Time to hibernate

You probably didn’t notice, but all my pictures of the new roof on the front of the house show a pretty big change, even bigger than the new roof.

Mike had a busy summer working on the new sunroom, and we’re finally ready to let it rest over the long winter.

Here’s a rundown of his progress — and it truly is his progress. I participated very little, and the only help he had was when his friend helped him install the heavy sliding door. All else you see — all the framing, the new tongue-in-groove floor, the walls, 14 windows, the trim — that’s all Mike. It’s amazing!

front porch right

This is pretty much where we started, although in this picture we had already cut down an overgrown and ratty arborvitae to the right of the one here.


The column bases and floor were so bad, Mike was afraid the whole roof might come down. So he propped it up -- those posts stayed up for months and months, though had to be moved and rejiggered way too often, with me holding my breath every time.


That's the weather side of the house, so the porch was in bad shape. Rotting floorboards and all. We had to pull up the floor anyway to replace the sewer line that runs under the porch, so that began our journey.


In this picture, the last arborvitae is finally gone, and Mike has already reframed the floor and replaced the joists. Oh, and that was only AFTER we waited weeks (or was it months?) for a mason to come and rebuild the brick piers.


We insulated the floor and installed a vapor barrier, but it will probably only be a three-season room. Too expensive to heat over the winter.


It was a relief to get the new floor down. The plan is to replace the rest of the porch floor (after we rebuild the other two piers) this same way.


It was a great day when the porch roof was resting on new columns instead of those blasted posts!


Framing the walls (which are mostly windows) came next. (See how nice the new brick piers look?)


It was exciting to see the first transoms go in.


The windows required a ton of shimming and finessing -- quite a painstaking job.


As I mentioned, the sliding door was big and heavy, but Mike and his friend, Gary, made quick work of it.


Trimming everything out was a huge job. We used plastic lumber to avoid future maintenance.

The last details took a while — bending the aluminum flashing around the base and finishing up the trim, especially. We were thrilled to see the last bits of wood and OSB covered. (Coping the inside corners of the crown molding on the porch was yesterday’s “I hate this” chore.)

Bending and fitting the aluminum flashing was quite a chore -- I mostly tried to hide while Mike was working on it.

Lots of clean-up effort this past weekend means the front porch finally doesn’t look like a construction zone. (And, a double bonus: With the garage no longer a staging/storage area, I can park my car in it for the first time in 6 months!)

Look! No wood to trip over. No ladders. No tools. And an actual "Welcome" mat at the front door!

We even put the antique wicker in its new (still unfinished) home and were thrilled at how cozy it feels.

Having a sheltered home for this 100+-year-old furniture we inherited from Mike's parents was a big part of why we decided to build the sunroom instead of just keeping the open porch. Good thing it fits in the room!

It may be next year at this time before the interior is finished, but that’s OK. This has been a huge one-man job, and we’re happy with the progress and the promise of having a pretty little retreat to relax in down the road.

And yes, there’s still the rest of the front porch to rebuild — maybe next year, maybe the year after — it’s been a tough year financially and scary that things don’t appear to be picking up, at least for my business. Life in fixer-upperhood sure isn’t for the faint of heart and light of checkbook. But we are so fortunate compared to so many, and probably not thankful enough for it.

And so, this project hibernates, but we don’t. Finishing the powder room — the “winter project” that hibernated over the summer — is again at the top of the list.

Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do —
or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.
~ Stanley Crawford


  1. pawsinsd said,

    Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    What a lovely home you have! We’re in a fully-furnished temporary residence – don’t feel bad, it’s great – but we want a place of our own and to bring our stuff back to us.

    I’m just cookin’, gal, but you’re cooking with gas! Dee

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Thanks, Dee! We were blessed that the house has the proverbial “good bones” though they certainly weren’t fed enough calcium and Vitamin D over the years (and more the few were broken). We’re getting there though. Thanks for the encouragement. I look forward to reading more of your adventures now that “high season” has come to your town.

  3. Facie said,

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I was going to say lovely too, and I pretty much never use that word. But it is fitting. I am impressed at all you and Mike have done.

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks, Facie! It would never happen without a live-in architect/handyman and a pushy wife with a vision. And a lot of patience and persistence on both sides — we will be here 5 years in May.

  5. jewels said,

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    It looks incredible! And the furniture looks great in there. I can just picture you all having lemonade in the summer relaxing in the cool breeze!!

  6. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Collapsed in the cool breeze is more like it, Jewels…We’ll be needing something stronger than lemonade — your famous sangria maybe?

  7. Rege said,

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Sure does look good. When’s your next tax assessment?

  8. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Ha ha, Rege. Not sure WHEN they do that stuff, but likely this wouldn’t add much because there’s no plumbing or heating (? I hope). (When someone came snooping at mom’s house I just said we turned an existing sunroom into a bedroom.)

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