s good to be reminded that we are not the only ones with house issues, and we will make it through. Plus, there can’t possibly be any more surprises in store for us! (A dangerous thing to say…) The ENTIRE house has been looked over and insulated, so l am praying we are in the clear.

      I am convinced our luck is changing for the better: Just found out today that the siding crew should be here in about a week. Yes! (Now we need to figure out what the heck kind of siding it will be!)

    1. Yeah, with the added insulation we should be nice and cozy in our new home this winter… It’s crazy to think that we can go from 92* today to freezing temps in a matter of a few weeks. Minnesota weather can be brutal! Gotta get this place painted before it’s too late!

      And thanks for the compliment on the stairs. I am proud of them!

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