Stripping on the main street of any village is usually frowned upon except, perhaps, in the most liberal enclaves. In our little microcosm of the world at large, structural nakedness – the disappearance of siding and the appearance of paint swatches – can set gums a flappin’ and opinions a flyin’. It’s good for at least a month’s worth of neighbourly chitter-chatter.
“Have you decided on a colour scheme?” is the most popular renovation question by far. I painted large swatches of two sample colours on the front of the house at the beginning of the summer. Some people politely asked if they may proffer their opinion. Most people just blurted it out. One person was clearly not pleased by either selection, wondering aloud why I didn’t just paint it in red and yellow flowers. Another told me they had spent a good deal of time considering potential colour schemes for my house, which evolved into a delightful discussion. I exchanged opinions with several folks on colour theory. And those were only the people I actually talked to. Clearly everyone had an opinion and, interestingly, there was a fifty-fifty split between the two choices. I had, early on, threatened to build a little donation box with a sign that read:
OPINIONS – I know you have one so put your money where your mouth is.
$1 for positive comments/votes. $2 for nasty or negative comments. All proceeds to charity. Thank-you.
I think it would have been hilarious. Husband thought it smacked of confrontation. I reminded Husband that I bring the colour commentary to our relationship. He urged me not to forget the yang. Time passed, the opportunity was lost, and I swear I saw Husband flash a big V when he thought I wasn’t looking.
As we live in one of the oldest villages on the Rideau the protection of heritage is a common underlying concern. So other popular questions came as no surprise: Are you keeping the original windows? How are you stripping the siding? What kind of paint are you using? Many conversations ran along similar themes.
I was heartened by chats I had with a few people about the energy retrofit focus of the project. They were folks who either understood, or were curious about, the necessity for a marriage between heritage principles and energy conservation due to the changing relationship between our society and the environment. But that discussion merits a separate blog entry (or six).
So, ladies and gentlemen and the generally habicurious, here are my answers to your most pressing questions as presented from the Royal ‘We’ point of view:
WE ARE KEEPING THE ORIGINAL WINDOWS – Of all the retrofit decisions this one was the most contentious. Husband wanted new: operable, no storms, more energy efficient, done. I leaned towards keeping the old, with occasional vacillation: made from old growth timber, arguably more durable, can be repaired, can have new storms made, cheaper to keep ‘em, original to the house, less waste for the dumpster. And now that the trim is removed I am pleased to say they are in good to very good condition. Not bad for a hundred and ten years old. I read many arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ and the case for new was not definitive, particularly if you factor in payback. We are ordering a few new windows for the openings that previous owners added or changed and I am still wrapping my brain around how to build out all the windows due to the addition of two inches of PIC insulation and strapping. In the end the financial argument was of key strategic importance in dealing with Husband’s objections. Only time (and more blower door tests) will tell if this was the right decision.
WE ARE NOT STRIPPING THE SIDING, WE ARE REMOVING IT COMPLETELY – I really hemmed and hawed about wrapping, insulation, strapping and siding over the original clapboard. I wanted to limit the amount of garbage heading to the landfill and also felt that the existing clapboard would provide an additional nailing surface. I literally woke up one morning and knew I had to remove all the old clapboard. This allowed me to check all the board sheathing, look for rot, vacuum out the crevices, replace any punky wood, discover an old door opening (!), better understand some old window openings, insulate some cavities in the masonry infill, improve the nailing surfaces near the bottom of the house and conduct some minor masonry repairs. This will also enable me to install the Typar with care, wrapping right over the window openings, sealing the bottom and top, while working on an entirely flat plane. I’m glad I made this decision but now need to empty the chock-a-block dumpster and refill it once again. Interestingly, had the clapboard, which was still in good condition, been applied correctly (with one nail instead of two), the pieces could have been carefully removed and reused on another project. Yet another case for proper material installation.
WE ARE USING REAL PINE CLAPBOARD SIDING.
WE HAVE NOT YET FINALIZED THE EXTERIOR COLOUR PALETTE – Yes, winter is fast approaching, yes the siding requires three weeks lead time and, and, and. I am not being coy when I say I haven’t finalized the colour scheme yet but I can say it will encompass the two colours you see above. I love colour and I designed the gardens with a purply hydrangea blue in mind. The paint colour, to me, is akin to adding the fancy dress once all the undergarments have been sorted out and I’m still up to my armpits in long johns. I’m giving myself one more week to decide, to put on my big girl panties, to bite the bullet, to invent another metaphor, to place the order, and to move on.
Ooh. The pressure.