How to Have a House

Living with and understanding a home.


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You don’t see these things coming.

Customers grow on me. I can’t help it, it’s like making friends with someone you never imagined you’d be friends with. It just happens. You work in someones house for days or weeks at a time, and chances are conversation more than pertaining to the job will break out. I don’t think this goes on with all craftsmen, some guys are just pretty quiet. Most of my customers make an effort to get to know me. And I’m not so quiet.

I’ve worked for a couple for about 6 years now. Usually every winter they hire me to do a room in the house. The jobs are usually fairly involved, they like hand built cabinets and wood ceilings. The wife always got the job started and the husband supervised after that. He loved having things done just about perfectly and was great to work for. The husband would always visit the house during the lunch hour. He did this, preferring to not be visited by supervisors, who turned his lunch back into work, so he came back to the house. He always walked into the room I’m working on to let me know he’s in the house. He’d stand around and ask about the materials, then he’d tell me the chemical compound and organic construction of said material. He was a scientist. He’d hang around and ask a million questions about the work I’m doing, then subtly tell me his dad was an 82 year old master carpenter, who will check out my work the next time he’s in town. Nothing like a little pressure to get things just right. The guy coming home for lunch made my day. His visits broke up the long day of no one else in the room, except the cat who comes and goes. In it’s previous life the cat was a lab cat, which means by osmosis, even the cat was smarter than me. I paid it extra attention and if it acted out and clawed my arm to smithereens, I’d chalk it up to the lab life it had. The guy coming home for lunch taught me about chemistry, lab politics, film photography, industrial organic coatings, protective jump suits in desert conditions and threw in some audio amplifier stories just to keep things cool. I learned to like this guy, and honestly I know he liked me.

As the years went on I would go to the house to see our next job together. When I arrived, and went in, the lunch hour guy started calling the cat into the entry to announce that “uncle Jonas” is here. What can I say, now I’m family, at least for the cat. I’ve done some of my best work in that house. I’ve admired the couple who live in a full three stories with no kids, just a cat. When the house turned 100 they threw a birthday party for the house. Everyone dressed in period clothing. The house was quietly flattered. At the party I wasn’t just the guy who did the bathroom, I was Jonas. The couple was complimentary of my work and practically insisted their friends hire me. And of course, I was introduced as uncle to the cat.

Early this spring I called the lunch hour guy to swing by and touch up some caulk in a bathroom. We talked briefly and he asked me to call him back. We texted a couple days later and he said he’d have to get back with me, that he was up against some health challenges. I’ve kept that text for months now, because the lunch hour guy died a couple days later.

It’s not the first customer funeral I’ve gone to, but this one felt kind of close. I’m sad for the widow left behind who is a strong, intelligent, professional woman. A woman who up to this point had rarely, tearfully admitted, “I don’t know what to do”. I’m sad for a neighborhood that knew this guy for the quiet, smiling guy he was. I’m sad for the house with so many hours of improvements that were all carefully discussed and supervised, during the lunch hours.

I’m sad for the cat, sitting in a window, watching carefully, for the lunch hour guy to come home.

I’m sad for me, because uncles have feelings too. 

 

 

 

 

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It’s wet around here.

We’ve had a lot of rain around here lately. Sounds like we may have even had some records broken for the month of May. It seems like the drought we’ve been watch should be over, but it takes years to soak in and fill underground aquifers. Looks like all the flash flooding is mostly a big hassle. To add to the frustration, since we have been in drought conditions, there’s a lot of shrinking and cracking in the soil around the foundations. Of course when we get a big, heavy rain the water runs right down the gaps and cracks on the exterior of the foundation. This is when water comes in stone foundation walls, and sometimes floods poured concrete basements too.

Go ahead and panic. But just long enough to pick up the perishables from the floor of the basement. Once that is done, keep a cool head. If water is simply running across the floor into the drain, mop or wet vac the water and get one or two oscillating fans running and leave them running 24 hrs a day. Add a de-humidifier specified to the square footage of the basement. Set it up so it has a drain hose attached, set the machine to come on and run at around 50% humidity. In other words, set the fans and dehumidifier to run automatically, pretty much year round. In stone wall basements move all the storage three feet out from the foundation walls. This is opposite of what most people do, but when personal belongings are moved out from the walls, the belongings start to dry out better, and the walls sweat less because the fans keep air moving past. When a basement is set up and kept dry and fresh it will smell better and the stored items will be in better shape when brought back out.

The first thing to confirm when water comes in the basement is the proper function of the gutters, downspouts and splash blocks or downspout drains. Make sure the water is getting away from the house through the gutter system. Then make sure the house has good negative slope all the way around the foundation, even under the deck or open porches. The function of good negative slope is again to move water away from the house. If your house has a gap along the foundation wall from the effects of drought, fill the gap and tamp the soil in. This will deflect water. Concrete flat work poured up against the foundation will benefit from a mortar or flexible treatment to keep water from running in any gaps.

Once you’ve taken these measures, the only place water will come in the basement is up through a cracked slab, which is common in antique houses, or under the footing and into the basement. At this point a sump system may be needed.

Take your time. Start on the outside of the house first. Lots of basement water problems are solved in the gardens outside. Don’t tear your basement to pieces until absolutely necessary. Keep the fans and dehumidifier going and you’ll have a fresh basement.

 

 

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Moving walls.

I need to be fair about something.  Sometimes I get pretty ticked off about things.  I see something I don’t agree with and I get cranked up.  I guess I could be relaxed and just not worry about things, but I’m not like that.  I’d rather jump up and doing something. Almost anything.  Just feeling like I’m getting it out of my system is good.  I think a lot of people are this way.  Stand up comedians are the epitome of this.  They basically get to laughingly get it all off their chest.  Three nights a week, free drinks.  What a job.
     In the last several years I’ve watch home improvement shows gut first floors of homes and install the “new open floor plan concept”.  You’ve seen this. They go into a home, sell an upgrade or home renovation and remove most of the walls on the first floor.  They install beams to carry loads, blend all the ceilings into one big plane and floor the place front door to back smooth and uninterrupted.  I get this.  The simplicity of one big room is why a lot of people live in lofts.  The ease of movement in an open floor plan is unquestionable and quite freeing.  Only one TV is needed. It can be seen from virtually the whole floor, it’s 70″ across and over the fireplace if there is one.  When company walks in the front door they can see all the way to the back yard.  I think they could simplify things and just say “open floor”.  It’s not really new, warehouses have done it for centuries, there not much of a plan, the bathroom is always enclosed, other than that, it’s open.
     So buy a loft.  Get a ranch.  Move into an open mid century modern.  But think about keeping that antique house original. Welcoming others into an entryway means you have the luxury of privacy from the rest of the floor.  The cold winter air slows down and settles in a little while the other rooms are kept away and warm.  Guests move into the dining room to have dinner anticipating the room’s decoration, the seasonal ambiance and reminded this is a place where food will be.  Living rooms with no TV are general use areas ranging from quiet chats to board games on a coffee table and uncle so and so asleep on the window seat.  There’s almost always another room on the first floor where the kids, tv and dogs are tearing things up.  And of course there’s the kitchen, often considered cramped by today’s standards.  This is where too many people always pile in. Usually after dinner.  Shy people love small kitchens, they gather there.  Like fragile birds, happy to have a safe place to snack and share drinks.  There are inside corners all over the first floor.  Because there are walls.  Big pocket doors separate areas.  These doors are historic crafted slabs of wood, glass and metal.  Cast iron radiators quietly warm the house during cold weather.  With the right furniture a half dozen conversations can be going on, somewhat privately.
     I worry about all the old trim being pulled out and possibly sent to the land fill.  Same for the radiators.  The doors and lock sets might be saved in the basement.  The little windows inside entryway closets get forgotten and walled over. The wood floors, almost a hundred years old by now are hauled out, sometimes re-used, but none-the-less gone and forgotten.  I loose sleep thinking about the second floor and it’s new beam and load transfer.  I hope the old place doesn’t settle hard, or loose it’s integrity if the engineering isn’t just right.  I know, in 200 years most of these houses may not even be here.  That’s fine, I’m happy to worry about them right now.
      I settled when the laws of statistics clicked in my head.  Lucky for me, only a small percentage of the these homes are being shelled out.  When it gets right down to it, not that many antique houses are being heavily modified.  I can sleep at night knowing the trend could come and go pretty quickly.  I’m glad.  I like how antique houses are laid out.  Once I got it into my head, that almost all my customers would never dream of gutting the first floor of their antique house, I relaxed.  In fact one of my customers has been talking about moving from her amazing two and a half story antique home to a loft.  She’s already said she wants me to do the bulk of the work.  I can’t wait.  I’m hoping we’ll be building a new open floor plan concept.
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Know your Spring Animals, They could be moved in already.

It’s becoming spring around here.  We had a dry winter, hardly any snow at all.  It got pretty cold but not long enough to be too bad.  Now we’re ready for some spring rains. In our area, a lot of vegetable gardens have some cold weather plants coming up. I’ve seen another  sign of spring show up in some media posts and in a visit to a couples home last week.  Animals.  We haven’t seen these guys all winter, not because they weren’t just outside, digging, climbing and flying, but mostly because we’ve been inside, staying warm. During the winter some animals have moved into attics, eaves and porches.  Some of these families are already having babies.
Just about any kind of critter moving into the spaces of a building is going to create a mess.  Animals (including birds) carry in grass, trash, mud, dead bugs, live bugs, sticks and other nest building materials.  While they are in the space they glue, pack and secure their nest into the space they choose, sometimes dislodging trim or hardware.  Once the animals are evicted they leave behind a used nest area that is packed with the shards of rearing offspring, feces and sometimes carcasses. All well and good in the wild, but in the attic and eaves, not funny. Chewing and pecking animals will tear up woodwork.  They manage to chew and peck holes in shapes that are inconvenient and hard to repair.
Evicting the animals is important.  Then, to be fair, the house needs to be repaired so another animal family doesn’t move right back in.  If it’s all adult animals or birds, this chore is sometimes no more complicated than putting on a respirator and removing the nesting material. Close the access, have that repaired and move along.  If the animal is to much, like say raccoons or big rodents, animal capture companies take good care of these processes. Some animals like mice and rodents are killed as a matter of process.  Other animals like squirrels, raccoons, and birds are frequently captured and re-located.  Again, when it’s just adult animals this is a little less dramatic.  Moving a next of baby animals is stressful to the animals, even when it is done humanely. Some babies do not move successfully and die.
I’m torn by this of course. Ultimately I know the house has to be taken care of, but I”m kind of an animal guy.  Luckily there are humane critter movers now.  Call me a tree hugger but I’m glad.  I’ve got a customer that live traps ground squirrels and drowns them. Simple as that. Cheap and easy.  She’s got a sparkling garden and keeps the place in perfect shape.  For the rest of us, we’d like a little assurance the family we’re about to evict will have a fighting chance to move on intact.  It keeps our conscience clear and encourages the work to be done sooner than later.
Take action with vagrant critters.  First sign of someone moving in, get them out.  Call a professional for the high places or any other part of the job you’re not comfortable with.  Keep the exterior features of your home tight and closed.   Every spring, every year, it’s amazing what goes on around houses.
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It’s just a house trap right?

We had our waste drain video taped recently. I had recommended it to customers a lot of times, and always dreaded having the one on our house videoed, only to learn of some enormous repair I’d have to do. You know, procrastination is just French for scared.
So we find out we have 127′ of clay tile drain from just outside the front door to the street. We have a slab house, so our “house trap” was in the front courtyard, underground. This is basically a trap just like the one under the kitchen sink, except 4″ in diameter and buried under the bird bath. House traps are common in my customer’s antique houses, but our house was built in 1952 and a little young for a house trap. I guess that makes me the lucky one. I hire plumbers often enough. We had a tankless water heater put in last winter, I wouldn’t do that myself. But the house trap, less than 20′ feet from my own fridge, this is where I will work on my own plumbing. Replacing a house trap with a clean out in the front yard is a simple shovel job. Right? The man who videoed the drain put flags in the yard indicating the drain’s path and depth. This was helpful, and showed a couple things we had not expected. The only issue of concern in the clay drain from the house to the street was the amount of roots that had grown, through the joints, into the drain. These needed to be ground out by a drain cleaning company. The 2″ drain going under the house toward the kitchen and laundry was so plugged the camera would not push through. The two bathrooms were just feet from the main line, and fine. I was advised to have the house trap removed and a double clean out installed before the drains were cleaned. And the drains had to be cleaned, our laundry was backing up.
I started the house trap by announcing the apparent ease of the project based on my observation. I’d get this done in a jiffy. It looked like a big, but simple job. I’d have this done in time for an afternoon nap. Digging the house trap out was a bear. It was about 12″ below the ground level and continued straight down from there. More of the clay tile drain had to be cut off and repaired on the street side than I expected. The cast iron elbow going to the drain in the bathroom had to be replaced, and the 2″ cast iron going to the kitchen had to be tied back onto. I didn’t expect that either. I ended up with a hole about 6′ long, 20″ wide and about 30″ deep, depending where I was standing.
The job took about 9 hours. Give or take and hour or so for the visitors coming and going in our front door. They’ed never interrupt a hired plumber, but I was fair game. My friends chatted, had snacks and drank cold coffee from my fridge. All the while I chipped and hacked away at the job. At one point I sat on the front porch and had my lunch with a friend. That guy actually hung out and helped for some time. He’s done a lot of house work and knew what I was up to. I worked my can off.
The next week the drain cleaning company came out. He ran his snake a measured 128′ feet to the street. Six times and back. Then he worked the laundry drain from behind the washer and dryer. It was so plugged I finally got my power washer out. Using a special attachment for the power wash I have, we both worked the drain until it ran clear. I settled up with the plumber, dirty as can be again from drain work. The next morning I ran the power washer cleaner down the laundry and kitchen sink drains from the opposite direction. Sounds like a nerd thing to do, but I think it counted. This house is 62 years old. Maybe not quite an antique, but aged and challenging. Plus, maybe a little sweat up front will save me from ultimately ever having to do plumbing work under my slab house.
I didn’t want to do that drain work. I dreaded the ditch and all the digging. I sure didn’t expect to be helping the drain cleaning guy with my own tools. But that’s how it happens. It’s knowing extra attention to detail and good work add up to more that just sweat equity in the bank, it includes an extended level of ownership. Like most other things I procrastinate about, this wasn’t as bad as it could have been and I’m glad to have it done.


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No need to panic, it’s just winter.

We had quite a cold front blow in this week.  It was 76 degrees one day and 28 the next.  That’s a pretty quick cool down for a whole region.  I’d like to say everyone was caught off guard, but not really, it’s been getting cold, every fall around here, for, probably hundreds of thousands of years.  Admittedly, it got cold early, but in the grand scheme of a hemisphere, what’s a few weeks.  What a lot of people around here did get caught with was, their garden hose still screwed to the spigot, maybe an electric power washer was out too. A lot of tomatoes and melons are on the vine. Decorative water features, tropical house plants on the patios and potted annuals all felt the sting of sudden freeze.  Not deep and hard, but biting and first of the season.

This is why I love seasons.  Living in one house or at least in one city for decades at a time,  instills a sense of perceived predictability, in an environment of potential chaos.  It has snowed here on Halloween. Heavily. And boy did that thin out some tree limbs.  Like ants, one simple swipe of the finger across that invisible line of pheromones and we’re scrambling like crazy.  Trees down, too much snow, ice on the roads that cant’ be conquered by the best of anti-lock brakes, it makes us nuts.  A lot of other animals living in the region watch with wonder. Bears sleep through it. Some birds desert the area and fly south way before things even think about getting weird. Other birds feed hard when the sun is out, and hunker down when it’s blowing. Squirrels never stop digging and eating, year round rodents, dressed in a cute fur outfit.  No schedule, no bosses at work.  Year after year.  Season, following season, like casual visitors, arriving on their own relaxed schedules, the elements and creatures of the natural world live around our houses.

If I could have a house in one other place in America it would be the tip of southeast Florida, right on the water. Something simple, a pushbutton, glass and poly, future-rama of ease and comfort. Some place where I could walk out every day, to 85 degrees and a three foot break, landing on the sandy shore, below a gentle sun.  I know, that’s Miami and even if I had a million dollars it’s still not enough.

Besides, imagine all the hurricanes, tidal waves, more hurricanes and, alligators eating house cats.  Could be that dreamy future-rama house has season of it’s own too.


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Ouch. Maybe a little mismatch on that house purchase.

Recently a couple we know moved away to Iowa.  They sold their 100 year old house here in our city after they left.  We liked this couple, two women, who were at the parties we went to and who were married in Iowa a couple years before they moved there.  Some of my family is from Iowa, they are quite conservative so it is good fun to thank them for the gay marriage laws Iowa has passed. I suggest to them the marijuana laws are not far behind. This makes their hair stand on end, but they continue to love me for my charm and wit.  Our friends who moved there say they did so because of Iowa’s excellent civil rights laws.  I could go on and on about this but back to the 100 year old house.

They sold the house just recently and like a lot of home sellers they kept track of how the new owners have treated the house.  You realize by now house people are like cat people or dog people or dedicated employees, even after they leave they expect things to be cared for in the same manner as they did. This house is no exception.

It seems the new owners have crossed the line. They have apparently torn out much of the oak trim and built-in book shelves siding the fireplace.  Ouch.  What trim is left was painted white.  Blasphemy.  Seriously.

I’d like to meet the new owners.  I want to know they had great reason to do this.  I’d like to see their bright shiny faces and know what they were thinking.  I’m not really a dramatic but person, but really?

It’s hard for historic house enthusiasts to accept this sort of action.  Why buy and old house if what you really want is a newer house with no trim? Where is the reason in destroying history? What good will hundreds of feet of antique oak trim do in the landfill?  How will they justify their choice to the next buyers when they sell this house? What do they tell their friends who come over and see an antique house on the outside and a white box on the inside? Maybe their friends wouldn’t come over until the place was “updated”.

It’s hard to tell. I called them the strongest word I could muster without being offensive, “suburbanites”. They aren’t bad people, they just managed to make everyone who has ever been in that house completely mad. I’m sure they have watched enough HGTV to be experts, because as we all know HGTV is the ultimate authority on good homeownership. That’s if you believe everything you see on TV. Maybe the real estate agent gave them the great idea. Maybe they are allergic to historic trim but are required by their jobs to live on that street. Whatever the reason, it hurt some feelings.

It’s an old fashioned thing but a little consideration goes a long way. I’m one of the least considerate person I know, but I have a deep respect for all things history. I would never buy an antique car, but I respect the time and effort some people put into them. I don’t own very many books, but I’m glad for people who keep libraries.

I know we’re Americans with our bill of rights and all. I realize we have the right to pursue happiness at almost any cost. But sometimes we could just throttle back a little and buy a house for it’s existing character. It’s possible someone next door knew the people in that house, had lunch in that house and love that house for it’s amazing history and character.

Embrace your taste and style. Make a statement. Do something dramatic and beautiful with your new house. But please, don’t tear out the trim and built ins. Other people love that house too.


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Tuck point is hard work. More please.

If you have a house with brick, stone, stucco or masonry construction, it’s likely you’ll learn about tuck point, crowns, or  scratch coat mortar, among other things, at some point in your home ownership. Brick, block and stone are constructed by craftsmen who are good with plumb and level, have excellent math skills and can’t deny their artistic streak.  This type of construction is artful, long lasting and often reflects the style of the original constructor.  Maintenance and repair of these house components are as basic as window well walls or as challenging as the highest chimney feature.  I don’t climb a lot, so chimneys over about fourteen feet are not mine to do. And I never do the inside flue work on a chimney.  Same with high exterior walls. But foundation walls, window wells, porch pillars and landscape walls, I’ll do these things anytime.  A lot of this work is basically art. Hard, messy, heavy art.
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For the last few weeks I’ve done tuck point out doors. It’s fall in this region and the weather and plants are changing.  There’s more mice and beetles in the basements.  The light starts to fall off to the edge of the sky, and since exterior mortar work is subject to freezing, the tiny place in my brain holding the most ancient lessons says it’s time to hustle.  Not so many more weeks before mortar is done outdoors this year.
The first job last month was two walls facing a behind the house garage off a shared driveway.  The walls were likely original to the house, that made them somewhere near a hundred years old.  They had been tuck pointed off and on over the decades, and they were due for another round.  Vines were draping over the walls but not climbing them.  If you have climbing vines on your house and trees, stop that.  Vines eat houses and trees.  It looks pretty, like a cottage in the woods or a house in old world such and such.  Vines ate those houses too. Anyway, Cutting away the vines and growth showed both walls fully, they had about three or four inches of exposure facing the soil behind and stood about five feet at the tallest end.  Both the loose ends out in the yard had fallen to rubble.  Using a light power washer and electric chisel I cleared the mortar joints, washed away soil and debris and prepped the wall for mortar replacement.  Almost one hundred percent of the viewable exposure would be tuck pointed.
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The rubble ends of the walls were re-stacked and set in mortar.  The tuck point was installed on the face toward the driveway and the back face toward the soil.  I use an electric concrete mixer for these jobs, it keeps the mortar moving, allows a near perfect mix to continue throughout the day and saves a ton of time compared to hand mixing.  The tops of the walls had been tucked in the past but never crowned.  The customer preferred the natural look of leaving off the crowns. Because of the rubble wash outs, and the condition of the walls, a lot of space was left in the hollow part of the wall. Since the front and back were freshly tuck pointed, I mixed several batches of pourable mortar and filled the wall through the gaps in the unfinished top of the wall.  These gaps were tuck pointed back to appearance and the wall turned out to be very solid. To finish things off I drilled a series of drain holes along the lower part of both the walls to let water through.    All in all the repair was completely appropriate.  The walls will last a lot of  years before they need much attention.  The cost was considerably less than a new engineered wall and the value of preserving the antique wall behind the antique house is undeniable.  Preservation.  Heavy preservation.
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The home owner of this house hired me about six years ago to improve the kitchen in the house.  I’ve worked my way all over this house.  Kitchen, bathroom, living room, exterior repairs and lots of tuck point.  I love this house.  The owner and her family have had a habit of preserving history, through their house, public work and living standards, for a long time.  The dog knows me and expects attention. The last dog who lived there made such and impression on me I built him into an online parts house password, “jackbarks”.  When I get there in the morning I get a cup of coffee, grab some sugar from the cabinet and  put the spoon back where it goes.  My customer wants to know how the kids are and if my truck is fixed.  At the end of the day I drink a beer from the basement fridge.  During the week I line my caps up on the work bench in the basement, just so we all know how much I love that beer.  If there’s no beer downstairs, there’s more on the top, left, shelf in the kitchen fridge.  Those caps to in the trash.  Get it?  This is how to have a house.  How to work on a house because you love the house so much the house loves you back.
This house will get more work.  This winter I’m going to paint a first floor bedroom and wood work.  I’ll do my thing, make the plaster just right, good primer and paint and of course polish out all the hardware.  Next spring I’m going to tuck point the exterior foundation wall and three window wells on the south side of the house.  The air will be warming up, all the way through the night.  The sun will tip back up overhead. Knowing there’s only so many days in a summer, that tiny part of my brain will have me hustle the tuck point again, love the house and pet the dog.


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Home owners unite. In earnest.

The historic home buyers crowd is continuing to organize in this area. Recently, I was invited to speak at the First Annual Historic Home Buyer’s Expo, presented by Historic KC in Kansas City. The event took place in Kansas City’s historic Union Station. The room for the speakers was inspiring. Really tall ceilings with windows all along the north wall, from about 5 feet off the floor rising maybe 12-15 feet. The glass was frosted so it was just a giant wall of glowing, cool north light, spilling into a long, terrazzo floored room. Someday when I grow up, I’ll come back to that room and it will seem smaller. The trim is huge and made of plaster. In fact, a man who worked for the company responsible for a lot of the plaster created during this station’s recent restoration was presenting in the next hall. There were chairs for about a hundred people in the room with a long carpet the whole length in the isle of the seating. It was naturally warm and comfortable. The room was less than 50 feet from the station’s main floor. The station’s main floor is like the grand canyon, bigger than can be understood. On the diagonal side of the main floor, in the wings, was the other trade show room. A young expo in a grand environment.

Friday night was spent in the trade show room. It was as beautiful as the speaker’s room, but cozier. The scale of these rooms is huge, discrete to the point of whim, with the amazing trim, naturally lighted glass and the right furniture, making the room very nice. Several vendors filled the room, not really booths but tables with dark surroundings and a glass wall on one side. It felt professional and comfortable. We hung out and laughed at who we knew from around town. We were glad to be reminded of one another’s natural interest in preserving historic houses. Not just because we’ve made a living at it, but because we’ve made a difference.

The public, attending the room, was cool. People with a sense of history in the property they moved into. These people have spent more time on the internet, gathering information, than can be imagined. These are people whose kids are grown, or they never had them. Maybe they’ve got kids, but, have that weird ability to do almost everything. It’s a good crowd to throw yourself into. The room feels good, the expo attendees are fun and full of stories. I meet a guy restoring old tractors, that’s a real win for me. We laugh at the Mid Century Moderns for their manic defense of their houses. This MCM community is preserving a great stock of houses that are becoming appreciated for their historic significance. My wife was with me on this trip too. She’s a pro when it comes to working a pretty room. It was a rehearsal evening with a live audience.

expo workbook

Saturday was fun. I was given fifty minutes in the speaking room, and knowing the relaxed conversational style of historic home chat, I knew that wasn’t enough, especially with a bunch of people in the room. The How to Have a House workshop is four hours, and that’s if there’s twenty five people in the room or only three! For the Historic Home Buyer’s Expo I blogged out a handout based on the How to Have a House work book. It allowed me to put a value in the hands of the attendees, and, knowing I’d never make it through five sections of a house workbook, I was able to relax and enjoy the time I had. It felt good. I was scheduled for the opening slot on Saturday morning, I was glad. This was a job that was all about the mood and attitude of historic home ownership. Get that covered and the rest is more effective. I gave the room my best and found the audience to be lively and ready for the day.

We spent the rest of Saturday until about 4:30 in the trade room. It really was nice. It was apparent that a lot of highly qualified home owners, contractors, craftsmen, tradesmen, relators and other professionals, are, through the natural inclinations of their hearts and minds, preserving a lot of historic homes.

I’m glad to be a part of this crowd.