Yeah, most of my energy this autumn was sucked up by my renovation projects. I think I probably stated it in a previous post that I had changed homeowners insurance companies and my new company had an impossible litany of things they required to have done, in order to, I guess, keep me on as a customer. Ha! I thought, I’ll just take my business somewhere else, right? Alas, no. Even when I tried that, any new prospective companies asked if the work had been done, ( I guess it was on my permanent file or something).
As it turned out, this was terrible timing. I own my fixer upper 250 year old house and its nearby garage and shed, but I rent out my studio, which belongs to the same folks I bought the house lot from. Those people, in turn, wanted me to put in an offer on the studio. But because of zoning and the economic downturn in general, what they wanted for the studio was just too much, and I came to the conclusion that for whatever a downpayment on it would be, just that in itself would make a halfway decent, brand new studio in my own yard. And as it turned, out, I was being railroaded into doing thousands of dollars of work on my own property, so I wouldn’t have ever afforded it anyway.
Plus, the banks all laughed at me. Even they told me it would be a stupid idea to buy the studio. So I was left with this plan. Make my repairs to my outbuildings, and then use that for storage for whatever crap I had accumulated in the studio. And oh, what crap that was!
You see, I fell into the trap of having a big studio space and just filling it full of stuff for future projects. So now the race was on, as I had to not only clean and throw away tons of stuff, I had to let go of projects, try to “use up” everything I wanted to do something with, and at the same time, spend every goddamn penny on my own buildings, hoping to fuck that it would shut up the insurance company. Anyway, I think I did ok, but I’m still not really out of the studio yet (more on that later)
So first off, I have a little shed, and it needed to be finished up a bit at least so I can store stuff in it. Here’s some photos. Not very exciting stuff, but anyway..
Don’t worry, between that stage where it looks like something from the architectural firm of Sanford And Sons with that hodgepodge of plywood bits, to the finished shingles, there’s like Tyvek and all that. The insurance company wasn’t really making me finish my shed, but I was sorta looking for some instant gratification, and well, it does make a cute little Tiny House.
But truth was, I was kicking the can down the road with what truly needed to happen on the garage. This year was very rough on it, and the roof hadn’t been redone in 40 years and was so rotted, it leaked badly and you couldn’t walk on it.
And yes, this is a 150 year old carriage house that sits on loose fieldstones. Nothing about it is “up to code” whatsoever. It is what it is. It also turns out that one wall of it is also the border between me and the neighbors, which means its seriously grandfathered in regards to the whole you-can’t-do-new-construction-16-feet-from-the-property-line.
Suffice to say, most contractors wouldn’t touch this thing, period, and all the advice I was given said this: If you knock it down, you can’t put another garage there. As this is at the end of my driveway, I don’t not want a garage there. Also, if you did hire someone to repair it, the costs would be somewhere in the untold tens of thousands of dollars to fix it, so the best option was to slowly repair what I could, and just work on it a little bit at a time.
So there was rip off the roof little by little and add in new rafters and planks. This was where I learned all about a wonderful place called a sawmill, where you can buy 2x6s that are actually 2 x 6!
A rotted corner was knocked out, and replaced with some salvage wood.
Once that whole side was solid (and it’s like stupid solid now-, 2×6 studs but then the outer wall is an inch thick on top of that), the whole wall was sheathed with that OSB stuff, adding another 1/2 inch or so to it.
Then a zillion cedar shingles later the end result looks pretty sweet.
The roof was a LOT of work to get it super solid, and I replaced about half the wood and added extra rafters and its about as good as it can possibly get.
And yeah, I know, there are professionals who do this, but I know this whole thing would’ve cost me like $30,000 if I had to hire a band of bozos to do it, and no, you couldn’t just do the roof without doing the walls. the walls needed to be solid enough to have a solid enough floor above so that you could stand on something to work on the roof. Instead of spending $30k (which I don’t have, and I doubt any bank would have given me anyway), I only maxed out my credit cards which only really had hundreds of dollars of room left on them.
Actually, I wanted to work on this all year, but the weather this whole summer and fall has been like rain 2 days, sunny one day, and nothing ever dried out. Everything came to head the 3rd week of December when we actually had a sunny, but cold stretch of days. By the end, all I could see when I closed my eyes was this:
So my renovations are mostly done, for now. There were other things on their list but I told them I’m not making holes in my house in the middle of winter. Plus, I’m really exhausted. I can only write about it a few weeks later because the fog is lifting now.
Is it perfect? No. But then again, on an old building like this, it’s like as Kitty Foreman from That 70’s Show said, “Choose Your Battles” If someone bitches about me not using the proper nails or not having a vapor barrier or proper venting in my roof, well go look at my foundation where you can grab a stone out of it and wiggle it free. It’s not like the whole building is gonna come down.
…but yeah…. I’m a bit more hardcore New Englander that you think. Add to this that I’m barely supporting myself off my art, and well, this was the situation I had to resolve before getting on with whatever the next thing is…
Which is??… Stay tuned for part 4…