Home improvements aren’t fun but they’re necessary. Especially for houses built in the 19th century. We’ve done our best to patch holes so rodents couldn’t join us inside, we repaired what porches we could ourselves, and continue to demo the inside one room at a time -restoring original wallpaper where possible, uncovering hardwood flooring and exposed beams. But there comes a point when your own expertise hits a brick wall.
Our porch roofs were rotting and leaning, the 1950s aluminum siding was certain to be hiding a multitude of sins, and our lack of gutters and poor drainage made for some wet basements and an over active sump pump. The timing was perfect (and by timing I mean low-interest rates) for a friend of a friend to take up this project. He’s a contractor who grew up in the Village and as a kid went sledding in the backyard (as has been the tradition since my Grandfather was little). He’s helped to restore so many of the houses and buildings in the Village and his work preceded himself.
For the past month I was up at the crack of dawn in order to avoid Money Pit-esque scenarios like the work crews hammering right outside my bedroom window (there was not much sleeping to be had once they arrived). There were days when I found myself trapped indoors, all exits blocked with saws and scaffolding and raw construction. And other days when I couldn’t use the bathroom because there were people hovering outside the windows and the curtains just weren’t doing the trick.
Once the aluminum siding was removed we discovered our farmhouse was actually a spaceship.
The back porch has been threatening to collapse for about a quarter of a century. It took us a weekend to tear it down in preparation for the new one to be built. We saved whatever wood we could -to use in future construction projects around the farm.
Now the house is no longer crooked. The roofs aren’t leaning and leaking, there’s insulation between the original clapboard siding and the new vinyl and the house looks as good as it did in 1904 when my great-great grandfather bought it.
Here’s to 100 more years.