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Moving into the 1795 cape (maybe 1830?)

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby wletson on Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:02 am

jharkin wrote:Short term (this year)
-cleaning up and re-running all the phone/cable wiring in the house and adding ethernet. I am putting in a central network panel in the basement.
- Electrical needs updating to 200amp. 100amp breaker panel is overloaded (project for the electrician this summer)
- 1 beam and a couple of floor joists in the basement have powder post beetle damage and need reinforcement (this summer)
- second floor window sills need some patching and repainting (water rot)

Longer term
- More first floor joists probably need reinforcing
- A few more rooms need repainting
- Building a closet for the MBR (The shallow built in you see next to the fireplace has dead space behind it where an old closet in the adjoining room was boxed in, we can break into that to make a real closet)
- The big one: Try to find some way to add a second bathroom (1 wont be enough when kids come along)
- Concrete slab in garage needs major repair (caved in in one corner)
- Thinking about options to add a patio
- Fencing around the yard is rotting out and needs to be replaced


That's more like it! :D
Image1883 Schoolhouse, rural Ontario, Canada
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby lavender_bush on Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:08 pm

jharkin wrote:Civil War-
Definitely agree with you about the town, it was at the top of our list when house hunting. We just love the classic old New England feel of the town center...

For the others who haven't been here - if you like early American homes this town is just perfect. Washington Street (main road through town) is lined with homes ranging from 1700 to 1900. We were going to look at a couple even older but decided they were too much work.


I missed that you were in Holliston, we drive through the town frequently (I'm waiting for the new crepes cafe to open - it looks rather nice) We're in Franklin. Hi neighbor!
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby Don M on Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:06 pm

Nice saltbox, good work too. We use to live in Groton, MA in a converted cider mill. FIL lives in a 3/4 Bow house across the road, SIL has a nice saltbox she spent a fortune on saving near Pepperell, MA. Good luck with your projects, your house looks well maintained. Don
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby jharkin on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:38 pm

So after the first week of unpacking we are starting to get settled in. Painting in the family room and master BR is done except for the front hall doors.

Now I'm working on setting up my basement workshop and while I was at it my Dad came over for a couple days to help me rerun all the phone and cable wiring in the house. We tore out the rats nest of old wiring and I setup a central networking panel down in the basement with home runs to a single wall plate in each room for phone/cable/Ethernet. Very nice setup and a lot neater without holes in the floor and exposed wiring everywhere.

Image

There will be more to come.... the longer Im here the more things I find need fixing ;)
Last edited by jharkin on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby Don M on Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:12 pm

Looking good! It probably doesn't take much looking to find new things to fix! Don
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby jharkin on Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:17 am

Don M wrote:Looking good! It probably doesn't take much looking to find new things to fix! Don


Dont I know it. So far the electrical is the biggest issue, and the first thing I will need to get a pro in for. I knew buying the house that we needed a service panel upgrade (many double tapped breaks on a full 100amp panel) - but now Im finding there are more problems. First off many rooms have all outlets, lights, etc on the same circuit... kitchen is a big offender - usual old problem, toaster on and the lights dim.

But I found some things more worrisome. The inspector checked a bunch of outlets, all showed proper polarity and grounding - but of course the one (so far ) bad one is one we didn't check. Found it in the bedroom on a spot that was behind furniture at inspection time. Its an old 3 prong but it so loose I decided to replace the outlet - couldn't even get a good test. Pull it out and what do I find? Its wired with 12/2 grounded NM but some idiot cut off the ground wires. And even worse its at the start of an outlet chain but the other outlets show grounded... so I'm starting to think bootleg ground somewhere. Even worse when I pulled in the cable and reconnected the grounds then the tested showed an open ground and the no touch AC sensor shows voltage on the ground - but breaker didn't trip!!

So for now I disconnected it but it needs looking at asap. Something isn't right....

wonderful :(
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby jharkin on Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:23 am

Well, things are settling down here. We are both back to work after the move so the pace of work slowed down, but we continue to tackling small projects.

First up, in honor of the 4th, was to get the house a proper flag
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I also got a couple more interior doors refinished, and got a temporary plastic vapor barrier down on the dirt floor in the crawlspace under the addition to start improving the basement dampness situation.

While I've been working on things inside, Catherine has been working on the gardens out back . The PO's had a huge flower/herb garden in the back yard that got quite overgrown lately. She has been thinning it out and eventually we are going to divide it into beds with field stone borders and paths colonial style.

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Last edited by jharkin on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby Don M on Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:30 am

Beautiful! Don
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby jharkin on Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:41 am

Also, for the 4th we decided to do something house related and went to Old Sturbridge for the day. For those not from MA, its a living history recreation of a New England village circa 1830. Whats really interesting is that all the buildings are originals, some from that site, many others moved from other New England towns and restored on site. We took TONS of photos and got a lot of ideas about what do do with color and hardware, etc for the interior.

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Of course our very first realization was that the colors we picked for the first two rooms we painted probably are not 100% authentic for 1795... but we decided its close enough ;)

We found that the living room and upstairs is actually done quite authentic by the PO's (we will keep as is) except for the doors. Some of the original doors left downstairs had the old cast iron latches removed and replaced with brass/porcelain doorknobs probably a hundred years ago. Other original doors were taken out completely and replaced with modern prefab stained interior doors. Luckily they left all the old doors in the garage !! so we are going to put them back, painted to match the trim (as they would have been - no stain back then right?) and replace the knobs with more authentic iron latches.
Last edited by jharkin on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Moving into the 1795 cape

Postby jharkin on Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:55 am

I've also been reading a TON (books, here, OHJ, etc) and have figured out some more about the history of the house. Im starting to get some ideas of when things were done.

The main part of the house has a full basement of mortared fieldstone (most 2-4ft across) topped with granite slabs on grade. All the posts and beams are hand-hewn. The floor joists are sawn and the floors are wide heart pine - in some rooms 16in +. The first floor has subfloor (some of those boards are almost 2 ft wide!) but the upstairs is only a single layer.

Now the addition on the back is different. Its built on a dirt floor crawlspace of much smaller mortared fieldstones. The frame is still post and beam but its all sawn. And the floors are narrow (~4") boards. So I am assuming that it was built sometime after 1800, but probably before 1850 when balloon framing was popular, right?

In this photo from last fall you can see the main house, the post -1800 addition on the back near the garage (the non-original windows are in the kitchen area from an 80s remodel).

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After talking to folks at Sturbridge, we realized the upstairs would have been an unfinished attic originally. This is confirmed by the single layer and rougher condition of the floor and lack of upstairs fireplaces. The interior was finished at some point with sheetrock ceilings put in and I found insulation behind the walls labeled "Kimsul" which dates that renovation to about 1950.

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Last edited by jharkin on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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