One Eye on the Weather


This article, as well as the local weather guru on Facebook, have us nervous about what weather might be headed our way Wednesday into Thursday.

For those of you who were with us last year, you might remember this post about the Derecho that swept through on June 29th, 2012. We happened to be out-of-town, celebrating our 1oth anniversary in MI when it hit.  Folks were without power for days, and the damage it caused was immense.  We spent three weeks clearing downed trees so that our contractors could get their trucks to the house! Pictures  could not capture just how much damage there was.

We have made huge leaps in progress over the last couple of weeks, and we are not ready to be derailed just yet! You can be sure that we will have a close eye on the weather over the course of the day and we’ll be hoping for the best for anyone in the storm’s path.

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For anyone who didn’t see on our Facebook page, we passed another inspection!

After a small hiccup with our permit expiring (oops!), we passed our rough-in plumbing inspection Tuesday afternoon.

We are picking up speed and we are SO close to actually living in the house, I can almost taste it! The floor boards are being closed back up in preparation for them being cleaned and sealed on Thursday and then we will be able to move furniture upstairs!

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We Passed!

Ok, so you could say it’s been awhile, but today we have great news to share!

We had our electrical inspection today on the electrical rough-in and we passed with no issues! Phew! What a relief! Rich and his dad have left their share of blood, sweat and knees in the house over the last several weeks rewiring everything. Order, upon order of electrical supplies.  Trip, after trip to the home improvement store.  The scratches covering Rich’s forearms are a testament to the 100s of feet of wire he has pulled through the floors, the holes he has cut into brick and plaster, and all the knobs and tubes he has removed. And we’re not done yet! On its way is yet another order of low voltage supplies that Rich is putting in before the floors are closed up and refinished in the next two weeks. More good things are on the way!

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Pictures from John Allen Jr.

In 2004, during two very hot days, John Allen Jr. and photographer Walter Smalling visited Vinton Manor as they compiled stories and pictures for the book “An Uncommon Vernacular.” It was a very sad time for the Hayes family, as it was also their last two days in their family home.  The Hayes were packing their things while John and Walter were there, and the house was leaving the hands of the family for the first time since it was built.  To make matters worse, the house was being bought by a developer and the future of the house and the land was questionable. While it was an unhappy time for them, it ultimately led to our ownership and we hope we can make them proud. 

There is an album of pictures on our Facebook page that John generously shared with us.  It’s so different to see the house looking so lived in.  Enjoy them!

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Brick Donor House

Rich and his dad have spent more than a month of Saturdays digging bricks out of the frozen ground!

Someone took apart a brick encased log house in Greencastle, PA (about an hour North of us) and sold it on Craig’s List.  The timber is on its way to a new home in Montana, and lots of bricks have been left scattered around the property. The house is from the 1800’s, originally a single-story home and was bricked when they added a second story.  Lucky for us, the brick is the same size and approximate time period as the bricks used on our house!

We have a number of brick areas outside that will need to be rebuilt including the  basement entrance on the south side, the columns under the back porch and the columns supporting the butler’s pantry entrance. There is also a load-bearing wall in the basement with a large section of spalling (deteriorating) bricks to be repaired.

To date, they have dug out and salvaged about 1200 bricks and there are more to be found!

Here’s a photo of the house as it looked before they tore it down.

donor house

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We have heat!


Finally! I can’t tell you what it feels like to walk in almost a year to the date that we stepped foot in the house too look at it for the first time and feel warmth (although there is still cosmetic work to do!). Of course it’s pushing almost 60 degrees today and the sun is shinning, so it would be one of those days where we open all the doors to let the cold out and the warm in. 🙂 That’s the thing about 16-inch brick walls… They take a long time to warm up, but they also keep the house cool in the summer, at least until the humidity gets to you.

Still no heat on the first floor. We will be putting in two traditional furnaces to supply warmth to the lower levels. Before they can be installed, the two behemoth oil burners that came with the house had to be removed.

We are now trying to clean up the room in an attempt to get rid of th strong oil smell before patching the concrete. Decades of coal and oil and grime have left their mark on what appears to be a very thin concrete floor over packed dirt and rock. The room will also be home to our new water heater and recirculation pumps.


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The Insurance Matter

Well, work has not been moving at the blistering pace that I would like it to, but we are slowly checking things off the to-do list.
All of the cast iron waste lines in the house have been replaced by PVC, and the materials for new supply lines are in and ready for installation including a new water heater so that we might have hot water one day!

We are also in the process of pulling new electrical wire to replace the knob and tube. We removed 9.5 tons of material (and bat poop) from the third floor and had a structural engineer come in and do drawings.
We have snow sitting on the roof, and wouldn’t you know, as it melts, we continue to have leaks. We are now in the process of getting quotes for a new metal roof and some structural support work suggested by the engineer.
We might finally get some heat on the second floor of the house this week as they are finally finishing the installation of the mini-splits. I’m sure that is great news to Rich since he usually spends most of his day there doing his regular job and it’s around 38 degrees Fahrenheit in the house when he gets there. Most days it’s warmer outside than in!
But, even all this is not enough to keep our insurance company happy and they will “let us go” as of February 3rd. Pretty disappointing for a number of reasons, including that they have been my insurance company for 17 years and we have never made a claim against our insurance. Now, on top of everything else, we have to shop around for new home insurance. It’s turning out to be even more difficult than we thought to get a local company who will insure homes with such a high rebuild cost!

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