The Cool House: exterior
Showing posts with label exterior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exterior. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snowstorm Winter 2012/2013

Pretty, no?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What now?

I love when a long renovation comes to an end, the feeing of tranquility that descends when you know you don't have to be dressed and decent at 7:30 AM, when the day will no longer be interrupted by shouts of "You did want the molding removed, didn't you?" or worse "Can you come here a minute, we may have a problem" and when all the power tools have finally been silenced. Even the mental anguish you experience knowing you went over budget despite swearing you wouldn't or the nagging feeling you overpaid for something trivial, there is, at last, a moment of peace that you, in your naivety, imagine will last forever.

At some point, though, this security blanket of home repair denial will be rudely snatched away from you, leaving you exposed and shivering in the cold light of reality. For me it came with the trifecta of the garage door that would no longer close properly, the loose mortar on the chimney and the holes in the fence the fencing guy swore didn't need replacing because it was "good for at least two more years". We set to work. The garage door was repaired by us and when the temporary fix no longer did the trick an "expert" came to fix the problem... and caused another bigger issue that blew the motor. Needless to say the firm's promise to make good meant they ran in the opposite direction and for the whole summer we parked the car outside. But winter will be here before we know it and neither of us fancied digging the car out of a snow bank so I gave in and called another firm. The garage door was fixed without further drama and at a better price than the first guy quoted. The chimney cap blew off in the hurricane, so we locked in a date to fix that and the crumbling cement pronto, except every time the masons came to start the pointing it rained. And by rain I mean tropical storm downpours. Today they found a few hours of sunshine and got the job done. The fence? Well in a rerun of this scenario, we braced and secured the fence. I was promised two more years and I will make sure I get those last few months, if I have to stand there and hold the thing up day and night.

So all was done and I was singing a happy song until I heard a thud that seemed to come from under the dining room floor. Just as the last issue had been taken care of, just as I was thinking we were done for this year, one of the basement windows, the one that had been nailed in place seven years ago by a contractor who thought it wouldn't open and then found he couldn't get it shut, one of a suite of four, fell off its opener. Just because it could.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Done, done, done

and tick! All those things on the Fall list were completed... and because we had some leftover mortar The Guy decided to re-grout the patio where it had cracked after those extremely heavy kitchen appliances had beaten a path to the kitchen door. A reprise of this, in fact. No mess, no fuss - just a couple of hours graft (although I could have done without the high humidity) and we are good to go for the next few months.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bob Vila makes it look so easy*

Sometime, a couple of winters ago, after the sprinkler system had been winterised by some joker who took the pipe apart, we noticed one of the outside taps was dripping. Turning off the water to the faucet helped but there was still a persistent drip through the winter that replacing washers and tapes just wouldn't stop. Not good. In Spring we replaced the sprinkler faucet and everything worked until winterisation rolled round again. This time the upper compression faucet leaked. We turned the water off again and waited for Spring. The solution this time was to replace the old wheel type with a new lever and the sprinkler guy offered to take off the completely seized-up fixture but he didn't have one of the right size to replace it so he capped it and I was supposed to go buy one and fit it myself. That was April and as we rarely use that faucet we didn't miss it until now.
Now is mid to end July when the humidity on Long Island causes the stone and brick to turn green and algae to grow on the asphalt. Now is power-washing time. Now is the time when a working hosepipe is necessary to blast the green gunge off the paths. Now is the time to fix the faucet.

So with old tap in hand I set off to purchase a new tap. And an adapter so I could run the hosepipe from it. And another adapter the purpose of which escapes me but which I bought anyway. I've learnt not to argue with the hardware guy.

Having assembled some plumbers tape, a wrench, a screwdriver (just in case) and the necessary hardware I set about unscrewing the cap. I tried, I tried really hard but I couldn't get that cap off. Eventually I called for back up

The Guy applied the wrench, twisted and turned and eventually loosened it and pulled it off. Which is when we realised we had not turned off the water to the faucet.

It could have been me kneeling in front of the tap. But instead it was The Guy who caught the full force of the flow. Luckily I had my camera to record the moment and more lucky still, he was wearing swimmers. Rule #1: Always shut off the water when messing with the plumbing!

After a quick run to the basement to shut off the water he attached the new tap, complete with its extra doodahs and after another run to the hardware store where he laid down $16 for the right size spanner/wrench we have a leak-free outside faucet. Hurray!

The hosepipe we bought last week is connected and after a couple of adjustments, drip-free. We are ready to tackle the power-washing...

*If your outdoor faucet isn't completely corroded and your compression faucet not connected to another compression faucet that connects to your sprinkler system you can probably easily fix the drips by watching this video. Repairs should only run you a couple of dollars (if you have the right tools) and take less than 5 minutes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The last of the projects completed without my supervision.

This time it was replacing the rotted redwood siding under the sliding door in the kitchen. We'd had this on the to-do list for nine months.

A nice new piece of timber takes it from manky to well-maintained.

While he was about it The Handyman framed out the slider (no frills, just square and plain) to solve the issue of the siding coming away above the door. And notice that beautiful, moss-free step. All the stone, brick and slate was power-washed last week, too. Yippee.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Numbers, more numbers

House numbers that is. After a recent warning that the fire department might not be able to find my house in an emergency despite the numbers on the light post and the pillar by the front door, I have been searching for the perfect modern numbers in bronze to match the mailbox.

Some were too shiny

Some weren't modern

Some were just too expensive

But last week I found the perfect house numbers. Modern typeface, 4" high, in a bronze finish no less. And even better, these are floating house numbers. Best of all, they were only $5.99 each.
Guess where I found them? Home Depot of all places, in the hardware section far away from the mailboxes, hidden away by the "For Sale" signs and the stick-on numbers. And they had all three numbers in stock. (For some reason the #2 gets sold out first.) I grabbed them and The Guy drilled them into place on the cedar light support at the end of the garage drive, next to the mailbox.
So now we're covered. Should we require an ambulance, fire truck or police car in the future I expect them to have absolutely no difficulty finding us.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cobweb, fungus or something more serious?

cobweb or fungus?
Originally uploaded by modernemama
I noticed a new decoration to the siding yesterday, one I haven't seen before. It's 2-4" across and 3-4" long with a curved edge. There are groups of them under my bedroom window and along the east side of the house, on the garage.


Does anyone have any idea what they are? They'll be coming down this weekend when we are power-washing, but I'd like to know if I should add it to the list of things that could potentially cause my house to fall down and thus I should worry about. Thanks.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday morning

Should be for lazying around, drinking coffee and reading the paper. One day maybe it will be but for the moment it is when we try to get all the chores done.
On today's list: re-align hinges on another tall kitchen cabinet; install hardware in downstairs bath; mortar three bluestone paving slabs on the old barbeque base.
Chore one went without a hitch. Chore two hit a snag when we realised that one screw holding the old towel bar on the tile had had its head stripped and would not come off. We'll leave it for now and make do with the old towel rail that matches the mirror. If we ever do a re-tile or beadboard job in there we can install the new one then. We did get the toilet roll holder on the vanity without a hassle, though and it looks very smart.
Chore three started to go bad when Steven realised he had badly underestimated the amount of mortar he needed and blamed me for not accompanying him to Home Depot to get the stuff. He had to apologise when he decided this made him look a) incapable and b) grumpy, but that cost us half an hour or so. We made a run to the Depot together, collected an 80lb bag of mortar and then broke for lunch.
Despite the increasingly grey skies, and the weather forecast predicting thunderstorms, Steven declared he wouldn't recommence work outside until he had got the results of the Tour de France - on TV. He could have had them on the web anytime but no, it had to be on the TV, right now, this minute. I did point out that he was probably the only person left who was still interested in this year's race, but that failed to move him, so I waited patiently (ahem) until all the men in spandex had received their bouquets of flowers and we ran outside just as the first claps of thunder started.
Luckily all the prep work paid off and fifteen minutes later we had three 2' sq flagstones laid perfectly level. Steve covered his beautiful work with contractors sacks to keep it dry, I cleaned the tools and we made it inside just as the first drops fell.
No pictures yet but it looks pretty neat. I'm not sure what we will do with the base now. We can either use it as a base for the new bbq or for planters. Or we could plant flowers around it and encourage them to grow over the edges. I'm sure we'll think of something.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It must be spring

Because finally the snow has gone and the ground is soft enough to plant our new mailbox.
The box and its post have been sitting in the garage since January when I was fooled by the unseasonably warm weather into ordering a new modern mailbox. Today it was deemed warm enough to tackle the project. I can say that it was barely warm enough, it's freezing still in New York but things are budding in the yard and at least now the mailbox is by the drive we won't have to wade through 6" floodwater to get the post every time it rains. And even if the front gets flooded, the Da Vinci houseArt mailbox has a handy access hatch at the back too.
Hurrah, another project off the list!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

New profile photo

I haven't really calmed down enough about the Toto installation (or the shower base install* for that matter) to blog about it. At the moment I'm alternating between tears, swearing and sang froid, all the signs of grief, I have to note. I am too emotionally invested in this project.
But in the interest of looking at things in a more positive light I have changed the photo on my profile from the original photo I took of the back of the house on the day of the "walk through" April 2004, to one I took last year (2006) with the new paint and stain.

vineyardpoolsideMay 2006

Just to remind myself that some contractors do a bang-on job, and that we have made at least one positive contribution to the renovation of our home.

*it looks like a Bugatti with a Trabi hubcap

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Snow Melt

snow melt
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
The sun is shining and the snow is pouring off the roof. Huge drops of water are reflected in the sunlight and it's so pretty.
I love the California overhang. You may get a little wet walking beneath but there is no maintenance and that is so much better than gutters.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

House Art

It might be 7 below zero but I can't wait to install my lovely new mailbox that arrived yesterday. houseArt's slogan is: Finally, mailboxes you can love. And I do.
Now I have to find a post I don't hate......

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Extreme surgery needed

Will someone please help me? I think I need to enter rehab.
My problem?
I started in a small way, ordering music and books from Amazon, then computers from Dell and Apple. For a long time I was happy and then we started this remodeling project and things have gotten out of control. First I bought a sink online, then I progressed to faucets, showers and accessories, including a toilet seat.
I thought I could manage my habit, after all it was just one bathroom, a finite project. Then I started buying for the second bathroom, one we had no plan to undertake in the foreseeable future. But it was so easy, things were cheaper and readily available online. Just a couple of clicks, totally painless. So I ordered a vanity, and another faucet and I can justify it because it's a small project that will be easy to complete.
And then the madness began. I was searching for a door knob to replace the hideous pink stone one in the girls bath when I came across something I've lusted after ever since we moved here. A bronze mailbox, contemporary in style that reflects the design of the house. But it wasn't in the budget until we re-tarmac the drive. (Ironically we missed out in the great mailbox vandalism episode that struck the village last May when most of out neighbors got a new mailbox courtesy of the idiot who smashed them with a bat and was caught by the village police. End of term madness, almost as expensive as remodeling).
Today though, I was having no luck with the door knobs but one little weblink and I found my object of desire. Instantly available, it was perfect; it even looks like our roof line. And two clicks later I had ordered the Da Vinci mailbox.
I'm sure I'm going to love it when it arrives, but right now I'm feeling a little sick. I will have to buy a new post and dig out the old one and concrete in a new one in a new position. More tasks and btw it's February and the ground is frozen. Crazy woman with bad credit card habit.
Plus I still haven't replaced this beauty.
Help, I need help, either the credit card or the internet will have to be cut off.