Tag Archives: home renovation

Fireplace Repairs Post Flooding

WEEK 26: Although the majority of our house hails from the 1920’s, an addition was added in 1990’s by a previous owner – which included a wood burning fireplace. For years the fireplace provided a warm crackling glow to the our family room. Then … it was inundated by a flood or two.

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2007 Flood repairs: note the mantle design

FIREPLACE SURVIVES: During the second flood of 2007 our family room sustained a fair amount of damage and required some renovations. The floors in the picture above show the radiant heat coils that survived this flood event as did the fireplace – or so we thought.

It wasn’t until the subsequent flood event in 2011 that we realized the integrity of the fireplace had been compromised. Water is pretty sneaky in that sense, finding its way into any nook or crevice and quietly wreaking havoc. So during flood repairs resulting from Hurricane Irene a few years late, the entire fireplace had to be removed.

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2011: Mantle, surround, fireplace box, floor of the fireplace – all had to be removed.

HIDDEN BENEFITS: I never really liked the original fireplace mantle. It was a bit busy and slightly ornate for my taste. I could have easily lived with it, but thanks to flood damage, now I wouldn’t have to! The entire fireplace had to be replaced: the firebox, the floor supports, the surround, and the mantle. Fresh start.

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New fireplace box

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Mantle and slate surround being installed.

ANOTHER FLOOD BONUS: In addition to the new fireplace installation where we now had the opportunity to assist in the design of the mantle (built by our carpenter crew) and choose the new surround (black slate), we also got to choose new floors. (Almost makes you wish you flooded, right?)

The mahogany floors being installed above replaced the previous floors that had been nicked up from years of our boys playing smash-up games with their cars and trucks and finding numerous other means to scratch them up.

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Project completed: new mantle, surround, fireplace box and floors (walls and insulation, too)

CHIM CHIM CHER -EE: A few years and a drastic house elevation later, we are preparing to put this said fireplace to work this winter. But just to play it safe and make sure that it survived the lift in tact, we had a chimney sweep come by to inspect and clean it – all the way to the roof.

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Chimney sweep at work

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS: During the numerous renovation projects we’ve endured over the years, I’ve learned something new from every professional that has worked on our house. For example, here I found out that a pre-fab fireplace, such as the one we have, is very easy to clean and rarely has any problems compared to a stone chimney – there are no ledges or crevices for soot to build up. Chim chim cher- oo!

Collateral Damage to Elevated House

WEEK 24: There are many positive aspects to lifting your house above the flood plain, mainly that you will no longer have the dreaded anticipation of an impending flood every time it rains. That can not be overstated enough.  However, with every gain there is liable to be some growing pains.

WALL CRACKS: Our house is from the 1920’s, at least parts of it. Some of our walls our plaster and the rest are sheetrock. We saw damage to both types of walls during our lift, but more to the plaster ones.

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Sheetrock: Gap runs floor to ceiling in the sheetrock in one corner

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Plaster wall cracks

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Plaster wall cracks after house elevation

Essentially, every room received these hairline cracks. As a result,  all of the rooms will need to be repaired and painted. This week my main project is choosing a color pallet. It’s turned out to be a lot more time consuming than I anticipated. Especially since I’ve decided to chase down the phantom “perfect” color.

NORTH FACING LIGHT: When we first moved into the this house, many of the walls were white. We added color everywhere. Nothing pronounced, generally neutral hues. But I’m ready for a change and since the walls all have some cracks, I get a do-over in terms of choosing a color scheme.

I’ve lived in this house for quite some time now and realize that several rooms are only afforded north facing light which means they tend to be on the dark side even on a sunny day. I’m looking to brighten up these gloomy rooms with bright warm tones.  Have you ever looked for a shade of off-white? There are many, many, many of them.

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Choosing an off-white color pallet

PAINT WHEEL: Although it may be hard to tell from this photo these are all variations of off-white. The bottom shades have a gray tinge (cooler tones) the one third from the bottom actually has a green tinge, and the others have a yellow  or brown (warm tones) tinge. There were peach tones that were immediately cut from contention.

I could make myself crazy spending days deciding on the “perfect” shade, but fortunately I’m under a deadline. I work better that way anyway. 

KITCHEN AND DINING ROOM: I also have to track down the color scheme for these two rooms. Again, I’m looking to brighten and lighten up the space, but don’t think I want to have a monochrome house. I”m leaning toward the color in the photo below, the sample on the wall, but may move up a few shades to lighten it as well.

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Color decisions

Floor Woes: Entirely unrelated to paint decisions, below are some photos highlighting what can happen to your floors when a “shim” of wood is left in the wrong place and then your million ton house is set back down onto it.

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Pencil is flush to floor

The above photo shows what a pencil should look like when resting on your floor.

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Pencil resting on bump in the floors

Note how this picture shows the pencil up in the air. It’s not too pronounced, but it is noticeable when you walk on it. My contractor is hoping to remove the shim today and assures me that the floor should  settle back down. All in all, the floors fared very well throughout this process. Which is more than I can say for the walls. Given the choice, I’d rather fix walls than floors. I’ve done both and walls are much easier.

Just a Mess

Week 22: What happens when a crew of sheet rock workers run amok in your house? Someone’s going to be very unhappy. That someone was me this week.  The first day this crew started, they made a huge mess. Dust was everywhere. The kind of dust that can find its way into closed cabinets. I was not happy. I let them know. I asked them what their wives would say if they made this kind of mess in their home, hoping to appeal to their spirit of treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

Fuel for the fire was that I had covered anything that may be in harm’s way, and someone had UNCOVERED everything. Seriously.

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Drywall goes up in new room

I thought they were really inconsiderate, but assumed they had heard my concerns. Well, they may have heard them, but they sure didn’t heed them. The next day’s mess was even bigger. They had come back to tape and mud the drywall and just let the spackling paste fly.

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This piece had been covered.

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Spackling mud on the stairs

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On a table

They also had it on a curtain rod in an adjoining room, door handles, the kitchen floor and the mat in our foyer. Guess they didn’t like my suggestion to treat our home with more respect.

Where was my contractor during all of this? Good question. I encouraged my contractor to refrain from sending pig-like animals to work on my home. He apologized.

What other fun treat did we have happen this week? Our contractor’s electrician broke through a sealed off bathroom to take a dump and clogged the toilet. Clogged it. Are you kidding me?

I’ve heard that construction can be really messy, but his week was over the top. If this we’re a cheesy 1970’s commercial I’d be encouraging Calgon to take me away. If this were a Rolling Stones song, I’d be reaching for mother’s little helper.