Church Street House Updates

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the Church Street House in Wilmington.

First off, our short-term rental permit got approved out of the blue! So it’s nice to know we can move forward with that if I can ever get the house in good enough condition to charge people to stay there.

Last time I gave you an update, here’s what our to-do list looked like:

  • Replace missing siding, fascia board, soffits, and crawlspace covers
  • Fix porch decking
  • Replace broken windows
  • Build some beefier pillars for the porch
  • Paint the exterior?
  • Paint the ceilings
  • Get the ducts cleaned
  • Replace missing vent covers
  • Replace squishy flooring in the primary bathroom
  • Buy some appliances
  • Refinish the hardwood floors
  • Get a new toilet for the primary bathroom
  • Figure out why there is water *in* the bathtub and fix it
  • Fix leaking drain in bathroom sink
  • Fix leak in other bathtub

So let’s start from the top, shall we?

I hired someone to replace the missing siding, fascia board, and soffits.

He also helped me install a new awning above the back door.

I was able to track down a glass company to replace the broken glass in the back window for less than half the price of replacing the actual window based on the three quotes that I got. They were also able to do it like 10 times sooner. They were going to replace the glass in the front storm window as well, but reiterated that they wouldn’t be held responsible if the actual window broke in the process, and it would cost me pretty much the exact same amount to just buy and install a new storm window myself, so I went that route. Easier said than done, but it’s done. And it made me really want to restore the old windows at some point, but they’re definitely in way too rough of shape to exist without the storm windows to protect them from the elements for now.

Window with bullet holes

Sorry I don’t have an after picture, but just picture fewer bullet holes.

The beefier pillars on the porch might not happen during this round of updates, but the painting of exterior trim will. The trim will be painted Sherwin Williams Vanilla Ice Cream, which you can see on the fascia board above. Much better than black, if I do say so myself. I haven’t decided on a colour for the doors and shutters yet, but I’m leaning toward a sky blue or avocado green.

The air ducts got cleaned last week. Did you know there’s a drill attachment for that?

This is the clean air intake cover. It clearly needs a fresh coat of paint, but I’m amazed at how clean they got it. Apparently using a cleaning product called “Awesome.”

Andrew and I pulled out the old toilet in the primary bathroom and then I easily pulled up the vinyl sheet flooring under it. Easily, because the subfloor that it was strongly glued to just disintegrated with a light tug. Since the toilet plumbing was in the way, I decided that I didn’t want to mess with trying to pull out all the old subfloor so I hired it out. The old hardwoods under the plywood subfloor appeared to be in decent enough condition that I didn’t feel the need to rip them out so they’re still hiding down there.

The guys installed new subfloor (after breaking and fixing the toilet supply line), so now I’ve just got to put down new flooring and install the new toilet.

Here’s a fun one: “figure out why there’s water *in* the bathtub and fix it”. After an annoying number of people telling me I was crazy, and an annoying amount of internet searching, I discovered that in 2012, a previous owner of the house hired a company called Bath Fitter to come out and install a custom plastic liner for the cast iron tub, rather than replace or resurface it. They also installed a custom one-piece bath surround that covers all three walls from the tub to the ceiling. I have to admit I love how easy it is to clean this surround, with no grout or caulk lines. When speaking with the people at Bath Fitter (I spoke to at least 4 different people at the Wilmington location), they all repeatedly told me that the product comes with a lifetime warrantee – but it’s apparently not the lifetime of the product, or the house, or me. So I paid one of their guys $95 to come out, loosen the seal around the drain, and walk around in the tub trying to force the water out. He did manage to get some out – I watched it drip into the crawlspace, happy that at least the tub wasn’t on a second story. But he definitely didn’t get all of it out. And of course the problem with this solution was that likely the water *in* the tub came from the drain not being fully sealed in the first place. So of course there’s just as much water *in* the tub now as there was before I paid him to fix it. All this is to say, a custom bath liner and surround seems like a good idea in theory, but apparently if anything goes wrong, they have no way of fixing it, short of starting over, which I was told would cost about $2000.

So I haven’t decided how to resolve this problem yet. My guess is that eventually I’ll rip out all of the plastic, resurface the cast iron tub, update the plumbing, and tile the wall. But that’s not a project for today.

Fix leaking drain in bathroom sink and fix leak in other bathtub were both just a matter of calling a plumber.

I also had them install new faucets and drains in both the bathroom sinks, a new drain cover in the hall tub, and a new shower head in the primary bathroom. These are all things that I could have easily done, but they did them all quickly and cheaply so I was happy to take the assist.

Something that somehow wasn’t on that original to-do list, was repairing / replacing a number of doors.

There were two pocket doors in the house. The wood one leading into the primary bath functioned fairly well, but it was pretty scratched up and was the only unpainted door in the house. The white one leads into the office and didn’t work at all because the back of the door was no longer hung. The pockets themselves were dirty and a little rusty but generally in pretty good condition so we didn’t need to touch them.

My contractor dug up some old doors and one of his guys spent basically an entire day scraping old paint off of them. I then primed and painted a coat of fresh pain on them before they were hung. Something the guys failed to take into account is that there were nails in the pockets for some reason or another that explain why the old doors were getting scratched up. And of course they didn’t figure this out until the doors were hung and all the trim was up. They managed to cut at least one of the nails and it seems the the floor guides are preventing the doors from being scratched by the other ones, but only time will tell. Now I just have to finish painting everything.

This is a picture looking up towards the attic access. Some clever individual had installed a bunch of storage cubbies in this otherwise unusable space. The cubbies had sliding plywood doors that seem to have warped a little over the years so I had the guys build out some basic cabinet doors to replace them. I’m not entirely clear what I’ll use them for – they’re up high so I can really only reach the bottom shelf of the lowest cabinet without a ladder and the other three cabinets are up higher. These obviously also need paint and I’m thinking of going with a variety of fun colours instead of just white.

The attic access also got replaced and enlarged. The old ceiling in this area was literally crumbling, with a few new chunks of sheetrock appearing on the floor everyday.

And finally, the closet in the primary bedroom came with bifold doors siting inside the closet. I was going to just hang these doors, but discovered that some of the hardware was missing, and part of one of the doors was broken. I talked to my contractor about the idea of installing new bifold doors or perhaps just French door style closet doors. He recommended the bifold, and I will tell you that that project took more time than any of the other doors, by far. And the end result is not interesting enough to merit a picture. Sorry.

Have a great week.


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