Monday, March 16, 2009

Home Improvement and a Dirty Little Secret

Are you curious? Good. I have you right where I want you. Now you have to suffer through the home improvement diatribe to get to the secret. What? You could just scroll down and read the end first? Well, I know that would make you feel terribly guilty, to undermine me that way. Then again, what if there is no dirty little secret? What if it is a boring secret that you aren't at all interested in? If either of these are true, you will just be disappointed much sooner than if you actually read through all of the home improvement stuff.

Last night I mentioned that Tim and I were working on some projects around the house this weekend. I thought I would share a bit of our progress. When we purchased our home there was a small, yucky enclosed porch on the back of it. We didn't realize it was yucky at the time. I mean, we knew it was small and not particularly attractive, but not actually yucky. Here are some pics of the porch that we took when we were looking at the house in August of 2007:

The first two pictures are of the inside of the porch. They had this set up as a little sitting room. Be sure to note the floral rug. There was also the very strong scent of a Glade Plug-In. The last picture shows the back entrance. These steps were treacherous, but we planned to replace them in the future.Okay, so flash forward about one month and we're taking possession of the house. We go out to the back porch and it doesn't look so good. The floor feels a little soft. There was an unusual amount of rain for this time of year during the month and the next. We put it out of our minds because we have plenty of other things to be concerned about/do. A couple of months later, our attention returns to the porch. It has begun to smell. Apparently, this was the reason for the Glade Plug-In. It was hiding the smell of mold and mildew. The floral rug had another jute rug underneath it. These rugs were masking a floor that was rotting. The ceramic tile was "floating," moving around and the floor was increasingly unstable. Apparently, home inspectors are not permitted to move anything during the inspection. This means that they cannot even move a rug to check out the floor underneath. This is a good thing to know if you are ever planning to buy your first or another house. (Funny story: my mother was once looking at a house in Ohio and the owners had potted plants in a couple of places right in the middle of the living room. My mom moved one and found a hole in the rug underneath!) Anyway, it was clear that the porch was going to have to go. Enter the Bush stimulus. Remember those rebate checks? At the time, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, but it did come in handy for us! We decided to use this money to replace the porch with a deck. My stepfather is quite handy, so we asked him to help us. He and my mother are renovating a neat old farmhouse, so we traded labor. He also hooked us up with some cheap wood from an Amish mill near his farm. Score! I've included a couple of pics of the progress. We tore off the old porch, but kept the roof in place. For a couple of months it was held in place by two braces. Tim and John did most of the work, but my mom, my nephew Clay, myself and even LB helped out. (Aside: Brennan just brought me a drawing that she made of a "memory card.") By the end of the summer we were mostly finished. I think that the steps might be my favorite part. When the trees have their leaves, it is like walking through a secret forest, sorta. Anyway, the summer came to a close and we still had a few things to do. We are always juggling multiple projects at once, so we didn't finish the deck as we had hoped. Now we get to the point of this long, rambling story. We are back on it this spring. We have a wild cherry tree in the back yard that hangs over a portion of the deck. Last year the cherries, as well as the walnuts that the squirrels drug onto the deck and peeled, stained the deck. Now we have black and reddish stains all over the brand new deck. So, this weekend, we began preparing to bleach and then seal the deck. I don't like to use bleach, but it seems it is the only way to remove the stains. Tim had to remove a broken branch from a river birch because it was "weeping" on the stairs and we had to remove everything from the deck (and under it) and cover it with tarps to protect it. Fun, fun! What will be fun though is seeing the deck restored to its former glory. We also cleaned up more sticks, small branches and leaves that have been littering the yard since the ice storm. We hope to begin the bleaching process tomorrow evening and apply the sealer Wednesday.

Okay, this has been ridiculously long. I can't help myself. When I discuss our house I get overly excited and over share. Brennan has just poured her water into her leftover yogurt and attempted to drink it, spilling yogurt water on the coffee table and floor and is currently tearing up pieces of a tissue. Obviously, I must go. I haven't even touched on the work in the "Brennan Nook" or that dirty little secret. Sorry. I guess you'll just have to check back for more updates. :)

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