Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lead paint and attic and mortgage drama - oh my!

     We closed on our house July 18th, but just this week we were told that the bank's investor will not buy our mortgage until a lead paint issue is resolved. This is the same lead paint issue that almost prevented us from closing, but, for whatever reason, the mortgage company let us go ahead with closing... From our experience and for a number of reasons, we do not recommend Mortgage America to anyone. Also, our contractor cannot be paid for his work (which is almost complete) until our mortgage is bought. Remember, we have a 203(k) rehabilitation loan, so this contracted work is added to the amount of our loan, and it is not our responsibility to pay the contractor directly.

     Fortunately, we will be able to take care of the lead paint ourselves, and it's not a huge area. The inspector noted some flaking paint on the concrete block foundation. We just have to scrape off all flaking paint, clean the area with a special degreasing agent, then repaint it. Steven did about eight lead check tests around the house, and they were all negative; however, there is still a chance that some lead-based paint could have been used previously and may flake off with the green paint that is now covering the foundation.

Steven wearing a respirator while vacuuming up the flaking paint.
     Now that the AC is installed upstairs and the electrical work is complete, the final part of our contracted work can happen: insulate the attic. There is no insulation in the house at all, so we are hoping this attic insulation will make a big improvement in energy efficiency. Steven wanted to make sure the attic was free of any debris (or cool stuff) before the insulation was blown in, so we went up to take a look.

 Here we are, all set to go up in the attic. Steven did a great job with my bangs... I'm sure Norm Abram would be proud of both of us for remembering the most important safety rule. And no, his rule is not "look like a big goober," that was just an added bonus, haha!
We were hoping to find some neat stuff from the previous owners, but the only thing we found up there was a squirrel's nest... We know that the lady who sold us the house bought it about four years ago from the Sellers family, who bought it directly from Merrimack Mill when it sold the homes to its employees in the 1940s. Pretty amazing that our home has only changed hands a couple of times since then.

 One of our two chimneys as seen in the attic (left). For some reason, these chimneys end here and do not protrude through the roof, so the original fireplaces are not currently usable. Both of these chimneys have been covered with drywall in the rooms of the house, but we are hoping to uncover them and show off the brickwork as much as possible.

We wanted to check out the state of things (as far as walls) upstairs, so Steven started a little demo (below). You can see the chimney behind the lath and plaster. The upstairs currently consists of four bedrooms (two generously sized) and a tiny half bath. We plan to completely redo the layout to have three bedrooms, a study, and one or two full baths. Any suggestions on how to go about this?


  1. hey guys! are y'all totally set on two baths upstairs? with two baths being downstairs already, and one upstairs, that seems more than enough. plus, you know how i feel about jack and jills! :)

    not to bash baths more, but you need to keep in mind how the pipes will be coming through to the first floor. like, in our dining room we have a square patch of ceiling that has to hang lower than the rest. we plan on dropping in tin ceilings so that will help address that issue, but in these old houses there's not much space between the floors, so upstairs plumbing becomes a bit intrusive.

    i also tend to have nightmares (esp in winter) about the upstairs pipes bursting and having to redo all of the dining room and kitchen all over again. i would take that bathroom out if it weren't already there :)

    longest comment ever? i love the blog!!

  2. Hey Ashley! Thanks so much for the feedback. I wouldn't say we're totally set on anything at this point, haha! Steven also thought that having two baths upstairs would be a bit much. After more consideration, I can't imagine us having so many guests or future kids (yikes!) that we would really need two baths up there anyway. I'm glad you brought that up about space being tight between the floors.

    Did you guys just put drywall over your lath and plaster, or did you remove the lath and plaster first? I know that some of it will have to come down since we plan to reposition walls, but I hate to get rid of it all since it's original to the house.

  3. Sorry I'm just now seeing this post! (Things have been hectic.) Kudos to you both! I could not do what you're doing ... nor look as cute in that mask as you do! Hope everything with the mortgage gets squared away quickly. Love you both! Happy blogging!