Enon Hall

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November 1, 2006

I hung the last piece of siding on the addition yesterday!

While that is a true statement, I should clarify by saying that Aaron and Vinny (the siding duo) hung a whole bunch of siding and then I stepped in and hung the very last piece. Regardless, thanks to Aaron and Vinny we are finally sided! A major milestone!

We even had siding to spare. A couple 16-footers and about six 8-footers. Not bad! It will be good to have some extra pieces, just in case somebody backs the tractor into the house or something.

Next Aaron and Vinny will screen the upstairs porch and then they'll be done. Nothing left to do outside but a fair amount of painting.

Inside, the plasterer will be back tomorrow to plaster the downstairs center hall and the barrel vault under the front porch roof. Actually, that will be stucco with a smooth finish.

I started work on the back staircase today.

This is major crunch time. I really want to get our CO before Christmas and get our stuff out of storage. Plus, we're having Thanksgiving for 15 here...ready or not! The new kitchen definitely won't be finished (no countertops), but it'll look nice and we can cook in the temporary kitchen one last time.

Here's the punch list of everything that we need to do before we can get the C.O. I'm not including things that the electrician and plumber are doing...just things on Bill and Gay's list.


  • Center Hall
      - Staircase
      - Heart Pine floor
  • Family Room
      - Heart Pine floor
      - Hearth
  • Kitchen
      - Countertop
  • Back Hall
      - Staircase
  • Laundry Room - Finished
  • Downstairs Bath - Finished
  • Shop (above garage) - Finished
  • Garage
      - Finish hanging sheetrock on ceiling
  • Law Office (William's bedroom)
      - Threshold
  • William's bathroom
      - Threshold
      - Connect exhaust fan pipe to soffit vent
  • Upstairs Hall
      - Heart pine floor
  • Master Bedroom
      - Have carpet installed
      - Hearth
  • Master Bath
      - Connect exhaust fan pipe to soffit vent
  • Master Screened Porch
      - Balusters
  • Driveway? (Not sure if it's needed for CO)
So there it is. There will still be plenty of things that won't be finished, but that aren't required for the CO. Like interior doors. They can wait. Bathroom doors would be real nice, so they'll get first priority. And closets won't have shelves and rods yet. Those kinds of things I can complete after we get moved in.

Gonna be another busy month! -- Bill

November 4, 2006

Traffic to this site drops off by about half during the weekends. Makes sense. Folks are probably too busy taking care of their own projects and chores to worry about ours.

So, instead of posting an update on our progress (I'll save that for Monday) I'm going to take this opportunity to get a couple things off my chest that have been bothering me.

First, am I the only one who doesn't get these symbols?

Most tools that have on/off toggle switches now use these symbols. Only I can never remember which position is on and which is off. The symbols don't intuitively mean anything to me. When I try to reason it out, I almost always wind up being wrong. The line/dash makes me think of flat-lining...being dead...being off. Or like that straight line of light that you used to see right before the screen went black when you turned off old TVs. And the "O" makes me think of an open pipeline. Open so that power can come through. Well, all of this is wrong because the line is "off" and the "O" is "on." Before I plug in my orbital sander I always pick it up because I can't be positive that it's off. And half the time I think the nail gun compressor is on until nails stop sinking and I realize that it's been off for the last hour. Surely there are more intuitive symbols. How 'bout green and red? Or a check and an "X". A happy face and a sad face?

Next up...

I generally try to not post negative things about people on this site. 'Cause you never know who's reading it and who knows who, etc. So for three weeks I haven't told this story. But now I just have to.

Three weeks ago a weekends-only neighbor from a good ways up the creek was walking with her labrador. She came down the farm road and wound up at our house. She saw Gay in the front yard painting and stopped to say hello. While they were chatting the lab disappeared and then reappeared with one of Lucy's toys in his mouth. Gay thought this was strange because the toy is always inside the house...never outside. The lab wasn't about to give up the toy so Gay politely said, "Oh don't worry about it." So off the lady and the lab went down the road.

Gay got to thinking more about the toy and wondering how it had gotten outside so she walked around the house until she saw this.

The dog had seen the toy on our screened porch and had broken in to get it! (Lucy was inside the house during all this.) Gay was furious that our screen was ruined and came and found me and told me the story.

A short while later the lady and her dog come back down our road on their return trip home. I caught up with her and the dog...still clutching Lucy's toy in his mouth. Which is nervy act number one. Most anybody would understand that Gay was just being polite when she said "don't worry about it." And most anybody would still have gotten the toy away from their dog and returned it. But she was headed right on home with it. When I told her that her dog had trashed our screened porch to get the toy she replied, "Oh really? Can I give you some money for that?" Said with an air of disinterest. I would have been mortified if somebody told me that my dog had damaged their property and I would have wanted to see the damage. Oh...and apologize! She couldn't be bothered. She just wanted to get back to her walk home.

"It's really not the money." I replied. "I just hate to have something else added to my to-do list like this." So then she said that she would send her husband down to fix our screen the following weekend. I'm thinking, I really don't want somebody I don't even know coming down and working on our house...but at this point I said that that would be appreciated and let her go. After retrieving Lucy's toy from her dog.

I figured that when her husband showed up the next weekend I would just thank him for his offer and say I'd rather take care of it myself. But it would at least give me an opportunity to talk to him because I sure wasn't getting any satisfaction from the wife. Not even an apology. But...you guessed it...the husband never showed up. Unbelievable. -- Bill

November 5, 2006

There's a discussion going on among housebloggers at Houseblogs.net about the reasons why people houseblog. I haven't posted my two cents there because I find it to be a tough question with lots and lots of answers. But one of those answers is definitely that I am constantly amazed by projects that I have completed and want to document them. "Amazed" probably isn't the right word. "Surprised" is more like it. "Surprised" that I was able to accomplish something that I have never attempted before or something that I thought was totally out of my league.

Like this...

I spent the last 3-1/2 days working on the back staircase and it turned out great. BTW, that's not a gap you see below that riser. It's actually a dark place in the grain of the poplar that looks exactly like the shadow that a gap would create. Gay and William were fooled and told me I should redo that riser.

I used poplar because we're going to be painting this staircase, treads and all. The only thing left is the handrail. I am having a handrail milled and should receive it around Thanksgiving. I'm making the balusters and newell myself.

If you ever find yourself facing building or trimming out a staircase, YOU HAVE TO GET THIS BOOK. (I don't usually bold and capitalize things, so you can tell I'm serious.)

It is very, very well done and comprehensive and has helped me tremendously. I found my copy at VintageWoodworks.com. Plus, Kenny Wiggins of Eagle Construction has kindly given me some helpful consultations. Kenny downloads a lot of information very quickly and sometimes it's hard to catch it all. But usually later I'll have a moment where I'll realize, "Ah...this is what Kenny was talking about!" and know exactly what to do. So get the book. Or get Kenny. Or get both if possible!

I'm glad that I had this staircase to use a dress rehearsal for the bigger, more important center hall stair. I've definitely learned some things that will make that project move along a little quicker and easily.

Working on these stairs has really taught me a lot about the old center stair in the Dutch Colonial and given me a lot of respect for the craftsman who built it.

Occured to me today that I haven't taken a single day off from working on the addition for two months. I've rarely even left the house, except to run to the lumberyard. Realizing this has made me suddenly very tired. Knocked off at 3:30 today. -- Bill

November 7, 2006

Aaron and Vinny screened the upstairs porch today, finishing up the last item on their list!

They left the staging in place so that I can get up there and paint since that's going to be a hard place to put ladders.

So there are now only two things keeping the outside of the house from being totally finished. (Other than some painting.) The first is balusters for the screened porch, which I am going to make and install.

The second is the smooth stucco finish for the barrel vault front porch ceiling. And it's in the works.

Today the plasterer installed the metal lath and applied the base coat. Tomorrow, weather permitting, he'll be back to apply the smooth finish coat.

Gay and I started putting down the heart pine floor in the family room. I don't have any photos to share of that today because it was too dark when we wrapped up. The process is a little like Christmas morning. Every board that we pull from the stack has its own character. You hear a lot of comments like "Ooh, look at this one!" It's fun to highlight our favorites by placing them in high traffic areas. We really do feel like we're designing the floor as we go. Fun. Slow, but fun.

I've spoken a lot about my obsession with Sculpwood on this site. I also have a habit of making little things out of left over balls of the stuff once I've finished a repair. Like this guy, mashed into shape with my fingers and then brought to life with eyes poked with a nail set. He reminds me a little on Don Quixote. If Don Quixote had a giant nose.

We picked up an interesting tidbit from our neighbor three doors down. His house is on a point that we have suspected may have been the place known as "Quarter Point," the location of more Enon Hall slave quarters. Anyway, we were discussing a beautiful, huge cypress tree on his property when he mentioned that there is a fresh water spring behind the tree. This was news to us, but may point to the origin of the name "Enon Hall." "Aenon" in the Bible refers to springs. It also may lend more credence to our theory that that location is Quarter Point as it may have made sense to locate quarters near a fresh water source. All interesting conjecture... -- Bill

November 8, 2006

Here's a great tip that came from Carlisle's flooring installation guide.

If you have a floor board with a slight bow it's easy to bring it in line with this quick trick.

Take a scrap of lumber and cut it in half diagonally. Slide the halves apart a bit and screw the top half to your subfloor, preferably into joists. Then tap the bottom half with a hammer, wedging the floor board back until the bow is gone. Then nail the board down and remove the wedge. How sweet is that?! Carlisle actually recommends using a scrap of flooring for this, which makes sense because you can then wedge the groove side along the bowed board's tongue, eliminating any risk of crushing your floorboard's tongue. But the 2X4 seemed to work fine too.

We've actually had very few bowed boards, and those were bowed only very slightly. Not like the new pine that I installed in other areas. Compared to that, this has been a real pleasure to work with.

We're about 2/3 through the family room. Still no pictures because Gay keeps covering the flooring up with contractor's paper as soon as it goes down. Even we have been denied the pleasure of standing back and enjoying the full effect of the floor. I guess that will have to wait until we're ready to oil it.

I find it kind of funny that I seem to have gotten an online reputation of being able to build anything. I'm no Norm Abrams. I'm learning this stuff as I go. This was very apparent on Monday when I attempted to make our tapered newels on the table saw. Not pretty. I made a tapering jig, but because the stock (4X4 fir) is too big to cut in one pass...well, I'm making a mess and have been unable to create a usable post yet. I haven't given up yet, but I'm considering it. If anybody has tips, I'll take 'em!! -- Bill

November 11, 2006

My brother came to town to help out yesterday and we hung the drywall on the back half of the garage ceiling. It's good to have that project done since Gay sure wasn't looking forward to helping me with it.

As a side benefit, we also got the garage floor cleared off for the first time in a year. There is now only a small stack of lumber and leftover siding occupying about 10% of the floor. It's an amazing and welcome site.

The electrician returned and started installing our outdoor light fixtures.

At some point it will be nice to add a wrought iron hook coming out from the siding to make the lanterns look more like they are hanging.

The plasterer has been MIA since Monday so the barrel vault ceiling on the front porch still isn't finished.

We've tentatively set a date with the moving company to bring our stuff from storage...December 4th. Can we get ready and get our C.O. by then?? That's the goal! -- Bill

November 16, 2006

I can't believe tomorrow is Friday. I don't feel like I have gotten much done this week at all, although things have been accomplished in spite of me.

The electrician has made good headway on light fixtures and getting us powered up and the plumber arrived today and got just about all of the fixtures installed. He expects to have everything operational by the end of the day tomorrow!

Meanwhile, I've been working on the center hall staircase and today started putting down the floor in the center hall.

I finally found out that our missing plasterer quit his job, leaving just the final coat on the porch ceiling undone. Seems like he would have at least finished our job before going to work for somebody else. His boss (former boss) is going to try to get him to come back on a Saturday to finish our job or he says he will send somebody else.

Only six days until Thanksgiving and so much left to do! -- Bill

November 19, 2006

There's been A LOT of progress this weekend, so I'm going to break it up into two posts...this one and another one in the morning. It'll take me that long to get all the pictures sized, cropped, etc.

To start, we have running water in the addition! Toilets flush, sinks run...it's so exciting! The plumber blew through and had everything in and running in a day and a half. He is the fastest sub we have worked with by far.

The highlight for Gay was seeing water running into her clawfoot tub.

The electrician did us a huge favor and came back Friday night to hook up the upstairs tankless hot water heater so that Gay could actually try out the tub.

So last night Gay gathered up a towel and bubble bath and headed off into the addition to enjoy her first soak in the tub, even as it remained surrounded by construction debris. She came back with quite a smile on her face. "It was heavenly." She was especially excited that she could control the hot and cold water handles with her toes. We're very happy with the tub and the hardware and our experience in dealing with Vintage Tub & Bath.

William's anxious to see the doorway opened up between the old part of the house and the new addition...as expressed here Reagan style.

I actually expect to open it up tomorrow morning. It's more symbolic than anything. Finally getting near the end.

I wanted to share my view from our bed. The plaster on the ceiling reveals as many characters as can be found in the clouds in the sky, if you use your imagination.

Starting in the top left corner is the Stalin-esque dictator. His hair is at the top and then you can follow the profile of his face on down to the right (nose is faint) to his beard below. Who's he talking to? Why that little bear, of course. -- Bill

November 20, 2006

The primary goal for this weekend was to clean up the first floor of the addition and get the heart pine floors oiled.

We finally settled on Danish Oil for the floors. We really wanted something that would treat the wood and provide some stain protection while still allowing the floors to look natural and wear naturally. Plus, with an oil, the floor will be easy to touch up and refresh as needed. The result was really stunning. Danish Oil is not for everybody. In fact, it's not really recommended for floors because it does not provide a hardened surface protection like a varnish or polyurethane. It all depends on what you're looking for. Unlike most people, we want our floors to age and show wear.

Both of the photos above are in the family room, the same room that looked like a disaster area in the photo on Thursday. We're going to be using this room as our makeshift dining room for Thanksgiving, renting a couple tables and some chairs...and silverware, and glasses. I hope to be able to get baseboard down in here by then and get the hearth done.

The center hall is really coming together well.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to treat the knee wall under the staircase. Either beaded wainscott or raised panels. I hope to get the treads on this staircase this week. The handrail should be ready for me to pick up in Richmond early next week.

Moving flooring out of the kitchen we were able to straighten up in there too and move the island cabinets into position. We still haven't done anything towards nailing down a countertop. Too busy on other things.

Today I spent the day putting together this piece that straddles the step up between the family room and the kitchen. On the family room side is a cabinet for a TV (we should get one of those when this is all done) and on the kitchen side is a desk.

This piece was also made by Crown Point and is actually made up of five separate cabinets. It took longer than I expected to install because I had to make a lot of cut-outs for electrical boxes, cables, etc. It feels a little massive to me, but that's probably just because it's the only thing in the room. From the desk side, looking into the family room, there's an odd effect. Even though you're only up seven inches, it feels like you're three feet up as you look over the desk into the family room. Kind of makes you feel like you're sitting at the judge's bench. -- Bill

November 26, 2006

I've decided that I hate water.

Last week a nor'easter soaked us for three straight days. They're calling it the "Thanksgiving Nor-easter." And four days after the last rain drop, there is still a stream flowing across the brick floor in the cellar and being pumped out by the sump. The ground is just so saturated that it's seeping through the cellar wall. I've never seen it do this before. There doesn't seem to be any single point of entry. It's just seeping and flowing...and I don't like it. But at least the sump is doing its job.

During the rain we experienced the return of a leak below an upstairs window. This one's about to do me in. We've done everything we can think of then blasted all around the window with a garden hose and can't replicate the leak. But when the wind blows from the right angle for long enough, a small trickle starts. Maddening.

So that's water from the outside. Then there's the water from the inside.

We got up Thanksgiving morning to find a small lake under the clawfoot tub. The hot water connection had been leaking overnight. It wasn't leaking the day before because I was up there washing footprints off the black floor and would have noticed it. The tub hadn't even been used for four days. So why the spontaneous leak? The water didn't damage anything upstairs, but it left four water stains on the plaster ceiling downstairs in the kitchen.

This is so frustrating. Gay and I had considered installing the plumbing fixtures ourselves, but decided that it was smarter to let the plumber take care of it because a) it would be faster and b) we wouldn't have to worry about anything leaking. So much for that.

The plumber was back on Friday and simply tightened the connection. His only theory as to why it suddenly started leaking after five days was that the heat of the hot water must have loosened it up.

Otherwise, Thanksgiving was very nice. We "cleaned up good." The family room made for a very nice dining room with the rental tables, chairs, linens, etc.

The only bad part about Thanksgiving was that for one brief, shining day it felt like we were "done." And this made it difficult to get back to work when everybody went home.

On Friday I wasted three hours driving to Richmond and back to pick up our handrail and newel posts from the millwork shop. (Yes, I gave up on making the newells myself.) I came back with an empty van. Don't want to talk about it. I'll be heading back to Richmond tomorrow to try again.

Since then, Gay's been busy priming and painting baseboard and shoe moulding and I've been installing it and the treads on the center hall staircase. It all looks really good but, alas, there are no pictures to share. Gay accidentally dropped the camera on its lens and broke it. Bummer.

It doesn't look like we're going to get finished and inspected in time for the movers to bring our stuff on the 4th. So now we're looking at December 12th. The calendar says that that's "Fiesta of our Lady of Guadaloupe Day" in Mexico. That has a nice ring to it. -- Bill

November 27, 2006

We bought mostly Kohler fixtures for the addition. Two of our purchases were missing parts. One of the Kohler faucets that we bought at Lowe's was missing the drain stopper rod and the Kohler shower door that we purchased through our plumber arrived missing the hinge! The plumber called Kohler to get the missing parts sent to us and was told that both parts are back ordered for 28 days. What?!? Something is wrong with this picture, Kohler!

In good news, I went back to Richmond today and picked up the handrail, newels, and a new camera. So, we're back in business. -- Bill

November 29, 2006

Bill Chapman

I finished installing the rest of the heart pine flooring on the stair landing and down the upstairs hall.

Surprisingly, there is still a fair amount of pine left over. In looking back over the paperwork, it looks like the 10% cutting allowance was mistakenly added to our order twice. In reality, we probably only wasted 5% in cutting, leaving us with 15%. That's a lot of left over flooring. It's definitely enough to floor the master closet, but that's pretty pricey material for a closet. I'm trying to determine if there might be enough to floor the perimeter of the master bedroom. We would put 3/4 plywood in the center of the room and cover that with a rug and the bed. This was suggested a while back in the Forum as something that was a fairly common practice in old houses up north. Whatever we do, it's going to have to wait because it's not necessary for our C.O.

Tomorrow I will start working on installing the newels, which I expect to go very slowly.

They finally harvested the field in front of the house today. You could almost hear the mice stampeding to the house. Gay and a neighbor were sharing mouse stories yesterday when the neighbor said, "Well, you know why y'all have so many mice don't you? Alice used to feed them." "Alice" being the previous owner. Apparently she left little dishes of food out for them. Absurd as that sounds, it really doesn't surprise me. It's no wonder we had to tear off those disgusting, nasty, stinking additions way back when. -- Bill

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© 1999- William H. Chapman