July 2010 Blog Posts (14)

Secret concrete room outside of barn

Hi everyone,

I just bought a 140 yr old farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Right outside in front of the barn is a 18" square "lid" that lifts up and underground is a 12 foot x 12 foot concrete room that has a drop of about 10-15 feet. You would need some type of ladder to get down. Above ground is the only access to this room. I was told that this area used to be a throughway for the Underground Railroad. I tend to think maybe it was a panic room during Prohibition. Any thoughts? I…


Added by Jennifer D. on July 30, 2010 at 9:51pm — 4 Comments

Windows - a pane in the glass

Setting panes in the basement last fall during freezing weather must have had its hidden merits. I think that darn glazing putty was just way more willing to cooperate. I think today holds the record for frustration level. How in the world do people put that little 1/8" bead of window glazing on that tiny 1/4" ledge around the sash before placing the pane of glass?

A "before"…

Added by Carrie Z on July 28, 2010 at 11:03pm — 2 Comments

Campbell Center Maintenance Workshop

Campbell Center Maintenance Workshop

In June Bob Yapp and I taught a course on maintenance methods and materials for historic buildings. Many National Parks Service workers attended as well as others involved in caring for historic buildings. These videos show window sill decay stabilization, filling sill weather checks and a wood-epoxy repair method.

More about the Methods and Materials for Maintenance of Historic Buildings course:… Continue

Added by John Leeke on July 25, 2010 at 9:52pm — No Comments

More Summer Painting

The entry foyer has an open stairway that goes up to the 3rd floor. Tomorrow I tackle the foyer and the landings on the 2nd and 3rd floor. 10 windows, 9 doors and some painted floors to boot. I have assembled lots of sandpaper, plastic sheeting, drop cloths, quick setting plaster (for rapid repairs on some water damaged drywall) for an all day prep fiesta. I have hired a student to help. Also, just in case that doesn't absorb all of the time, I have decided to strip a stained glass window down… Continue

Added by Phil on July 24, 2010 at 10:08pm — 1 Comment

How the 2X Theory Happens

In a previous blog post I described my “2x theory” of renovation, which states simply that it takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you anticipate. Regardless of how carefully you budget. Regardless of how tightly you keep control of your contractors. Regardless of how much of the grunt work you do yourself, or are able to get done by people you’ve rooked for free labor. It just doesn’t matter. At some point in the…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 16, 2010 at 6:24pm — 1 Comment

Java & Plaster

The sheetrock & plaster finisher found a creative way to use the built-in drawers in my bathroom. He plonked a scrap of sheetrock on it and used it as a counter for…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 13, 2010 at 9:32am — No Comments

Ode to Parents

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day on the horizon, this blog is largely about my parents. They are two of the hardest working, most generous, supportive, sensible, completely insane but lovable people ever. I am truly lucky.…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 13, 2010 at 9:15am — No Comments

Demolition Derby Part Deux

As promised, here is a peek at the kitchen budget. With regard to the kitchen, I am keeping the existing cabinets, but I will be updating their interiors with slide out shelves to make the deep cabinet shelves more accessible and more useful. I have a floor to ceiling pantry that will also get the slide-out treatment. The interiors of the base cabinets are pretty filthy, so I am going to clad them with something thin like a…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 13, 2010 at 9:05am — No Comments

Demolition Derby

Well, I haven’t checked in since December 1 of last year (2009). I didn’t do much on the house in December and January, so there wasn’t much to report. My dad had cataract surgery mid-December, so my #1 electrician and all-round do-all guy was down for the count recovering. I used the time to work on a music project that I started about the same time I started house-hunting, and we all took the holidays…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 13, 2010 at 8:57am — No Comments

Silk Purse, Sow's Ear

The eventual goal is, of course, silk purse. Currently, I’m in sow’s ear mode. Or sow’s ass to be a bit more accurate! The walk-through revealed a nasty little surprise hiding under the area rugs and extending to the wall to wall carpet as well. The oak floors in living room, dining room and to a much lesser extent the sitting room, are completely destroyed by dog piss. To the point where in several large spots (maybe 12″ x 18″) the finish is completely eaten away.…


Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 13, 2010 at 8:48am — No Comments

Ceramic Tile Underlayment

We'd like to install 12" ceramic tile in our bathroom. Instead of using cement backerboard, can we install the tile onto 1/4" marine plywood which will be screwed in every 6". We're trying to avoid the need to adjust the door. The original flooring is wood.

Added by Shelia Spritzner on July 12, 2010 at 8:11pm — No Comments

Summer painting jobs

So far, more than expected

Added by Phil on July 8, 2010 at 8:02pm — 6 Comments

Third Time's a Charm?

Well, here I go again – I am embarking on my third renovation project. The first was a cottagey-bungalow home I bought in 1998, and the second was the 25,000 square-foot building I currently work in. Today, in less than an hour from this writing, I am going to do the ‘walk through’ on my new house. New only in the sense that it is new to me. I close Monday, November 30, 2009 on an American Four-Square house, built in 1924, in a lovely Western New York village.

Here’s… Continue

Added by KARAN ANDREA on July 2, 2010 at 1:00pm — No Comments

The Joys of House-Hunting

For all its related stresses, I genuinely do love the process of looking for a new place to live. I'm the kind of person who likes to walk around in the evenings, peering into people's windows to see what their homes look like inside. House-hunting offers the same thrill, magnified—instead of merely getting a glimpse of the kitchen or living room from the sidewalk, you get to poke around each and every room and (even better!) imagine how you'd do things differently.

For the past few… Continue

Added by Clare Alexander on July 1, 2010 at 10:35am — No Comments

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