Baby steps. Eating an Elephant. Gotta crawl before we run. All in good time. UGH! All these expressions play over and over in my head trying to lock down some sanity as we go clawing towards our finish line. And honestly, I know we are just ‘scratching the surface’ on our renovation. But wow ~14 months in~ it’s so hard for me to get perspective of how far we’ve come. It just feels like it’s all moving so darn slowly!! Until I take a good look back…
~So, I really hope you don’t mind… and it doesn’t bore you… but the next few posts will be me looking back on what we’ve accomplished so far. I have to put an accounting somewhere. My first job in the TV world was as an editor for the News Station in NYC. And my boss, Ben Foti, told me when he hired me: “Never forget where you’ve come from Kim”. Basically he was telling me to stay humble – because we all need to start somewhere. But never let go of how far you’ve come to keep you moving to the top. Those great words by a great man have stuck with me through the years. So I must do the same here with Bloomfield. If I don’t remember how far we’ve come, I’ll loose sight and most likely loose motivation. So thank you for indulging me as I take a look back over our first year of restoring our sweet Bloomfield.~
The picture on the left I took the first time I ‘met’ Bloomfield. I didn’t see her rotting facia boards or peeling paint or boarded up windows. I just saw a majestic creature. forgotten. unloved. One that needed healing. Maybe the fact that I never really saw her flaws is why it’s so difficult to see her progress now? I’ve always seen her a shiny gem. So every step towards our restoration goal just feels like it should have been this way all along. Do you know what I mean? I’ve only always seen her glory. Since day one.
Let’s start at the beginning. I’m currently a real estate agent, so I go into a lot of homes. And I see the damage of neglect on a weekly basis. The absolute #1 worst mistake and a sure-fire way to get your home gobbled back-up by nature is water penetration. Water damage will destroy a house in more ways than I care to name. So our first mission at Bloomfield, as you might remember, was to get her windows shut & secured. And second was to get her roof fixed and stop all the leaks. Easy right?? Just slap on a new roof and shut the windows! Well, only one of those items was a simple task.
The windows happened in about an hour. Ha! These FUNCTIONING windows have been on this house much longer than any non-functioning windows of any home I’ve lived in in my life. Some here since 1775 and the other since 1820… and do you know Bloomfield’s ALL work PERFECTLY. Check! The front of Bloomfield, which faces west, seems to take the brunt of all the storms. Somewhere in the mid-seventies, storm windows were installed. Which, much to my surprise, worked just as well as the wood windows. It was seriously like putting a puzzle together. There would be a missing upper or lower storm window, we’d search the attic or an adjoining room, and there it was. We’d take it back to it’s original spot, it would slide into it’s track and lock into place. Window after window. They ALL opened perfectly. (with some help of WD40, in we’d slide the storm window, or lower the one there and down we’d slide the wooden frame. No years of paint build up. No broken sashes. Just gloriously functioning windows.
But oh holy moly, the roof was a total other story! I wanted to just tear off this sucker and replace it with a shiny new one. My husband on the other hand thought we could save it. Ugh. Here we go… The roof became the greatest debate (a gentle term for what was sometimes an all out feud) between my husband and I. Hours of lamenting ~ to replace or not to replace ~ that is the question. Each visit to Bloomfield, first order of business was always an assessment of leaks in the roof. Was the floor wet there? Is that new mold growth on the plaster there? Can we see sunlight through this section of the seam? And so on.
Oh this might be a good time to give a shout out to Mother Nature who I cursed for months on end for the fall, winter and spring of 2018/19 and all her monsoon like weather in Virginia. But I’m eating crow now. She certainly gave us the perfect testing ground for water leaks!! And I can’t fully complain about he rain… outside of trying to save our old gal & mother nature trying to reclaim her – the rain was quite peaceful. Here’s a taste:
At the time, the unstopping rain truly felt like a curse. I’d check the weather at Bloomfield from Dallas and just cry. Literally. Storm after storm rolled in. Sometimes 2 in a day. And most days it just never stopped. All I could think about was Bloomfield’s plaster disintegrating. Her floors molding. I cried for her and my inability to immediately be able to swoop in and save her.
In desperation, I can’t tell you how many roofers I interviewed. This is a picture of an EXCELLENT roofer. He actually answered my calls. Came out to meet with us on the first appointment. And was SO knowledgeable. But all roofers were 6 months to a year OUT to get us on their schedule! ALL were back logged because of the weather. Side note: it was like pulling teeth to get a roofer to come meet with us. This was new to me. In Dallas, I can have 10 roofing companies to my house TODAY and bids in hand by the evening. So if there’s one thing that I’m learning with Bloomfield – it’s patience. On so many levels. Anyway – I digress.
There was no question about it – until we could get the roof done – we were going to need to find a way to stop the water from getting into the house! Honestly, I felt like the universe was out to get us with all that rain! For months, Rod meticulously went around to each known leaky seam and hole in the metal roof and patched. Day after day, tracking down the leaky spots. Patching. Then waiting. Each trip out to the house, the moment we’d arrive, we would run in to assess the water level in multiple buckets and pans in the attic.
Unfortunately there was another piece to this puzzle. And this piece was HUGE… like the size of a boulder. Or a dozens of them. The chimneys were disintegrating. Seriously. And the high winds that came with the driving rain were knocking the stones off the chimneys and straight onto the metal roof. Yup – you got it. Hole after hole in the roof after each storm. And there was no stopping it! But like so many other amazing things that have happened to us on this journey- we found an amazing mason. Edward Ashby. Now this man is not just a mason… but a historical mason. A true artisan. And a big time historical architecture buff. Within days of calling him, Edward was at our door step ready to fix our old gal. Edward even has his own entry in our blog that I’m working on. This man is a true master of his trade and just a jolly great guy to boot!! Love Edward! For now – here’s his website if you’d like to check him out (he’s also humble so not too many bragging rights there… so we’ll brag for him): http://www.ashbymasonry.com
Love this photo of Rod and Edward up on the roof
With the chimneys finally done, the amount of water in the attic buckets was a testament to how well the patches had held. Over the course of 9 months the leaks got less and less and the buckets dryer and dryer. I started to have faith that we really could save this old metal roof… and $40,000!
During all of this, Rod kept pointing out that one section of the roof was bowing. I thought it was just old age. [Lord knows much of me is ‘bowing’ these days and there’s not a darn thing I can do about it!] But there was this one section of Bloomfield’s roof that was just not allowing us to seal the joints of the metal. It kept leaking and leaking no matter how hard he tried to clamp the metal back together and patch it. And upon further inspection, Rod discovered that when the back porch was removed from the house in 2012… they did not take the time to cut the porch off the house. It looks like they just hooked up ole bessie to the porch frame and with a firm yank – down she tumbled.
Here’s the rub… the ceiling joists that frames out the attic extended out as the joists covering of the double decker porch. They were completely tied into the roof line of the house!! So when they yanked the rotting porch off the house, they dislodged the ceiling joists in the attic… basically bending the lid to the can. The entire overhang that remained was compromised. And so was the metal on the roof. Hard to see in the picture – but where you can see sunlight is where the joists had been popped out of place and in doing so, bending the metal joints on the roof.
See the sunlight? (and the rain water for that matter??) That’s where the metal no long seamed together and where those roof joists that had been unhinged… but unhinged under those floorboards. :/ So the discover had yet to be made in this picture. The floor boards had to come up to see that the ceiling joists tie-ins had been destroyed.
Now the next line of business was to reattach the roof / attic ceiling joist back into its framing. This was no easy feat. And I won’t bore you with the structural details. But it was accomplished and structurally secured and the eave was rebuilt.
Now, with the plummeting chimney boulders repaired, the cracked and detached roof joists back in place and tied in, the existing metal sealed up… what next?? Well, as Rod drove around the country roads of Virginia, we noticed that metal roof after roof was painted. These roofs had to be MUCH older than ours. From the underbelly of Bloomfield’s roof – it looked to be around 50 years old. And quite frankly – from inside, it looked like a completely new roof!!
Okay okay — I started to see the light… wait, I STOPPED seeing the light through the roof (hee hee) and started to come around to Rod’s idea of saving the existing roof and painting her. It started to make a whole lot of sense once the structural issues were dealt with and the leaks had disappeared. So why can’t we just paint her?? So with a little internet research we found that there is a gummy type (technical term 🙂 ) of sealant paint that will seal up your roof. Yay!! I finally agreed… We can do this! And save a ton of money doing it!
Now decided – we FINALLY painted the the roof and get Bloomfield OFFICIALLY sealed-in. And we found our guys JUST around the corner in Rippon WV. B&G Painters… Excellent painters that had actually worked in the house 40 years ago! See, she did it again… Bloomfield cherry picked her team of experts and delivered them to us. She’s a not only beautiful, but a wise ole gal! https://www.yelp.com/biz/b-and-g-painting-contractors-rippon
Oh we heard it all about painting the metal: “you’re going to throw good money after bad” … “in another 5 to 10 years she’s gonna start leaking again” ” – Boy if I had a nickel for all the unsolicited advice we’ve gotten over the past year, we could actually afford the new metal roof. 🙂
I have to say, after all of this, we’ve really become very intimate with Bloomfield. Once you dig into an old house… and I mean REALLY dig in and start getting your hands dirty – start touching her ever nook and cranny – digging into each crevice – wearing her dirt and in turn, she starts to wear your sweat (and sometimes tears) as it drips to the floor – there is a relationship that forms. A trust. A love. A union. Rod once told me he could hear her sigh as he fixed her. And I too feel her energy. And she keeps thanking us. She is SO relieved. And I believe she too loves us as much as we love her. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. Bloomfield, you’ve found your people and in turn I’ve found my purpose. I can’t wait for the day we get to share you with the world. You are a gem my sweet. We certainly feel welcomed home.