04 August 2008

Update on Nutwood

We've about come to the end of what we can do for Nutwood this year; we wanted to get the house painted, but the more important jobs took up a big ol' bunch of money. As of now, though, the gas leaks have been fixed; the exposed hot wires have been fixed, and the electrical outlets made non-lethal (next year, we plan to replace all the knob-and-tube wiring, which still takes up half the house); and the concrete steps up to the house in the front have been repaired.

And the contractor's been so busy! Here, for instance, you see an overhang which was thoroughly rotted out, on account of the unmaintained gutter. It was in such bad shape that it had plants growing out of it. And look! All fixed.

I said ROOF garden, dummy!  Not GUTTER garden!

Here you see a corner of the house which does NOT have, any longer, a giant vine, growing up the house, engulfing the live electrical wires, pulling off the gutter, and climbing on up the roof, toward my room, where it planned to eat me. It was scary.

Now, however, this is a boring corner. I give thanks.

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

Let's go to the basement now. When we first saw the house, there was a lake here. Now things are pretty dry. Why? Ah, remember the first picture of the formerly rotten eave and gutter? This is the basement corner underneath.

Now suitable for clothes drying.

An even bigger lake was in this corner, and this is drying up, too. This is the corner underneath the completely plugged up gutter and storm drain, from which the contractor pulled 35 pounds of compacted debris. This pretty much explained why they weren't working.

Originally we needed boats to the to the wall from here.

All of the basement window frames were rotten. I like to keep things as close to their original conception as possible, but in this case, we went with the contractor's suggestion of glass blocks. They're safer than the panes, they let in more light, and the installed vents give the basement more air circulation (see drying lakes above).

Cheery.  Happy.  Dry.  Your basement window.

And my favorite piece of the basement so far: when we first saw the house, this alcove (originally the steps from the basement to the outside) was blocked up with a rotten piece of plywood, covering up a load of junk, including a boiler. When the contractor pulled the junk out, the lake of water got larger -- the junk was acting as a dam. We're waiting to see whether the alcove dries out now that the surface water is being directed away from the house, or whether there's water seeping in from underground.

Strangely compelling site of not much at all.

This is the same corner, from outside. The white patch visible right above the stone foundation, by the new fence (also installed by the contractor, since we have dogs), is the replacement wood for the rotten STRUCTURAL BEAM! Structural beam! What were people thinking. And why was it rotten? Oh, you know. The plugged up gutter and storm drain. Moral of this story: People. Get the gutters cleaned out. Really. They're not decorative.

There was a squirrel's nest IN the beam.

We also had to pay for things that the borough required, such as porch railings. From Construction Junction we got old spindles (saving hundreds of dollars), and the contractor built them into a wonderful railing, with a cedar top and some copper newel post finials I got on eBay -- I chose simple spherical ones, since the lines of the house are so simple.

No porch swing this year either, but one will come.

And here we are, present day Nutwood. We did so want to paint it this fall, so as to cheer up the neighborhood, but as I say, we think not. There was all that rotten siding to fix. We're planning to paint the mint green a sage green, the pink a straw, and the purple brown -- natural colors, more fitting the simplicity of the house.

This is now a safe and grateful house.

Coming soon: pictures of the inside. The circus themed dining room is still as it was. But at least it won't be falling into the basement any time soon.

Oh, and by the way, if you're in Pittsburgh and you need a general contractor, here's the guy we LOVE.