With demo day at the Greenhorn Farmhouse completed, I decided to turn our attention to the outside of the house. This was February, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and we were experiencing weather in the 60’s. This was a gift horse I wasn’t about to look in the mouth.
I set the crew to work replacing damaged siding, and damaged exterior trim. They prepared the gables for painting and I had them enclosed two windows. I can hear you gasp! I know … close in windows! That’s almost sacrilegious, right up there with removing a tree. It just shouldn’t be done. But the existing laundry room did not function well and in order to relocate it, those windows needed to go. You’ll understand why when I show the before and after floor plans in a future post. For now, just try to trust me.
The siding was cedar, batten board stained a dark brown. As we removed damaged sections, we discovered old clapboards underneath the cedar. I debated long and hard about removing the cedar and restoring the old clapboard. In the end I decided to keep the cedar. Lead-based paint remediation can be expensive and I was pretty sure the paint would contain lead. That wouldn’t be a huge problem if the paint was sound. I could seal and paint over it, a process referred to as encapsulation. It’s an acceptable method for dealing with lead-based paint.
However, if the paint were in poor condition and peeling or chipping it would have to be scraped and sanded and that’s the part that gets expensive. There are environmental regulations that govern this process.
Additionally, I had no way of knowing if all the clapboards were sound. Somebody, sometime, had chosen to cover them. I had to assume the odds were good that at least some of the clapboards were damaged and would require repair or replacement. In the end I decided to stay with the devil I knew.
After the siding and trim repairs were made, we focused on replacing the windows. 22 windows in all! That is a lot of windows for a 1500 square foot house! I think that’s one of the things I loved about this house. It was filled with natural light inside and breathtaking views outside.
I chose a window manufactured in the Chicago area by a company named Lang. They were a double paned, double hung vinyl window and I was extremely happy with the windows and the with price. I was however, less than thrilled with the company itself. As a result, I no longer use Lang windows. If you’re looking for replacement windows, I recommend Simonton and I’ll explain why in a future post.
Many of the window sills were rotted and had to be replaced before new windows could be installed, and again, I was thankful for the mild weather.
While one crew worked on siding, paint prep, including prepping the garage, and window replacement, a roofing crew tackled the roof. The existing roof consisted of old shake shingles, and two layers of asphalt shingles. Based on their appearance, I could not believe the house did not leak. However, the only evidence of water damage was around the skylights in the front porch. I would be removing those and closing up those opening. That porch has 6 large windows and the door has glass as well. It did not need the extra light, the skylights were unsightly and they can be prone to leaking.
Because the roof still had the original wood shingles (sometimes called shake shingles), we would have to install new roof decking. Wood shingles are applied over spaced planks. This allows the wood to dry properly and helps avoid rot. Asphalt shingles are applied over solid decking material.
With these tasks completed, we were ready for paint. That meant I had to choose a paint color. I looked at several. Did I want something light? Did I want something trendy, maybe a gray or greige? Something that looked farmhouse or something that looked mountain? In the end I went with dark brown.
That might seem like an unlikely choice and I admit, it’s not my go-to favorite. But, I believe in function, not just form. Someone was going to have to maintain this house. That meant time and money. Because the original cedar siding was dark brown, I knew that going back with a dark brown stain/sealer would be the easiest to maintain. It could be reapplied when needed but would not need to be scraped or sanded. And, in the end, with white trim I thought it looked great.
Before the exterior work was finished, we’d also replace the garage doors and the front deck, reglaze broken windows in the garage, and paint a shed.
One more thing before I go …. in the interest of transparency. The whole process wasn’t nearly as smooth and organized as I laid it out here. We’d start something, realize we didn’t have what we needed and focus on something else until the materials could be purchased and delivered. Or weather would change our plans for a couple of days. Or the roofers didn’t arrive when I’d hoped. Or the gutter guys finally arrived and had to temporarily abandon the project due to a tornado warning.
Sometimes this work can make me want to pull my hair out or hide out at home with a fire in the wood stove, a good book and a cup of tea. But these things are all part of the process.
In a recent article, Dan Miller of 48days.com talked about the importance of embracing our journey. He said, “What if the journey itself is part of the growth and process leading to ultimate “success?” That’s true with renovation work. Of course I’m pushing for the finished product but I learn a lot from the process and the bumps and surprises, the delays and backorders … all of it is part of the journey too.