Enon Hall


These journal entries track our progress as we undertake our adventure of restoring this very old home. The main reason for keeping this journal on the web is that we have found that there are very few resources (books or websites) that follow all of the trials and tribulations of restoring an old home...from start to finish.

April 5, 2005

I was without telephone and Internet access for the last five days. Two service calls later I seem to be now reconnected with the world, albeit at dial-up speed. I was hoping to be able to get DSL here, but we're too far off the DSL loop.

After last week's exhausting move, Gay, William, and I went to Virginia Beach for the weekend to enjoy some quiet recuperative time together.

Yesterday, our architect came to Enon Hall to draw details for the construction of the new window and door frames. This will be a tremendous help to me, especially when it comes to all the odd-size old doors that I want to use. No matter what the size, I'll be able to figure out the correct rough opening size to give the framers for each door.

We are still in a holding pattern while the engineering firm works up the additional requirements for the site plan so that it can be resubmitted to the County. Hopefully, late this week.

Meanwhile, the electrician promised me this morning that he would be here tomorrow to set up our temporary service pole. (Last week, he promised me he'd be here last Thursday or Friday.) If he doesn't show tomorrow, I'll be asking for my deposit back and looking for somebody else. He first came out here exactly one month ago tomorrow. At that time I asked him when he would be able to get started and he said "next week." That's all I've been hearing ever since. -- Bill

April 6, 2005

Guess who showed up today! The electrician called at 7:30 this morning to say that he and his son would be here mid-morning. Sure enough, they rolled up at 4pm, as promised.

The important thing is that our temporary service pole is in the ground! He's promised to be back tomorrow morning at 7am with a trencher to bury the line and the County inspector will be here tomorrow afternoon to check everything out.

The temporary line is having to travel a long way to stay clear of the new foundation, the drain field, the sump drain pipe, etc, etc. The temporary service pole (which will house the temporary meter) is located 75 feet from the power pole and then the line has to go underground all the way around the kitchen quarters and then backtrack to the back of the house. Life sure would have been easier if our breaker box and the power pole were on the same side of the house.

Once the temporary setup is approved by the inspector, then we have to wait for Dominion Power to come out and disconnect the old line and run a new line from the power pole to the temporary power pole. At that time, the electrician will connect the other end of our temporary line to the breaker box, replacing the old line. I've been told it could take two weeks for the power company to come out! Oy.

I bagged and hauled off the very last of the asbestos shingles on this property! There was a heap of them on the ground behind the chicken house and I've been dreading dealing with them for a long time. Was hard to tell how big the pile actually was. It feels so good to have them all gone now!

The revised site plan package goes back to the County tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed...

Lucy (the Jack Russell) has been becoming acclimated to full-time life at Enon Hall. Today she was busy tracking a rabbit or something that she smells inside the chicken house. She actually tried to rip off clapboards with her teeth to get at whatever's inside. Sheesh... -- Bill

April 7, 2005

The building inspector was here at 7am this morning and blessed our temporary service pole. (Now I understand Leah's excitement over these green stickers. It really is quite exciting.)

The electrician and his son and daughter arrived a little later with the Ditch Witch and got to work. I don't know if he is training them both to be electricians, or if they just like to help out with the manual labor parts. She appeared to be 18 or 19 and seemed to be having great fun operating the Ditch Witch and did a good job, allowing her dad to work on things more...electrical.

After I showed them some of the objects William has dug up, she and her brother got really good at watching the ditch for any cool finds. Everything that they found (old and not-so-old) they neatly laid out on a board for me.

The large object in the foreground is a frying pan handle. Don't even want to imagine how THAT could have broken off! Hopefully, somebody's head wasn't involved.

The coolest find was this 6-1/2 inch long wrought spike. -- Bill

April 8, 2005

It appears that the groundhog living under the kitchen quarters is a mother. It also appears that she is fed up with Ditch Witches, Lucy, and an inept sniper taking shots at her from the law office window. Today she moved out, taking her babies, one by one, out to the graveyard. There she moved into an old, unoccupied burrow, obviously hoping that this will be a quieter neighborhood. Go in peace. -- Bill

April 10, 2005

Hola!, this is Wiilliam. I am writing this entry (obviously). Lucy got into a few scrapes this weekend. The first one was a brawl with a cat. Lucy got into the kitchen outbuilding and up the stairs. My father just HAD to go and investigate (bad idea). He was awfully surprised when a yowling black and white cat leapt over his sholder and whizzed out the door with Lucy close behind it. The second encounter was with a rather stinky wild animal.

She was under the smokehouse when a wafting stench was gently carried over the light breeze, clogging our nostrils and probably putting the entire county on the virge of keeling over. The next scene was of a skunked dog frantically leaping out from under the outbuilding and rolling arround on the ground. To get the terrible musk off of her, Lucy tried to bathe in a mud puddle (didn't work). We finally had to hose her off in a mixture of chemicals that came off of this website.

Bathing the dog took a while but it worked.

We also spent time on yardwork but who cares about that. -- William

Supplemental post by Dad -

Yes, aside from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (there's a dog eating a rabbit in our front yard even as I write this) I tilled up our vegetable garden and we planted some azaleas and Gay's rose bush from Valentine's Day. We also did some limbing on the cedars, put up a birdhouse, and found places for various yard items from the old house.

It seems that the County is now happy with our site plan, but uncomfortable with the way our property is parceled out on the tax maps. Our original 3.67 acres is actually divided into 3 sections that are recorded with the county as 2 parcels. The two outside parcels (non-contiguous) actually comprise one parcel. It's quite bizarre and the County Director of Planning and Land Use is puzzled as to how it ever got approved this way. Anyway, if you take these parcel lines into consideration, then our addition is coming way too close to one of the lot lines. So he is requiring that that line be abandoned, which we have no problem with. The only question is how long the administrative process for doing this will take. Another delay.

This week I need to get a construction dumpster and Porta-Potty lined up. I also need to figure out a plan for routing and parking construction traffic and where materials will be dropped. I am trying to keep as much of this as possible on the road side of the house, so we can enjoy the creek side during the summer, reasonably free from the construction chaos. We may need to have another tree taken down in the front in order to provide clear access for equipment.

I am really, really enjoying being at Enon Hall full time, but I do miss Gay and William a LOT when they are back in Richmond during the week. Will be glad when school's out! -- Bill

April 13, 2005

Dominion Power showed up this morning. Good news is that they came a lot sooner than expected. Bad news is that they didn't give me or the electrician any forewarning. Fortunately, I caught the electrician at home and he was able to get here in about an hour and a half. Dominion ran power to the new temporary pole and cut our old power line. I was without power for about four hours while the electrician hooked the new line up to the breaker box. Now, there's nothing standing in way of the new foundation. Other than site plan approval (County guy's out of the office all week) and bulding permits...

My next mission, other than trying to keep wheels turning, is to get some work done under the existing house. Cleaning out old unused wiring, pouring footings for floor jacks that are presently sitting on rotting wood, replacing a floor joist or two, etc. I started today by removing the old boiler's rusty old expansion tank that was hanging from the floor joists...still full of water and antifreeze. That alone took about 250 pounds off of the floor.

My furnace guy is coming tomorrow. Maybe I can talk him into hauling away the old tank and disposing of the antifreeze for me. Maybe? Kinda looks like they shoulda done that when they replaced the old boiler 4 years ago.

I met with an HVAC guy yesterday who is drawing up a proposal for heat pumps for the new addition as well as the existing part.

What time of year is it, kids? That's right! Poison ivy time! My arms are ablaze. Must have gotten into some this weekend while doing the limbing work. -- Bill

April 14, 2005

Today I got the last of the junk out of the cellar, mainly a ten-foot-long table/bench cobbled together by the previous owner out of any stray piece of lumber he could find. It separated the brick floor part of the cellar from the dirt floor half...and was very much in my way.

Now that everything's out of the way, things look much less intimidating. Lots of the jacks are in sad shape. Two of them even fell over as I worked...which is not something you want to see. Each time, I froze, waiting for the house to come down on me. But if they fell that easily, they weren't doing anything productive. Usually whatever they were sitting on had long since rotted away. I think that the basic arrangement of the jacks is good; I just need to assess each one and redo the ones that need attention. -- Bill

April 17, 2005

It's been a rough weekend for us as Lucy has been very sick, spending the last two nights in the hospital on IVs. The vet diagnosed her condition as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Sparing too many details...lots of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, a high red blood cell count (74%), dehydration...a dangerous situation.

Although it's not known what causes HGE, the vet is suspicious that the trauma of the skunk attack may have been the trigger for her. Or she could have eaten something. We'll never really know.

We brought her home today, but she's still operating at about 20% of her usual vim and vigor. She'll be staying in Richmond for some R&R this week and is expected to make a full recovery. -- Bill

April 18, 2005

Thanks for everybody's well wishes for Lucy! I've missed her here today, but I understand that she's been getting some rest.

I met with a surveying firm today to try to get the necessary documents for merging the lots for the county. The first response, was "We can get to that by the end of May." After more discussion, they realized that they wouldn't even need to visit my site to provide what the County needs...just re-submit the survey that their firm did in 1968 with notations abandoning the lot lines. I sure hope they can knock this out fairly quickly. Meanwhile, we're dead in the water.

I knocked a longstanding "to do" item off my list today by making a new mailbox for us out of items found around Enon Hall...an old (and very large) entry post and a cool bracket. We bought the copper mailbox at Smith & Hawken this weekend. I'll get it in the ground tomorrow. -- Bill

April 19, 2005

Ta-da. I think the new mailbox looks good. We just need to get some numbers for it. The post is 8 inches square and the mailbox is 24 inches deep...to give you an idea of its size. Great thing is that digging around here is a breeze. I quickly dug a hole 3 feet deep, filling the bottom foot with gravel for drainage.

William bought Lucy a stuffed hedgehog toy over the weekend for when she came home from the hospital. Today I understand that she tore off its legs. That's a great sign of recovery! -- Bill

April 21, 2005

I bought the brick for our foundation and chimney today. It's a General Shale tumbled brick called "Aston." It's not a match for the existing 1850s foundation, but it's a good match for the chimneys and parts of the older foundation. But after searching and searching and not coming up with even a remotely suitable match I decided that it was OK to go with something that matched the older sections. On the back of the house, the 1850s foundation is completely hidden by the porch, which leaves only a small section of this brick showing in the front, and the seam will be covered by the new front porch. So I think it'll be fine. I didn't really like the 1850s brick anyway. -- Bill

April 25, 2005

We have made a family pact to not work on the house over the weekends since I'm here doing a lot of that during the week now...and since the only time we get to see each other is on the weekends. So our weekends are now for reunion, relaxation and fun. What a concept!

Therefore, most of the updates to this site regarding progress to the house will now come during the week, instead of Sunday night.

I'm also making a pledge not to post every time that I cut the grass this year. Just assume that I am spending one day a week on the tractor.

After getting nowhere in a hurry with surveyors, today I have discovered a new way to skin the cat and get the lot lines abolished for the County so they will approve the site plan. I talked to our attorney and he can knock out a "deed of merger" in short order and get it recorded at the Court House, probably by the end of the week. No surveyor needed. I wish the County guy had told me this was an option...would have saved a week and a half of thumb twiddling.

Our Amish cabinetmaker is starting work on our windows this week! And I'm starting to get the feeling that, at this rate, we're going to have windows, doors, and kitchen cabinets piled up here long before we even have a foundation dug.

Here's a scary statistic...we haven't even broken ground yet, and we've already spent 14% of our budget. To be fair, this includes lots of deposits or payments on items that will deliver in the future...like cabinets, windows, bricks, etc...but it's still kind of scary. If I back out these items, we're really at 6% of budget, which includes expenses like the architect's work, the site plan, the temporary service for electrical, demolition, etc. 6% seems about right for all the prep work. Probably even on the low side. -- Bill

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