It was like that when I got here…



Last night we came home from work to find a tree branch had fallen during a windstorm and taken down part of our fence. The branch came from our neighbors’ tree, just like our home inspector predicted a year ago. He instructed us to put our neighbors on notice it, which we didn’t, because really, who does that.

It probably will cost less to repair than a deductible. :-/


Deciding whether to replace the 88 year-old windows

This will be a blog entry-in-progress, but since I am looking for advice/recommendations/referrals, it makes sense.

PROS of replacing the windows:

– Slightly lower heating bill (although not drastic) and the house will be less drafty. Our heating bill last year was north of $400 per month for 2200 square feet – WITH an automatic thermostat, electric blankets, and many Christmases of down clothing.

– From a good distance, these multi-pane casement windows look nice and because they are a less common style, are part of the character of our house. However, when you get within 4 feet of them, you can see that many of the windows are rotting. Most of them have been shoddily repaired with glaze, which just looks like a bad paint job (but can’t be corrected).

– On the outside of the windows, the metal that holds the screens and storms (most of which don’t exist anymore) look pretty ugly because they are bare metal on a dark brown wooden casement. Not sure how the city let the PHOs get away with that. New windows would have screens and storms that match.

– All of the window hardware has been painted multiple times. So offensive – and as we learned repainting the bedroom, difficultto restore. (Even Restoration Hardware doesn’t sell the replacement we would need.)

– All the new widows would have screens! We would actually enjoy moderate temperatures with some fresh air. Right now, in the whole house, there is only one window that both has a screen and has a clear path in which to open. This would also cut down slightly on heating and cooling cost, for those times of the season where the outdoors is actually more moderate that the closed-up house (this happened last Friday when the summer heat finally broke).

– Windows will open “out” instead of “in” making furniture placement and window treatments easier. We had a desk placed in front of the window pictured below, but if there is anything on the desk (like a lamp), the window can’t open – very impractical.

CONS of replacing the windows:

– Cost. We haven’t had a formal quote for replacing the windows with wooden windows (ie true replacements), but we know from research it would cost about $40,000. We are now considering high-quality (or so they seem) vinyl windows. (Only the moving part of the window gets replaced.) The estimate we have is $16,000.

Complicating factors:

– Our city is incredibly picky about appearance. We are not allowed to change the shape, color, or style of our windows. This means replacing the windows is not as easy as buying double-hung windows like you see on the commercials – we need actual tall multi-paned casement windows that replicate what is already there.

– The two leaded, bowed bay windows in the front cannot be replaced, so those will stay and contribute to the draftiness. Curtains in front of them would help, but also may draw moisture which could damage the window.

– For some reason I still don’t understand, in places where the external and internal color are the same, we will need to have the windows painted. This is an additional expense.

– We fear that replacing the windows with vinyl replacements will raise the value of the home, but not nearly as much as wooden reproductions. However, if we wait around until we can afford the $40K, will probably be retirement-age.

It’s already starting to get cold – time to make some progress on this project. Anyone have any recommendations or referrals for good window companies? All comments are appreciated. The quote we have for $16,000 is from Window World. We were pretty happy with the salesman (for what that’s worth), but we haven’t yet seen any examples of their windows. I like the fact they they install over only 2 days. Our general contractor from our previous work wants to bid, but he does not specialize in windows and I wonder if that would be kind of like ordering the fish at a hamburger restaurant.

Why cleaning my house takes so long, reason #1

I just brushed her a week ago. She is not even full size yet. She sheds like this ALL year.

The cloud has lifted – painting over the orange walls in the bedroom

The original wall color was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese; it took three coats to cover with Sherwin-Williams Lemon Meringue flat Superpaint. That color really grates on the soul after a while. I actually considered that maybe the PHOs painted this color to sabotage the bank’s sale of the home once they knew they would forclose. You know, like a less extreme version of pouring cement down the pipes. Here’s a Before picture. (The bedroom served as storage for the first two months while we lived in the attic during the HVAC installation.)

The trim, windows, closet doors and closet interiors were a non-glossy off-white which had yellowed and faded over time (at least, I hope that was not the original color). It took four coats to cover the wood trim with Sherwin-Williams Bright White glossy Superpaint. The Professor and Barba Mama (my parents – look it up, Mom) helped us start this project with 3 very long days of labor.

Note the bedsheets covering the windows (for four months). Sorry, neighbors, at least you don’t have an abandoned house on your street anymore.

Because the windows had so many layers on paint on them, we took down the 5 original windows and sanded them down to bare wood on the inside-side with an orbital sander. The Professor took down all the window, closet, and door hardware and stripped most of it to bare metal with steel wool and paint stripper. This took 8 hours and produced a lot of fumes. Some hardware retained a nice brass finish (some didn’t).

The old hinges, with several layers of paint on them, couldn’t be salvaged. Rehanging with new hinges, even of the exact same size, was a huge challenge. It took about an hour to get each window hung so that it would close properly. We spent about $200 on 22 brass-plated hinges from Home Depot. Unexpected expense, but the new hinges look great.

After my parents left, summer started, and we had been living in construction for 5 months. We took the summer off from everything house-related (including this blog) except for sporatic yard work. Now the weather is getting cooler and we are more motivated. We haven’t replaced all the window hardware yet, but we probably won’t, because we are now considering replacing the windows.

Here are some pictures of bedroom now. I love the pale buttery color – my camera phone on a cloudy day doesn’t quite to it justice.

Before                                                                           After

Before                                                                           After

Here is hardware that turned out nicely

Future projects: finishing the guest room and guest bathroom, painting the office, and (I hope) getting new windows installed.


Check out this little guy I found at a thrift store for $1.50.

He was a “scented” candle that smelled pungently like a mix of generic crayons in a tin can and bananas that you put in the freezer because you are finally going to make banana bread for the first time. And also I need something in which to put peppermint sticks at Christmas.


What is this crap? A white bowl? SLACKERS.

So anyway,

Simmering water and frosting knife.

The scented part is only at the very top, which supports my assertion that this scented candle smells BAD.

So, now I have:

YAY! He’ll get some peppermint sticks for Christmas.


Check out this fence fail in my backyard.

It looks like this was part of a whole fence at one time because there is similar fencing near the house. I don’t understand why this section of fence was left behind when the rest of the fence was removed. Lazy AND weird.

Nice paint job, jerk faces.

So here we are trying to improve our (two-story) garage by scraping old paint, plastering over an old exhaust hole and repainting the whole thing.


Here is a good example of my contention that the previous homeowners (“PHOs”) were lazy and boarderline negligent. Check out the attention to detail on the garage windows.

Note that only the windows facing the neighbors look like this. The one facing the house looks just fine.

Other evidence that the PHOs were lazy about their yard and garden – 10 abandoned tennis balls and assorted dog toys that, while now obscured by leaves, where not actually out of human reach. Lazy! Although this is kind of cool:

That weed is growing into/out of the tennis ball.