Dealing With Old Houses

No this is not my home.Pretty much everyone here is from somewhere else. Especially today. I think I’m one of the few people left over 40 who was born in San Francisco and one of the even fewer who is living in the house he grew up in now. My family inherited the house after my Mom died [well not really, my name was on the house since I was 18]. There’s a difference though when you live in a house that your parents bought in 1954 and have been the only family to live there.

Before my wife and I moved back into the house my Mom was the only one left and didn’t get around much so there were lots of areas that she never looked at. When we moved in we realized that the double paned windows upstairs caused about a 15° difference when you went downstairs where we only had single paned [old single paned] windows. In the winter like now. It gets cold downstairs and nothing short of a space heater will warm the place up even though we have central heating. This is something we’re working on figuring out how to fix at the moment because we can’t afford to replace the downstairs windows.

The shower in the downstairs bathroom leaks to the point that when you take a shower water soaks through the wall and runs out into the basement. This is going to be fixed today. You have to re-caulk old caulking every couple of years because with the old tiles and worn marble floor [which I’m also in the process of refinishing] doesn’t always seal up completely.

Dust, OMG DUST! This is an old house by San Francisco standards which means we have wall to wall carpeting. You can vacuum the floor for a half hour and then go over it with a small hepa filter vac and notice you get more dust out of the carpet. Our dryer downstairs is in the back of the basement so it doesn’t vent outside so you get lint everywhere. It must have been about 1″ of 30 years of lint that I had to work with my hand before being able to vacuum it off the cabinets next to the dryer because my Mother never used the lint trap. Lint gets everywhere and you have to move stuff and get behind it to suck it all out.

Walls, I have no idea what made the marks and stains, but the walls have gotten rather dirty so I’ve been trying a few things to clean the walls which are working somewhat well. The Magic Eraser pad works, but we have to go over the walls a couple of times to get all the spots off. This gives you a good work out if you’re doing it right. Your arms should be tired after you’re finished.

Carpeting in general get dirty and we’ve had carpet cleaning companies come by that have still left the stains after the carpet dries. I actually used some oxy-clean on one particularly dark spot going into the kitchen and now it just shows how much dirt has collected over the years because we have a nice clean bright patch of carpet surrounded by dark beat up carpet. In reality, the carpet is close to 30 years old and should be replaced because there are areas which haven’t been walked on that stand up more than others. When we can afford it we’ll do that.

Bannisters. These are fun because you don’t realize that when people grab onto them the oils and dirt from their hands sticks to them. I tried three days of goo gone and that wasn’t enough so I finally stripped the lacquer off and refinished them and they look brand new.I’ve learned in the past to  start with rough sandpaper and work down to the finest you can to get it smooth and have a good tack cloth ready.

The kitchen. Nope we don’t have granite counter tops we have the old tiles everyone used to have. The tiles have held up quite well, but the grout has worn or gotten stained from coffee spills to the point that I had to re-grout most of the tiles. This isn’t that hard and we had at one point the the mortar in front of the sink wear out so I had to hammer out the old mortar and glue the tiles back in place and then grout when they were set. In some places the grout has worn out to the point that it’s not grout anymore, but  dirt and grease that’s collected that you can gouge out with a screwdriver. If you have one of those hand held steamers that will sanitize the area before you grout and get some more dirt out of the cracks. Eventually we’ve get new countertops when we can have the cabinets refinished. I happen to like the Zodiaq quartz counter tops because they’re easier to deal with and they’re cultured quartz. We’ll definitely need someone to put those in along with a new sink to replace the 1954 porcelain sink that’s been worked over with comet a little too much.

As for furniture, we’ve got such a mixed group of items that you just have to shake your head. We have side tables and a dinner table from the late 1800’s. A chair that was purchased from a Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [i.e. Lewis Carroll] in 1850 which fix well together [if it’s your grandma’s house], but then there’s this horrible faux-asian bamboo printed couch that’s gotten stains from over the years and the springs need replacing, a high back faux Victorian chair which while I love it because it’s comfortable and if I fall asleep in it I’ve got those side thingies so my neck doesn’t get crunched. It’s kind of like a car seat for lazy adults, there’s another chair that I don’t know the time period, but it looks like around the 30’s and a lazy boy recliner that’s electric and I’m willing to sell it to get it out of here.

Other general things that we’ll need to call in outside help for is the dry rot that we’ve developed in the corners of the living room windows. I could sand a lot out, but that won’t fix it. I think we could handle the painting ourselves, but we have a guy down the street who painted the outside of the house who would do the inside better than us. There are also cracks and holes that have developed over the years that I’ve been spackling over and I’ve gotten pretty good at dry wall work. Thank you for all the helpful videos.

It’s a lot of work, but I’ve never been one to buy a house and flip it in a few years for a profit, especially now with prices going up or down in six months. I like the place because I grew up here. Now it’s just time for us to make it ours. And that is why you haven’t heard from me in awhile. I’ve been so busy fixing up the house instead of other New Year’s resolutions that people break that I’m doing pretty good.