1846 Homestead Renovation

My husband served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years. We moved around a lot and by the time we celebrated 32 years of marriage, we had lived in 28 houses in two foreign countries and seven states. It was time to talk about a forever house. Call us crazy...everyone else already has, but our 1846 Texas homestead renovation was the route we decided to go in order to create our dream home. When we decided to turn a dilapidated dog-trot home into our dream home, most folks thought we were out of our minds. They were right. It was falling down. The last cousin who lived there was a hoarder and a recluse who hadn't taken care of the house in several decades. Sheetrock was falling from the ceilings and everything that the rats hadn't chewed up was rotten. However, the house was the oldest structure in Hill County, Texas and had been in my family since 1852. It was worth it, we said. We are saving history, we said. And then the rattlesnakes appeared along with the rats. Add in all the rotten wood and countless other issues that come with a 170+ year-old house and you get an idea of what our lives are like. From climbing on the roof to crawling under the house, we have done things we never dreamed we would have to do. Call us crazy...everyone else already has, but our 1846 Texas homestead renovation is a labor of love that is already paying off!

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Finishing the New Floors in the Old House

    Background Work The floors in the original house.  I wanted to keep them, but they were damaged.  We knew that wasn’t an option.  The original floors were nothing more than boards nailed to the floor joists.  There were gaps between them so you could see the dirt under the house.  As much as I wanted to restore the house, even I knew that we were going to have to do something different than what there originally. The first flooring job was to work on the structural parts.  We installed plywood under the joists so we could insulate the floors.  We then installed the floor decking material.  That was a lot…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation,  Wood

    Treasures from the Wardrobe

    The Treasure Hunt It takes no stretch of the imagination to believe me when I tell you that the house in the photo above was full of nasty trash, furniture, rat droppings and general yuckiness.  How much imagination would it take to believe that we found some really cool stuff as we pawed through every stinking item wearing latex gloves and respirators? Before we threw one thing away, Jerry and I went through every box, drawer, and closet in the house item by item.  Some folks had already come and stolen items from the house and went through things.  Jerry and I were the only ones who could have told…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Wedding Bells Ring!

    Not Your Typical Wedding Planning Have you ever heard the joke about going to a fight and a hockey game breaking out?  That is what Jillian and Mike’s wedding reminds me of.  We were in the middle of saving the house and cutting back and burning limbs one minute, and the next, we are planning a wedding. Jillian and Mike came to help us with the house this weekend.  We spent the day using the chainsaws.  And then, Jillian and Mike shocked the socks off of us at dinner.  They announced that they wanted to get married…in two weeks.  And they wanted the wedding near our place.  And they thought…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Reusing the Original Stone in the New Fireplace

    Things I Hate for $1000 If you have read anything on this blog, you can probably guess that my number one most hated thing when we started was having to alter the house.  I wanted to keep it original.  Period.  The first thing we needed to do was shore up the foundation and get the house out of the dirt.  That made sense.  Of course, the first thing we had to do was (insert drum roll here) tear down the beautiful (to me) chimneys.  Dang it. Looking at the photo above, and also now that I am in a more rational state of mind, I can see clearly that the…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    A Colossal Error in Concrete Staining

    We decided that stained concrete was the way we wanted to go with flooring in the new addition.  Stained concrete is inexpensive and it is durable..  Unfortunately, ours has big problems and I am not sure how to fix it. It Started Off So Well… Jerry and I went to Dallas to a concrete staining store.  They had everything we would ever need to be successful.  We looked at all the products, colors, and tools.  We were ready to commit that day to purchasing what we needed.  I had a clear idea of what I wanted the floor to look like.  Neither of us wanted a solid color.  We liked…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    The Stairs in the New Addition

    When the framers started to work on the second story, it was obvious that we needed to install the stairs in order to make their lives easier.  It did look strange to be building stairs to seemingly nowhere, but the decision was made that it was time for them to be installed and install them we did. The Design What would the stairs look like?  I really wanted to get the old staircase out of my great grandparents’ house.  It was the first banister I ever slid down (with the permission of my great aunt Margaret Jo and in spite of the disapproving look from my grandmother).  That was an…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Single Board Walls Can’t Last Forever

    Wonkie Mystery House When we bought the house, there was so much trash inside of it.  You couldn’t really tell much about the structure of the house.  We didn’t know if it was leaning, sinking, collapsing and so on until we removed the trash and sheet rock and could actually see the house.  What we found was a wavy floor, with high spots and low spots.  We could see ceilings that drooped in the center and doors that would no longer close.  My motto was “only do what we must…keep it original!”.  Jerry and I first addressed the foundation issues so that we could level and raise the house. The…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Built To Last: Original Sill Logs and Floor Joists

      Old Construction Techniques The house was build in 1846 and certainly has outlasted any expectations for modern construction.  The house was soundly built, but time had illustrated that there were some significant issues with the structure.  For example, the front of the house was moving away from the main part of the structure.  You can read about that little fiasco on my blog post entitled Structural Issues in Our Dog Trot House.  In this post, I’ll tell you a bit about the floor joists and sill logs and how we kept the house as original as possible. The Floor Joists The original floor joists and sill logs fit neatly…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    Another Unexpected Guest: The Appearance of the Coachwhip

    Clearing Around the Well Benny Melton was going to come and clear the land so the foundation guys could get busy.  The old well is still in the back yard, but the back yard was super overgrown.  It was bad when we bought it and by this time we have been in the house working for five months.  Yard work is hardly a thing for us to concern ourselves with. In the picture above, you can clearly see the well at the bottom.  You can also notice that the season is winter by Jerry’s long-sleeve shirt and by the lack of green growth.  By the time we were ready for…

  • 1846 Homestead Renovation

    A Plan for the Addition of Space to the Original House

      The Art of Addition Common thought among the experts in home renovation is that if you are putting an addition onto an old house, you need to make the addition appear that it had always been there.  Some old houses are boxy and asymmetrical by nature. An addition didn’t significantly alter the look of the house.  Houses with non-rectangular floor plan have room for an addition to be added without the house being changed into something it wasn’t.  Our plan for an addition need to add space while maintaining the original house. Ours was a very simple dog trot cabin.  Period.  They only really have one variety.  Pens divided…