Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Partinization of my window.

The renter who lived here in 2001 when we bought this place had the surname of "Partin". His first name is grafittied (is that a word?) all over our walls since he managed to live in every single one of the apartments this place was divided into, destroying each one as he migrated down to the first floor making the unit uninhabitable as he moved along. His sister rented the adjacent unit. Mr. Partin was a drug addict. I believe crack was his drug of choice.

Anyway, Mr. Partin often did work on the house in lieu of rent. Now there are two types of work done on this place. The first is the kind of work done to make do. This would involve such things as duct taping a thingymajig to a whatchamacallit. No thought goes into aesthetics, the job is done to solve a problem using the most readily available tools or products to complete the job. We call this type of job a Weils job. This was the surname of the property owner from 1954 to 1988. He is the guy that turned this place into apartments. He left drywall tape showing on seams. Cut holes in the middle of floors to put in electrical boxes. Ran plumbing up the sides of fireplaces. Well, you get the idea, it's a half-ass job with the wrong materials or just a half-ass job.

Then there is the other type of job. This involves some forethought and a tiny bit of skill. This is when you use the correct materials the wrong way. Mr. Partin was a graduate of this school. He had been the one to add a 4th layer of shingle to a part of the roof but placed the nails too high on the tab allowing much of the shingle to blow off over time. He used screws where finishing nails would have been adequate. He repaired broken windows with plexiglass and then used used caulk to seal it in. He used poison bait traps inside the house to kill the mice causing their carcasses to rot inside the walls and floors thus stinking up the house.

I put in the last exterior storm window this week while the weather held out. Before I could do this I had to strip the paint from the frame and remove the sash windows so they can be stripped and re-glazed. It is always bad enough when the top sash is painted shut. You have to strip the paint around the seam to break the seal and wiggle the window in the hope that it will move down so that you can pull out the blind stop that keeps it in its groove. Well, this window was not only painted shut, it was caulked on the inside to seal draughts out. Mr. Partin used silicon caulk to do the job too! Needless to say this added an hour or two to the time it took to strip the window and free it from being stuck.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away I say "Thank you Mr. Partin for making me more resolute every day I happen to work on this place." It is because of you that I have learned that there is a wrong way and a really wrong way to use many home repair products. I am still amazed to this day that there were in fact fuses in the third floor fuse box. I certainly expected a person with your ingenuity and Pennsyltuckian heritage to have replaced at least one of them with a quarter!


Ms. P in Jackson said...

Mr. Weils sounds like a half-assed asshole alright. He must have dropped out of the same school that Mr. Kelley (PO who slaughtered my house) dropped out of.

What's amazing is that the crack-head did a better job than Weils!

Scott in Washington said...

Being a crack (or meth) head does have its pluses - nothing like a good tweak to give you the confidence to start a new home renno project (or twelve).

P.j. said...

We can identify with your frustration concerning "repairs/improvements" to old houses. My daughter & I created words to describe previous owners' handiwork: Dewalterization--removing Walter's efforts to improve the house during the 70's: bad repairs to plaster, silicone used to caulk windows/doors shut, AND--the Blue Ribbon for "Craziest Use of Home Improvement Supplies"--foamcore sheathing attached over plaster & ancient wallpaper with long screws, installed with the hope of making the house more energy efficient. (Removal required several trips to dispose of the large sheets, stripping layers of ancient wallpaper, scrubbing walls to remove mold/mildew, & patching holes in otherwise beautiful plaster.)

Delavernation (sounds like a swear word, eh? :-): Deforestation of nearly 100 trees, shrubs, & assorted vegetation, planted on 2 acres from 1980-2008, in an effort to completely hide the house from passersby. Also refers to removing layers of window treatments added to
1. obscure any light emitted from interior sources (so the house couldn't be seen at night = nobody would break in, rob & kill her) AND
2. somewhat insulate windows from drafts. Layers included: roller shades, then sheers, covered with 2layers of curtains/draperies (pinned shut to block every ray of light), & finally topped with heavy valances.

Rather than going with "quick fixes", we want to do any work the right way. It will take more time & $$, but should pay off with fewer repairs needed in the future. We want to make sure the house is structurally sound, plus keep it as close to historically accurate as possible, sparing future owners the expense & time required to redo anything more than necessary to ensure it hold up for another 160 yrs. Who knows--the next owners could be OUR kids!