Sunday, February 09, 2014

We always learn something new

With every project Linnea and I learn something new.  This Victorian renovation will be more of the same.  Since the house is in the Restoration Area of historic homes in Tipp City, we have to abide by the building code and the decisions of the city Restoration Board.  We want to meet the board the end of February to present our first plan on emergency work.  The house desperately needs gutters, soffit repair and some siding replacement.

Since this work comes under the broad category of 'emergency work' needed to keep deterioration from happening/getting worse, we may not need actual permission from the Board.  But, since gutters will be in the purview of the board (coloring, type, etc.) I think we should get off to a good start.  So Linnea is working up a plan on paint for the exterior, hence the books on Victorian decoration and color.  We've learned a bunch about how the Victorians painted their houses and did their interiors, as well as how Victorian excess in color and decoration, the Industrial Revolution and mass production led to the Arts and Crafts movement.

Roger Moss (in his book Victorian Exterior Decoration) introduced me to a French gentleman named Michel Eugene Chevreul, scientist and chemist.  Chevreul developed the first explanation of why colors complemented some other colors, but not all.  He noticed, as others had, that some colors when placed next to another color either intensify or conflict.  He discovered that the human retina (the light and color sensing back of your eye) produces an afterimage of a complementary color and if it's overlaid on a similar, but not complementary color, then it's intensity is decreased.  if it's overlaid on the complementary color then it appears to increase in intensity.  A complementary color is really a pair of colors that when combined in the right amount to each other, they will produce either white or black.  They produce the greatest contrast when near each other.  Anyway, what this means to renovation is that these discoveries were happening about the time Victorians were painting houses.  Also, in a yet to be read Wikipedia article, artificial dyes were coming into use which allowed new colors and the mass production of house paints in these new paint schemes coming from the fertile minds of scientific artists.

So when we meet with the Renovation Board in a few weeks, I want to have a planned and historically accurate (required by the Board) plan on what colors we want to paint the house (which has been known in Tipp for a generation as "The Pink House").  So that explains why Linnea is playing paint-by-numbers with the prints we made of a possible elevation of the rear of the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An offer you can't refuse

So we sent our offer on the Feightly House last night.  My realtor, the wonderful Honia Gilbert, emailed me the paperwork.  Printed it, scanned it and emailed it back.

So, that's it?

I mean, shouldn't there be fireworks, intense Hans Zimmer music and maybe a guy in a body-harness suit suspended by a wire as he peers into a window to see if it's accepted?

The current owners had the house for sale briefly last December.  It came off again right away.  Kind of a teaser trailer for a movie.  Got us excited.  Actually, we got to walk through the house and it was weird.

Let me explain.  When we moved to Ohio in 2005, we came from the land of Victorians.  England.  We were stationed outside of Peterbourough, UK, while in the Air Force.  So when we came back to the States, we wanted an older house that we could renovate.  I mean, we had renovated the termite nest that was our house in Texas before we went to England, so doing another non-termite-infested house should be easy.  But it was 2005.  Prices were high in real estate (see financial catastrophe & housing bubble) and we just couldn't afford a fixer-upper in the area we wanted.

So we decided to build a house.  See the rest of this blog, beginning here.  

Now back to the recent past.  We walked through the Feightly House on a snowy, cold day.  Ever since we moved back to Ohio...actually since we bought the termite nest in Texas...I've been learning about what can go wrong with a structure.  Some might call me paranoid, others might think I'm OCD (obsessive construction disorder) but I say I'm prepared.  So when Linnea and I walked through houses, I took a flashlight and started in the basement.  Linnea notices the big picture, the layout of rooms, space for the family, that sort of stuff.  I notice plumbing, electrical, foundation, rot, termites (do I have a hangup with those things or what), weathersealing, roofs, termites.  Carpenter bees and carpenter ants (who, despite their names can't build anything that passes code) are also a no-no.

Walking through the Feightly House was different.  It's not that it's in great shape.  It needs a lot of work.  It's a huge house heated with radiators and a furnace that was new when my 21 year old was a toddler.  But it has potential.  That most magical of qualities that a house can have.

The layout, two houses connected together, means that we can grant the desire of my in-laws to have their own place, but they can just wheel down the hall to eat with us in the big dining room or the big kitchen.  Linnea can finally have an art studio, a sewing studio, a music studio and probably two or three more studios.  The potting wheel can be set up full time and probably even used!  I can have a photo studio.  The kids can have their own rooms without living in the basement (although, the boys seem to enjoy that).  Linnea and I both, independently decided that this house had potential.  It could be a contender.

So we're waiting on a reply from the sellers.  Hopefully hear more soon.

More to come.

This is too funny...

Having lived between Cambridge and Peterbourough, this is very funny to me.  Now I have that song stuck in my head...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Announcement, announcement, Announcement!

Somehow, you would think that the pain, suffering, anguish and expense of building a house would have taught us something.  Some lesson would have trickled into our brain cases.

Apparently NOT!

Gene and Linnea have decided to do it all again.  Only this time, for extra credit points and added difficulty, we're renovating a house.  Not just a house.  Two houses.  Two houses joined in 1910.  Two Victorian houses that need a whole lotta love.

Welcome to the Feightly House renovation blog!

We're putting our offer on the house today.  We found this house last December when driving through Tipp City.  It's the house Sarah Feightly built and then gave to the Lutheran Church to use as a home for indigent maidens and widows.  From 1906 to 1981 the Feightly House was the 'giant pink house on Main St.'.  Actually, I don't know if it was pink all that time, all I can find are black and white or sepia photos.  Speaking of which, here's one to get you started.

The Feightly House, around 1920 (I think)

The Feightly House was a home for people who needed help.  Today, we're going back to that lofty aspiration.  Linnea's folks need help.  Her dad has Parkinson's disease and her mom has Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  They need a little boost in getting the daily things done and while our son Drew is living with them, full-time availability is necessary.  So we're taking this giant eleven bedroom house and turning it into our giant eleven bedroom home.

Here's the plans:
  • Renovate the complete downstairs of the Sears house.  The house on the left of the photo was added in 1910.  We think it's from Sears and Roebuck, the Woodlawn model.  Going to research that some more.  We're going to take the three bedrooms on the ground floor, kitchen and sitting room and make it into an apartment for her folks.  Full wheelchair accessible kitchen and master bath.
  • Repair the soffits (under hang of the roof), gutters and siding as needed to stop deterioration and begin restoring the original character of the house.
  • Remove some nasty stuff from the basement (asbestos insulation) and re-do the downstairs full bath (already gutted by the current owner).
  • Weathertight the full attic (like, 30' by 40') and make that into a love nest birds nest.
  • Rebuild the porch balconies (currently gone)
  • Re-do the front room, second story of the original house (the Greek Italianette  house on the right) to make into a new master suite.  Maybe.  Still up in the air about that.
The beauty of this house(s) is that we can live in one and renovate the other.  Then switch.  The important bit is to get it safe and healthy, remove about 5 tons of ugly carpet and get the ground floor apartment ready for Ken and Dee (my in-laws).

Lots more to come.  God is on the move and it's further up and further in!