Posts tagged ‘revitalizing Columbus’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.

The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.

Now onto the side yard.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.

Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.

January 9, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 14 : Mimi comes to visit!

When Arden was small, she began calling Amy, my long-time friend of 20 years, ‘Mimi’ when she could first talk.
We go way back and have been friends since we were teens, working together at McDonald’s.
This week was very exciting because Amy drove up from Alabama, stopping off to visit us before heading to parent’s house near Cleveland.
Having once lived in Columbus too, (we both moved here in ’99, within a couple weeks of each other for completely unrelated reasons!) Joel and I are always petitioning her to move back. But you know there is that pesky business of having to get a new job and sell a house among other things.
I am forever optimistic though!

As a Hallie first, Amy awesomely went to work with us, ripping up floorboards in the upstairs bedroom.

Pile of wood copy

Pulling out nails is a tedious job, especially having to work by flashlight!

Amy pulling nails copy

Here’s the other bedroom I had already ripped up the boards in and then worked on pulling out nails.

Bedroom floor I ripped up and pulled nails out of copy

Under the painted thin hardwood of the upstairs, lies beautiful, golden brown original hardwood. Yes, it is scuffed and scratched, but none of the upstairs suffered water damage from the burst pipes. So fortunately, instead of having to completely replace everything like the first floor, we can instead just sand, stain and poly. It will save so much money and I can’t wait to see how amazing it will turn out.

The wood underneath copy

Meanwhile, Joel was laying cement board in the bathroom, so the tiling can begin.

Joel laying cement board copy

On Sunday, we waved goodbye to Amy and headed off to do more work at Hallie. It wasn’t all bad, since we enjoyed gloriously warm weather. It is always so much easier to work with the sun shining and not having to be bundled up to our noses. I worked on tiling while Joel was up on the roof doing some much needed repairs.

tile in shower upstairs copy

The day before, Arden was told by Amy that she shouldn’t help (because she was dropped off by her dad from a family holiday get together. She was still all dressed up and I forgot to bring her a change of clothing.) So the next day, Arden took it as a personal challenge that she too, could pull out nails.
And by golly, that’s what she did.

Arden bent over pulling nails copy

At first I would hear her in the bedroom grunting and groaning, followed by the sound of nails straining as they were ripped from the floor. It sounds super funny when you hear it , knowing it is such a little kid. After working awhile by herself, she came in the bathroom to show off her pile of nails. Honestly, I was impressed. I would have never guessed that she would have the arm strength to pull them out. Clearly, I had forgotten that she is indeed my girl, because stubbornness wins out.

Arden holds nail copy

I told her she could have 2 pieces of candy for her efforts, thinking she would be pleased and be done. After we came back from dropping off a load of trash and getting lunch, she went right back at it though. Seeing that I found her work valuable, we negotiated that she could earn 1 piece of candy for every 33 nails she pulled. That spunky kid went on to pull out an additional 139 more nails. When she declared that her back hurt and she was going to stop and go play, I couldn’t have been prouder.

arden standing sassy copy

December 10, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 11

Here’s the long-awaited, semi-finalized bathroom. The floor is dirty and the tub still a mess, but we are all about keeping it real here. 🙂

finished bathroom photo copy

From the last time you saw it, here’s what we did.

1.) Finished tiling and grouted.
I was originally going to use a dark grey grout thinking it would look all creative and edgy. We used the cheapest (most boring) tile possible at $.12 a tile. Seeing the dark grey mortar show through though, the reality was it just really emphasized the flaws. This is only my 2nd time tiling (my first was the huge 2×3 tiles in our home bathroom shower) and while I’m getting better, it didn’t turn out as perfect as I would have liked. Fortunately, the white grout gave it a clean look that was desperately needed.

2.) Put in the sink/vanity unit.
A prefab unit is usually not my thing. I really enjoy finding a sturdy used piece and giving it a make-over. (Like Joel and I did in our own bathroom) As we discovered from renting out Joel’s previous house though, it doesn’t pay to invest heart and soul into a project. No one else is going to appreciate the amount of work that I put into it but me and since I’m not living there, it’s not worth it. $50 on this and done.

3.) Rebuilt the toilet.
So I thought it would be great to save some money and used the existing one. It turned out though that all the bolts that held it together were rusted out, so after Joel meticulously remounting it, it leaked in several spots. He got it up and running now.

4.) Snaking out all the drains.
Once all the pipes were in place and leak-free, it turned out all the sewage drains were clogged (of course!)
So I bit of time and some awful smells later, we are good in that department.

5.) Painted a free chrome light fixture grey.
It is the kind that has the large bulbs that stick out. It isn’t the coolest, but with the additional of spray paint, it really upped the visual appeal. Plus all it cost a can of spray paint. Much cheaper than a new light fixture.

6.) Painted the walls, ceiling and existing built-in shelf purple. I think it’s called Shadow Mauve, but it’s a pale lavender/grey. I picked it when we were painted the bathrooms at Joel’s house to rent, then we used it when we remodeled our own bathroom and now we are using it at Hallie. I find it to be a very relaxing color. Sort of neutral, but not just plain old boring white or beige.

7.) Stripped 4 coats of paint from the existing wooden trim, primed and reused it. This large trim makes quite a nice impact. It sucks to take the time to remove previous paint, but we would shell out a lot of money to replace it (as tall as it is) or using cheaper trim that isn’t quite as nice.

IMAG0716 copy

primed trim copy

Finally,
8.) The most impressive part of the project by far is the tub. We have had to cut through a tub before to remove it and weren’t interested in doing that again. Instead, we stripped it (I have never used paint stripper in the house before (just outdoors) and the fumes are something, even through a mask. We had to flee the work area for a bit. Joel later stripped it and painted it (with special tub paint.) It turned out amazing!

side view of tub copy

tub inner copy

unnamed copy

All that is remaining in this room is to caulk and clean up a bit and we are onto the next project.

November 30, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 10

In rehabbing, there is A LOT of dirty work. So many individual tasks that join forces to lead up to an actual completed project. Not really fun to do, let alone write about. They are often dull and mundane. One of these is emptying the house of debris. Vines, broken drywall, busted up flooring, a bevy of tires that resided in the basement, all of it must go in order to make room to start fresh. By doing so, we’ve loaded up and disposed of 10 trailer fulls so far. It is definitely the unglamorous side of rehabbing Hallie.

Trailer of trash copy

Another thankless task would be overhauling the sewage drain pipes in the basement. Unfortunately, a toilet doesn’t just get placed in a bathroom and Voilà = usable! There is this enormous cast-iron pipe in the basement, that was (of course) ripped out by scrappers. (Actually 2 of them were.) This one, similar to the water pipe line debacle, was broken off at floor level, making the task of replacing/fixing it a tremendous pain-in-the-ass.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 sewer pipe copy

See that black square on the wall? It’s the crawl space. It’s dark and creepy and fairly uncomfortable, especially because Joel is not small. He has bravely climbed in there numerous times to repair leaks in that portion of the pipe. Once one was fixed, another one sprung. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s fair to say that the bathroom we’ve been working on is almost complete, but we have had to keep you in suspense just a bit longer as all the kinks are worked out.

In the meantime, here are photos from the 1st floor living room.

Hallie week 10 living room copy

Halliie week 10 , windows and fireplace copy

You can ponder to yourselves how we will fix this monstrosity. The ceiling damage was caused by a previous burst water pipe, which caved in both this room and a bedroom on the other side of the wall. All the warped flooring (both original and a layer of laminate) has been removed from this room, as well as a small adjoining bedroom to the right and the dining room to the left. It is safe to say that it is already looking a bit better than what this pic shows since this was taken a few weeks ago. I’m really excited about the windows and fireplace in this room and plan on really making them pop. Until then, hope everyone has a great weekend!

November 22, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 9 GOOD vs. EVIL

On the nights we don’t have Arden, after getting off work, we usually go out and work on the Duplex until 8:00 p.m. Tiring of working by dim lantern, I hooked up the trailer and brought out the borrowed generator. If you aren’t familiar with hitching a trailer to a vehicle, it’s not very complex, but there are many safety provisions in place to keep it attached to the automobile. The trailer hitch is slid into a fitted slot, which is held in place by a thick metal pin through the holes of the hitch. A metal clip goes over the end of the pin to keep it from sliding out. The trailer then gets hooked onto the hitch, with a clamp and a fitted pin that holds it in place. Finally, lights are plugged in and as an extra safety precaution, a super-thick chain is hooked from the trailer to the back of the hitch that is mounted to the vehicle.

vertical_hitch_diagram

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The duplex isn’t located in the best of neighborhoods, though most of the time the streets are dead, especially as the colder weather rolls in. Last night was different though. About 8 guys, teens to men were milling about the sidewalk. Not necessarily together, but enough to notice because it’s uncommon. It didn’t bother me, because it seemed like we’d won people over with our hard work and dedication. Or so I thought. (Sidenote: There is also a fairly strong police presence there.) I turned onto the cobblestone street by the school and was fine. The trailer bumped along rather noisily, so I can’t hardly wait to make it to the main street of Livingston. I approached the intersection of Parsons and then it happened. The trailer made a strange noise and shook the Outlander. There was nowhere to pull over, so I just immediately hop out to investigate. I stare at it in disbelief. The trailer, hitch and all was sliding on the pavement. The only thing semi-holding it in place were the heavy chains.

A woman who works at the hospital, getting ready to cross through the crosswalk as I passed by, comes running down the sidewalk shouting waving her hand. I’m reassembling the hitch, confused about missing parts. A little out of breathe, she hands me the metal pin. It fell out as I drove by her. Which leaves the metal clip that fits over the pin to hold it in place missing. It was secure when I left my house on Walmar. It’s not one of those things that just slides off. It takes strength to push it on or remove it. It’s rounded on one side, so it securely fits over the pin, locking it in place. Which only leaves one verdict. Someone removed it. The lady is kind and reminds me to put my hazards on as cars line up behind me. She suggests using wire, as a temporary hold, but I don’t have any. She mentions that they have a food truck and have to deal with hitches, but I am in fix-the-problem mode and I forget to ask what the name of it is.

I decide on using a bungee cord, hooked and tightly wrapped around, as a temporary fix, just to get it out of the street. I thank her profusely, forgetting to even ask her name, as I hurried to find a place to get out of the way. I pull into Children’s Hospital, but there isn’t an actual lot, just a garage. I end up stopping in a turn lane just so I can give Joel a quick call. He was ahead of me and never knew anything was wrong. I then have to explained to a pissed of hospital security guard that drove up, that I am not just blocking the lane to idly chat on my phone. Thankfully, Joel arrives quickly. In his hand, a locking pin. As in, once it’s on the hitch, the only way it can be removed is with a key. He said that for some reason he felt like he should pick one up yesterday.

Chills much?

It could have been drastically worse. If I didn’t go over the cobblestone, then it wouldn’t have loosened, falling out when it did. Instead, it could have come undone when I was on the freeway. Dragging and swaying at much higher speeds and causing an accident. I’m always calm when shit hits the fan, but this time I can’t help but feel a little freaked out. There are some person(s) that either by a not-well-thought-out prank or sheer asshole-ness wished to cause me harm. Someone I don’t even know. And I’ve got to tell you, that’s very disturbing. On the other side of the coin, there’s the complete stranger, walking to her car after a long day. Being in the right place at the right time to offer her assistance. While I still felt sort-of on top of the situation it was very nice not to deal with it alone. It is times like these that I can’t help but picture the forces of Good and Evil dueling it out.

Well, after this drama, here’s what we’ve accomplished at Hallie.
I though the bathroom would go quick, but I forgot several things. When you are redoing a bathroom that has been completely gutted, you can’t just throw up some tile and call it a day. Up until this point, we were running a hose from the basement. Now, all new water pipes have to be ran. Lots and lots of pipe, because as you guessed it, they were previously ripped out. Charming.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 pipes in basement copy

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 bathtub faucet copy

Hallie the Duplex Week 9  sink pipes copy

And the tile work I’ve done so far.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 tile and window

It’s far from pretty, but hoping to pull in together next week when Joel has some time off work for the Thanksgiving.

September 19, 2013

Behind the scenes.

Months ago, Joel and I started a lengthy process, taking a step toward what we want our lives to be. It’s scary, it’s hard work, it’s tremendously time consuming, but it’s ours, all ours. It took tons of research and scouting locations, dealing with shady people and meeting really fantastic, upstanding ones. We want our time to be our own. For our knowledge, expertise and skills to be valued and put to good use. We want to make a difference in the city we live in.

If you have ever been in downtown Columbus, it has come an incredibly long way from where it was 15, 10, even 3 years ago. So much has been done to revitalize the area. The beautifully scenic views along the Scioto River, where folks can enjoy a stroll by the many fountains or rest on a nearby bench or porch swing. The Columbus Commons, taking a empty lot that was once the home of City Center and turning it into an outdoor Community Center. There are always activities. Exercise classes, a carousel, movies on the lawn, festivals and other events. Before that, the Campus area underwent an enormous overhaul, bringing back life to a very run-down section of town. Now, there are new apartment buildings going up all over the city, offering dazzling views and a trendy lifestyle.

But there are also many areas still that remain vacant, abandoned and desolate. Back when Joel and I worked for the Census, our job was to hit the street, collecting statistical information from the residents of our great city. What we found were streets upon streets, where only a handful of houses were actual occupied homes. Some had up to 85% of the buildings on them boarded up and deserted. I’m talking tall, beautifully constructed, regal brick buildings that once housed elegant citizens. Entire neighborhoods that were lively and well-to-do, brought to their knees by changing times. With our eyes, we see what once was and we want to bring it back.

So we dreamed and planned and yesterday, finally (after much impatience on our part) closed on our first duplex. It is overrun with vines and brush, trash, buckled floors from water damage and it even comes with our very own raccoon. But it has good bones, solid structure and two very handy people to make it right again. Last night as we celebrated, it felt like a turn in the tides. Embarking on a new adventure that we hope through this blog and photos that everyone will enjoy along with us. Eventually we are planning to acquire more. We’ve already been scheming and plotting for another. 🙂

The name of our new joint business venture and logo I designed. (I made us shirts months ago!)

The name of our new joint business venture and logo I designed. (I made us shirts months ago!)

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