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The Sixth House: Overall Update

Hello friends! A quick post with an update on where John and I are with our house renovations inside and out. For starters, the interior renovation is on hold. It was recently announced that the company that John works for is being sold and until John's position under the new ownership is established we have decided it is best to wait to determine the scope of the renovation. I know the future is never guaranteed, it is hard to make a decision today to execute my entire design plan, that was specifically created under the context of my family living in the house for the next ten to fifteen years, when there is uncertainty. It is indeed disappointing. I have been trying over the past several years though to accept and expect that there is a greater force at work for the good of me and my family. I also believe this is true for you. Please know that I am looking at the update to follow from this perspective (as much as possible)!

We will have lived in this house for two years in August and only one thing on the list of projects is fully completed. It is the exterior shutters and that is because it is a project that John and I did ourselves.

This is the front of the house now:

This is the listing photo of the house taken before we bought it:

This is the garage side now. I was so excited about putting shutters around this window and at least two of my children think they are awful. I can tell you it was not easy hanging them! There are projects to come that will make the shutters look much more at home on this side of the house. There will be a window added to the powder room that is located to the left of the side door. That window will also have a one sided shutter to balance out the semi-circle shutter on top. Additionally, there will be a covered porch over the stairs to the side door, an entirely new wood side door painted to match the shutters and garage doors, and new lighting. It's all about "the vision" and I am still loving the end vision.

This is the same side of the house from the listing photos:

Here is the other side of the house, with another one sided shutter! My son said "it's so weird that we are the only house in the neighborhood with shutters on the sides of their house, everyone else only has them on the front" and I say it's not weird, it's awesome. Our house now has shutters on every window that can accommodate shutters to match the size of the window.

Moving on to the projects that are not completed.

The front porch is definitely not completed.

This is how the porch looked when the landscapers stopped work in December 2021 and remained this way until May 2022. I talked in this post about how we sent a letter to the owner of the landscaping company outlining our concerns with the exterior project overall. One of the major concerns is that we had paid an additional amount to have the porch poured with concrete and to have the bluestones mortared. The stones were laid too close together for mortar between the joints and a large number of the stones are/were actually loose. We also remarked that the largest stone in the center looked like it had an oil spill on it.

In May John removed the stacks of stones thinking the landscapers were never coming back since the owner did not respond to the letter.

Miraculously, or perhaps unfortunately, the crew showed up a couple of weeks later and we told them that we wanted the "oil spill" stained stone removed and to leave the rest as is and just please, for the Love of God, finish the stoop. This is what they did:

They picked up all of the old stones, granted most of them were not "stuck" and started again. They have put down stones and taken up stones several times because the stones were not level or adhering to the surface. This is how it looked on Monday after several days work:

And this is how it looked yesterday after they worked on it for hours. Not much changed.

I don't know if it is ever going to be done and certainly it will not be done to our satisfaction. We are at the point now where we just want it finished in the best possible way given where we are now so that we can move on. I am not sure if you can tell from these pictures, the stones keep getting higher and higher because the crew keeps needing to add cement to level the stones. There are other problems as well that I won't go in to. Either I or John seem to have a "meeting of the minds" with the crew whenever they are here and yet things go sideways.

We had originally hired the company to also construct the porches over the front and side doors and we have now removed that from the scope of work. Does that shock you? We clearly cannot trust the crew to do that work. John and I are going to build the porches ourselves and we cannot begin until this here stoop is done.

The landscaping company built the deck for us in the back and although the lines of it look great and are just what I wanted from a distance, up close is a different story. The landscape company used the wrong wood to construct it, despite telling us it was treated properly and only needed to dry out a little more before painting/staining in the spring. After the winter and spring, the wood is splitting everywhere:

The carpentry skills are not acceptable either with the way the boards are fastened together. We pointed that out immediately last fall and the owner told us they would fix it in the spring. His response is now "the painters can fix it." We plan to paint/stain the deck railings the same color as the shutters and trim on the house and this wood is not in ideal shape for that obviously. The light color would only accentuate the cracks and poor joints. There is no way John Moylan can "spray it white" and be happy. He asks me all the time "did you tell them we wanted a rustic deck?" It makes me laugh and it also drives home the point that the deck is indeed quite poorly constructed. We are trying to decide if we will replace only the top rail or all of the railings ourselves before paint/stain. John wants to replace all of the rails. That is a big job though. We will have to live with the posts as is because they are set in concrete. This is another project John and I want to complete before the summer is over and another project we cannot really do while the landscapers are still here.

The last thing not finished (that should be) are the plantings. So much of what was planted is dead. Here is an example. We had nine dogwoods planted on the borders of the back yard and more than half of them are dead. I would say eight of the nine need to be replaced actually. The landscaper says if he replaces them now that they will surely die because of the summer heat and that he cannot do it until the fall.

The dogwood in the back of the picture below that blends in with the tree line is the only one that is "thriving", at least for now. It is also the only one that actually flowered in the spring.

Currently, not a rosy picture. I have faith it will all work out though. On the bright side, John and I haven't done major projects around the house together for several years and we do enjoy the satisfaction of planning/designing (mostly me) and doing the work (mostly John for the heavy lifting) and seeing the end result - done well!

I hope next month I have some progress to show you on the exterior projects John and I have on our list and also an update on the interior renovation status. It would make me sad to have nothing at all to report.

Thank you for following along with The Sixth House!

Onward and upward,


1 Comment

Jun 22, 2022




Hi, I’m Kerry, a true lover of all things home design.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on the journey.  Please feel free to reach out to me, I love to talk design!

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