Summer Update

Hi Friends! Wow has this summer gone by fast! Suddenly it’s Labor Day and I realize it haven’t posted a blog since Memorial Day. The house is done!!


Just kidding. I wish. We’re still hoping to have it habitable by the holidays, but of course in the grand tradition of construction projects, everything takes longer and costs more than expected. We finally got a sign up though. And a roof. At least the main roofs. The porch roofs still aren’t done. The roofer tells me “next week”. He’s been saying that since June… but I digress. I’m going to skim through a bunch of what’s been happening, with more in depth posts to follow shortly. I’ve made it my end-of-summer resolution to get a blog post out at least every couple weeks.


When last I left you, we were in the middle of demo. If you’ve been following our social media, you know all the spoilers (at least that I’ve managed to keep up with.) We’ve made a quite a bit of progress, though nowhere near that “habitable” benchmark yet. Jason and our engineers have been going back and forth for months on the best method(s) for heating and cooling the house. I may have thrown a wrench in the works by requesting that I be comfortable inside year-round. This, of course, has delayed the final design of the solar system. So we still have no power on site. Supposedly they’ve finally decided on a course of action. I certainly hope so, since not having the MEP design and drawings complete and permitted is about to start holding everything else up,


Interior demo is around 95% complete, with only a few small outstanding items. For those driving by regularly, sorry the place is impersonating a junk yard. We are still practicing Zero Waste and certain piles are awaiting their final destinations. The dumpster with the old shingles did finally get removed the other day, bound for a facility here in NJ that will grind them up for use in new asphalt roads. If anyone would like some scrap wood, please let me know.

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The exterior of the house is looking fantastic though. Our carpenters, Norm and Scott, have rebuilt all the existing windows, turned the one spare front door back into a window, repaired and rebuilt all the columns, and are currently replacing the decking on the porch. At first we planned to just remove the boards that were rotted, but then we discovered the whole thing, deck and floor framing, had been replaced circa 1992… and not to code. So up that comes.

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Inside, our painter Pam and her team have been sanding, scraping, patching and priming for what seems like forever. No more dramatically peeling paint! The goal with this endeavor was to get-rid-of or encapsulate any lead paint. Which we discovered was literally everywhere when we tested. Because of course. Now almost every surface in the house has been prepped for paint and is a lovely clean slate of white. Perfect for figuring out how much light each room actually gets.

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There have been a few discoveries and snags however that have required design changes. Upstairs we discovered the original pine floors hiding under plywood (SCORE!), an amazing and totally unexpected plank wall which we now intend to keep exposed, and a fabulous framing detail in the ceiling of the master bath, which just happens to be right over the future sink and will be a lovely focal point. The beams in the Dining Room and Master Bedroom are going to have to stay painted though. Simply too many layers of paint and varnish to try and get it all off.

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Sadly, Jason won’t get to have any raging bonfires in the giant hearth. Several quotes later and we discovered that making it functional was going to cost a fortune, and we’d still end up with drafts and smoke stains on the ceiling. Decorative candles it is. The cost to repair the Living Room fireplace more than eats up the savings. Ditto with exposing the stone wall in the Master Bedroom. Our test spot revealed something like two inches of plaster and no mortar. A $15,000 accent wall just isn’t in the budget right now.

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The really fun part is on the horizon though. Shopping! I’ve even gotten to practice a bit with deposits on my dream stove (an 8-burner duel-fuel hunk), a pair of super-special solar-compatible eco-fridges, and yesterday we went on a field trip to Philadelphia Salvage to pick out some doors!

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If you’re a member of the Lambertville Historical Society, we’ll be hosting a tour on September 14th. If you’re not, (hint hint) you could be! Ta Ta for now!

Lia Nielsen