Halloween Horror

Nothing to give you a fright like a thunderstorm when your roof is being replaced

Restoration Diary,

Back porch ceiling doing its best Niagara Falls impersonation.

When Heather and I left tonight to go visit some friends, the first drizzle had appeared – signaling in the fall season in southern California. We were a little worried since our new roof is not yet complete, so we put a tarp over some of the boxes we had in the upstairs sun room which was exposed to the outside since the siding had been removed. We then headed out expecting a nice evening with friends. { Heather: Stupid or just optimistic? }

In the middle of dinner, after I had consumed my first martini and was well into my first beer, the rain started to really come down pounding on the streets and the rooftops. Heather started to get really worried because she was afraid our ceilings would get ruined. I shrugged the whole thing off thinking that there wasn’t anything we could do. After a couple minutes of debating the situation, Heather decided that she wanted to leave to check the house. I decided that I would go with her. So we cut our evening short and left.

Rain poured down from the sky on our drive home and the windshield wipers had difficulty in keeping a clear view of the road. The roads themselves were slick and the divider lines blended into the asphalt under sheets of water.

When we arrived home we quickly checked each room. The living room was ok. Our renovated dining room was ok (what a relief). Then I heard Heather yell, “We’ve got a huge problem!

See that blue bucket on the top shelf just filling up with water?

I went into the kitchen and to my horror saw water dripping from different parts of the ceiling. Heather opened up the cabinets and brown water was dripping all over our clean dishes and glasses.

No, the horror isn’t how ugly our back porch is…it is that waterfall gushing down the wall!

We moved to the back porch and discovered a small waterfall flowing from the ceiling on the back porch and in the bathroom. We went upstairs and found water dripping in the upstairs bathroom and in the second bedroom as well.

We had a small disaster on our hands.

We scrambled around the house for buckets and I climbed up into the attic to see if I could contain the water up there. When I was in the attic I found water dripping from the roof, but not in huge quantities. Heather handed me paint trays and I put them under the leaks in the roof.

Crawlspace above the kitchen and back porch. Look at all that water! And that is knob and tube wiring!! Egads!!!

Heather told me the problem was actually in the crawlspace that was above the kitchen and back porch. As I was investigating the problem, Heather yelled “The ceiling is coming down in the kitchen! Get a bucket quick!” I ran downstairs with a bucket to find that the dripping was turning into a steady stream of brown water pissing from the ceiling.

Kitchen ceiling. The only thing still holding it up is the wallpaper.

At that point I decided I needed to get onto the roof and cover the unfinished roof with plastic. Heather called our contractor.

Heather wanted to get into the crawlspace with buckets to contain the water. I wanted to go out the second story window onto the unfinished part of the roof. I quickly moved boxes out from the crawl space and we put buckets in there to catch the water. Then I dismantled the window and tried to put a big piece of plastic on the roof. I was going to nail the plastic down but Heather didn’t want me out on the roof since it was raining.

Bathroom on the back porch flooded with water.

After some time our contractor and his father showed up to assess the situation. They then proceeded out the window and onto the roof with a big piece of plastic. They nailed the plastic down and told us they would be back tomorrow to finish the roof installation. They were very kind. They had even called earlier when we were out to tell us it was raining.

So now we have a HUGE mess. The ceilings need to be replaced in two rooms. They had to be replaced anyway, but now the need is more urgent. All our dishes need to be washed and the cabinets need to be cleaned and dried out.

Fun. { Heather: Not so much… }

Comments { 3 } November 1, 2003

Not Under My Roof

And Why Flashing is a Good Thing

Restoration Diary,

Our house the first week of home ownership, Sept 2002. The roof appears to be the only thing that doesn’t need repaired.

We learned that the reason water pours down our walls every time it rains is because the flashing on our roof was installed on top of the roof shingles instead underneath them, and in some areas flashing wasn’t installed at all. Flashing is a metal that is installed where the dormer meets the roof and over other joints; as well as around the chimney, roof vents, and valleys in your roof. Flashing prevents water from seeping in and gushing down your plaster walls. Very, very important!

The new roof that was recently installed before we bought our house, the one that was supposed to last up to 25 years, had to be completely torn off. The installation was shoddy, and that is being polite. The previous home owners must have been aware of the problem. It doesn’t rain all that often in Southern California but it does rain occasionally. There is no way to miss a waterfall gushing down your walls!

We had purchased a 1 year home warranty policy to cover things like roof, plumbing problems or appliances breaking. The insurance company refused to honor the policy because they stated the roof was improperly installed in the first place. Our policy is essentially worthless, just like our roof. An interesting article on home warranty policies.

House, Oct 2003. An improvement but we still have so much left to do!

A brand new roof with flashing has been installed. We had to replace the cedar shingles on the dormers because they were rotten from water damage. Over the past year we have torn out the old cement steps and installed wood ones. The brick columns on the porch have been rebuilt. I removed the asbestos shingles from the porch and found the original wood railing still intact.


We had the roofing removed from over the pergola. It is so nice and open now! It will be beautiful covered in vines or climbing roses.

Comments { 3 } November 15, 2003

The Green House

Inspiring Arts & Crafts and bungalow exterior paint color combinations

Exteriors, Inspiration, Paint

Green house located in the West Adams section of Los Angeles.
Green house located in the West Adams section of Los Angeles.

When I was a little girl, for a short time I lived in a 1920′s house that was painted olive green. The house was called the Bilz Farm but to me it was always “The Green House.” When David and I started looking for a house three years ago we weren’t even sure what type of house we wanted, but I knew I wanted to paint our future home green.

Olive green body color, cream trim, brown and ox blood red accent colors
Olive green body color, cream trim, brown and ox blood red accent colors

Above is one of my favorite green exterior paint jobs in West Adams.

We removed some beadboard panels in the sleeping porch of our house and discovered original clapboard siding that was stained green! It seemed like fate. I spent my free time looking at paint samples, pouring over books, magazines and historical publications agonizing over just the right shade of green to paint our house.

Two toned green exterior with cream trim and peach colored accents. West Adams.
Two toned green exterior with cream trim and peach colored accents. West Adams.

After driving David crazy for months, “Are you sure you like this shade? What about this one?” I finally selected what I considered to be the perfect shade of green. I painted the siding around the bottom of the porch in what became known as Favorite Green. One of our neighbors stopped by to let me know it was the ugliest shade of army green she had ever seen. Two weeks later, another neighbor 3 houses down painted their house almost the same shade as Favorite Green.

Olive body, dark olive brown trim, and burnt red accent color. West Adams.
Olive body, dark olive brown trim, and burnt red accent color. West Adams.

We began to notice all the green houses in our area. A surprising number of restored houses in our area end up painted some shade of green. We are considering replacing all the cedar shingles along the top story and staining them a chestnut color and painting the clapboard siding on the first story creamy tan. We would do this so that our house would be different, but I’m having a hard time letting go of green. In my heart I still desire The Green House.

Green exterior. West Adams area of Los Angeles, CA.
Green exterior. West Adams area of Los Angeles, CA

Comments { 8 } March 7, 2004

Vote on House Color

Help us decide what color to paint our bungalow

Exteriors, Paint, Restoration Diary


The house color debate continues…
Hopefully, whatever color combination we choose will look a little better than in my renderings but this should give you some idea of what we are considering.

Which color do you prefer? Vote by clicking on the text below: Sorry, voting has ended.

(vote only once)

Image 1: 365 votes  

Image 2: 195 votes  

We have a winner! It seems that green is the overwhelming color preference. Maybe, just maybe, we will go with the green color after all? Now, if only I can convince David…

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Comments { 3 } March 9, 2004

Outside, Just the Beginning…

The exterior of our bungalow is in sorry shape

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

We are now in full swing on the exterior restoration. The outside is being sanded and patched. Rotten and damaged wood is being replaced. We have hired craftsmen to help us because this job is HUGE.

Are you wondering, “How bad could it be?” Take a look at these pictures to see what we are up against. Outside, Day1

Comments { 1 } May 25, 2004

When No News is Bad News

Problems halt our restoration

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

bp_02Our back porch is really such a mess!

The old adage “No news is good news” doesn’t always ring true. I haven’t written in a while because we ran into some problems with our back porch that required us to rethink our exterior restoration. We halted work completely for the past month so that we could figure out what we are going to do about our back porch and how much we can afford to do.

bp_001Back porch appears to have been enclosed with wood scraps and odds-and-ends, but no real framing.

The back porch used to be open. It was enclosed sometime prior to the house being shingled with asbestos tiles in the late 1940′s – early 1950′s. We discovered that the enclosed wall and windows have NO framing! The walls, windows and door are all different depths from the house. The back porch is a hobbled together mess inside and out.

bp_11Detail of the “construction”

One of our dining room windows looks out onto the ugly back porch. When the view was open to the outside I am sure a lot of light streamed in but now the dining room tends to be dark and the view leaves much to be desired.

bp_004View from dining room window

Our goals are to let in more light and to relocated the washer and dryer to one end of the porch and enclose them in a cabinet. We want to put in new windows and relocate the back door to the middle of the porch.

bp_006Window juts out 10 inches from the wall.

Another concern is an upstairs sleeping porch that was added to the house around 1918. The porch is built to the end of the roof rafters right on top of the old cedar shake roof. We are concerned that the porch isn’t adequately supported. Prior to buying the house we had a structural engineer look into this and some other problems with the house. The structural engineer felt that the support for the room was adequate.

Several other people, who are knowledgeable about old houses, have told us that the room is sloping downward and we are at risk of having it fall off the back of our house during an earthquake!

bp_0003Sleeping porch built to the edge of the roof rafters

We also found evidence of termite damage along our new foundation. All this had me sticking my head in the proverbial sand because, in truth, I just “didn’t want to deal with it.”

bp_007Wires hanging off the back of our house. How ghetto is that?

It is hard to get excited about spending money on the back porch, a room that we use for washing our laundry, housing the litter box and our Sparkletts water dispenser, especially when our kitchen has holes in the ceiling and plaster falling of the walls and we are still brushing our teeth in the bathtub.

I had decided to reside the back porch and to revisit it in 5 years when the rest of the house was completed. Unfortunately, that won’t really work since the walls aren’t framed. Our neighbor, an old house buff, assured me that residing the porch would be like trying to “fix a skull fracture with a band aide” and that our back porch is a complete mess that should be gutted and rebuilt right away.

bp_005Exposed plumbing pipes.

So here we sit, we two, trying to decide just what we want to do with that back porch anyway?

All advice and opinions, especially regarding the sleeping porch support, are welcome and greatly appreciated!

Comments { 9 } June 30, 2004

Exterior (Months Later) Only Week 2

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

After much delay, work on the exterior is moving forward. Finally. Huge sigh of relief. The contractor and his team started last week.

We have determined that this part of the back porch (see picture below) was added on.


It must have had a flat roof when it was built because we found asbestos shingles covering the back wall. The roof was extended over the the addition sometime in the not too distant past . If we didn’t need the space for our washer and dryer I’d be tempted to tear down the addition.


The team made a lot of progress with sanding and patching the wood siding. There is still alot more to do though…


The points on the rafter tails have been added back. They were sawed off sometime after we placed an offer on the house and before we closed escrow. A home improvement project gone bad – we aren’t sure why…


We were feeling rather brave so we took the bars off the large window on the porch. Although, I have to admit that I have gotten used to the bars in a way and they gave me a sense of securiy. It is hard not to feel a little vulnerable with them gone. On the other hand, it is so nice to look out the window and not feel like I am a prisoner in my own home.


Comments { 5 } August 16, 2004

Back Porch Rebuild 9.02.04

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

The plywood floor has been put in. We took out the original flooring because the floor was up to 5″ off level in places and the supports under the floor were rotten in areas and needed to be replaced.

Our new back door has been put in.

The piece of plywood propped up against the wall is serving as a temporary bathroom door.

The best thing about the new door is that it has been moved to line up with the kitchen door.

Comments { 7 } September 2, 2004

Back Porch Rebuild 9.09.04

Work on our bungalow restoration

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

Progress! Today the carpenter put in two of the old windows that I purchased off of eBay earlier in the summer. They were originally double hung but the carpenter converted them into casement windows.

The windows and door let in a lot of light.

Detail of the windows. They were salvaged from a home built in 1916. The green splotch in the right window is actually a paint color we are trying and not part of the window.

I ran out of room on the front of the house so we are now trying out paint colors on the garage. I know, it is a problem. Does anyone know of a 12 Step program for paint color obsession? I am really down to the wire and going to have to make the final, forever decision, or at least the next 5 – 10 years decision, on the paint color next week. Can I get an Amen?

David won’t even discuss paint color any more so the final, forever decision is up to me. I’m trying to decide between an olive body with brown trim or a muted deep green color with cream trim similiar to the colors our house was painted in 1912.

Our neighbor down the street from us painted her house a dark green color with gold trim. The green was close to a color I was considering at the time. I asked her how she decided on her house’s color scheme and she confessed that she loved her car so much that she painted her house to match it. Sure enough, I saw her driving a dark green mustang convertible with a tan top and gold rims a few days later. She suggested we paint our house to match our car. Hhhhmmmmm, our car is an 11 year old white Ford Taurus. It gets us from point A to point B but it’s nothing to paint our house about…

They also started to put up siding today. Of course, Lulu wanted to be in the picture!

Simon looking very brown and a lot like Lulu, but not about to be left out. “What about me? I’m cute. Take my picture. Take my picture.”

Comments { 9 } September 9, 2004

Exterior Paint Job Almost Done

Our bungalow gets painted

Exteriors, Paint, Restoration Diary


The body of the house is completely painted. The painters have started
on the trim and the red accent color on the windows.


The front of our house looks so different. It is amazing how paint can
transform a house.


We added lattice over the top of the open beams on the front porch.
I am going to grow vines over the top.


Side of the house.


Back. We still have a pile of trash that needs to be removed. We are
waiting to finish up the painting before putting in a lawn or landscaping.

Body color: Amazon NA60 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)
Trim color: Hampton Court NA54 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)
Accent color on windows: La Mesa Red (Benjamin Moore)

Comments { 24 } November 12, 2004