It all started so innocently. After 80 years and several rehabs, it was time for our glassed-in porch, with its wood-on-wood sliding windows and door that wouldn't fully open, to be replaced. There was simply no fixing it back up anymore. We had a brief fling with the idea of making it a proper addition, a bit bigger and hiding a half-bathroom. The estimates (the ones we could get, that is . . . good times or bad, contractors don't seem to want my money) came in at about a third of the value of the house . . . way too much to put into a place in our neighborhood. So back to square 1.5, which was replace the walls, windows and door on the porch, ourselves.
So here's how it starts to get out of hand. This is my one chance to insulate the porch, something I should certainly do to justify the fancy new windows, and make it a good 3-1/2 season room. And that meant crawling underneath, insulating the joists and sealing it up. And if I do that, I have to insulate the ceiling, which means pulling down the old tongue-and-groove ceiling that we love, and realizing that it really needs to be refinished, so that's 76 pieces of t&g that needs sanding and staining. Oh, it's also my one chance to spread some electricity around the porch, and get light from something other than a centered fan, so let's run some wiring, outlets all over, two new sconces, a ceiling light, a new fan. And power for a closet that we haven't designed yet. And if we want to get the most use out of it, wouldn't a little space-heater make more sense than trying to get ductwork out there? And when I get to the flooring, just putting it down over the old stuff won't work, so let's cut a new subfloor layer.
And then, of course, there's the matter of siding. The house has 50-year-old asbestos siding, which lasts forever, insulates beautifully, is easy to paint and nearly impossible to get rid of. But it's getting brittle, it's hard to repair, it hurts the value of the house, and I'll have to put something else on the new porch, so let's just get new siding at last. Well, if we're going to do that, that's the time to replace the kitchen windows, which take up too much wall space and ruin the layout.
Oh, and I'll need to repair a couple of pieces of garage wall before it's sided. And replace a window that was never really a window (just a tacked-on aluminum storm window). And repair the rotting roof deck at the eaves.
Oh, and after the workers yank off all the old siding, I'll notice exposed wire on the electric service to the house, and decide that now is also the time when I need to finally replace the old cloth-wrapped wire on the electric service, get a new meter box, and get a new desperately needed circuit breaker box. For that, for the siding removal, and for the new siding, I've turned to contractors. Otherwise, the pain is all mine.
Sometime soon it'll all be done. Well, not the inside of the porch, that'll be another few months, but all the noticeable stuff from outside. It'll all look sensational, like a real house. And I will be, as I am now, absolutely and utterly exhausted.