Fitting a Square Window in a Curved Hole

20170727_142703It was love at first site for me and my house.  I paid no attention to how the dormer windows looked from the outside.  I didn’t find it odd that the break between the two window sashes fell just inches beneath the solid structure that filled the top of the window.
During demo the rear large dormer window fell out and it revealed that the solid piece at the top was just a sheet of tin someone had cut in the shape of the curved opening and painted.  It was done to conceal the square window behind it. Clearly the original dormer windows were curved per the moulding on the outside.  But why Square Mouldingwas the moulding on the inside, which was clearly old wood, squared?

One explanation I was given by a window company is that the house probably had a fire in the upstairs (true, probably multiple in its life) that did not impact the outside structure; only the inside.  To repair they built walls in front of the damage, which included altering the inside framing from curved windows to square.  The house had square aluminum windows throughout when I bought.  When it was time to replace the windows I was told if I wanted curved windows the cost of the four dormer windows alone would be more the the remaining 20 windows in the house.  I would need to re-frame the inside to accommodate the curve also, which meant losing all the original trim and buying new.  This was so early in the project that I conceded and went forward with square vinyl windows throughout knowing that I’d need to come up with something to hide the horrible look on the outside.

unfinished-pvc-ekena-millwork-crosshead-window-header-pedpc086x285seg03-40_1000My first thought was to find a better version of the tin that was installed previously. The depth of that piece covered almost half of the window, which meant I was loosing almost half of the light that came through. I hoped I could find something narrower, so I just started typing random descriptors into Google and I stumbled across window pediments. These were meant to be installed above the window, but maybe I could transfer the application.

Further searching led me to the site of Architectural Depot (AD) and a subsequent conversation with one of their sales people. Before I go further I must state that I am a one and done customer of this company.  They are just a reseller of other people’s product, which they mark up heavily.

I explained to the sales person the situation and he had me send him pictures. He understood what I wVenus Arch Trim Drawing[11126]as looking for, I’d need to get a custom piece. He also had a better suggestion, creating a frame around the entire window. He had me give him several measurements and after a couple of days sent me this drawing.  I understood the concept he was going for and thought this could work although it seemed to narrow which I shared with him.  I retook the measurements several times before going through with the order.  Each time 3″ was adequate.  I started this process with them in 2018.  Since the loan from Fifth Third Bank and Guardian did not come through, this wasn’t a priority.  To have these pieces milled out of a plastic material was going to be about $500.

When Center Bank came through and I knew painting would finally commence I ordered the pieces, right when Covid hit.  Their two week ship turned into six weeks.  The worst customer service follow through I’ve ever seen.  They kept blaming Covid, but would never give me a delivery date.  I had to call/email four times before I got a response.  This is when I discovered they weren’t the manufacturer of the piece.  A company called Ekena Millwork (same company whose plinths I bought from Amazon) would be producing them, so I called them.  I got next to nowhere since I didn’t have any production numbers, but they did confirm orders placed on my date, if provided to them should have already shipped.  I called AD back with this information and miraculously my order arrived within the week.  My fears manifested, the frame was too narrow.  The entire time I worked with the sales person providing him all the measurements he needed to create the arch I worked from an open window.  My thickness measurement only accounted for the outer window frame, not the frame around the glass.

I called AD upon the discovery and they took no responsibility for the mistake, citing I provided the measurements. $500 wasted. The frames were cut from PVC foam, nothing special. I instantly thought of The Manufactory’s CNC router. I thought if I could find the material perhaps the guys at the shop could help me replicate them in the correct width. They came to my rescue, including telling me where I could buy a sheet of the PVC foam, Piedmont Plastic, which cost about $200. I had to rent a van to haul it, so another $50. The correct width was 4.25″. With that measurement and the original pieces they were able to program their machine to cut new pieces. From one sheet I was able to get the four arches, but only 7 legs. To create the 8th, I used PVC cement to glue two of the originals together and then ripped it down to the right width. I wasn’t present when they cut the pieces for me, so no pics.

At this point my working relationship with Lyle, painter, is strained. When he started the project (June 9, we’re way past his 3 week time frame) he said he would help me install them. At this point I don’t want him to do anything extra. I decided to figure it out myself and I knew the first step would be getting them primed as PVC does not take paint well based on past experience. I went to the Internet and found several sites and all recommended using an acrylic urethane primer, I used Sherwin Williams’ Extreme Bond Primer. Before applying the primer I sanded each piece with 220 grit, which was also recommended on the sites. To ensure they were clean and free of dust wiped them with isopropyl alcohol.

The AD pieces acted as the perfect install templates, so I was able to practice the angle needed on those legs that would rest against the angled window sill. I decided to use my Kreg jig to make pocket holes around the parameter of the piece. I used 2.5 inch outdoor Kreg screws to attach the frame to the house, but used 1.5″ to attach the legs to the arches after applying PVC cement. The seam between the legs and arch is negligible.

I was able to hang the frames from inside the house and only had to use my new found roof scaling skill to caulk around frame and to repair a piece of the wood trim I broke off by clamping too hard. Looking straight on, the mission of hiding the square window in the curve framed worked. I have no idea how this PVC material is going to hold up, but only time will tell. At least I’ll know how to make new ones if they do need replacing.

The Big Chop

Well there’s no undoing today, I did it. I’ve removed all my permed hair. How do I feel? Liberated, nervous, happy, sad; I’m a mixed bag of emotions. But what’s new. The night before I decided to mold my hair one last time and it wasn’t happening. The new growth was too thick for the permed hair to lay flat. This confirmed that it was time to let it go. There was also no point in continuing to waste good hair care products on hair I didn’t want. I went into the shop with my bangs combed out for the last time. With my perms my beautician, Dorthea Jones, always cut my hair after the wash, set, and dry. Today she cut it first. Dorthea has a texturizer in her hair and she asked if I wanted that. I said no, I’m committing to one year of no chemicals, not even dye as I’m looking forward to turning gray.

After washing and conditioning it Dorthea applied Dudley Curl Gel and styling foam. I asked if I should sit under the drawer and she said no, let it dry natural. In less than two hours I was out the door to share with Cincinnati the new me. My first stop was to my friend Carolyn Wallace who lives just around the corner from the shop. The curl gel constantly ran down my face and back of neck. I must have gone through 3 paper towels sopping up the run off. I’m glad Dorthea didn’t push me to buy it. It felt sticky, so I’ll look forward to trying Pattern Beauty’s equivalent products.

I decided to mark this milestone occasion with a professional head shot, including professionally applied make up. Crystal Grace, owner of Grit and Grace, referred me to a young make up artist Keliyah Blackmon. My request was to look natural and hide the dark circles. Given her subject matter, she did a good job. Clearly I look better with make up, but I just can’t stand the feel of it on my face. If I could find a brand that would allow me to get close to this look with three or fewer products and it didn’t easily wipe off I’d buy it. Between the gel running and the heat outside I felt like a was melting.

From her shop I stopped at my aunt’s to share the new me with her and my cousin before heading to Perfect Exposure Photography Studio. I met the owner, Pete Coleman, when he became a member of the Cincinnati CVB. He did my cousin Alex’s senior photos. I truly feel like I am the most un-photogenic person in the world. My last head shot was in 2005 as required by the Cincinnati CVB. I went to Dorthea early in morning before work, she did my make up, and I went straight to the photographer. It was my first professional picture since my senior high school picture. I liked it so much I actually had prints made and gave it out as Christmas gifts that year. I ordered two 8x10s of Pete’s photo and will give one to my father. The other I will display at my house, covering over the two previous.

Seeing these three images next to each other blows my mind. Time truly stands for no one. Thanks to all the work on my house, I’m about 20 lbs lighter today than I was in 2005 and it really shows in my face. Do I have any regrets. None whatsoever. I think I look awesome. The shape of my head is perfect for a natural, short style, if I must say so myself. I like my hairline. Even without makeup I don’t think I look masculine and I did manage to get through this entire first day without one “can I help you sir”. My vision for how I want to wear my hair is changing. I’m really feeling this short hair. Time to do some earring shopping and maybe, just maybe I’ll let someone teach me how to apply make up and start wearing it in public more often.

It Will Not Win A Third Time

My roof has gotten the best of me twice. I’m no spring chicken. I know falling off my roof will lead to an injury of some type and it could be serious or even fatal. I walked on, cleared debris, repaired, cleaned out gutters from the roof of my old house all the time because its pitch made it possible. The pitch of my house now is steep! I can get to the gutter level, but not much further. Once I did make it to the top, but it took every once of arm strength doing the crab crawl to do it. Once there I got scared and slid back down without even attempting the task.

I wish I had pictures, but I didn’t see what was going to transpire coming. Thursday Lyle set up a very elaborate ladder system, again, to allow him to finish scraping paint from the large rear dormer. There was one broken asbestos tile on the left side, so I asked him to take it down, since he was working in that area, I’d cut a new one and give it to him to reinstall. That seemed like perfect teamwork since he was already on the roof and I can easily cut the tile saving him the ups and downs. Early on he said he’d replace the broken tiles, but I had already done most of it just trying to be supportive as clearly he needs help. I’ve replaced cases of this tile, so when I handed him the new piece I tried to talk him through the process including letting him know I may need to give him the drill to make a hole. We (my father and I) discovered that the new replacement fiber cement boards sometimes extended higher than the hole already in the asbestos tile, if it overlapped. We learned the hard way; we broke the new tile trying to nail through it.

Lyle wanted to attach the tile with screws and I said no, so he said then you come up here and do it. 20200720_083807Oh no he didn’t, I am not the female you challenge like that. I promptly climbed up his ladder and put in the nails. The piece was the last piece on that side, so with my reach I never had to climb on the roof. When I asked him to take down the piece I didn’t have my work clothes on, so by the time I got back outside he had not only removed that piece, but three broken tiles from the opposite side and four broken tiles from the other rear dormer. The other locations would require me getting on the roof, so I asked him if he was going to have a problem nailing them. He showed hesitancy and reluctance, so I said forget it, I’ll do it myself. I need to figure out how to work on the roof, anyway. I really wanted him to finish scraping, so we can finally get to the paint. Since he was all set up on the large dormer I decided to work on the other.

20200719_171549Lyle has a ladder that he leans on the gutter that allows him to easily maneuver the pitch around the dormers. It has an odd design.  Early on he told me they don’t make ladders like that anymore, so I asked can a regular ladder (A-frame) work. He said no, so I went in my basement and made what I hoped would work out of a pallet.  No pictures of it on the roof, but I carried it upstairs, put it out of the window onto the gutter and then went back outside to cut the tiles.  When Lyle saw my makeshift ladder he immediately said that’s not going to work its going to kick-back and fall.  He stopped working on the large dormer and brought over his ladder.  Now people that know me, know at this point I’m annoyed and there is no way I will use his ladder.  I told him to take it back, if I fall I fall, I got this.  Instead of taking it back he starts scraping the paint from that dormer.  

Of course I turn my sights on the large dormer, it’s closer to the gutter than the other three.  It seemed 20200719_124211to me that if I could reach the gutter I could plant my feet in it and with my height just lean on the roof to replace those three tiles.  I went and got the Gorilla Ladder I bought and used when I replaced the tiles on the side of the house (see end of Exceeding Expectations post).  My previous two attempts to get on the roof I did from the front porch using my 8′ A frame ladder.  I never tried it from the back because I had an old, dicey extension ladder and I was scared it would shift left or right when I took the step onto the roof. I’ve actually given it to Lyle who seems real comfortable on it.  I was able to set it up right against the rear portico, so I only had to worry about it shifting to the right.  Both ends of that ladder extend out wide and it never shifted, not even when I took the first step up onto the gutter.  Just as I thought, I could reach those tiles by just leaning on the roof.  Replacing them was a piece of cake and I had to go up and down a few times with no issues.

By the time I finished, Lyle had finished the left side of the small dormer and had moved to the right where he pushed my makeshift ladder to the end of the gutter and placed his ladder where I’d plan to work.  I used my Gorilla Ladder to retrieve it.  Doing so allowed me to get a close up look at how Lyle’s ladder was hitting the gutter and I thought a regular A-frame ladder could do that.  I didn’t want to work on the same dormer as Lyle, so I decided to work on replacing some more tiles on the rear of the house, which is how I discovered the rotten crown moulding Fusion Roofing caulked and concealed. Lyle left Thursday leaving his ladder set up on the smaller dormer, but sadly took his elaborate system from the larger dormer down without finishing it.  So little was left and if he had just focused on that 20200720_110441while I focused on the tile it would be done. That night after he left I got my 4′ A-frame ladder and placed it on the gutter from the bathroom window on the opposite side of his.  I felt certain it would work, so I left it there.  Friday he took his down.

Saturday I psyched myself out.  I thought perhaps I shouldn’t tackle this at home while alone, so I cut the grass and went to Vineyard Church evening service, the first since Covid-19 hit.  Sunday I went for it.  I didn’t have the luxury of the portico on one side for support, but I didn’t need it.  That wide stance of the Gorilla ladder made it very stable.  The first time up I carried my shop vac to vacuum up the paint chips Lyle left.  I had to go up and down several times to get all the tiles cut and replaced.  I couple of the holes needed drilling, so I had to retrieve my drill.  I was so comfortable getting up and down that I even took up my pump sprayer with the insecticide and sprayed the areas exposed by Lyle’s removal of the crown moulding.  Good thing as on the right side a couple of bees flew out.  On the right side I did manage to put a couple of cracks in two of the new tiles by hammering the nail too tight.  If it were the lower part of the house I may have taken it out and done it over, but for the roof I decided to mix up a small batch of 2-part Epoxy and brush it over the crack.  Once it gets paint you’ll never know. 

I now know I can use this method with longer A-frame ladders if I need to get even higher on the roof. Now let me share this word of caution. The ONLY reason this method works is because I have box gutters on my house. Box gutters are structural parts of the house. This would NOT work with modern house gutters, you’d rip the nails right out and crash to the ground. You’ve been warned.

With that great sense of accomplishment I decided to lend Lyle a hand. Friday he finally put primer on a few of the lower windows and some of the moulding he had taken down. I’ll elaborate more on that in the next post, but before putting the primer on the moulding he treated the pieces with PC-Petrifier Wood Hardener. I decided to treat the remaining pieces for him, which I’m glad I decided to do as I found pieces with cracks that needed to be glued. The instructions read a lot like the LiquidWood product I used on the window sills. You’re supposed to drill 1/8″ holes, which get filled with some epoxy they promote. I did take it one step further than Lyle by applying the product to the front and back of the pieces. Doing the back meant scrubbing the burn soot off first. Although not as severe as the window sills, the backs were more dried out than the fronts and had dryness cracks throughout. I felt they were enough to justify not drilling the holes.

The clouds opened up just as I was cleaning up, so I stuck the pieces in my she shed, since I knew they weren’t close to being dry. Hopefully he’ll appreciate the help.

Peel A-Way Product Review

With all the scraping Lyle has done on the 2nd floor dormers over the past 5 weeks, which exceeded my expectations, I decided I wanted the paint from the front porch removed also. When Lyle first walked the property I said that didn’t need to be scraped as I assumed the bead board would be difficult and time consuming to clear properly. After all that is why I rebuilt the rear portico. Lyle said Peel A-Way would be the product to use, but it was expensive (approximately $40/ 1.25 gallon from the Oakley Paint Store; $55 at Sherwin Williams). I told him I’d buy it if he applied it, so I did and he did. I watched the product video several times before he applied it and thought if it works that well maybe I can leave the wood natural.

The product stayed on approximately 24 hours before Lyle removed it.

Honestly I wasn’t impressed at that stage. My thoughts of leaving the natural wood were dashed, but at least I felt the new paint would look cleaner. At that point I was contemplating painting it white or Lullaby Blue in keeping with southern porches. I had bought 3 pails and Lyle had used 1.5 of them, so he suggested applying another coat which he did. It was early evening, around 5pm when he applied. By the next morning when I let out my dogs I discovered that the paper had already fallen. I sent Lyle a text and he said he couldn’t come for another hour. I remember him warning it was important to not let the product dry out, so I removed the final piece that had not fallen and all the product that was still adhered to the boards.

I could still see paint and product in the grooves, so I used the edge of my carbide scrapper to remove it. Where it was still moist it came off easy. Lyle did arrive and I asked to use his paint eater tool I saw him use on the windows. He said he’d do it, I let him, and when he finished I knew I wanted to keep the wood natural. Peel A-Way removed so much that it was worth the extra sweat equity I’d need to perform to get it clean enough to leave unpainted. At that point I told Lyle I would take over this portion of the project. I will take the time and effort to remove all the traces of paint, but so worth it. I need for him to focus on the house he started on June 9.

I didn’t want to buy anymore Peel A-Way as I thought it would be overkill for what paint was left, so I went up to the Clifton Ace Hardware store to see what product they’d recommend. I showed the pics above and the owner was so impressed that she went to Dumond’s website and is going to look into carrying it at her store. Another worker recommended that I use Citristrip. I knew that wasn’t a good option as I used that product when I stripped the doors (sure wish I knew about Peel A-Way then). It would work, but be messy. What I really liked about the Peel A-Way was the ease of clean up. The sheets went in the trash and any paint that did fall to the ground swept up easily. He then recommended Goof Off, which I bought. When I got home I decided to contact Dumond Chemicals, manufacturer of Peel A-Way, made in the USA, directly to see if they had a spray on product that would work. Their website list the names, phone, and emails to people in their corporate office so I emailed my pictures to Customer Support; Dave Martin, Dumond Senior Chemist; Matt Bartolotta, Product Technical Manager; and cc’d the President, Richard Grear.

Customer Suport replied stating to apply more Peel A-Way, but Matt responded back stating that Alan Bensen, National Account Manager, wanted to speak with me directly and he asked for my number. In my initial email I did mention my blog, so Alan actually had reached out to me through that and asked that I call him between 3 and 5 Friday, which I did. What a great conversation. He’s another old house restorer himself and had done a similar project on his own home. He confirmed what Customer Support had responded, but stressed that I only needed to apply it to the areas in question. From the pictures he didn’t think I’d need that much, so he offered to send me their free samples. He shared I’d only need to let it set a couple of hours and I didn’t even need to use the paper sheets that came with the product. I let him know I had bought extra, so had plenty I could use. He then said to use a nylon brush and water to remove the product. He also recommended that I get the Scotch Brite pads for scrubbing. This is what I call great customer service. It ranks right up there with the owner of Thermasol, Mitch Altman, calling personally to assist with my shower.

I’m excited to share the final results, so stay tuned.

I Have Paint and Concern

39 days after he first started working Lyle has applied primer to my house. He still has to finish scrapping a rear dormer and crown of the box gutters in the front (thanks to Fusion Roofing I’ll be handling the back), but he actually put PPG Gripper primer on some of the lower windows and moulding from the dormers he had removed.

Here’s my concern, he has no clue as to where the pieces of moulding he took down go. I remember the day he took most of them down, June 17 at approximately 11:14:16 AM (it’s a beautiful thing how digital photos are time and date stamped). Honestly I was shocked by him doing that. It was not requested or expected, which is why I wrote the Exceeding My Expectations, So Far post. I remember asking about knowing where they went and he said he could match the nail holes and he was going to put the back up the next day.   Well, over the last few days I’ve watched him remove the nails, that could have been his guide and we’re long past the next day.

The pieces stayed leaned against the house until I moved them the night20200706_220102 of July 6th when high winds from a storm knocked his scaffolding system down, which had been up for days and not used. I felt very fortunate that the winds blew them to the left as to the right could have torn my electric line down. It could have broken windows (the new, thicker trim Tom installed is what stopped the one ladder from going any further) and it could have broken the moulding, that is irreplaceable (yes I could by new, but the quality of wood today pales in comparison to what I have now), which is why I finally moved them to the back yard.  This picture shows a few still leaning, but majority were on the ground under the fallen scaffolding.  Since they weren’t marked or labeled, I just stacked them out of harms way.

After days of them being down I did ask about them again and he pointed out to me he still had three to remove and clean (I offered to clean them so he could keep scraping on the 2nd level, he didn’t take the offer), but that he also planned to prime them and maybe paint them before rehanging.  So now we’re at that moment. I will allow the priming, but I will not allow him to paint them before hanging. Rehanging them is not going to be simple and even if he puts each piece in their exact original location there will be obvious gaps and holes created due to being removed that will need to be addressed with caulk or putty before final paint is applied.

I’ve glued four pieces that 20200718_082450had severe cracks, but found another piece with a chunk missing.  It’s clearly an old crack, but the break off is fresh. I have no idea if he kept the piece. The reason my reinstall of the inside moulding went so well is that I labeled pieces by wall, bundled pieces together by area, and I kept every piece that actually broke off; wrapping it with plastic to the piece it broke off of. It was a year after I moved in before I had every piece back in place and I made multiple post showing what it took to achieve the final results.  Pure beauty for a non-professional if I toot my own horn.  I had the luxury of working on the ground, not 20′ in the air on a steeply pitched roof, in record hot temperatures.  

While he was painting the seven pieces of moulding I asked again about hanging and he said three of the dormers are the same (true, but not really-old house nothing is ever exactly the same) and the pieces for the large dormer he kept together in the back. Hmmm, really. I didn’t sleep well that night, this is worrying me. The next morning while my dogs went out I took a closer look at the pieces he painted and I rearranged them by sets of two; left and right side. I believe six of them clearly are the fronts of the three small dormers, but it is also clear by the shortened length of one of them that they are not interchangeable. The 7th piece didn’t make sense so I walked around the house. That 7th is for the large rear dormer, so much for keeping them together. The two pieces for the sides of that dormer are the only two pieces where there is no doubt as to where they belong. One end is a straight cut as it butts up to the piece he didn’t remove and the two sides are different lengths, so you’ll know which is left and right.

He hasn’t scraped the piece he didn’t remove from the right side, but he started scrapping the piece on the left while it was attached. I’m now perplexed as to why he took them down if he could scrape them in place. The only reason I can surmise is he told me he can’t find people that will work on heights, so by taking them down his worker was able to handle the scrapping on the ground. That would have been a major reason why he should have put them back up as he finished scraping them. Instead of removing most at one time he should have removed from one, given to his worker on the ground to scrape while he scraped the surfaces that remained. God I hope he didn’t get the idea to remove from my decision to remove the trim from the lower windows. Two completely different situations with the biggest difference being I was replacing what I removed. That worker should have worked four days (one per dormer) instead of one. His proficiency in prep (hopefully painting too) is tempered by his lack of efficiency.

Drywall déjà vu is creeping in. I want this paint project to end on a high note, but until those pieces are rehung that is in question.

Fusion Roofing + Restoration – Shysters

I have removed the original post regarding the work performed by Fusion Roofing on my box gutters as I can no longer stand by my original assessment of their work. My latest discovery of their improper, short-cut, intentional conceal, workmanship has now reared its head a third time and this latest discovery will probably set me back at least $500 and possibly delay the painting of my house.

The restoration of my box gutters was the first major expense of my restoration. They didn’t exist in most areas. Ricky raccoon and his family had free reign access to my house for shelter. All the quotes came in over $10,000. I paid Fusion over $15,000.

Since this was one of the first projects to take place at my house, very early into my General Contracting role, I had no complaints with their work. You don’t know, what you don’t know and I wasn’t onsite all the time to see everything that was done. The house looked good after they were finished.

The first instance of their inferior work was discovered by a Dan Shepard who was doing some roof work for me in March 2018. He discovered that Fusion had failed to nail down the three rows of shingles they laid while restoring the gutters. The owner, Kevin Helman, found that hard to believe when I called him to report it, but he did come out, investigated, and confirmed Dan’s findings. Dan’s crew member had done some of the repair, but Kevin did finish it. Strike one.

The second instance was discovered November 2019 and I talked about it in the post A Blessing in Disguise. On fluke I discovered a huge gap in the crown moulding. They did a poorly executed mitered corner cut and instead of re-cutting it they filled the huge gap with caulk, which fell out over time. Again they came out and made the repair. Randy, the crew leader was very apologetic for the poor workmanship, which he said must have happened when he wasn’t onsite. I took that in stride and was grateful for the helping hand they gave with the vent caps, which help me get over the final plumbing inspection. Nevertheless, this was Strike Two.

The final strike I discovered last night while trying to replace more of the asbestos tile at the roof line. When I went to scrape the paint away from the tile being replaced about 8″ of the bottom of the crown moulding broke off. The piece was literally held with paint and caulk. The underside of the broken piece was charred wood, that section was part of the fire. With that piece off I noticed a lot of play in the piece, so I began to polk around it with my tool and it went straight through the board. It was rotten. At that point I knew it would need to be replaced so I began looking for the screws to remove it. In the approximate 5′ length, Fusion had only used two screws that actually attached to something and they were both located with 8″ of each other at the end of the board. One 8″ from end the the other at the end to screw the miters together. A third was actually screwed into the original blown-in installation, so basically attached to nothing. Caulk and paint was holding the piece in place.

Lyle Homes is still scraping paint from the second floor dormers (started June 9), but if his crew person that worked on first floor windows had started with the first floor crown, this would have been discovered weeks ago. Since I discovered it my first call was to Tom Milfeld, my go to guy. I wasn’t going to bother calling Fusion and just fix it. I got up this morning and took the piece to Hyde Park lumber who said they didn’t have that profile. I knew Fusion had replaced crown in November, so I called them to find out where they got it from and they said Hyde Park. I have two sections of crown on the house and the repair they did was on upper section. The lower crown is 5 5/8″ wide; the closes they have is 5 1/4″. I will have no choice but to replace the entire rear of my house as a custom milled 5′ section would be triple the cost of the in-stock 48′ I’ll need.

Kevin asked that I send him pictures of the section in question. He said his work did not include the crown attached to the house, which this is. I pointed out that it is also attached to the soffit that they did replace and even if it wasn’t part of their bid (I feel it was) they still deliberately covered over decayed wood vs. giving me an option to allow them to repair it. My original bid from them was $10,875 and it said “Replace any damaged wood as needed at an additional charge per foot, price chart listed above”. One of their references warned me to get everything in writing as they will only do what is listed, so before they started work I had another conversation with Coy Baker, which led to me agreeing to pay another $4,833 for this scope of services: Remove all wood from box gutters, including, fall, fascia, crown, cap, and soffit boards, from entire house; Replace all wood on box gutters including rater tails, fall boards, fascia boards, crown molding, and plywood soffit boards; Properly pitch new gutters to ensure proper flow (I asked for this as someone warned me this could be an issue if not done properly); and All exposed wood will be caulked at the joints and all exposed wood will be primed. This extra money was specifically to address “wood as needed at an additional charge per foot” as Coy said given the condition it was all going to need to be replaced anyway and this additional amount would cover it.

Kevin felt I was being argumentative and hung up on me as I interrupted him while he was onsite at another job. I didn’t force him to answer his phone. Kevin is the owner of the company, but he didn’t do the work. I wanted to speak with Randy, since twice before Randy confirmed the work was done improperly and he fixed it. Based on the hang up I have no confidence anything will be done, so I’ve moved forward with ordering 48′ of new primed crown moulding and I’ve lined up Tom to help me get it installed. Since the new crown will be almost a 1/2″ shorter than the original I know all the asbestos tiles along the top edge of the house will need to be replaced. It was installed after the house was built and butts up against the crown. There will now be an approx 1/2″ gap. That has to be ordered from Home Depot and will take at least a week. Putting it up first, so the crown can sit on top of it is the proper fix. The only positive is, like with all the 1st floor windows, this will be one more area Lyle won’t have to deal with. The crown is already primed, so when Tom and I are done he can just paint.

Of course I fear when I start removing the remainder of the crown that I’m going to uncover even more of Fusion’s poor workmanship. Now that I know what to look for I can see other areas around the house that they filled with caulk to hide a poor cut or seam. I’m almost tempted to dig the caulk out of these areas and fill them with the WoodEpox, since I know that works so well. Every soffit seam is separating now.

Even if I let the seams go, the two ends of the gutters on the rear where I will need to replace the crown is troubling and I fear the soffits themselves will need to be replaced. I truly don’t understand the need to splice in such a small section, which is what they did on the right side of house. They caulked to hide, but as with all the other sections of the house that caulk is failing and splice is exposed. The soffit is just cheap plywood. They could have cut another piece and learned from the mistake. On the left side, they didn’t splice, but filled a huge gap with caulk. It hasn’t failed like the piece did in the front which led to the November repair, but it may give way when I remove the crown. I’ll run it by Tom, but I think the best answer is to just run that crown to the end of the gutter instead of stopping where it is now. That won’t match the front of the house, but hell the crown isn’t going to match either. Fingers crossed Lyle won’t find rot on the front when he starts that prep.

I’m Transitioning

For almost three years I have been charting my journey of restoring my home, a 1924 Cape Cod styled house, located in Camp Washington of Cincinnati, OH. Now I’m going personal; I’m going to share my journey of restoring my natural hair. I’ve made the decision to let my perm grow out. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. My perm was expensive, over $125 every six weeks, so cost savings was one consideration. I was tired of the scalp burns caused by the chemical. I seldom would tell my stylist that the relaxer was burning because I wanted my hair as straight as possible. I want to enjoy my steam shower without thinking about messing up my freshly styled hair.

Me and Mom ToddlerI have never cared for my hair in its natural state. Prior to my perm my mom or relative did my hair or I was getting a press and curl by Ms. Scott in this huge house located in Avondale. Ms. Scott did hair in her basement and I can remember me and my cousin Detra being dropped off and left for hours on Saturdays. I wish my mom were still alive so I could ask her why she agreed to let me get a perm. At 55-years-old, reflecting back on my childhood, I know for me it was a desire to have “white people” hair. Let me share a bit of my childhood.

I grew up in Forest Park, which was a predominantly white community when we moved there. I can remember starting Girl Scouts, as a Brownie, and as the only Black in my first troop having other girls not want to hold my hand. I remember them pulling their sweaters sleeves down to act as a barrier K-3between mine and theirs. I lived in Forest Park, but from K-3 attended Sands Elementary in downtown Cincinnati with my mother where I was in a non-graded classroom with mostly Black kids. I had two wonderful teachers Phyllis Gaston, who was Black, and Jennifer Cottingham, who was white, that I cherish to this day. Mrs. Gaston is deceased and I’d love to find Mrs. Cottingham again and hope she is still living.  For 4th Grade Classfourth grade my parents enrolled me in my neighborhood school, Forest View School. I was placed in the classroom of a white woman, Mrs. Smith who did not like nor want to teach Black children. My parents had me removed from her class mid-year, but I went from loving school to hating it and that pretty much never changed throughout the rest of my time in Forest Park. I most certainly never had another Mrs. Gaston or Mrs. Cottingham.

I didn’t know what “red lining” was as a child, but we lived in the “H” section of Forest Park; apparently the section where it was acceptable for Black families to live. My parents decided to build a house on Inner Circle, a Homearama street. I can remember racial slurs being written on the foundation and sabotage being done to the plumbing by a kid that lived on the street, Eric Price, because his family and others felt Black families should not live on that street. Thankfully countering that ill will was a Jewish family that also lived on the street, the Lukins. They welcomed us with a tray of magic bar cookies. I’m still friends with them today and whenever I make magic bars I use butterscotch morsels instead of nuts because that is how Mrs. Lukin made them. I shared these these experiences of my childhood because, for a lack of a better phrase, they didn’t cause me to not want to be Black or not like myself for being Black. It taught me that there are good white folks and bad. However that changed the summer I went to a horse camp in Zanesville, OH, Mormon Valley Farm Camp.

CornrowsAs with most Black girls that go to camp, my mother had my hair braided in cornrows, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it for the two weeks I’d be there. I think I was the first Black camper they ever had and most of those kids acted like they had never seen a Black kid before.  Some probably hadn’t. At Sands I went to school with a girl named Zenith, so I never got teased for having a unique name like Venus. I think I heard every possible planet joke ever created in that two weeks. My hair and its style became a source of ridicule so severe that I wore a hat at all times; even slept in it. It was a Christian camp, so we prayed at every meal and I wouldn’t remove it then either. I can remember some boy campers telling counselors that I had to take it off during prayer, but my counselor stepped to my defense to say that was a rule for males, not females, so I didn’t have to. It wasn’t all bad (I never went back), but it left scars and created the desire for me to want “white people” hair and not like my name. 

I can’t remember saying to my mom “I want hair like white people”. I’m quite confident she wouldn’t have done it for that reason. I was getting heavy into sports, and press and curls just don’t last long on a hot, sweaty, summer day, so around age 12 and routinely for the last 40+ years I’ve gotten my hair relaxed. Since Covid-19 hit I’ve only curled my hair 2 or 3 times. I have a great stylist that cuts it in a fashion that allows me to wash, mold set it, and wear it flat with my bangs down, without curling, and still look like I have a style especially within the first few weeks of a perm. Like I said in the opening paragraph I’ve been thinking about going natural for awhile. This country’s latest civil unrest brought about by the murder of George Floyd started me reflecting on growing up Black in this country and remembering my reasoning for wanting a perm. My natural hair most certainly isn’t the problem, so May 1 was the last time my head has seen relaxer and the journey to transition has begun.

I know it’s going to be a difficult journey. I read that human hair grows approximately 1/2″ every month, so the vision I have for how I want to wear my hair is at least 9-12 months away and I don’t even know if I have the type of hair that will allow that vision to transpire. I know I have Type 4 hair, but a, b, or c is the million dollar question. At my last hair appointment, when I announced I was going natural, 4 weeks ago, my stylist trimmed up the back, so my hair at my neck line is natural. I know at some point the relaxed, straight hair on top of my head will have to be cut off as it will be weaker than my natural hair and start to break. At that point bangs won’t be an option, so I’ve started washing my hair and combing it back just to get use to not having hair on my face.

I’m also making an effort to always wear earrings and I plan to get some bigger, light weight, hoops. I get mistaken for a man, a lot already, so I know the early stages of the transition is going to open the flood gates to me routinely hearing….Can I help you sir. I don’t plan to wear my natural hair short, but it’s my only option in the beginning. I shared this news with my father who quickly quipped, so you want to wear your hair like a boy. NO, but it’s going to be part of the journey and I don’t consider women with natural hair cut short with trying to be a boy. I grew my permed hair out for the first term of the Obama Presidency. Michelle was such an inspiration, but for their second term I quickly cut it short again as I don’t have her style team or income and long hair I found harder to maintain. I’ve worn my hair short for decades, so who knows, but if you call me a boy expect to be cursed out.

My goal is to commit to this process for at least one full year without caving in, so April 30, 2021 will be the evaluation day. Proper hair care products I know will be the key, so I have started this journey with Pattern Beauty, @PATTERNBEAUTY, the new Black Care hair line by Tracee Ellis Ross. For years I’ve been using another Black hair care line, Dudley Hair Care Products (my stylist is a Dudley Salon), but I stumbled across the Pattern line of products searching the Internet for articles about transitioning to natural hair. One of her blog post was a Hair Story Spotlight by Adriane Jamison. It provided great tips, so I decided to invest in her hydration shampoo, Intensive Conditioner (which I love applying while taking a steam shower), leave-in condition (I wet/rinse my hair about every other day to keep that look you see above and I apply the leave-in each time), and jojoba oil hair serum, which I also apply every time I wet it. I also got her wide tooth comb. As soon as I get some decent length, I want to try her shower brush too. The video she created for that is a riot.

It’s amazing to me how many of my friends and family are already wearing their hair natural. I was at a friend’s house for the 4th and at least 5 of the ladies there were natural and they gave me great advice also, the biggest of which is not to be a product whore. Although not a brand, they recommended the same type products that I already bought, so this first year I’m going to commit to Pattern Beauty. My followers know I tend to “drink the coolaid”. HGTV can do no wrong, Chip and Joanna Gaines can do no wrong, well Tracee Ellis Ross and her first released single, Love Myself, from her movie the High Note, has become my personal anthem. The song is my phone’s ringtone and I tend to deliberately not answer calls until I hear these lyrics: I don’t really care if everybody likes me, I just want to love myself, love myself.

In two weeks I have my next hair appointment. So far I’m seeing no breakage with my Pattern Beauty product usage, but I think I’m going to cut off the permed hair anyway. I feel like I’m wasting good product on my relaxed strands. Stay tuned.

Window Sill and Frame Restoration

20200622_201043My prized stained glass window, exterior frame, was in rough shape.  While removing the paint I discovered two areas where large chunks of the frame had been filled with something that looked like plaster and it was not done well.  They were already loose, so I decided to remove them and search for a better product to use.  I was already familiar with wood epoxy, I used it to restore the inside frame, but I wasn’t sure if the product I used could be used outdoor.  I turned to Google and stumbled across several YouTube videos that talked about Abatron’s LiquidWood and WoodEpox.  I decided this was the product I wanted to use and with luck the Clifton Ace Hardware store carried the kit.  After watching Abatron’s video several times, I decided this was the product to use to also restore the window sills.

Since I wanted to finish installing the new plinths, I started with those sills first. As per the video I prepped the wood making sure all paint was removed and I used my vacuum cleaner to remove all dust and in the case of the bathroom window, suck out all the paint chips that had fallen in the huge cracks. I mixed equal parts of the LiquidWood parts A and B and applied it to the wood with a cheap bristle paint brush. The video suggest drilling 1/8″ holes in the wood to allow the product to seep deeper. I did this on the bedroom window sill since it was not as cracked as the bathroom window. That window sill felt brittle/frail to the touch. As you can see from the pics below the sill darkened after applying the LiquidWood.

The video states you should apply the WoodEpox while the LiquidWood is still tacky, so after about 30 minutes I began mixing equal parts of WoodEpox A and B. The video suggests you can add LiquidWood to the WoodEpox to thin it out, if desired. I did not do this on my first use, but did for the remainder of the project as I felt the frosting like consistency was easier to apply with my putty knife.

I let it dry a couple of days (I had things to do), but before installing the plinths I sanded them until smooth. First with 60 grit, then 120. They felt and looked stronger. This was definitely the right decision and right product, so I turned to the stained glass window next. It turned out awesome.

The original kit I bought contained 12 oz LiquidWood and 12 oz WoodEpox. I got the plinth sills and the stain glass done with that kit. I ended up purchasing two additional, pint sizes (pint each of A and B, total four pints) of LiquidWood and one pint size of the WoodEpox to complete all the window sills and some minor repair on the rear portico. The process did not change, but I would suggest not working in extreme heat or direct sunlight. I repaired the dormer window sills from inside the house and was holding the cup of WoodEpox outside in direct sun. The product sets faster in heat, so I ended up wasting most of that batch as it hardened before I could spread it. With that lesson I also started mixing smaller batches as it only got hotter as this project went on.

On a few of the windows the filler used to fill the notches that probably once held shutters were missing. The Abatron product is expensive and I didn’t want to buy any more WoodEpox, so to fill those areas I used a product called ScupltWood that I’ve had for months. I can’t even remember why I bought it, but it is also a two part epoxy putty like WoodEpox. I did apply LiquidWood to the area first in some instances, not all. The outcome was the same in both cases; that product worked great too.

The windows and doors are now ready for paint. I’m ready to see paint. We are now heading into week five since Lyle’s Homes started (June 9) and he’s still scraping paint from the second floor. I can only hope that once he does start with paint that it goes twice as fast as prep because at this rate a Labor Day Drive By Open House is questionable. He’s still exceeding my expectations, but clearly his three week projection was misguided and it all can’t be blamed on the weather.