• 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Removal of the Attached Shed

    Oh! The Irony of the Shed We needed to remove the attached shed on the back of the house.  Along with the chimney removal and emptying the contents of the house, this task had to be accomplished prior to the arrival of the house leveling crew.  We had a weekend to get this done.  Easy, right?  Ummmm, well… One of my biggest fears during the three and a half years we spent waiting to purchase the house was that something would happen to it.  It would burn down or a storm would blow it over or the decaying process would finally render it un-salvageable.  In short, I thought it would…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Structural Issues In Our Dog Trot House

    Yes, it had stood for 173 years or so, far outlasting any homes that are being built today.  So how do  novice DIYers determine that there were structural issues that needed to be addressed?  Easy… Chains Were Pulling the Front Porch Towards the House In the center hallway ceiling, there are two tiny notches.  They are barely noticeable, in fact.  A quick trip into the attic revealed their secret.  The chains attach to the front of the house were strung to the support structures in the attic.  This was a huge clue that something had gone terribly wrong in the distant past.  It appeared the front porch and two small…

  • The Art of Beautiful Living

    Finding Inspiration

    A Few Random Things… A coat rack. A dirty old room. A beautiful bride. What do they have in common?  Inspiration, of course. The fact that we have out our cameras most of the time makes us just like everyone else on the planet.  What sets us apart is that we try to intentionally notice things.  Things like incredible lighting.  Color and texture.  How something makes us feel.  And then we try to remember and use it later.  Yes, sometimes inspiration strikes out of the blue.  For me, however, it us usually based on some little something I have tucked away just in case I ever need it. An Example…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Leveling the House

    I Gotta Level With You… Leveling the house was amazingly hard work.  First, jacking up an entire wall of a house and using a sledge hammer to try and get it back on the sill log is just craziness.  Everything is heavy.  Everything is hard.  But beyond the physical labor, the problem solving part of it took tremendous effort. I kid you not.  Leveling the house was an incredibly difficult process for us.  We were stressed and exhausted.  The house wasn’t cooperating.  It had issues we didn’t anticipate like sill logs that resisted power tools.  Bees.  Termite damage.  We were whipped physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Leveling the house was tough…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    The Great Rattlesnake Roundup of 2018

    Rattlesnake Removal 101 There was no way around it.  The removal of rattlesnakes had to take place to facilitate the house leveling. The concrete slab was thought to be the location of their den. The concrete slab had to go and so did the rattlesnakes under it.  It was dangerous and holding up the house leveling process. There was no way to coax the live snakes out.  And no one wanted to crawl under the house and get them.  So, Jerry and I decided that we needed to rent a jackhammer and bust up the slab.  We thought that when the generator was cranked and the jack hammering commenced, the…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Sheet Rock, Wallpaper, and Nail Removal

    Layers Onions have layers.  Houses do too.  Our house had a layer of trash and a layer of filth we had to deal with before we could begin the restoration process.  Turns out, there were more layers that needed to be peeled away before we could start making true progress.  I will never forget looking at Jerry and asking “how much further down do we have to go before we hit bottom?”  In other words, will there be any house left after we take out all the non-original stuff and after we replace what the rats and termites had eaten?  The sheet rock, wallpaper and nail removal process certainly revealed…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    A House Raising (and Leveling) Experience

    You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For… After we emptied the house, we turned our attention toward foundation and structural issues.  Raising and leveling the house prior to starting the renovation process was very important.  Once these were accomplished, we would be able to repair or replace any problematic floor joists and run the minimal plumbing we wanted to install.  Getting the right also meant that the house would be more square, facilitating window and door installation, siding installation and a myriad of other tasks ahead. There were two outfits that did house leveling in our area.  One group did enough jobs to live for a few months and…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Just Because You (Think) You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should…

    Our First Visit While I have suffered from a fear of failure, I have also had some pretty spectacular moments of self-assurance. Granted, these moments were based on my unlikely acceptance of impossible odds steeled with sheer grit and determination. So while I am very likely to not attempt something, I am also the first (and most hardheaded) to make up my mind and stick to my guns. I am not sure if this is a good quality or not and I expect that it has to do with the task. I. Wanted. This. House. For better or worse, for whatever reason. I wanted it. So, without thinking too much…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Emptying the Center Hallway and South Pen

    The Center Hallway (continued) After emptying out the center hallway and the front porch, we moved further into the house.  The center hallway had been modified, having the large opening on the back of the house closed and a single door installed.  The door opened to a fairly large storage closet and yes, it was full. How full was it?  Pretty darn.  And to make matters worse, the ceiling had partially collapsed leaving the contents exposed to the elements.  Translated, the critters had full range in here (heck, they had full range everywhere) and the rain came in with abandon.  All this equated to a right royal mess of rotten…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    The North Pen

    The Dark North Pen We began working on the north pen and I was not super excited about it.  It had upholstered furniture that the rats has made homes in.  There was a great deal of paper trash on the floors and, believe it or not, this room was nastier than the south pen. For one thing, it was dark in this room due to the tree cover and the fact that it was January and this is the north side of the house.  It also had a small room off of it that had been converted to the kitchen.  I thought “kitchen=food=rats” but that wasn’t anymore true than any…