In the last update about the Taylor Homestead, we told you that the nearly 100-year-old pier-and-beam house had been jacked up and leveled. Which is a great thing when a house is about 2 to 3 inches out of level from one side of the house to the other. Since that time, we’ve had a couple of substantial, rare-for-Texas-summer rainstorms, including, thankfully, just a brush with Hurricane Harvey. Taylor got anywhere between 4 and 6 inches of rain and wind gusts not much higher than 35 mph during Harvey. As the project manager, I’ve kept my eye on the sparrow—AKA the level—and am happy to report no movement in our foundation. Also, none of the many trees surrounding the house came down or caused any damage to the house or the outbuildings. Whew!
We still need to build a berm around the Taylor Homestead to prevent, or at least stem, future significant movement of the foundation (it’s going to move—all houses do—but we want to keep that movement to a minimum), but that won’t be done until nearly the end of the project since there will be a lot of people working and walking around the perimeter of the house, probably stomping down the berm, which would defeat its intended purpose.
In the meantime, we’ve given Old Lady Taylor a bit of a facelift with repairs and paint. Just look at these before and after pictures (see the gallery below). What a difference! Large chunks of the skirting around the bottom edge of the house were missing or broken. It’s great when your painting contractor is also pretty skilled with other tools and tasks. Our painter, Antonio, took the initiative and replaced the missing and broken skirting and wood trim and then painted it all to give the house a cohesive look. The result is nothing short of miraculous, especially when you consider what we started out with. Thanks go to Carol, who selected the beautiful, on-trend paint colors. Antonio used Peristyle Brass on the vintage 1920s front door. I just love the detail of the trim around the window. I’ll probably also paint the cornice and finial at the top of the porch and the mailbox (at least part of it) Peristyle Brass, to set off the detail—you know from Downton Abbey that every 1920s grande dame needs a tiara.
You probably noticed that the knee wall on the front porch, once ugly, broken brick, was removed, which left us with the black weather-resistant felt paper barrier. We’re going to replace the brick with some manufactured stacked stone in subtle tones of gray and brown. This will give the old lady some style and panache, sorely missing for many years.
Topping off the initial exterior changes are new gutters and downspouts to replace the French drain system the previous owner installed. Antonio and I did some diligent shopping for all the guttering and he installed it—we’re lucky to have found someone with multiple skill sets; Carol has been working with Antonio for more than a decade. Inventory was running low in Big Box Store Land in the wake of Harvey. The wonderful older man who helped us find almost every piece of guttering we needed told us that not only were supplies scarce but that there was also just a skeleton staff at the store because many employees had been sent to Houston to help with the hurricane relief efforts. Because giving back to and supporting the community is part of Hermit Haus’s mission, we love to work with stores and vendors that have those values as part of their mission. Unfortunately, though, after trips to 4 stores, we couldn’t find any white Flex-A-Spouts to help with drainage away from the house, so I ordered a few online and they should be here this week. This time, I’ll be doing the installation—a pretty simple task that any homeowner can and should do.
Coming up this week, a little gentle interior demo, to remove the pegboard “walls” in the kitchen. We’ll be repurposing the boards in the Bobcat garage—I need somewhere to put all my tools!