Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that we have done most of the work on this house ourselves because we are picky, we enjoy the creative process, and dealing with contractors can be very frustrating. Because so much of the exterior work that is needed on our house is beyond our expertise [Edit from Amy: Not that that EVER stopped us before.], we have been looking for a contractor to tackle the project for several years without much success. It turns out (shockingly) most people don’t want to work on restoration jobs which involve extra surprises, decisions and problem solving when there are plenty of straight forward modern projects they could be working on. So, after going through a slew of potential contractors we eventually just decided dramatically one afternoon that the exterior would have to stay this way forever and that we would just skip to landscaping. We sent a text to our landscaping friend to ask for some quotes.
Then, as if it was no big deal and as if this wasn’t the perfect solution to our years-long search, he says, “Well, my guys can do the exterior.” We were shocked and almost upset that our answer had been under our noses the whole time. It really was a perfect situation for us. The communication is awesome because he lives a block away, his crew is quality and respectful, and they are motivated to get the job done quickly. And get this – he and his crew reply to texts and phone calls! Crazy, huh?
We are about 1 month into the project and most of the focus has been on the porch. We decided not to make major design changes to the porch, but rather to rebuild it as it was… except, you know, not falling over. It’s not done yet, but we have a new roof, deck, railings, and stairs.
[Edit from Amy: It has been really weird having other people work on our house…something we have rarely done. It feels very luxurious knowing things are getting done and I’m not even there. It’s exciting to come home and see what new things have happened.]
When we bought our house the railings had already been removed, but we knew they existed at some point because of this picture from Google street view that was taken 12 years ago.
How about that awning over the front steps? Nice, huh? We actually weren’t originally thinking about adding railings, but then we saw this picture and liked how the porch looked with them. I think we will enjoy the porch more with the railings. They give it a cozy, room-like vibe.
We also weren’t originally going to replace the porch deck, but it was in rough shape and would have been silly not to take care of it now.
This was also a good time to refurbish the pillars.
As you can see in the picture above, we have removed the old concrete steps that were crumbling, and replaced them with stairs that match the porch.
The fascia board still needs to be added to the header and we are obviously still missing the siding that will go on the small porch gable, but it’s amazing how the new porch already makes the house look stronger and more majestic!
The crew removed the old porch ceiling and we hope to be able to strip the paint and restore this beautiful old wood. That is a project that Amy and I are going to tackle ourselves.
We are also taking this opportunity to have the concrete walkway and steps that led to the porch ripped up. The old concrete steps have been replaced with limestone and the walkway will be brick.
We have always hated the driveway… it went all the way to the back and then got even bigger in the backyard.
Yes, at times having a driveway has been convenient, but it was a LOT of surface area and just made it feel like our house was in a parking lot. We were always planning to remove most of the driveway, but after much deliberation we decided to eliminate the driveway altogether. We almost always have street parking in front of our house and we think that we will enjoy the added yard and greenery! On top of that, I have never liked seeing a car parked in our front yard. It definitely took away from the aesthetic of our neighborhood and our house.
In the back yard, see all the dirt? That was all covered in concrete! Most of that will be reclaimed with grass.
Amy and I are going add some flagstone pathways that lead from the back steps to the garage and chicken coop. There will also be a small path that goes around the side of the house where the concrete driveway used to be.
Another big project was the tuck pointing on all of the brick around the base of the house. We were surprised at how much of a difference this made in the overall look.
We also had the crew brick over a basement coal shoot and crawlspace access area that used to be just covered with plywood.
Lots of work still to do, but the porch was one of the biggest concerns and it’s almost done! We met with the painter this weekend and can’t believe that in just another month we might have a freshly painted house, with a structurally sound porch, siding, completed trim, new walkways, and new landscaping.
[Edit from Amy: We’ve known this house as our home for so long it truly is hard to picture it looking finished. It will be like meeting a stranger.]
We truly never thought this day would come!