Bedrooms and bathroom: halfway point

As I write this, K. is stomping around upstairs, applying joint compound to the drywall seams in what’s soon going to be the master bedroom, bathroom and guest bedroom.  The bathroom used to be a bedroom… or a weird little room off the front living room.  It’s a Buffalo house thing, the bedrooms are all tiny and there are a bunch of living rooms connected by pocket doors.

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bathroom drywall finishing in progress

We’re turning the front living room thing into a bedroom and the small side bedroom into a bathroom, anyway.  They’re at the front of the house, which theoretically means we’re exposed to more street noise, but 1. our street is pretty quiet at night and 2. after insulating, the sound doesn’t penetrate the walls like it used to.  Speaking of sound insulation, in order to have the least amount of noise pass from bathroom to bedroom we insulated the walls with rock wool.  It’s more expensive than fiberglass batts, but it’s great for blocking sound and our neighbor hooked us up with a bunch of surplus cutoffs for a nice price.  Since we’ll be using it for sound rather than heat, the patching in of random bits will work fine.

it's impossible to take pictures in this tiny room

it’s impossible to take good pictures in this tiny room

Like almost all of the rest of the house, the plaster up here was too beat-up to be worth the effort of saving, so we pulled it all off, ran new wiring and plumbing, insulated, and are putting up drywall over the whole shebang.  Luckily K. is proficient in drywall hanging and finishing.  I may be a biased observer, but really he can do everything.  Very convenient, that.  I am keeping away from the drywall finishing because while I can do a rudimentary job, I don’t want to spend the next few decades staring at my subpar work when I wake up.

the bedroom's front wall

the bedroom’s front wall

I am decent at painting, and that’s what comes next, so I will return to usefulness soon.  And I helped hang all the fiddly bits of drywall around the trim, at the bottom of the walls, and so on.  File under: still somewhat useful, don’t kick me off the island yet.

We’ll be putting a VCT floor similar to the kitchen floor in the bathroom, and probably just painting the already painted floor in the bedroom.

Here’s how the bedroom used to look when we first got our hands on this house:

blaaargh!

blaaargh!

Peep that decorative wallpaper border!  And note the water damage.  This was caused by the final holes cut in the roof by the fire department as we were engaged in purchasing it from the city.  Otherwise we could have kept the existing roof on the front section of the house for another few years.

We took that chimney down because it ended inside the attic, rendering it absolutely useless and adding stressful weight to the framing.  Yes, we saved the mantel.  The front windows were broken replacements of the originals, and you can’t repair replacements (I mean, I’m sure you could, but it’s not worth it) so we replaced them with better replacements.

these two chairs loved each other very much, and now they are gone forever

these two chairs loved each other very much, and now they are gone forever

We’re lucky enough to have awesome pocket doors upstairs as well as downstairs.  I was assigned to the project of making these work again, which is way easier with the walls open.  After taking off 1/4 inch of the bottom of the doors (the house had settled and they dragged,) cleaning and oiling the wheels, waxing the tracks, and boiling the old paint off the hardware they move relatively easily.  They will be the access to my giant Closet of Doom, which will be full of personal wardrobe clutter that no one will have to look at.

I am a stereotype

I am a stereotype

Beyond the Closet is another bedroom, which will be nice when we need to house visitors.  Actually, my little sister and her husband are probably going to live in there for a while as we fix up their house nearby.  The wall is still open because we have to get in there to install baseboard radiators.  Since there’s a nice wooden beadboard ceiling on the room directly below that we don’t want to remove, this room will not be heated by a radiant floor.  It is directly over the wood stove though, and does retain a lot of heat now that we’ve insulated.  All of the front part of Upstairs stays (relatively) warm now.

replacing that window is on the "eventually" list

guest room: replacing that window is on the “eventually” list

That makes up the front section of upstairs, which along with the hallway (used to be another tiny narrow bedroom that connected to what used to be two tiny narrower pantries) is the section we’re focusing on finishing.  After that, the oldest section of the house will be in a condition where we can leave it alone, live in it, and concentrate on other projects.  There will always be projects like baseboard, window and door trim, etc. though… because old house work is never done!

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K. sealed off the hallway with plastic where it meets the back section of house.  It has a tarp zipper on it for occasional access through while keeping heat in and blocking the wind.  Unfortunately the drafty back of the house catches the wind off the lake/river.  We have an intense relationship with wind in this neighborhood.

multipurpose living zone?

multipurpose living zone?

However nice our living room is right now, we will be very happy when it’s no longer also a bedroom.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put some gloves on and bring two skids of rock wool upstairs.

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Status: surviving the Polar Vortex in a broken house

We’re currently living in a three room insulated section of the house – two larger rooms which we use as living room/kitchen and living room/bedroom, and a tiny room that’s office/closet. The kitchen room is where we have the DutchWest wood stove, which is our only method of heating the house.  It’s a great stove, with a catalytic combustor that re-burns the smoke for a cleaner, more efficient burn.  And our neighbor up the block sells firewood!  Even with that thing cranking, the other room is only in the mid-50s today… so we’ve been sticking to the kitchen area.  This part of the house holds heat pretty well, even if it takes some effort to get the front room above 60 when it’s cold out.  After filling the plaster walls in the front room with blown-in cellulose insulation, the difference has been incredible.

ImageFortunately Kevin has been on an insulating tear.  The basement is tightly sealed up, and stays reasonably warm, considering.  The bathroom at the back of the house is no longer at ambient outside temperature.  Instead, it’s a super-insulated box that stays warm with the help of a space heater… so the pipes aren’t freezing as often anymore.

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It’s half shiny silver spaceship and half old timey wainscoting, and 100% better than it was before… which was the only time period I would have accepted (with caveats) the mostly-problematic “urban pioneer” label.  Grudgingly, even I will admit that putting on a coat and boots to visit what’s basically a freezing outhouse is kind of pioneer-ish, as was hauling water from the basement, making do with our rudimentary food preparation situation and heating the house solely on split wood.  Luckily for them, pioneers didn’t worry about showering.  In our modern day and age, showering is part of the social compact.  You’re not allowed to be a filthy stinky person and still be accorded most of the customary rights and privileges of courteous day-to-day interactions… which is ok, and it means we have a rotating cast of friends’ houses where we shower for the time being.

ImageThis is Upstairs, which will soon be ready for drywall.  In a fit of optimism, we picked out the paint color a month ago.  This is where we will have dedicated sleeping and showering spaces at last!

The heated downstairs and the parts of Upstairs we’re working on comprise the oldest part of the house, a square 2 story box.  This original box is what we’re going to be living in for the immediate future, so we’re only worrying about insulating and sealing off this part (and making sure the rest of it is at least mostly airtight.)  The rest of the house was added on in sections, and will be left in more or less its current state (of structurally stable and sealed but still down to studs) until we can handle the work/need the space, whichever comes first.  Right now it’s looking a lot like:

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and feeling pretty chilly.  But when we’re not working on it, there’s no reason to be there.  Kevin’s up there right now and he’s double layered up plus wearing insulated bibs.  The work doesn’t always stop when the world does, and inside you don’t have wind chill!

I know Kevin’s working on a post about the kitchen so I’ll leave that for now other than to mention that it’s SO NICE just having one, especially on a day like today when it’s -7891045 degrees out and all anyone wants is hot food and tea.

The dog and cat wear their own fur coats but when that isn’t enough the dog has a quilted jacket, which was probably not necessary inside today but it’s new and exciting, and the cat has a crocheted “cat nest.”

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My family is in town, and my brother in law had never been colder than 45 degrees before this week.  Haha!  We took a walk to get takeout from the excellent Niagara Cafe last night and my dad compared walking down Pennsylvania towards the river to when he climbed Mount Elbrus.  It’s been nice to host people by a roaring fire, take them on neighborhood walks in the screeching wind, and assure them that this is as bad as it can get around here, weather-wise.  Unfortunately crossing the 190 via the pedestrian bridge at Hudson did not work out because the ramp is a solid sheet of ice.  My decadent wish is that they incorporate a heated walkway into whatever renovation plans I hope they have for that thing… yes, a pipe dream.

It’s really really nice to be living in a finished space instead of a work zone.  Sometimes I forget about the state of the rest of the house… until I open the door to it.

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Hope everyone else is surviving winterpocalypse 2k13 unscathed!  Don’t leave the house except to take house pictures!!

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How I navigated the Buffalo inrem auction this year

Buffalo is kind of unique in that almost all of my friends here own houses – not the case with my friends in Atlanta or Brooklyn.  Housing stock is very, very cheap here.  And every year at the end of October, the city sells off a swath of foreclosed real estate at auction, making it relatively cheap, quick and easy to buy a house.

less than $2k

Our new yellow monster! Dare I say… less than $2k? #movetoBuffalo

This year we were interested in properties at auction because my sister and her husband want to fix a house here and then live in it.  We are obviously going to help make that happen.  K was working, so I was deputized to handle the auction this year.  Since we bought our Green Non-Monster directly from the city (city-owned properties don’t go to auction, just properties foreclosured on by the city) and the house we were trying to get before that would have been a private sale (and is now getting torn down… I can’t even talk about it, so sad) this was our first city tax auction experience.

If the auction intrigues you, you need to do some homework. (Ha!) You can start by plugging the spreadsheet data of available properties into a tool like BatchGeo that creates a map.  The list of properties is made available on Buffalo’s website a month or two before the auction.  You might already be interested in a particular neighborhood, or you might be attracted by a certain house… or a certain price point.  Driving or biking around with a house list can be a lot more helpful than cruising Google Street View, but both are fine options – and the Goog’s satellite imagery is a pretty cool tool for seeing the overall layout of the property.  (This year, we were looking for a house close to ours, which made things easy.)  Sometimes the city will post what properties sold for the year before online, sometimes they don’t.

You’ll need to remember that up until the minute the house is auctioned, the owner can pay the delinquent taxes/water/what have you and get the property removed from auction.  So if you’re set on going home with a home, have a list.  It’s worth shelling out $5 for the booklet of properties on offer at the auction, because the printed list is in the order the properties will be auctioned (which is not by address) and you can make notes of how much other properties sold for, for future reference.  (Many of the houses around us got taken off the list before the auction happened – by auction day, there was only one house left that we were interested in. Luckily, it was our top choice.)

In an ideal world, you’d be able to get into the houses you’re interested in and check out the roof, foundation, plumbing, electric, etc.  Since you’re not legally allowed to break into houses that aren’t yours even if they are vacant barring the consent of the homeowner you’ll have to investigate from the outside.  Does the roofline look straight?  Are there any visible major problems?  Does Google satellite view reveal a gaping hole in a flat roof?  Are the neighbors’ houses kept up at all, or are the inhabitants glaring at you from the falling down porch of a terrible shack?  Do you know anyone who might have been in the house and can tell you more about it?  (We were curious about our top choice, a vacant demolition-listed house near us, and found out that a few friends had been able to view it with the owner.  We therefore knew it was fixable by us… let’s be honest here, by K.)

The great thing about the tax auction is that all liens etc. are wiped from the property, and you get a clean title.  (Theoretically – sometimes the water company isn’t in the loop and assumes you owe the money that the previous owner owed, and it’s a hassle to sort out.)  The house we liked best was prohibitive to purchase directly from the previous owner because of the money owed on it, but buying it from the city at auction meant that wouldn’t be a problem.

The sad thing about the auction is that people lose their homes.  Sometimes it’s a landlord losing a property that was over-mortgaged or became too much of a handful to keep in good repair and therefore became delinquent on city taxes, or sometimes it’s a family that couldn’t keep up with their water bill.  (We felt more comfortable considering properties that were obviously rentals badly needing work or vacant/abandoned.  And obviously we lean towards the demolition list…)

Register as a bidder online.  There is a nebulous time window in which you can do this before the auction.  It saves you some time the morning of, but if you don’t register online you’ll be ok too.

Ride a bike or take the bus.  Parking downtown sucks, and the last thing you want to do have to go run out and feed the meter in the middle of hot bidding.

Bring an auction buddy.  Someone to hold your seat or place in line if you have to pee, someone to encourage you to keep your paddle up or take it down, someone to feed the parking meter if you went ahead and drove to the auction.

Finally, plan how to pay.  You’ll need to put down 20% of the winning bid price or $500, whichever is more.  The auction doesn’t accept personal checks, which means you’ll have to arrive bearing money orders, certified checks, or good old fashioned cash.  Leaving to get a check/money order and coming back is risky, because the auctioneers take breaks and will re-auction properties that haven’t had the deposit paid by the end of the break.  This means that cash is easiest, so there’s a heinous amount of cash on the premises and the building is surrounded by cops on horses and so on.  Plan early to take out cash if you have a withdrawal limit.

SO!  After you’ve been agonizing over houses for weeks, the big day arrives.  Actually, the tax auction is spread over three days.  Figure out on which day your houses’ districts will be sold (I’d post a link to wherever this info can be found, but either the city’s haphazard web presence or my own incompetence is interfering) and show up early to get in line for your bidder number, talk to your friends and make sure you won’t be competing for the same property, get a good seat (in the center in the first 10 rows) and calm the stomach butterflies.

I’ve been going to various auctions for a while… first to country auctions to buy furniture and random trinkets for a used furniture store, then to restaurant auctions to outfit my bakery, so I was able to polish my auction savvy with relatively low stakes at first and work up to the expensive/stressful stuff.  I was nervous at the housing auction until a few houses went up and I recognized the auction flow, and felt more at home.  (Also my auction buddy made SUPER STRONG coffee and I was about to jump out of my chair with the caffeine jitters.  Never trust a guy from Alaska with your French press!)  If you’re an auction newbie, it might be worth going to a restaurant auction or weekly country auction just to get familiar with the mechanics of auctions.  And if you’re thinking about buying a house at auction but aren’t sure if you want to do it yet, go anyway so you can watch how it works.

photo not taken during actual bidding, sorry

photo not taken during actual bidding, sorry

Here’s the difference between this and other auctions: the inrem auction is EXTREMELY fast.  If the auctioneer doesn’t see you, your bid doesn’t count.  He encouraged everyone to yell if he didn’t see their bid… and importantly, once he says SOLD the deal is done.  He apologized in advance to people he was going to miss, because it happens.

That all being said, here are my auction tips and as always your mileage may vary.  I like to be easy to spot, so big hair or a bright scarf/shirt is nice (I mean, nothing too annoying though.)  Always get a good seat.  If you don’t, when your properties come up, make sure to maneuver to a spot where the auctioneer can easily see you!  Otherwise you will have to do a lot of yelling, or lose out.  Make eye contact with the auctioneer when he’s scanning for bids, this somehow helps them remember to check for your bid before closing the item.  Ditto when he checks in for your continuing bids, keep that eye contact and nod or something so he thinks of you as a character rather than a paddle and doesn’t forget you’re bidding.  Don’t look away from the auctioneer.  KEEP YOUR PADDLE UP until you no longer want the house.  I saw a few people’s bids get overlooked because the bidding was so fast and they kept putting their paddles up and down at the wrong times.  Don’t pay too much for a house just because auctions are exciting – remember that you’re almost definitely going to have to do work on the property, and that’s never free.  And don’t buy a house you know nothing about just because it’s $1,000.  There just might be a reason nobody’s bidding against you for that one.

The auctioneer lets you know if each property is a house, lot, commercial building, or recommended for demolition.  He’s very doom and gloom about demo houses which is JUSTIFIED but also was nice for me because it scared other bidders away from my house.  (He made sure to ask whether I really wanted the house before closing the sale, for instance.  Obviously doesn’t read the blog.)

Apparently if you buy a house by mistake you can just let them know and they’ll re-auction it after the break, which is weird/cool.  Always stick around after breaks, because if you lost out on a house and the winning bidder doesn’t pay the deposit, they’ll auction it again.

OH and turn in your paddle on the way out or they’ll charge you $20.

OK so you bought a house!  What now?  You can’t legally go in the house until they mail you a deed.  The sooner you pay in full, the sooner you get it – but it’ll still take over a month.  I’m not going to tell you to break into your new house and check it out because I know a guy who got arrested for doing that: even though he’d bought it, he didn’t have the deed yet, so he didn’t technically own it.  However, I also know folks who had pipes burst in a house they bought and the water froze and caused a lot of damage, and they didn’t know and couldn’t do anything because they were obeying the law.  You also can’t collect rent until you get the deed… I would obviously double check that info with your official documentation before relying on it.

If you bought a demolition-list house like we did, you’ll have to get the demolition halted or you just paid too much for a vacant lot.  Go to City Hall.  They tell you to check with the law office – they didn’t seem to know much about the matter, but start there anyway.  I went to the demolition office on the third floor next, where a helpful guy looked up our new house and found out that the demolition order wasn’t court ordered.  If it is court ordered, you need to get the judge that signed the original order to rescind it – and you need to set this process in motion within 10 days.  Luckily our situation just involved walking across the hall and talking to another guy, and then emailing a City lawyer.

does your City Hall have one of these and are you allowed to just wander into it?

(While you’re at City Hall, check out the Common Council chambers on the 13th floor and the observation deck at the very top!)

Once you’ve got that deed, you have to fix the existing code violations within a window of time, and there are measures in place to keep you from immediately flipping the house for significant profit.  Don’t do that anyway though.

Today is the last day of the 2013 Buffalo inrem auction.  Good luck to all bidding!  If you missed it, you have a year to get your ducks in a row for 2014.

We’re excited to start work on the new place – it was too beautiful to watch it be demolished, and it means one of my favorite people on the planet will be living around the corner.  Hopefully soon we’ll be able to get in there.  In the meantime, the green one is looking better and better with every passing day.

soon enough, your house will look like THIS! and then hopefully even better than this eventually!!

“A hammer and nail and a coat of pail will make a house look new if it sure as heck ain’t.” – Gandhi

Roof! Windows!!

We thought long and hard about the roof.  Metal or shingles?  DIY or pay a roofer?  Ultimately it came down to the fact that we have so much to do on this house and a fixed amount of time and money.  Metal roofs are wonderful but expensive.  Doing your own roof saves money but takes way more time, plus we would have used up all of our friends’ labor on the job they like the least (having all gone through DIY roofing experiences over the years.) So time/friendships saved by hiring, and money saved by not getting a metal roof.

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The price of a roof gets you an army of guys (no ladies on this job anyway) who get a new roof on in TWO DAYS.  Plus tons of ladders and shiny trucks.

Having a new roof makes a huge psychological difference already.  Here’s the before, if you need to be reminded:

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And here’s the after.

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(or the end of Roof Day 1)

You might notice some other differences too!  We’ve primed this side and the front in tinted primer.  Kevin replaced the front window on the second floor with one the same size as the one next to it, found elsewhere in the house.  A ground floor window was replaced with a door.  Underneath the door is a bottle window my friends helped me do.  The windows are all restored – a process involving stripping the old paint, repairing any weak points, repainting, reglazing, and rehanging.

There’s still more – replacing the siding that had to come off, priming the other side and painting the whole thing, fixing that porch – but now when you drive down our street you don’t assume it’s abandoned.

Oh and there are windows in the front now!

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(I’m going to paint the sashes blue when I have a minute)

The bottom windows are restored wood windows; the top ones were broken, missing, and potentially salvageable with a ton of work that we would have done if the other ones weren’t missing and broken (in that order.)  So we replaced that mess with vinyl replacement windows.  No regrets there.

Obviously there’s some fancy trim painting to do still.  STAY TUNED.

And as far as being able to live in the house come winter – we’ve done a lot of the wiring and the plumbing is roughed in, which means we can insulate and drywall soon.  And we’re pondering how to heat the house in the long term, and in the meantime there’s a woodstove to install…

No more knockdowns

This is our friend Neil, and the house he is closing on this month.

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It’s about two blocks from our house, which I hesitate to call a Monster now that we live in it, so new name suggestions welcome.  Like our house, it was owned by the City of Buffalo and put onto the demolition list.  Obviously I think old buildings add value to their surrounding community, or Kevin and I wouldn’t be throwing so much effort into keeping something up that was well on the way to falling down.  There are many demolitions that have happened in my neighborhood (how do you think we have three vacant lots in a row?) and more keep happening.  When there’s a minor fire, the house isn’t rehabbed, it’s torn down.  When the city takes a house, it falls onto the demo list and is taken down.

Properties foreclosed on by the city are auctioned each fall.  The problem with buying a house owned by the city is that it takes a year or more.  If our house and Neil’s were homestead-eligible, we could have shortened that process to a few months and $1 plus closing costs.  As it is, we had to thrash through a byzantine thicket of red tape and bureaucratic procedures.  For most of the process, we weren’t sure that the deal would go through and couldn’t rule out the possibility that we’d been throwing away hundreds of dollars and months of time.  Even with the support of basically everyone we talked to on various floors of City Hall, there was no expediting the process, and our houses fell further into disrepair while we could only watch.  Our roof had holes cut in it, so every month of delay meant a month of rain eroding the structure.  Luckily last summer was a drought…

As I’ve been told down at Niagara Square (and correct me if I’m wrong,) the zones for eligibility in homesteading properties haven’t been updated in decades.  As they stand, they rule out the expedited acquisition of plenty of otherwise ideal properties for extensive rehab.  There are far fewer people who are willing to fight through a thicket for a year and pay fair market price for one of these properties, even if that price hovers around the thousand dollar mark.

Kevin and I attended a community meeting the other month and were recognized at our small table by a representative of the city, who said that Buffalo needs more people like us to do what we did and preserve neighborhood integrity by preventing demolitions.  My reply then and now is that the city should make it far easier for people who want to rehab a demo property to acquire it in a timely manner.  My neighborhood needs more houses to stay up, and right now we’ve got our hands full with this one.  We welcome those who wish to join our struggle and would prefer that they had an easier time than we did.

ANYWAY, how’s progress on our place?  We’ve got most of the wood windows repaired and ready to put back in place, are setting a date for a work holiday to scrape, repair and paint the clapboard, and have shored up the very back of the house which will be Kevin’s workshop.  Still to come: roof and porch repair.  We’ve got our hands full this summer and fall, that’s for sure.

My mom visited for four days just to work on the house.  She's a powerhouse!  (and that's our new dog Isis)

My mom visited for four days just to work on the house. She’s a powerhouse! (and that’s our new dog Isis)

Outside work

As K. said in the last post, we’re focusing a lot on the outside of the house right now.  When the weather was cold and we were working inside, it was hard for people to tell that any work was being done – except when we’d have massive work party days every month or so.  Now that we’re able to work outside, we can do things that are immediately visible to the neighborhood (even if a lot of times it will look worse before it looks better, like when half of the paint has been scraped off the porch clapboard.)  We’re both looking forward to the day when our house doesn’t come across visually as a huge eyesore that’s begging for demolition or vandalization.  It’s also easy to meet your neighbors when you’re out and about.  I know I don’t really need to go into the importance of knowing your neighbors… and it’s easy to strike up a conversation from the starting point of yard work, snow shoveling, or home repairs.

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“so, your porch needs some work?” since this was taken window frames have been primed and OSB has been replaced with brick walkway (thanks, obsolete ex-chimney)

The other thing we’re doing right now is planting trees and shrubs on the side lot.  We’re way too occupied with stabilizing the house to have a full garden this year, but the earlier trees are planted, the longer they have to grow.  We ordered some plants through the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual tree and shrub sale, and although they are tiny right now, we’re looking forward to a future of lilacs providing color and fragrance as well as a wall of evergreens providing a windbreak for the wind that blows off the river straight through our side lot.

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our chosen paint colors. green = clapboard, white = trim, blue = window sashes, orange = trim detail

Even more than the holes in the roof, the most glaring problem with the outside of our house (at least visually speaking) is the peeling paint.  Well, maybe also the boarded up windows, which have to wait until each wooden window can be stripped, repaired, reglazed, and repainted.  It’s hard to know where to begin sometimes, with a huge project like this.  That’s why it’s good to step back once in a while and work on smaller projects like tree planting that demonstrate to passers-by that the house is being cared for and on the way to being occupied again.

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broken lath bonfire in the side yard

Good to know

  • I learned the other week that our house was still on the demolition list.  Fellow broken house buyers: it’s worthwhile to follow up and make sure that after the sale is finalized, someone notifies the Demolition office and your house is removed from the list.  Apparently it’s as easy as getting Real Estate to call or email the Demo office.
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A good goal for a work holiday is “fill the dumpster”

  • If the scheduled monthly meeting of the City appraisal board doesn’t have quorum, the meeting doesn’t happen.  If the meeting doesn’t happen, your appraisal can’t get approved and the sale of your broken house can’t move forward.  This has happened four months in a row now, according to a friend trying to buy a City-owned demolition list property not far from ours.  If you want to know why buying a house from the City can take over a year, it’s things like this.
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If you have four chimneys and only two are usable, you have two chimney’s worth of bricks with which to make things like a scrap wood burnin’ pit

  • The county clerk is about 6 months to a year behind on issuing deeds.  If you need to prove that you own your house in the meantime (say, getting your water service hooked back up,) they will give you a certified document for around $7 that says so.
If a cast iron sits on a wood floor under a leaking roof long enough, you get this situation

If a cast iron bathtub sits on a wood floor under a leaking roof long enough, you get this situation

  • If you need to talk to someone at the water meter shop, go in the morning.  Afternoons are crowded and the phone is impossible.
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Scrap wood burnin’ pit

  • People care about reusing lath!  The broken house scene is totally overrun with lath and most people I know either dump it or burn it, but an artist in Brooklyn got in touch through this blog about taking some of ours and it’s good to know that theoretically you don’t have to trash the stuff.  There’s also a place you can drop it off in town to get reused (will ask the friend who knows where and update this post,) and I’ve talked to people who have actually sold lath elsewhere.  Rusted Grain makes stuff out of lath too.

And a short update on our place: power is on, indoor demolition is 3/4 done, water gets turned on next month, we’re doing ~1 work holiday per month and have been getting excellent help from friends and family that way, and we’re going to paint the outside a different shade of green once the weather gets warmer.