Tag Archives: delays

Planning… Stucco?

So I’ve had a pattern. Do project, burn out, take time off, start 2 new projects. I was around that point in the cycle 2 weeks ago and, well, it was pretty obvious that sooner or later I need to finish painting the kitchen cabinets, get the knobs on, and get glass in the doors. So I took down the ones that the Irishman never painted on the back sides. Incidentally, he skipped all the ones that are the hardest to pop on and off.


And he convinced me that I need to stucco around the patio door this year. I’ve had plywood sheathing exposed to the elements (under an overhang at least) for 2 years now. So after lining one side of the dining area with cabinet doors I filled  the other with stucco materials. Also PVC trim boards for casing around the patio door.


And then I got food poisoning. (And I don’t know what from but I probably cooked it myself.)

So here’s the plan. First off, the old plan was to have the whole rear of the house stuccoed at once. The new plan is to defer the air shaft area indefinitely…


And do it like everyone else did and just redo the part that I can see for now. As in, new stucco on the plywood and the stucco that got this lovely green paint.


Now, stucco terrifies me. Because there are some stucco houses I love.


But there are others that are McMansions. Also, modern stucco is supposed to have ugly control joints so it doesn’t crack. I’m definitely going to need a couple because the stucco around the back door will be installed as a veneer over paint and plywood while the rest of the house (to be stuccoed later) can get it right onto the masonry, the old fashioned way.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I’ll install the new stucco with one horizontal control joint right around the top of the first floor. And I’ll wrap the corner and put the control joint right behind the downspout where you can’t see it. Because inside corners are bad, this means that when I go back and stucco the rest there will be a really long skinny strip of stucco that wraps the corner from the siding (the trim is PVC) to behind the downspout. Then the rest of the back inside the air shaft can hopefully get one seamless coat. Back to this photo again, the little bit of brick that’s showing behind the downspout is where the joint will be. (Note: I’m pretty sure the back of these houses are all a low grade of brick that needs to be stuccoed.)


Then there’s the small matter of texture. What I’ve noticed about old stucco is that it’s not as perfectly flat and often has a heavier texture than new stucco. That house I showed above? The walls seem to have heft. New stucco more often than not looks like a card house.


But the Crooked House is not Tudor. It’s not Cotswold Revival, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, or arts and crafts. It’s a very modest late Victorian, a period when I don’t think stucco was particularly popular. And the back has no architectural style at all really. I’m going to do the walls in a fairly smooth sand finish. That’s basically the plainest stucco finish and it was popular before my house was built and after. It’s also the easiest to do. And I’m skipping the corner bead. I’ll chip off some of the old bad repairs to let the wall be semi-flat, then I’ll just let the corners be a bit rounded off.



Another Delay, What’s New?

Last week, the Irishman made me a big request and a big promise. Could I hire him all week? And if so, I’d have all the woodwork in the house installed along with all the kitchen cabinets, the countertops, the sink, the vestibule door, and strike plates for all the doorknobs by today. How much did he actually do? Nothing.

Mind you, he has had some difficult things happening lately. So I knew that there was a reasonable chance that this promise was outrageously unrealistic. But “Kitchen Friday” was also a powerful drug. The high was magnificent, but 3 days of it clouded my judgment. Meaning, it made me believe that this thing was actually happening and that I should stay away and not work on the place myself. Needless to say, coming down from this high made me irritable.

So the old plan from last week was to have 2 weeks to paint baseboards and make other finishing touches at a not-too-frantic pace, furnish the bedrooms as the get finished, and bring the sofa into a nearly complete house on the 5th. That last part is still happening. My sofa can stay where it is until my parents get ready to decorate for Christmas. The major adjustments are the not-too-frantic part and the nearly complete part.

The old plan was that I was going to prep and get rid of random crap tomorrow and Sunday my parents would join me and do lots of cleaning and start painting trim. The new plan is I’m installing baseboards and other trim all day tomorrow, my dad will prep and touch-up-paint Sunday, my mom will do all the cleaning by herself, and I’ll focus on getting rid of random crap. That’s right, my way of coping with all this is to dump more work on my parents. Son of the year I am.

So the goal is shrinking. I still hope to paint all the trim in the back bedroom except the windows. They can wait until it’s warm next year. I want to at least get the front bedroom’s trim in but could wait till Phase 2 when the room gets major rework to paint it. And in the living room, one radiator is going in without baseboards behind it. Which is sad, but I can’t get the baseboards in until after the kitchen is done and bringing the electric radiators back would be even sadder.

So now I’m back on the stick. In 2 weeks I should have sorta finished bedrooms, a thoroughly unfinished kitchen, and a really pretty wood shop with a nice couch in it. I still hope to have a Christmas party, but I’m giving myself till the 12th Night.

When it Rains it Pours

So you know that I was a little bummed about the unexpected ignored work I had to do on the banister. I was especially upset because if you didn’t know, the Pope is coming to Philadelphia September 21-25. And the demand for lodging is massive. I was kind of excited to put the Crooked House up for rent for the week at Waldorf-Astoria rates. I’ve given up every deadline I ever hoped to have so far, but it would make me terribly, terribly sad to miss this one. And my house is in a good spot.

But with this on my mind, what do I need to change my mood? How about a flood? Not in my house, but my parents’. They have a beaver system to waterproof the basement. These baseboards are made of vinyl and create a dam. Any water that comes through the walls drains out onto the driveway. It’s kind of a weird setup with the walls on the wrong side of the waterproofing dam, but it seems to have always gotten the job done.


Until Monday, that is. We had a bit of a downpour and the gutters were clogged, so they overflowed and water flowed into the window well. No action shots but here’s where the action was. You can at least see the erosion and the missing bricks.


I disconnected the garden hose and threw it in to make a siphon and then went to get my mom to help me clean the gutters. My dad was on a conference call and I tried to leave him alone. But then the rain slowed up and I decided to go down and clear out any area that got wet downstairs. You remember what the basement looked like after my grandmother moved and I took all her stuff in December?


So basically we had to play Tetris. The living room, formally a bastion of civility, is now adorned with 10 extra chairs. (Yes, 10. After having dinner parties in college where I used the radiator for seating I want all of them.) There’s a futon mattress and a bunch of trash bags under my mom’s piano. (Did piano lesson season just end? If so, that was good timing.) A stack of boxes in the hallway.


And downstairs, that air mover that saved my kitchen ceiling’s drywall is making the carpet look like a moon bounce. This might have been fun if it weren’t to dry out a flood.


The first time I saw the rugs tenting up like that I was a lot younger. I think it was the water heater that time. And I gleefully ran all over it. Part of me might still do that at my age, but most of me will just tell everyone I know don’t carpet your basement!

I’ve been counting down my to-do list 27 months. It’s grown for most of that time, not shrunk. But now I’m counting it a little harder. Not even all of it; just the handful of jobs that need to happen before I call in the floor finishers. Overall, I think the list looks kind of short. But I need to compress the bannister restoration, so I canceled my third jug of SoyGel and invested in a can of the scary stuff.