THE BIG OOPS

Reshingling the south second-floor was part of the 2017 Heritage Trust Grant.

It was a $6,200 line item, and this low price reflected that the work was estimated to be relatively minor.

 

In red, you can see numbers 1-4. These were the areas of missing shingles. The plan was to simply infill these areas. But, once the scaffolding was erected in the SE corner, it quickly became clear that an anthill was actually a mountain, and that a $6,200 line item would balloon into like $40,000 worth of work.

 

The SE corner before work began. You can see some missing shingles to the left. Hey! No biggie! Oops! While the shingles looked OK from the ground they proved, in actuality, incredibly fragile and could be easily removed by hand. So, I thought, I will just take them off and re-nail each one! No biggie! Oops.

 

For, under the shingles proved rotted sheathing and rotted framing.

 

Oops.

 

At the inside corner, there should have been 2×6 framing studs. There were none, having long ago rotted out due to issues with the built-in gutter above. Oops.

 

Oops.

 

And the huge window?

 

It and the small bathroom window were also rotted. Oops. They had to be removed and rebuilt.

 

Oops.

 

New pressure-treated sill and new PVC trim.

 

New sheeting and rebuilt bathroom window. The sashes were also restored (part of the 2017 grant, too).

 

Every single new shingle needed to be cut to width, and half needed to have a half-round bottoms. Every single new shingle.

 

Bit by bit came the slow, tedious work of re-shingling.

 

Bit bit bit by bit bit bit.

 

The scaffolding became quite…insane.

 

There were also unanticipated repairs to the huge cornice. Oops. And the unpainted cornice (top of image) proved damaged from the 1999 fire and needed a lot of work. Then the built-in gutter to the servant’s hall (not pictured) had to be rebuilt as it had settled and was pouring water INTO the house (oops) rather than AWAY.

 

BEFORE.

 

AFTER. It looks like all I did was paint!

 

After finishing the SE corner, I needed a break from the endless shingling. So, time was spent on another Heritage Trust line item: restoring/replacing the last eight columns. Unlike the shingling, which was soul-draining, the column project was joyful.

 

With the columns done, sadly, the shingles on the main south facade could no longer be ignored. Even after the disturbing experience with the SE corner I was desperately hoping to just infill as required. This proved, sigh, a great big oops.

 

With the scaffolding affording a close-up view, these shingles also proved a mess. They were barely hanging on and would flap in the wind, like a pianist on a keyboard.

 

So, bit by bit, they all came off. Every last friggin’ shingle.

 

As with the big window in the SE corner, new computer-crimped drip caps were installed.

 

More crazy scaffolding. Note how the huge cornice is also being restored.

 

Almost done!!!!!!!!

 

BEFORE.

 

AFTER. Done!!!!!!!! Again, it looks like all I did was paint! The clear-glass windows on the south facade, and most of its stained-glass windows, were also restored as part of the 2017 Heritage Grant.

 

The giant oops of the south facade is a danger all old house owners know. You think: Oh! This will just be a weekend project! Then………..a year later the work is completed.

Even though I have decades of experience restoring old houses, I was nonetheless shocked by how a no-biggie line item transformed into a titanic-sized project. What fooled me were the west, north, and east facades as each was in remarkable condition for a house in its 13th decade. So, I just assumed…

Oops.

 

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Colin Boss on March 22, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    Hi Ross. Wow, what an incredible job you’ve done here. It’s been long and laborious, but the before and after photos truly show what a labour of love this is. The difference you’re making to this wonderful house is great, so whilst it must feel never ending, know that using your patented ‘baby steps’ method, you’re getting closer to the outside being finished. Good luck with this next phase.

    Colin

  2. Amy Wan on March 22, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    We have had many an Ooops! during our restoration. It just takes time and a ridiculous amount of patience but is worth it in the end (I hope as we have not gotten there yet either).

  3. Beth H. on March 22, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Oh, those “oops” alway get you, don’t they… but nevertheless, you’ve persevered! You are making sure this house survives another 100 years. We had trouble from our built-in gutters too. (We were told they were called “Yankee gutters” in our part of the woods, NY. And we were young and got thoroughly ripped off by the contractor who did the work poorly.)

    Thank you for taking us all on this journey with you!

    • Ross on March 23, 2020 at 12:54 am

      Thank you, Beth.

      Pretty much everything I do is guided by what you wrote: “You are making sure this house survives another 100 years.”

      I’ve even worked to correct mistakes made in 1894 which caused the house so much trouble down its long road.

  4. Architectural Observer on March 23, 2020 at 12:47 am

    Your Herculean efforts are nothing short of astounding. And refreshing. Bravo!

    • Ross on March 23, 2020 at 12:55 am

      Sometimes exhausting, too!

      • Derek Walvoord on March 23, 2020 at 9:26 am

        Yes that! Bravo! Thanks for taking us through that visual reminder. Whoa!!!

  5. Sue on March 23, 2020 at 7:34 am

    You are a superhero, Ross. This is an inspiring example of how to get through what seems like an overwhelming situation by recognizing and accepting what needs to be done and then doing it right. A good metaphor for the time we’re in.

  6. Mike on March 23, 2020 at 7:58 am

    You have made such tremendous progress, and as has been stated so many times by so many people, you are ensuring the house will survive for another century. You WILL see this completed, and I pray that the old-house gods bless you with many happy years in your beautiful home. I have raised three children and restored an old house; the processes are very similar. Just when you want to get in the car and drive until you run out of gas and cash, something happens that makes you realize that the end result is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears. We are so grateful that you allow us these insights into your work, especially in times like these. You are an inspiration, not only to those of us who are involved in our own projects, but to everyone who maybe just needs a reason to smile. Our motto this year is “Ross In The Cross – 2020” 🙂

  7. Marilyn Franks on March 23, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Wow! We all know thanks to your recording the progress that it is much, much, much more than paint. Such breathtakingly beautiful work that you all are doing!

  8. Sandra Diane Lee on March 23, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you for revealing every step in righting the “wrongs” or ravages of time! Your hard and exacting work is amazing!!! Herculean in effort! I am always amazed by your work ethic! After all is restored, repaired and painted, the sense of pride and accomplishment must be amazing!

    Is it possible to get an extension due to the gargantuan amount of work that was just a line item ($6000 and not the actual $40,000it cost)???

    I am thankful that you had construction loans, and both Heritage Grants. It helped tremendous to enable you to do the work you have accomplished and continue to accomplish.

  9. Nancy from Georgia on March 23, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Half a league, half a league, half a league on! Forward the Ross brigade! We may not be at your side physically, but we are all cheering you on. You are a marvel. Thanks again for sharing your journey.

  10. Linda A. on March 24, 2020 at 10:28 am

    I think you should start marketing “Ross In The Cross-2020” items like t-shirts and coffee mugs.( Like you need one more thing to work on) BUT, Andy Cohen does it on/for Bravo and I bet they rake in tons of cash from selling their items. Then when you get your own show on HGTV or DYI you will have this cash cow already in place. Lol.

  11. michael mackin on March 24, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Ross, I am curious if you used a primer before you painted the new shingles. I see the grey primer on the old shingle surfaces but not on the new shingles. Am I missing something?

    • Ross on March 24, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      Michael,

      The gray is not primer but 20-year-old gray paint.

      The area of unfinished shingles will get primed tomorrow. I’ve been waiting for warm weather.

      • Neighbor Brad on March 25, 2020 at 11:27 am

        Today will be the day to paint, sunny skies and a high in the 70s!

        • Michael Mackin on March 26, 2020 at 1:43 am

          You are lucky. It snowed here this morning!

  12. john tomorowitz on March 25, 2020 at 6:09 am

    Just found and listened to your interview, on YouTube, with Elizabeth Finkelstein from CIRCA Old Houses. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview, you are knowledgeable and entertaining man. Your skills are amazing and passion is infectious. Growing up in Cleveland, I fell in love with all the Victorian homes, and always dreamed of owning one. Like you said, so many fell in disrepair, because of the constant change and lack of love by the owner or tenant.

    Doing my level best to fix up and maintain my little late 60’s, Orlando ranch home. Made me sick, when water damage and mold forced me to tear out the master bath. Near zero budget to restore back to original.

    Please keep up the good work. the hard work will last for future generation to love and enjoy.

  13. Kristal on March 25, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    You said it looks like all you did was paint, but you are incorrect. You’ve mentioned before the crispness of doing this right, and even in photos, it is apparent the crispness. It looks beautiful! A house this grand deserves all the love and attention you pour into it.

  14. Julia on March 27, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Looks amazing!!!

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