Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

March 31, 2011

More Roof Work and a Chimney

Filed under: Masonry,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 3:54 pm

Monday and T uesday this week the weather was beautiful for working on the roof. However, by Wednesday afternoon it was supposed to snow/rain. Tuesday the mason started working on the chimney but he first had to clean out the flue…apparently after 50 years it was filled with bat guano and starling nests (mostly straw). Dave spent most of Tuesday cleaning the flue from the top down, but he was able to get the brickwork just up through the roof. Tuesday night I cleaned out the flue from the access in our old bedroom. All in all, we took 10 gallons of soot, guano, nest material, and mortar dust out of the flue.

Tueday night I came down with a cold and stayed home Wednesday, and helped a little with the chimney (between naps).

Now the roof on the northeast side of the house is pretty much completed. Ninety-five percent of the roof shingling is done and most of the soffit has been rebuilt. Good timing because as things wrapped up on Wednesday the snow arrived. This morning we woke to 1/2″ of wet snow on the ground and rain. Nothing more will happen on the roof until next week given the recent weather forecast.

March 5, 2011

Oops… More Dust!

Filed under: Deconstruction,Masonry,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:28 pm

This week the mason finished making the doorway to the basement a window. He did another beautiful job!

This second window was a major task and took Dave 2 weeks to do the stone work. He had to chisel away some of the concrete (that Lisa and I poured about 10 years ago to prevent the stone from collapsing because the heating contractors 40 years ago knocked out a duct chase that resulted in no support of 2 stories of stone above) so that he could face the exterior with limestone. I would love to “talk” to the contractor who busted out that stone with no regard for the integrity of the home! ūüôā

So now that the first floor doorways have been made into windows, we only have to make the upstairs doorway into a window. This upstairs doorway was how we used to get to our only full bath and Molly’s room. So before we ¬†made the upstairs doorway a window we thought it wise to gut the bathroom and Molly’s room of major fixtures. Out came the doors, toilet, vanity, and shower surround. This is what it looked like when finished. That little space include a toilet, tub/shower, and vanity. Barely enough room to turn around!

So why more dust? And an ‘Oops’?

Well, when Ethan and I were opening up the upstairs doorway we were doing our best to keep the dust to a “minimum.” I was taking the sledgehammer to some plaster (plaster in the 1950s consisted of metal lath nailed to underlying wood and is very difficult to remove) when the whole “shebang” went flying down the stairs… Here’s where the mess landed and me looking on… (my mouth is not aghast – I’m wearing a dust mask!)

Fortunately, Ethan and I cleaned up the mess before Lisa returned with Molly from shopping!

Here’s some photos of current conditions:

Do you like the piles of trash?  A 30 yd dumpster arrives on Monday to take care of some of this!

And this is most of the stone we have left to fill the upstairs doorway

Now that we are ready for the mason to make the remaining doorway a window I am going to try to finish the kitchen area where the refrigerator will reside. Stay tuned for photos.

February 26, 2011

Dust, Dust, and More DUST!!!!!

Filed under: Basement,Interior,kitchen,Masonry — Duane Diefenbach @ 6:44 pm

Did I mention it’s dusty around here? ¬†Sorry for no recent posts but it has been a busy month. Since the last post (Feb 7th!) a lot has happened – Lisa’s stove was delivered and the propane gas was installed, the mason started on making the doorway to the basement a window again, and I have made some progress on the kitchen cabinets (but not as much as I would have liked – but a trip to Oklahoma did crimp my spare time). I’ll get to the dust story eventually.

First, THE Stove. It arrived the 16th of this month and the propane guys arrived on the 17th to install the gas line and hook up the stove. ¬†Too bad they showed up 2 hrs late and basically made me miss a whole day at the office… but the stove works great (and looks great). It has 2 ovens (full size and a smaller warming or cooking oven), 6 burners (including a simmer burner), and a griddle. The side benefit is that Lisa is motivated to cook! ¬†My mistake was to leave 3 days later for a meeting in Oklahoma.

Since the stove was installed we have completed “the move” from the old kitchen to the new kitchen even though the new kitchen in incomplete. ¬†As in interim step some of the old cabinets and countertop have moved into the new kitchen so that Lisa has sufficient counter space. ¬†Just so everyone knows, noone took us up on our offer for naming rights on a burner (see this post from January 29, 2010)

Also, Dave (the mason) completed the window that used to be the doorway from the old kitchen into our dining room. The stone work turned out beautiful and he was able make it look like it was always a window. One view is from the dining room (left) and the other is from the old kitchen (right)

So on the 19th (the Saturday before I left for OK) Ethan and I had to deconstruct around the doorway to the basement so that Dave could start work on making the door a window. However, before that we had make a new path to the basement, which consisted of removing the bookcase in the living room, opening up the original stairway to the basement, and fixing the stairs so they were useable again. What follows are a series of photos of our efforts.

We think the leather couch nicely accentuates the basement stairs (and provide a nice safety railing – fyi, this house is not child safe at this time).

So now that we can walk into the basement just as they did 150 years ago. Ethan and I next began deconstructing the doorway to the basement. This involved a lot of sledgehammering and sawzalling.

What a mess. ¬†Plus when we bought the house 10 years ago Lisa and I poured a lot of concrete where the heating contractors punched out a bunch of stone (with no support!!!) to run ductwork. However, the mason had to do A LOT of ¬†chiseling of the concrete so that he can re-face this area with stone. ¬†This made MAJOR dust throughout the house and we will be dealing with the mess for weeks (months?). Here’s a close-up of the concrete and the area that needs to be filled with stone. You can see the concrete that Dave had to chisel away and the fact that the concrete completely supported 2 stories of stone above the chase that was cut out from underneath. Only idiots would do such a thing.

So to get ready for the coming week, Ethan and I hauled stones into the kitchen. We had saved these stones from the windows where we made doors to go from the stone house to the new addition. It takes a LOT of rock to fill those doorways.

February 7, 2011


Filed under: Masonry,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:01 pm

Well, it’s February and we need to have the mason start on turning the doorways in the stone house back into windows (so we can remove the 1950s addition and restore the original front of the stone house. However, we’re completely unready for all this. ¬†The kitchen has a sink, dishwasher but is lacking cabinets, countertops, drawers, etc. ¬†We moved our electric range under the new range hood… next to my tool table.

Then Ethan and I began deconstructing. The series of photos tell it all.

By the time we were done we had discovered the kitchen has 3 layers of linoleum (good thing) because we had to cut out a major support beam for the floor so it sags more every day! This is what it looks like now.

Stay tuned as David Walker, the mason, rebuilds the stone work and we use a window from we took from the other part of the house and use it here.

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