Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A House Update

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were keeping busy on the house while we were back in New York this holiday season.  Michael stayed at the house and, as a result, found a few issues that he could fix while he was there. 
Unfortunately, that meant that he and I ended up spending a lot of time apart, because I tried to stay at home with my parents and sister and grandmother as much as possible.  Brooklyn and Long Island aren't far in theory, but when you have to take into account traffic, and trawling for street parking, in the cold and dark (I was surprised at how early it got dark in NY) the distance seems far more vast.

The azaleas are doing well, although the one on the left is doing a bit better than on the right.  I am hoping that it's just a bit shocked from the cold, and that it pulls through the winter.

Michael spent a lot of time fixing things up around the house, in particular the duplex and the basement.  He put pads on the steps in the common stairwell., which helps reduce noise.

 We were considering whether we ought to put anything in the nave in the stairwell.   Michael was thinking a long, skinny mirror.  I think the space is perfect for a large statue of the Virgin Mary!  All kidding aside, we are probably going to leave it empty for now.
We bought another mat for the front entry way, so the foyer floor is more protected (especially against that nasty snow, sleet and wet).
 After much consideration, we also bought a brass coat rack/umbrella stand, a big bronze mirror, and an entry table.  I really like how the colors all go together, and I think it has the effect of making the foyer feel very homey.

 It was all going well until, as I mentioned before, it rained very hard and Michael woke up on Christmas Eve to leaks springing up in the basement and the master bedroom on the parlor floor.  Leaks, I have quickly learned, strike great fear and frustration in homeowners, especially when you do not know their source.  We spent a few days crawling around the terraces and climbing ladders, trawling and poking around the gutters.  The penlight that his parents put in his stocking for Christmas came in handy 120%.  Michael caulked everything for good measure.

He fixed the leak in the basement by filling the crevices in the pipe leading from the gutter into the basement with concrete.  Here you see his handiwork after he covered it with tarp, to protect it from further rain and to allow it to dry.
When I went a few days later, I could hear all the water sloshing through the pipes but the floor was dry and there was no water dripping, which was great.  Such a relief to see dry dirt!

It was really pouring when I was there to do my follow-up reconnaissance, and never have I paid so much attention to water drainage.

The more worrying leak was the one that was in the ceiling in the master bedroom.  For a while, we couldn't really fathom how the water was getting all the way into the middle of the ceiling of the room, and from where.  We knew it couldn't be an internal pipe.  This nearly foot-long seam in the ceiling was causing us some concern.
Ultimately, we figured it had to be water coming from the gap in this gutter.  If you analyze the water patterns (and stand under it as I did, and realize there were massive drops of water slipping through between the gutter and the wall every few seconds), it seems logical to conclude that this was the source.
You can see the water patterns a bit more clearly from farther back: 

While I was at the house, I used the opportunity to get a few more pictures, both of the interior and the exterior.  The little purple tree looks a little cold, but overall it seems to have adapted to its new home without many hiccups.  The ferns have lost their chlorophyll for winter but are as robust and springy as ever. 
The grass is holding up remarkably well.  I have great fondness for our Chinese fringe bush.  It's a sturdy little thing.

I am hoping the sedum hangs in there through the winter and emerges in the spring in full bloom.
In addition to all of these repairs, Michael also put up a tarp in the basement, to keep our stuff separate,
 and built a door separating the basement from the hatch, which will go a long way toward conserving energy and cutting down the heat bills. 

He also purchased a door insulation bottom, which I think of as a very nifty little door sock that helps prevent cold air and noise from infiltrating through the seam between the door and the floor.
Michael also fixed the rocks underneath the terrace, laying them flat so that they're more uniform.  One last change was to install window guards on several of the windows in the duplex, which Michael just barely managed to do before leaving for Hong Kong.

There were a few things that we planned and set in motion, but could not hang around to see to completion, and for these we are so very grateful to my parents, who have been unstinting with their time, care and attention.

My mom helped us locate a contractor who is experienced in glass installation, who in a stroke of luck was willing and able to come out on New Years' Day to survey the windows.  Within a week, he had ordered the custom glass and installed them in the parlor floor with custom molding. 
Previously, these two windows were open - and we suspect the previous owner just never finished the construction.  The glass helps light to filter through, while cutting down on noise.

My parents also helped us order a custom sized rug as a runner for the upstairs hallway - this is both to protect the floors and to muffle noise.  My dad installed it for us, using sticky pads to make sure that the rug doesn't slip.
Finally, it snowed recently in New York - it looked like a pretty big one.  We missed it (and I am of mixed minds whether I am happy or sad)!  Not only did my dad drive out in this inclement weather, he also helped us clear and shovel the snow.  It was a lot of work but he did it willingly and carefully and without being asked.  Thank you, dad! 

I am hopeful that things will run more smoothly now that we have made all of these improvements.  If I had to figure all of this stuff out by myself, I would be very intimidated.  However, I am so grateful that I have the support of our families, and Michael, and together we each play to our strengths to get this project completed.  Of course, home-ownership is a never-ending project....

As you can see, it is a ton of work (way more than either of us were expecting), however, we have fallen more and more in love with this house.  She (this house is definitely female) has character and, like any dame befitting her age, quite a few secrets and hidden depths.  We look forward to figuring out her many whims in the years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! The place is coming along great! The outside area is looking great as well. I hope you got all those leaks taken care of! Anyways, I have some free time coming up if you guys would like any help with the renovations. I won't mind making the trek out into the city!

    Franklin Stewart @ Muller Exteriors