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!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Here's some snow day pictures

Here are a couple of pictures from our snow day!

Thistle House in the snow.

The stairs going up to the front porch.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Goodness, people keep reading!

I guess I can't abandon this blog as 90+ people have read it in the last 30 days! Beats me why as I haven't written anything useful or even anything at all since, I dunno, ever. Well here's an update on Thistle House.

We have been in since 1 October. That makes it something like five months. We have finished installing the master whirlpool tub and are slowly making progress. It's as tough as we thought it would be to live here and finish the trim--and a real Ohio winter hasn't helped. There's snow outside and more coming tomorrow and I just don't like having the chop saw setup out in the snow. So I think trim is going to wait on better weather. We can focus on the master shower and finish the tile and glass block work instead.

I need to chronicle the saga of the whirlpool tub and the seven times we installed it. I am not sure if it was really seven but let me pass on a lesson from the school of hard knocks--don't install a whirlpool tub in a dormer window in a gambrel roof.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More memory lane

In honor of coming to the close of building, here's a taste of the photo progression I am putting together...some stills from over the 18 months we have been at this.


The house site with stakes laying it all out.

The house site in the snow...this is a good photo to compare to the hill we built around the basement.

The house framed on September 1st 2006--just twelve months ago. It seems such a long and such a short time ago.

The backfill and landscaping almost finished.

The most recent photo of Thistle House. You can't see the dozen or so Monarch butterly cocoons on the house, but the day we finished the last inspection we got to watch one of the butterflies take his first flight to the hanging basket to load up on nectar. I bet he was as hungry as we were excited.


Where in the wide world of sports are we?

Well, that's a good question. I am on a one week deployment/temporary duty to Camp Smith, Hawaii for an exercise. Sigh...sadly I have not gone swimming once and I only went to the beach for about a half hour the other night. It's not all fun and games in the US Air Force campers.

Meanwhile, back at the Thistle House we are ALMOST DONE!!!!! The lovely wife and hardworking three kids are painting and sealing floors. Well, they aren't actually painting the floors, but are just shellacing them. When last we left Thistle House we had just passed the final inspection. Well, here we are two weeks later and it's a frantic 'finish everything so we can move in' frenetic frenzy. That was a beautiful bit of alliteration if I say so myself.

Being back in Hawaii has reminded me of many things--when I was last here my father was on active duty and stationed at the Pacific Air Command. We lived at Hickam Air Force base and I drove past my first elementary school yesterday. Wow has this place changed in the last 31 years. I have had a pseudo resentment against Hawaii because it is the place where I spent four sunburned years and where the damage to my skin started that led to my two skin cancers. But walking around has stirred up the place where my first memories came from. I remember being a kid and laying at the foot of the stone water tower, watching the clouds fly over the tower and how it looked like the tower was falling. And then, yesterday, we took a different road back to the hotel and drove under the freeway and I remember being a kid and driving that same route with my Mom. This is also the first place I had a run-in with the police. I was throwing rocks onto the perimeter road on base and the Security Police picked me up and took me to my parents house. That was the first of several times I have been on the wrong end of Air Force Security Police's ire as I have this bad habit of opening alarmed doors and getting the whole building patted down to make sure that nothing is going on.

It's kinda cool how this whole trip down memory lane was brought about by the US Air Force both times--for my Father and Mother and us four kids and now, three decades later for me to return. Hmm...deep thoughts.

Now, off to pack for the flight home tomorrow.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Final inspection is done!

We had our plumbing inspection on Tuesday. While we have a couple of things to correct, the inspector gave us a pass so we could get the final building inspection done on Wednesday. When it was time for the building inspection, we had five items to correct--the worst was the back porch stair height. Linnea and #1 son lowered the step heights to an equal amount and did a fair amount of digging. I came home after work and changed out some breakers for the correct size and added a weather cover for the porch outlets. I also had to correct a ground problem in the master bath--I forgot to bridge the grounds on some of the outlets.

We are installing the rest of the flooring and ceiling and wall textures, painting and planning to move in soon!