Archive for renovation

Entry Door Restoration

Posted in Renovation and Restoration, Uncategorized with tags , on July 31, 2009 by Kent

Door that came with the houseDoor restoration project

While the photo on the left is admittedly a little rough, its good enough to give an accurate idea of the horrible, horrible door that greeted you when you entered our house when we first moved in. The image on the right is what we’ve replaced it with.

I’d say that the first obstacle you have to overcome is finding a door the correct size. It is only relatively recently that doors and windows started to come in standard sizes. That means that you are rarely able to buy a door right of the floor and install it in an old house.

We were lucky to find an original door to our street that a neighbor was willing to part with. Of course, they were willing to sell the door because it was in rough shape. With a lot of work — which included repairing broken and missing wood, having the leaded glass rebuilt, and replacing the larger panes with security glass — the door was finally able to be installed.

I know its a lot more work than most folks would do, but having a door that is appropriate to the house was worth it.
Door restoration projectYou can see some in process shots after the jump Continue reading

Historic House Colors

Posted in Renovation and Restoration with tags on July 31, 2009 by Kent

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the cart comes before the horse. We were well into painting the trim colors of our house before I ever discovered this 1917 paint sample from the Old House Colors Web site.

Ironically, most of the colors we’d already chosen were either on this chart, or close to it. Since our house was also built in 1917 I found that fortunate.

Still, finding the sample did save the day. We needed to pick a color for the porch ceiling and just couldn’t find the right blue. After finding this sample, we ended up choosing a yellow ochre … a color I otherwise would not even have considered.

New Additions to Historic Structures

Posted in Development, Renovation and Restoration with tags , on July 30, 2009 by Kent
The alley facades of many Capitol Hill homes do not look like the historic fronts

The alley facades of many Capitol Hill homes do not look like the historic fronts

Here’s a debate I’ve been having with a neighbor of mine: When you add on to a building that’s  90+ years old, do you have to keep the style of the older structure or are you allowed to depart from that style?

Historical Districts and codes aside, I’d like to know what people think from a personal perspective.

I view is that there should be truth in architecture and that construction should be of its time. If that means you meticulously restore a historic house and then put a modern addition on it, to me that’s acceptable. Unify styles with form, scale, and color.

My neighbor thinks that any construction connected to an older building should look like the older building. While I can see where some MAY want to go that route, I don’t agree that it is the only correct way to proceed.

Visit to Smoot Lumber

Posted in Renovation and Restoration with tags on July 29, 2009 by Kent

Smoot LumberI finally got around to getting supplies for the balustrade I need to rebuild. Because my goal is to restore it rather than just build one, I was limited on where I could go for my lumber.

I opted to go to Smoot Lumber located on Edsel Road in Alexandria. They’ve been in business since 1858 and if you are undertaking a restoration project the chances are always good that they’ll be able to get you what you need. Depending upon how fussy you are and how much money you want to spend, they’ll even mill what you want.Smoot building materials

I was able to find stock that matched the remnant from the old balustrade. That was great. Now, I just need to set the time aside to set up the miter saw, get the nail gun, and have at it.Truck load of balustrade materials

Great Stone Wall Restoration

Posted in Renovation and Restoration with tags on July 24, 2009 by Kent

As I may have mentioned, I’m heavily involved in trying to dig up information on Kennedy Brothers builders, so last weekend I decided to visit the Kennedy homes located around 6th Street, Maryland Ave., and Lexington Street, NE. One of the nice things I saw was this restored stone wall. I think they did a great job, and its nice to know that someone still knows how to do this kind of work. When I find out who did the work, I’ll pass that along. Restored garden wall

There’s also a home on 7th Street, NW, in Petworth that also has a great restored wall too. I wonder if its the same mason.

The Things You See … When Going to Open Houses

Posted in Capitol Hill, Real Estate, Renovation and Restoration with tags , , on July 20, 2009 by Kent

Poorly installed small sinkMy partner and I went to an open house yesterday that was a train wreck. All in all, it didn’t look too bad on the surface, but the more you allowed what you were seeing sink it, the worse it got.

One of the things that jumped out to me as a HUGE red flag was this little sink which was probably no more than 9″ x 12″. There were two of them, one in each condo of this former single family and store structure.

Poorly installed small sinkThe first bathroom that had this was a bit odd. This small sink is designed to be attached directly to the wall without any support from below. The stand that the builder decided to install is from a much larger sink set, and it forced them to get really creative in connecting the two pieces. It was filled in with … I don’t know what the gap was filled in with. It wasn’t porcelain like the basin or pedestal. It was some mystery product.

The second bathroom that had this basin at first appeared better, until I remembered that it is not a drop in basin. So as I looked around the counter top it looked like it was cut to fit the shape of the sink. Ok, wacky, but not completely horrible … until I looked underneath.

When I viewed underneath I quickly saw that the sink was not attached to the wall. It was not attached to anything. The only thing holding it up was the plumbing and the trap. There was also a lot of goop (mastic, mystery adhesive, who knows) just glopped on to keep the sink in place.

I gotta tell you. If a builder can’t handle getting a couple of sinks installed correctly, I really question everything else they’ve done and would not be comfortable living there. See images below.
Poorly installed small sink
Poorly installed small sink

Transom Restoration Project

Posted in Renovation and Restoration with tags on July 16, 2009 by Kent

Every time I start a project in the house it never ceases to amaze me what previous owners did to the poor girl. Upstairs the house has four transoms, and the first one is finally done and installed again. The image below shows it in the open position.Transom Restoration
You may get an idea from the transom on the right on how bad they were … but in case you can’t fully see it, let me describe their state when we moved in. Each of them were painted shut by several coats of paint. In addition to that, the transom I just removed had every gap caulked and painted. And if that isn’t bad enough, the transom above to the right is also nailed shut.

This is going to take a while.