Saturday, May 26, 2012

Curiouser and Curiouser

I promised a photo yesterday, but circumstances beyond my control caused a hiatus in the work on the house. 

Just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder around here, I learned Friday that WTB and Mrs. WTB have split up after something like 40 years of marriage.  The word "whomperjawed" pretty accurately describes my reaction.  So when WTB asked me if I'd help her move, I felt I owed it to both of them.  To WTB, certainly, for all the work he's done for me (remember when he built my picket fence?) and to Mrs. WTB for loaning out WTB's free labor and for all her encouragement in my crazy projects.  She's mostly settled in to her house across town and I might be able to squeeze in a couple hours' work on the house yet tonight. 

But before I do, here's what we've accomplished so far:
The house looks pretty bad right now.  My motivation is thinking how nice she'll look once we're done.  I try not to think of all the work in between before we get to that point.

I filed my Application for Certificate of Appropriateness from the City's Historic Preservation Commission.  They don't meet until the third Wednesday in June, so I won't have my paint colors approved until then.  I got an email from the Building Inspector a couple of days ago saying that I need a building permit to paint.  What the what?!  That's odd, but okay.  I filled that out and she signed off on it, so now we can scrape away without fear of running afoul of the law.  (As long as we follow EPA guidelines for working with lead paint.)

As I scrape it down to bare wood, I'm uncovering lots and lots of layers of paint.  (An eighth-inch thick in places.)  The very bottom layer is indeed dove gray, so the little old man was right.  It's also been a sort of tan color, and painted white many many times, and the trim's been black or very dark green as well as white and gray at one time. 

My plan is to scrape one section at a time down to bare wood, caulk and make repairs where needed (there shouldn't be much of that), and then primer before moving on to another section of the house.  I think that's a bit less daunting than trying to scrape a whole side at one time. 

The COA states "All work must be completed within 180 days of approval or an extension must be filed."  I laughed. 


  1. Are you just scraping the paint or have you gotten your hands on a heat gun? The heat gun, if used properly, might make quick work of that paint. I'd do some research about lead paint first, just to be sure you're not going to be hurting yourself.

  2. When I use a heat gun on paint that I suspect to have lead it it, I place a fan to blow the fumes away from me. I usually have it set to low and it is enough breeze to keep it away from me. Secondly, I try never to let the paint actually bubble. I try to just soften the paint and then quickly scrap.

    I know a lot of people like the silent paint remover but I find it cumbersome.

    Good luck on the scraping and I am shocked at the Mr and Mrs WTB split. 40 yrs is a whole lotta yeRS.

  3. Nathan!! How in the world are you? Where in the world are you?? Hope you're doing well. I have a heat gun, but I'm paranoid about using it because I once worked a house fire caused by a heat gun...although, honestly, that fire was probably due more to stupidity than the heat gun. We might give it a try.

    Jan, I think they look cumbersome, too, and the price is way out of my tool budget. Have you seen the instructions on the internet for building a silent paint remover yourself? It looks like a good way to get electrocuted!

  4. Dang, I'm sorry to hear about WTB.

    I saw this real estate listing and thought of you,

    The ultimate project house, no?

  5. Christine, I LOVE that house! That place has so much potential. The porch is beautiful, and those gorgeous fireplaces! Wonder if they'd take my house as a trade? Hmmm....

  6. Holy Toledo. Estimated Monthly Payment: $298. Even with all that damage, that's practically a free amazing house :-) compared to house prices where I live.

  7. Karen Anne, What does it say about me that I looked at all those photos and thought, "It's not THAT bad..."???

  8. LOL, see, I knew you'd say that. This house is truely in the middle of nowhere. I almost bought one like it a few doors down about 10 years ago that was even bigger and built of brick.

  9. I think you and Christine should buy that house and flip it!

  10. Jayne, I'm back in Fargo, just graduated with my masters in architecture. Things are going well and I'm considering getting my real estate license and getting into selling homes while the architecture industry is in a slump. I already read in a newer post that the heat gun didn't work for you. I had a lot of success with it on my staircase but I think it had a lot to do with how the paint was over shellac, which melts at a lower temp than the paint. I want you to know that, even though I rarely post, I keep up with your blog. I'm excited to see the new paint colors on your house!