Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-17-16

There were actually some pretty interesting developments this week, so this edition will include a “work in progress” progress report on one house and Before and After photos for another.

252 N. Bayview Street

Because they are not on my driving route from home to my usual destinations, I ordinarily don’t see the houses currently under surveillance except on weekends, but developments at 351 N. Summit were so rapid and intriguing that I ended up cruising past several times during the week. As a result, I also passed this house several times, and every time there were workers present—carrying in lumber, carrying debris out to the dumpster—so I expected to see some signs of progress when I visited Saturday. In fact, what I saw was that the tub in the master bath had finally been drained (there were miscellaneous parts and installation instructions, all seemingly irrelevant, in a box on the floor in front of the tub), there was a lot of sawdust on the floor in the kitchen…

…and a fireplace had been installed in the living room.

I was upstairs when I saw vehicles parking out front and heard workers entering downstairs. They were surprised to see me, of course, but I greeted them and said I’d been trying to figure out what had been done during the week. One of them replied, “We’ve been mostly concentrating on the porch.” Well, except for upstairs (which was not where he was gesturing), there isn’t really a porch any more, but I took this to mean the area that used to be a porch. To refresh your memory, this is how it looked on February 28 before the demolition began.

This April 17 photo shows an intermediate view in which the new façade has been constructed and the floor is still intact.

By April 23, the floor in the entrance area had collapsed. I suspect this may not have been intended.

On June 18, additional boards had been added to bridge the gap.

In all this time, the collapsed floor, as shown above, had remained in place. This week demolition had begun; this is what was left of it yesterday.

351 N. Summit Street

Last week I reported on the “painting” (?) of the brick fences. As this week wore on, the scene was different every time I passed the house. Early in the week, the brick of the fences was increasingly showing through. The house, itself, on the other hand, was another story. Here’s how it looked on Thursday: completely white; I made it a point to take photos, suspecting it would look different on Saturday.

Sure enough, by Saturday, much of the paint was gone (note that the retaining wall has also been treated).

Just driving by, it was difficult to tell exactly what was being done. Was the paint being washed off? Was it whitewash rather than paint? I googled “whitewashed brick” and found that this is a popular fad, mostly for interior brick (especially fireplace surrounds). In such cases, what is used is not actually whitewash but actually paint diluted with water. This solution soaks into the brick, leaving just a whitish cast. So was that what was being done, or was this actual whitewash, as described at this site? Traditionally, true whitewash (lime wash) is primarily used on fruit trees to prevent sun scald, in dairy barns for appearance and sanitation, and as an inexpensive substitute for paint, but apparently now it has become a popular finish for exterior brick.

Today when I drove to the house, I found the builder/owner and his wife onsite and was able to get the straight skinny. What is being used is true whitewash, he told me, and it is being partially removed by power washing. He was not satisfied with the spotty appearance that had resulted from the first application and consequently was touching it up. The owners admitted that the whitewash is an experiment. They are happy with the appearance of some of the brick fences but noted that the brick is not all the same. It is used brick, and some of it came from Spring Hill College and the rest from other sources; the whitewash is an attempt at a more consistent appearance.

The builder’s wife also confirmed that nothing has been done inside “for months,” though that’s a slight exaggeration. The owner, as has been noted before, is a well-known builder of commercial and industrial facilities, with, perhaps, less experience in residential contracting, with the result that the house is suffering from a “cobbler’s children” effect. But he clearly knows what he wants and is willing to be patient to achieve it. At any rate, both owners urged me to stress that the whitewash is a work in progress.

160 Fels Avenue

A new mailbox and the copper roof on the front porch were all I could spot yesterday, with workers present.

Today I was able to go around back and see how the shutters are being used. Since both here and on the front (see above), they are not actually covering windows, I suppose it would be more accurate to describe them as “louvered panels.”

The door has been added to the screen porch, and a countertop has been added to the “outdoor kitchen.”

Inside, a desklike structure (low counter with shallow drawers) has been added to the small corner room, causing me to return to my original theory that this will be an office.

Next door, at 162 Fels, additional areas have been marked out for construction.

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