The past week we've violently oscillated between outright angst over work being done on our house and utter exhaustion from the work we're doing.

The work on our house's HVAC and plumbing repairs has been progressing, and we've been trying to stay ahead of the contractors with our responsibilities.

Since the price tag for new geothermal HVAC and the re-plumbing of the entire house exceeds the insurance settlement to repair the existing systems, we're trying to save money where we can by doing some of the leg work, demo, and prep for the work ourselves, leaving the HVAC and plumbing work only for the HVAC and plumbing experts.

The problem with this approach is simple. Our time to get away from our day jobs and daily life to work on the house is limited...and there is no air conditioning at the house (or plumbing for that matter), so any work is done in the sweltering 90 degree plus confines of the cozy house.

Last week this whole effort kicked into high gear when the excavator started digging for the horizontal ground loop that is the key to the HVAC system's function. We knew it was going to be a mess, but we didn't understand just how bad it would be.

The rub of this whole thing, it was happening on a day when neither of us could get away from work, so we were stuck watching the whole thing unfold on the web cam we had hastily stuck in the window a few days before. Oh the agony.

Continue Reading Full Post
Comments 15
Posted by

Well, we certainly can't claim to complete any house projects at world record speed, whether it's a 12+ year renovation of our 15' wide townhouse, or even completing our master bathroom renovation in less than five years. But when outsourcing work, I thought we could count on hired pros to turn things around a little more quickly.

For anyone who has been following along the last several months, back in February we experienced a catastrophic failure of the boiler in our new home, resulting in a house full of frozen and burst pipes, a busted boiler, and even toilets that had cracked. We knew it wouldn't be a fast process to work through the insurance claim and get the house back in working order, but I certainly didn't count on months of little to no action.

It dawned on me this week that for officially half of the time we've owned the new house, it's been without heat, running water, or functioning plumbing. Ugh. But while that's a downright depressing thought, and honestly one that's resulted in multiple meltdowns on my part including a full on tantrum that included a flying pry bar, I am happy to report we've made some progress on this front.

We've officially hired HVAC and plumbing contractors! Yep, you read that right. After a tediously slow process of finding companies that service the area and do the kind of work we need, getting companies out for estimates (and actually showing up for the appointments), following up for estimates, submitting estimates to our insurance company, filing the necessary contractor paperwork with the insurance, and discussing approaches each contractor would take to complete the work until we found one we liked, we're thrilled to report that we've selected pros for each of the two major areas of work and have given them deposits to start the work.

I'm not trying to get my hopes up here, but from what we're being told this week, work should begin within the next week. The HVAC work inside the house has to happen first before the plumbing can start, and the exterior HVAC (digging the trenches in the yard for the new geothermal system) can't start until the contractor hears back from Miss Utility, but even with those contingent items we're feeling excited.

There's a list of items we need to do in order to prepare the home for the work. Some of the items include demo, like removing the tile walls on the outside of the two showers. 

Continue Reading Full Post
Comments 5

July 2, 1779, a 22 year old Frenchman by the name of Johannes (Jean) Claudius Schledorn enrolls in the legion of Lauzun and engages as a light horse soldier in Lauzun's 1st squad of Hussars.

The adventure and duty that follows brings the calvary soldier to North America to fight with George Washington and the American rebel forces against the British in the American Revolutionary War. On July 11, 1780 he lands as part of a 5,500 man, 5 frigate strong French Naval Fleet in Newport, Rhode Island called the Expédition Particulière.

What follows for this young man as part of Rochambeau's forces takes him through several battles in support of the revolution, and eventually to the siege of Yorktown in Virginia where he witnesses the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in October 1781. Later, under the Americanized name of John Slator, he is one of the few people who is present at the signing and framing of the United States Constitution, and is honorably discharged as an American Patriot on May 9, 1783.

John Slator, originally of Alsace, France, settles as an American citizen pioneer in Donegal, Pennsylvania, is my 6th Great-grandfather, and the earliest member of my family in the United States.

Several months before John Slator's arrival in Rhode Island in 1780, a French frigate called Hermione arrives in Boston on April 28, 1780. On board is the Marquis de Lafayette, who brings secret news of the Expédition Particulière and coming 5,500 soldiers to support Washington. It marks a significant partnership in the Revolutionary War and one of the significant tide turning moments of the major conflict.

Continue Reading Full Post
Comments 15

Historic home renovation of any sort is a delicate balance between old and new.

Whether you're patching a hole in a 100 plus year old plaster wall or looking for period hardware or accessories that are both functional and appropriate in an old home, you have to weigh the character of the old against the function of the new. This has been true with everything from the advent of plumbing and electricity, to telephones, to modern HVAC, to Internet, etc. With the recent advances in technology related to eco friendly and cost effective alternatives to traditional home elements, this challenge of staying true to your home's roots while still embracing modern conveniences has never been more apparent.

Recently we discussed the new barn inspired lights we installed at the front door of our new house. We wanted something that looks appropriate and authentic for the home, and I think we achieved our goal. But the exposed bulb also had to look appropriate, otherwise we lose the whole look.

Initially we chose to use an historic looking filament "Edison" style bulb for the lights. We felt that the look of the bulb was as important as anything, so we were prepared to sacrifice the energy efficiency of a modern CFL or LED bulb for the style and warm light given off by these historically inspired bulbs.

Continue Reading Full Post
Comments 6

Much like War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, or The Academy Awards, our bathroom renovation is running long.

As the years have progressed and our patience runs thin, the bathroom has slowly progressed. Rather than drawing comparisons to various epically lengthy novels or movies, let's instead use The Little Engine that Could as our literary project point of reference.

Why? Because it doesn't matter how long it might take, I'll be dammed if we're not going to finish this project one way or another, even if we have 20 other projects going on, including a giant effort in a new house without HVAC or plumbing. I think this is primarily because we're some healthy combination of crazy and masochistic and possess an undeniable love for our home and desire to do too much ourselves.

So where are we on this bathroom project? Well, not that our work on turning an antique buffet into our vanity is complete and we love how it turned out, we're turning our attention to building the tall storage cabinets that will sit on either side of the custom double vanity.

Continue Reading Full Post
Comments 16
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • Popular Topics
  • Comments
  • Blog Roll
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2015 - Privacy Policy
Login Below
Sign in with Facebook

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.