An attack of YIKES!

On March 13, I wrote this: “This area should, should, prove relatively easy to repaint. Should.”


The double-arched south tower looked like this when Bob Rodak purchased the house in 1999.


And when Bob began working on the window in 2005. Yikes.


And when all the work was finished. Because I have had these images since 2014 I thought that, after a quick sanding, and some touching up, I could begin painting.


However…pump-jack scaffolding has now been erected, allowing for the first time a close look at What Is Up There. And, in an instant, my hopes for an easy paint job were cruelly dashed. Now, see, again, the double arched window?


Its entire windowsill (you are looking down) is cracked all the way through, letting water into the framing. This is bad. VERY bad.


The sashes are topped with double arched trim, arched “crown”, and an arched drip cap. The crown is missing at each end and Bob painted in “ghost” crown.


The arched trim is a mess to the left…


…in the middle…


…and to the right. You can tell that this is all infill from 2005.


To the right, the drip cap is mostly paint. The wood under is wholly rotted. If I pinch the drip cap it would crumble.


Yikes. You can tell from the 2005 work that this end of the drip cap was new in 2005. So, in just 15 years it totally rotted out.


Yet, it all looks so innocent from ground level. And see the short vertical downspout, top right? All the wood shingles behind it are punky.


So, what looks fine from the ground proves a disaster up close. It is fascinating just how beat-up the south facade is, as the other three facades were all in vastly better condition.

The only good news is that the shingles surrounding the window seem to be in good condition (and all seem part of the 2005 work).

Ideally, the entire double arched window should be taken apart and removed. A new sill should be made. The double-arched upper trim should be replaced. A new arched drip cap should be made. New arched crown should be made. And all these materials should either be pressure-treated or PVC.

I can patch and repair, as was done in 2005. And this will look good…for awhile. My default position however is to Do It Right but this will be weeks and weeks of work.

The scaffolding was erected two days ago, and when I realized just how bad everything was I just closed my eyes, held tight to the handrail, and felt faint. The grant deadline was looming looming looming and my only option was clear: slap some paint on this mess. However, yesterday I was given the OK to amend the grant so painting the third floor is now exempt!


My current plan is to walk away from this mess until the fall when the weather get cooler, then take the window apart and Do It Right.




  1. Leigh on April 11, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Oh Ross… sorry about that. On a positive note, it will get done; done well and done right

  2. Dan Goodall-Williams on April 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Oh crap. Will it ever end? I would try to use PVC since that will last forever. Yes, I too think I would walk away and do something where I could see some immediate results. You will handle this well Ross.

  3. David McDonald on April 11, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Daaayum!! If I was there I’d help you get to work IMMEDIATELY! From now til fall, think of the rain! . Are you sure you want to wait? Rain falls down. I know this sounds bad, but think of all the parts and everything under those leak points. I say this because I have wood everything, and one thing my Dad taught me is, No time like the present! (We worked on this house for 3 years off and on) I say this to help you.!! And to encourage you. Go Ross go!!! To preserve all your hard work!!! Not to discourage!! Hope you know that!

  4. David McDonald on April 11, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Everything under, meaning from the 2nd floor down to the ground. (Obviously, lol)

  5. tura wolfe on April 11, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Ross, you know what is best to do. You are the master of this work on the Cross House. Yes, fall will be a better season to work on this side of the house. I look forward to where you next lay your hands to work. My biggest wish is for you to move into the house. Will a move in date be in the near future? You need the cat house and yard. And a bathroom? Right?

  6. David Gervais on April 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Is there anything that can be done to stabilize the area until fall? I think that you need to stop any more water ingress. I will probably take some hot dry summer weather to get it dried out?

    I agree that working weather in the fall should be better so you or a helper can work longer each time you are up there.

    The best time to fix a leak is last year and the next best time is now. I have to agree with David McDonald that the work needs to be done now before the problem gets worse.

    I can suggest a possible middle path: something I have seen done a few times here in Vancouver BC.: take out the entire window assembly and put it into an indoor work area. You have the option at that point to send it out for someone else to repair or reproduce.

    The next step is to cover the opening or whole facade with a flat waterproof cover that is sealed to the building and weather tight. Here is the detail that makes this option appealing: pre-paint the covering with an image of that part of the wall as it will be. A print shop can do this for if you prefer.

    Spend the summer on other outside work. If you keep the window in your own workshop, you can work on it when the weather keeps you inside.

  7. David McDonald on April 11, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    Ok. Yea, i agree with David Gervais. Btw, nice to meet you! Stop any thing ELSE from happening. And, David G. What a great idea! Covering the area with z facsimile of what is supposed to be there! Way cool!
    And, i also agree with Tura. Its your house, We’re just tryin to help! 😁👍

  8. Stewart McLean on April 11, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    The bright side is that you are ROSS!
    *You know what to do and how to do it.
    *With you in charge it may take more time, but thanks to it being you, it will be done right, likely better than anyone else would, bar none.
    *Selfishly speaking, the even brighter side, because you share your journey so well, is that the way you share your trials gives me hope on my own projects. You help me to see that my baby steps matter. You keep me from giving up in despair, thereby helping me to achieve my own success when failure seemed imminent.
    *Thank you again!!!

  9. ruth miller on April 11, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    We went through the same kinda stuff in restoration of our giant wrap around front/side porch. I believe the previous owners just didn’t know how to improve the porch correctly. We removed probably fifty pounds of caulk from everywhere on that porch. God sent us two wonderful carpenters to help restore the porch, plus a brick mason and concrete guy. It was a big job that I thought would never be completed. That of course, as you know well, isn’t the only thing to repair. Houses take effort to make them beautiful. Big houses take extra effort to make them shine.
    I’m pleased to know that the big house I photographed back in 2013 is in good hands. I said to my friend while I was taking pics of it, “I hope someone gets hold of this monster of a house and does it right. It deserves to shine once again.” You are making it shine !

  10. David McDonald on April 11, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Ross. I DO have a couple of questions…. noticed something…..
    1. the roof on this octagon(?) section… in the photo from the 30s, the roof is done in what looks like small 6 (?) sided round tiles in what appaers to be multi colored, now its square. Which is original?
    2. The main body slso from the 30s, is what looks like roundish diamond shapes. Original?
    I know you said you’re redoing the roof. (Forgive me if i missed a post about this)
    Was just curious what your thoughts, plans, were..
    Know you have ALOT goin on now. (Tryin to get your mind of this current situation.) 😊

    • Kit on April 12, 2020 at 7:30 pm

      Hi David, I can actually answer this one (I have a really good memory)!

      Ross has already had the roofs done, the asphalt shingles were done in 2016 and the diamond-shaped asbestos roof is staying, as it’s in excellent condition. None of the Cross House roofing Ross inherited was original.

  11. David McDonald on April 12, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks Kit! Hi! Btw! Thanks for the info!
    Just wondered.
    I know Queen Anne’s don’t have them. But multicolored, patterned slate roofs are my all time favorite.
    I just feel Ross’s pain. My back porch is made of wood close to the house, and I just discovered the same thing today. I touched a portion of the edge, squeezed, and heard…crrrunch. damn! So, Ross, I feel your pain!! 😥…😡 (makes me mad!) We will get thru this!

  12. Fritz on April 13, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Ross, when you get around to working on this, I think you should avoid using both wood and PVC in the frame and frame trim. The expansion/contraction of the two materials are different. The sun exposure will cause the PVC to move quite a bit and you will have caulk/gap problems every year. I suggest doing the frame and trim in all wood, or all PVC.
    Everything you’re doing is looking great!

  13. Nancy from Georgia on April 15, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Oh gosh that is daunting. But I have faith that Ross the Boss will prevail! Faster than a speeding turtle! More powerful than a driving rainstorm! Baby stepping his way to victory! It’s Ross the Boss! Yay!!!

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