house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

New wiring 1st floor! And paint!

Better pictures of the entry, I don't know why it won't show the older ones. I put up coathooks. I hate putting holes in the plaster, but it's the mudroom and needs to function in a house with no downstairs closets. I realize it should be a more formal room, but then, I love it, so who cares?

Living room today-

Dining room-

Stripping the banister-

Kitchen today-

Someone should help rip out the carpet, isn't it ugly?
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

Electrical work is started!

There is no more knob and tube wiring in the basement! And 2 first floor outlets are grounded!

The living room is mostly painted blue. The kitchen is deciding what color it wants to be. The 2 colors I tried didn't make me happy.

Can't rip out the porch carpet because of the lead paint underneath... Layers and layers of crumbled paint you could sweep off with a broom, not attached to the wood AT ALL. But the carpet didn't test positive for lead, I was worried about the dust seeping through. Well, I guess dust doesn't seep, but whatever.

More later, upset toddler!
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

Electrician #2 is #1!!

Two days ago the first electrician said it would cost $12,000 to get new wiring to replace our K&T. (This is house-wide, basement, 2 floors, and attic. Everything but the kitchen which has newer wiring. And we have a newer box in the basement already.)

Joe has an awesome pharmacist at his store (Joe's a Walgreens manager) who is building a house and recommended his electrician. he just did a walk-through of our firetrap. He said it would be around $1,200 for the basement and first floor, then when Joe asked about the whole house he said about $2,000. Tomorrow when he prices materials he will give us a call with a firm quote, but regardless, there's a pretty obvious difference.

The $12,000 electrician said it would be $650 to put in 3 outlets and a breaker. Another faceless electrician before him said he would do 20 or 25 outlets and 5 breakers for $950 or so. (he was only over the phone, that one would never return calls and had no interest in replacing all the K&T, he never saw the house...) But still, the newer quote is more similar to the faceless quote over the phone, as far as a ballpark figure goes. And the $12,000 electrician lives on another planet...

We shouldn't even need to take out a loan!! And the work would be about 2 weeks apart, so we can pay for the downstairs, then when it's done pay for the upstairs/attic next paycheck.

Now off to look for craft room shelving, I had to work in there last night and couldn't move with all those boxes!
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

The Chimney Sweep Just Left...

He said what we pretty much knew.

Our house inspector looked in the chimney and said it was bricked off.

Much later I was thinking about the pocket doors that were stripped from the house when the PO's were closing on the house in the 1960's, and wondering how a door slid into the wall on the left of the fireplace, since a chimney should be in the way. Which made me investigate. Leading to the realization that the chimney is offset to the right, it connects to the tiny chimney coming up from the basement, and the bricked off looking part is actually open on the right. The cobwebs were dancing in the breeze when I opened the flue. The bricked off looking part had soot on the brick.

Initially the chimney sweep even thought it was bricked off, then realized how it diverts to the right. Then he asked if the old lady that lived here had a day care. He was remembering our neighbor 2 doors down, who has the same wacky chimney. Guess they were only built on our street? He said because of the way it's set up he can't even look in it to tell us anything, and didn't charge us for the visit. He recommended a cap for keeping animals out, which we knew it needed.

But the best part is that he said it should be no problem to put in a pellet stove and vent it up that chimney, a very different answer than the house inspector saying it was bricked off and completely un-useable. And a pellet stove would be greener, which is awesome. He also noticed how perfect our stairs are set up to carry heat from the fireplace upstairs and said we could probably heat the whole house with stove, and that his highest heating bill last year was just over 100$. All in all, perfect. The fireplace is TINY, and could never heat the whole house in the first place.

Unfortunately we have to get over $10,000 worth of electrical work done on our 1920's Firetrap. And raise the porch. And get a truckload off fill to divert water from the foundation. And replace the porch floor.

Then again even with the electrical work and the porch and the stove, the house would still be under $70,000. And being able to resell it with NO knob and tube wiring, or scary spliced parts, or burn marks on the wall above outlets and everything electrical being up to code will pay off with no problem, and so would the stove. (And who doesn't love an un-rotted porch that's not painted with chipping lead under rotted carpet?)

Maybe today we'll go look at pellet stoves...
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

New Paint in the Entry! Pictures of the Bedroom Floor! An Electrician called us a firetrap!

Wheee! The entry is not finished, but it feels so much better! And we have hardwoods we can see in the bedroom!

The entry was white, with granny curtains, and the bedroom carpet was faded ugly rust colored. But not anymore! We won't be refinishing the floor till the rest are uncovered. The floor in Amelia's room was already exposed, and I've looked at most of them. My craft room has white paint slopped all over the hardwood floor under the carpet because they apparently didn't give a crap when they painted, knowing they were putting in carpet. Not surprising considering the overall condition of everything. Under the carpet in the entry/hall area upstairs and in the dining room the wood looks like it's never been walked on, it looks completely unworn, it is BEAUTIFUL, (then again, so is the worn stuff in the bedroom) but it has some ancient adhesive stuck to it that needs to be removed. And the stairs have 2 layers of ugly brown paint on the top of the steps that has to go.

I'm pretty much ripping the carpet out in sections with a box cutter, rolling it up, and putting it in the basement, then it leaves on trash day. I did the bedroom in a couple hours, but it didn't have the strips of tacks or padding like the rest of the house, so it was faster/easier. The rest is slower to remove, since I'm scraping away at the old adhesive before moving to another section. It's slooooow, but feels rewarding. For now... (the adhesive is under the padding and has NOTHING to do with the current carpet, but I found a piece of ooooold black looking carpet stuck in it. Did old carpet have adhesive?! We just got the internet today, so I'm going to research what it is in a few minutes, but it's OLD, whatever it is.)

The cable got hooked up today, the TV has to be plugged into one of the only 2 grounded outlets in the kitchen, and so do our laptops when charging. But we FINALLY got an electrician to come by and look around. Till today they don't call back or don't want to do the job. He pronounced our house a firetrap. I am quite sure he's right, or why call him in? We need the knob and tube (house-wide) cut off. New wiring throughout, overhead lights in rooms that have none... He quoted us $12,000. Basement, attic, top to bottom, everything. (And he advised me not to get a disposall because nothing should go in the drain, but we compost and have a strainer and things STILL go in the drain sometimes, so why can't I chop it up?!?) There's a lot of creepy wiring that isn't up to code. And things are wired into the knob and tube improperly, and it's insulated around... Basically the house is priced like it is because of the electrical work needed. Joe is talking to the bank to see if a piggyback loan is possible, or else he's spending his day off tomorrow talking to banks about a loan. It will cover the porch too hopefully, which would be awesome.

We did lead tests and almost all of the paint that's chipping badly is the top 2 layers that are NOT lead, and the lead underneath is firmly stuck and not chipping! All good news for prepping the walls and trim for new paint. BUT of course the worst spot that has lead is in Amelia's room, her windowsills reacted with a crazy bright pink lead test, The top layer is apparently still lead, and if you pick at it, it chips. Tomorrow I'm getting to work on it while Joe's off work. I hope the chipping part isn't bad, maybe just the lower part... Regardless, I want her to have lead free windowsills and build a window seat, not put up a baby fence around it forever! For now, she just doesn't realy play up there, she's with us downstairs and barely old enough to really realize she HAS a room. Luckily, I guess, if she was a bit older a determined 2 year old shut out of her room would be a hand-full!

Entry Before-

Entry Now-

Entry Before-

Entry After-


Entry Floor-

Functional (unfortunately) K&T Firetrap Push Button Lightswitch-

Ugly Bedroom Carpet, much uglier than you can tell in this picture!

Bedroom Floor Now!

Bedroom Door frame where the door fell off on me in the middle of the night-

Ancient Adhesive in the landing/hallway at the top of the stairs, outside our bedroom-

Awesome drywall job in the bathroom. The ONLY bathroom- (try telling a toddler not to splash the drywall touching the tub when they play in the tub... Can't wait to rip this out!)

Can we say firetrap? This is in the bathroom-

I can't wait till the wiring is done. It makes me nervous.

The less orange entry pictures are more accurate, it was sunset and not really light enough for my camera. Tomorrow I'll try for daylight pictures when it will focus better, and maybe take some pics of our firetrap wiring...
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

Still Waiting to close, Already moved in, Uncovered Hardwood Floors, and new Paint!

Now they're waiting on the husbands death certificate. And some other paper. But we have already lived in the house like a week. we found 2 grounded outlets in the kitchen, so even though we have no cable/internet till the 17th or so, we can plug in the TV, or charge computers.
I threw out the carpet in our bedroom. It was rust colored once upon a time faded to orange-yellow. The hardwood floor is so pretty. My camera charging cord has disappeared though. THe floor in the upstairs hall/entry/landing whatever to call it has weird black stuff stuck to the wood, it looks like the wood was never even walked on. The dining room too. Like something was adhered to it when the house was new and it was covered for years, then removed and this carpet put in rather than sand the black stuff off. When the black stuff is removed the wood in those rooms will be amazing.
In my craft room and the stairs the wood is covered with paint room them dripping paint carelessly when painting the ceiling and walls before carpeting. Stupid. They took the glass knobs off the doors that don't close no no one would realize they don't close. My craft room door is the worst, the tongue part doesn't even touch the frame.( I work with epoxy resins and glass, so a door that closes would be nice with a toddler.) Our door fell off and pretty much hit me in the head in the middle of the night when I got out of bed. IT was already screwed into wooden dowels and came off, maybe was just repaired long enough to show it? I noticed the attic door is the same way, but when I rip out that carpet it should open easier.
The worst is the bathroom. They "remodeled" by putting sheetrock right up to the pedestal tub, where it touches the tub on 3 sides. At the head (where you lay your head anyway) of the tub it's cracked the sheetrock from the house shifting. So all that has to be ripped out. And they put in a new plywood floor that extends a few (3-4) inches into the hall/landing/upstairs entry and just broke off the ends of the original hardwood floors where it meets the plywood. The same hardwood floor that looks like it's never been walked on. I swear these people were out to ruin everything good about the poor house.
On the other hand, I painted the entry, and it is so damn cute The rest of the house seems even sadder now. I wish I could paint it all at once. I got the ugly wallpaper out of the kitchen, and got a steamer to get the super stuck wallpaper out of the dining room. We should sign by next week. The electrician should be there any day to see about an estimate and look at our knob and tube.
And another potentially awesome thing, our house inspector may just be stupid. He told us our chimney was bricked off, but we looked at it, and it just diverts to the right and up the basement chimney. The brick he thought blocks it off has soot on it! So a chimney sweep is coming, and we may have a working fireplace this year after all!
Must go, we're at a cofee shop and I have no power cord and a dying battery. The house is great. I just wish these people would stop with all the hold-ups...
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

Finally, Keys and an Early Occupancy Agreement!!!

It's almost anti-climactic, but I may still cry when we get the keys today...

Since the owners breached the contract when their lawyer never sent the abstract of title and paperwork required 10 days before closing, we still have not closed, but had a little leverage to move things along, finally. Night before last when we realized the contract was definitely breached Joe drafted a letter to our lawyer with parts to send on to the owners lawyer, pretty much demanding that he courier the paperwork to the title company lawyer by the end of the day, to reassure us this house is really for sale, and give us the early occupancy we've asked for repeatedly over the last 5 or 6 weeks. Basically, we're losing faith, and you breached the contract... so make it right.

Yesterday Joe got the paperwork and signed for 7 days early occupancy. (our lease ends Sunday and new tenants get the keys to this house Sunday, so we needed to get in NOW.) Today the owner signed, and around noon their realtor will drop off the keys with Joe at his job. (Where I will steal them and unload the Escalade full of boxes as soon as Amelia naps.)

While I do not think anything about getting the keys will really be anti-climactic, it won't be the scene Joe envisioned carrying me over the thresh-hold after we got keys at a signing. It won't be OUR house until next week. But then again, our lawyer says this could very much work in our favor. There are things we knew were wrong with the house that were obvious, and part of lowering the price earlier on, like half the attic floor being destroyed, the knob and tube wiring, possible lead, a gas line from the basement to the stove that isn't up to code according to the home inspector. a water leak into the electrical box that the bank inspector made them fix already. But now he said we get to make a really detailed list without guessing as to what repairs are needed that will lower the price.

AND because we requested early occupancy to fix the blocked off fireplace, get grounded wiring, level the porch, etc, the owner (selling their deceased parents house and mostly claiming not to know anything about the condition of the house) can't claim not to know about the problems needing work. He knew for over a month, and didn't let us get in to fix anything before move-in. Soour lawyer thinks we should be able to get more money knocked off the closing price. (Like "hey, when your dad ripped up the attic floor and put pink insulation down over the knob and tube wiring, that wasn't too cool...")

but it's going to be a frustrating week, because we can't change anything. And the more we unpack and settle in the more of a pain it will be to move stuff and rip out carpet/paint/etc. And with no grounded outlets we can't plug in TV's and computers. Well, one old box tv currently in the attic, and the dvr is a cable company rental. Might risk their health...

Surely they won't care if I rip out the weeds?!?! I swear I'll leave the rotting astroturf carpet on the porch just to celebrate the closing by ripping it off next week. And ARGH, we want to donate the wheelchair ramp, but will have to live with that for a week too. Heck when it's gone I want to put the concrete steps on craigs list for free and hope someone will carry them away. I don't think Restore will pick them up from an hour away:(

Ooh, and we went to Restore for the 1st time the other day. They gave us free bread donated by Panera. mmm. If I don't use my curb finds I will definitely get a door or two from them for our headboard. And cabinets for the craft room for sure. Very excited about the price of cabinets and countertops there, because for a craft room they'll be great. Someday prolly for a laundry room too...

So another week of unpacking, and continuing to refinish furniture. I got a new DeWALT sander the other day and have finally been working on some of our curb furniture we've accumulated in the two years since we got here from Louisiana. I stained our dresser red mahogany to go with the darker wood in our room, so now it doesn't look like curb furniture next to the antique trunk and the new bedside tables. Maybe tomorrow I can take pictures of it all IN OUR ROOM!!

We seriously spend a few hours a week driving around Utica and it's 'burbs either gawking at houses or on specific neighborhood trash nights. It's down to a science. And I have a collection of curb windows I want to use to decorate walls in the new house that I may get to work with this week too!

There will be plenty to do while we can't do anything to the house. It figures we'd be waiting to sign on a holiday weekend too... Hopefully it stops raining this evening for moving. Then where will I charge my computer???? Come to think of it, I don't know when the cable/internet gets turned on, I forgot what Joe said.

House keys in 20 minutes!?!?!?!?!
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

The Sellers are now in Breach of Contract...

The closing date was today. The sellers attorney called the realtor today, and the realtor told Joe he was "crying on his shoulder" about being so busy he didn't find time to stamp the envelope and send the title paperwork. The contract we have with the seller states they have to send the title paperwork etc. by 10 days of the closing date. The homeowner said they saw their lawyer send the paperwork when they were in his office last Thursday. Never happened. Maybe they were confused, but I still have trouble believing this house is REALLY on the market. If it's really for sale how could they not know their lawyer is doing NOTHING, and has caused the contract to be breached? We are requesting that the paperwork sent by courier tomorrow, and that we get the keys tomorrow, which they were agreeing to do by Friday, as per the early occupancy agreement we've asked for for 5 weeks. Or ANY agreement, well almost, because our lease is up Sunday. Sunday the landlord is taking the keys and giving them to the new tenant.
All I want is the paperwork courier-ed to the title company's attorney, so I will feel like this house really is for sale and it's not all just some weird game. Poor Joe hasn't rented a truck because he can't ever get a date out of these people. Everything has been ready to go but the title search for 5-6 weeks, and we've been waiting around for the papers to be sent be sent to the title company lawyer, and for what? Will we ever get a house?
Ugh. we were supposed to get the carpet ripped out and work on the floors and have grounded electrical work done BEFORE moving in. Now we may move in before we own the house, and can't do anything till we sign papers.
And another one of the Rutger Street mansions is listed now, a pretty Italianate from about 1890. Joe thinks he used to live pretty much next door, and that it's not even divided into apartments. $39,900 and the seller will pay $2,000 closing costs. These are the mansions of the founders and original movers and shakers of Utica, who cares if we could never afford to heat half the house? I do want to go look at it soon, but I also would like to buy my foursquare please.
house, american foursquare, renovate, renovation, kitchen

Google Books -Beyond the Bungolow - Foursquares!!

I found an online version of a book called Beyond the Bungalow with 10 pages about American Foursquares, with interior and exterior pictures.,M1

When we began the search for our first home, we didn't know what a foursquare was. I liked bungalows, and knew what they were. I always thought of the ones I likes as having a roof that hugged the porch, like the whole house hugged the porch. A porch is a necessity for a house in our minds.

We both love the hundreds of Victorians around, and I have an affinity for the Italianate Victorians in particular. Then again, I'm a sucker for anything with a widow's peak also...

But even though there are tons of Foursquares in Utica, when we picked ours we didn't know what it was yet. Even though we looked at four of them without realizing what they were. My husbands step-mom called ours colonial, and in researching that, which didn't add up, I finally discovered the foursquare.

I think I may get this book for my coffee table in the new house, but then I haven't looked around to see what books are available, I just stumbled across this one. Today I think I'll see what else may be out there.