Little House on the Prairie - 2007
Remodeling a 1920 Midwestern 'Foursquare' Farmhouse …

This page documents work on the house during 2007. Entries are in reverse chronological order (most recent first). For reviews of work done in other years, please click the desired year from the menu to the left.

December 30 , 2007

Not much more to report on the house for this year. We have had a running battle with snow infiltration through the ridge vents, but I think we have it mostly licked by stuffing filter material into the vent holes from inside the attic. We're still getting a little snow through, and bought some more material to hopefully stop it completely. Once we're sure none is getting in, we'll start installing 2" foam insulation boards between the rafters (leaving an air gap).

We have also taken delivery of a used, but un-used furnace, which we were able to purchase at contractor cost. A neighbor will be coming to help install it before too long, which should really help our heating costs (the current furnace dates back to the 1970s and is at best around 50-55% efficient compared to the 'new' unit, which is about 80-85% efficient. The new unit will also accept an A-coil, which will allow us to add airconditioning later should we desire (we do, we do!).

Finally, we'll be starting on the kitchen flooring tomorrow, so the plan for 2008 is to work on building out the kitchen as funds and time allow.

September 6 , 2007

Lightning rods, ridge vents and caps all done. Put tar paper on dormer windows to keep rain from blowing through cracks in shiplap boards, and have installed the new dormer window on the west side. As soon as Beth and the boys finish reorganizing the attic so I can get to the east window, that gets replaced, too.

August 25 , 2007

Main shingles are DONE! Ridge vents, caps and lightning rods still left to do.

As usual (for this project), the story involves rain, and lots of it.

It took us the better part of a week to strip the shingles off the west side of the roof, and this in between rain showers off and on all week. We had tarped the roof, but the tarp has gotten so tattered that it was only slowing the rain down - several nights were spent in the attic moving buckets around to catch the numerous drips and leaks coming in.

I ended up taking off most of two whole days from work last week to press and get the tar paper up, and oh, by the way, we also had hay down which needed baling.

Well, we got the tar paper on, and had just enough time on the one clear sunny day we had all week to bale the rest of the hay, when we got hit with two solid days of severe storms with high winds. During one of the storms, the weather radio was reporting winds of 70mph, and apparently we got hit with part of this system, as the attic window got blown out:

The window was already cracked and thus weakened, but still… Thankfully other than stuff near the window getting damp, there was no other damage. As noted previously, I had planned to replace the attic windows anyway.

At this point, since starting the project, we're up to 11+ inches of rain so far…

August 8 , 2007

Pretty good progress the past couple of weeks. I finished the east side (except for a bit of flashing at the base of the dormer window, which will go in when I replace the window, which is about to fall out on its own accord), and the boys and I set an all-time record in stripping and reshingling the south face (which has no chimneys, dormer windows or other protruberances) in 2-1/2 days:

Shingling the east side…


Oops! Someone (who shall go nameless, Tyler!) forgot to pick up the old shingles and nails…

Detail of the north part of the roof with the new ridge vents…

We've done an awful lot of tarping and untarping with all the rain…

South side tear-off…

Hang on tight!

Stripped clean…

And shingled!

July 26 , 2007

Since we started the roof project, we've had over 8" of rain so far. Whodathunkit?

The east side of the roof has been stripped and tar papered:

Note the original "siding" used on the dormer window - red and green alternating shingles, same as the original roof. I like the look of the dormers now that the aluminium siding is off - it made them look low and fat, where the dark shingles and white trim of the originals make them look taller and more in proportion with the house.

The chimney flashing is "temporary" until we can afford to rebuild or tear down. It's not the prettiest job, but it's staying dry inside:

July 8 , 2007

Progress is slow, but relatively steady. Where's all that rain come from, anyway? The west and north faces of the small roof are done:

Still working on the east face of the small roof and north face of the big roof:

The chimney is pretty badly spalled, and will either have to be rebuilt from the roof up, or torn down below the roof and made inactive (which will require replacement of the furnace with a modern unit that can be vented through the wall). We decided to delay action on this for a year or two, and I will be flashing to the existing chimney for now.

Next up, tear-off of the east face of the big roof.

June 23 , 2007

We're well into tearing off the old roof! A few pictures tell a lot:

Now for the “rest of the story.”

The last photo above is where we left of this past Thursday afternoon. We hadn’t seen a drop of rain in the area for weeks prior—this is an important point in the story, as between the time this photo was taken and tonight when I’m writing this (Saturday evening of the same week), we’ve had over 2-1/2" of rain, a good bit of which we had to bail out of the attic Thursday night.

You’ll note in the photo above that we have tar paper already laid on the north end of the house, but not on the west side due to some rotten boards which had to be repaired first. Since we basically ran out of both daylight and dry weather by Thursday late evening, we got out the large 35' x 50' tarp and secured it (we thought) to the roof, with lightning beginning to pop a little closer than we felt comfortable.

We secured the tools and headed inside, and the rains started not long after. I decided it might be a good idea to check for leaks, and it’s a good thing I did, as water was pouring in through the decking! Chad crawled up into the attic with me, and we began bailing water out of the tent tarp I had quickly thrown over the insulation. We ended up with about 3 gallons of water total, and praise the Lord, we only had a little bit of water actually make it down to the ceiling below (in a room in which I had not yet installed new drywall). We had to move some boxes and shelves around to protect them from the dripping water, but everything survived okay.

The dilemma was then what to do to seal it up better, as much more rain was on the way. I called the 24-hour Walmart store in Kewanee and verified that they had some large tarps in stock, and drove on up to buy them—it was after midnight by the time I got home with them, and in the pouring rain and dark, I climbed up on the roof and spent the next couple of hours battling them into place until we had no more water seeping in. I think I made it to bed around 3am or so…

After work Friday, the rain had stopped, leaving low scudding clouds, and a forecast of more rain that evening. We took a chance and uncovered enough of the roof to make the repairs to the rotten boards, and then installed the tar paper over all but the narrow section I am shown stepping on in the photo above. We re-sealed the tarps, and I spent a wakeful, nervous night crawling up into the attic about every three hours to check for leaks (again, praise the Lord, there were none).

The Lord is good, as the forecast was for heavy rains and thunderstorms (which might have pulled the tarps loose), but all we got was a nice easy, steady rain all night long, with minimal winds. The crops certainly needed it, so we're thankful, even though it was “A Night to Remember!”

Oh, one more thing. As we were tearing off the old shingles (three layers worth), we discovered that the original roof was an alternating pattern of red and green shingles:

The fact that the upstairs rooms all had knob and tube wiring tells us this roof dates back to at least the mid-to-late 1920s. Maybe this was all the rage back then?

June 10 , 2007

Spent about two hours Saturday removing the old gutters from the roof (got about half-way done). They were barely hanging on, which only confirms that it is TIME to do this job!

June 3 , 2007

Kinda forgot to update this page for a few months! Let's see… since the last update, we've done the following:

Last Saturday, we climbed up on the roof and removed the old TV antenna, which is the first official step in roofing the house. We're still waiting on the rainy season to ease off, and once we see a clear space of a week or so (weather-wise), we'll start that scary project.

February 21 , 2007

Almost two years after purchasing the unit, I finally installed a furnace-mounted humidifier. Took me most of the day Saturday to do it, as it involved poking holes in three places in the furnace plenum plus running water and electricity to the main unit.

February 10 , 2007

Just poking along for right now. We've finished painting the kitchen, and I installed all of the light switch and outlet covers last week, plus one light fixture in the hall that goes to the downstairs guest bedroom. I've also been laying hardboard in the upstairs hallway to help level out the floors before we have carpet installed.

We've pretty much picked out our kitchen colors, which was a more difficult task than any other room so far - there are more surfaces and finishes to select, and they all have to coordinate with each other. The next major step in the kitchen will be installing the flooring.

Status Report

As we start our sixth year of renovation/remodeling, let's take stock of what's been done so far:

Still left to do:

My goals for 2007 are to carpet the upstairs hall, install a new roof, and build out as much of the new kitchen as funds permit.