Aug 17 2010
So, all the other kids are getting their ears pierced and you did too. So, all the other kids are wearing Jordache jeans and you are too. All the other kids have Bastaad clogs so you do too.
Seriously- leave your damn old house alone- it was built a certain way for a reason and it wants to live that way after you are dead and gone and returned to the earth! Do you want an old house or do you want a NEW house on top of an old house?
Listen- I live in Western New York. If there were only two things that the people around here love and MUST have it’s this: Basket Auctions and Glass Block basement windows. Basket auctions- well if you don’t live here you don’t know what the fuck that is. If you do live here, you go to one every frigging week and accidentally run into one at least another time that same week. I’ll have to explain that all some other time. If you get cancer or your house burns down, people will throw you a basket auction.
But basement windows. PEOPLE. What is your obsession with them? Leave them the fuck alone. This Spring, (LIKE A FOOL), I went to this agency here in Niagara Falls called Center City. A few years ago they were advertising improvement grants for the exterior of your home if you live within a specific area (of urban blight).
I went to the office, hoping to get a long term somewhat forgiveable loan to get the outside of my house painted and shutters put on. After filling out a LOT of paperwork- I found out I meet all the criteria and I got an appointment with a consultant in the agency. The appointment was, well, interesting.
You see, their program has CHANGED. They tell YOU what you want to borrow money for. First, he says, if you don’t have hardwired smoke detectors, they will have to do that. If you don’t have the most up to date circuit breakers, they will rewire your entire house. If you don’t have the remote control electric meters for the electric company, you will have to pay for them (about $20K he said), and pay to have them installed. That’s just the beginning. THEN he went on to list ALL the other things you have to take out a loan to do and it’s not what YOU want- he kept telling me- it’s what THEY determine you need. For example, water pressure and slow filling toilets? All new plumbing. Stair rebuilding. Roof rebuilding. New gutters. Entirely new replacement windows- you are NOT allowed to keep your historically correct windows NO SIR. Then new furnace- new hot water tank. It went on and on and on and finally he says, “also basement windows. do you have glass block? no? oh well, that’s another requirement. we will remove your basement windows and then install glass block. and then we’ll install a special ventilation system because usually the glass block seals dampness into a basement and you need ventilation.” By the time he was done, NO SHIT, he didn’t think he could do my project for under $150K, for my house appraised at $45K and all I really wanted was a paint job. Oh yah, and because no one can agree to legal verbage, they put 4-5 liens on your house from the very beginning before work can start and if you are still living there years later you can start repaying 30% and then when that’s done, you get to have the 5 liens taken off your house.
(SIGH) I’ll have to write another article about why CENTER CITY can KISS MY ASS.
So my experience is this: I want my goddamn old windows. This is why I moved into an old house. Does NO ONE in Niagara Falls see the value of an OLD HOUSE? I like the wavy glass- that means it’s old. You know? Like antiques are old? I like the wood frames. You know? Like wood when there used to be trees to cut down? Like when windows were made with natural resources by people and not by machines with chemicals.
My basement was damp. My stuff was smelly down there. I went down to the beautiful old wooden frames, and lifted them up. Someone thoughtfully had a hook hanging on the bottom of the window. On the basement ceiling, they went really low tech and had the “eye”. So I used this novel thing called a “hook and eye” to fix the windows open. Wide open, not just 4 inches. All across the whole basement.
A glorious cross breeze came through! In two days, the musty smell was gone, the dusty musty must blew through and out and it is dry and fresh down there- you know- kind of like virtual air?
If it’s really bad- I’ve heard of people putting a FAN in the window of the basement to get the air out- drawing it down from the above ground portion of the house- creating a beautiful draft.
You see, old houses BREATHE. You call them “drafty”- I call them “breathing”. I like it this way. Call me Laura Ingalls- but I actually like windows you can see through and open up. I don’t see the sense in throwing money into bullshit. But I guess if it’s government money, it’s fine? Or if everyone else is doing it, it’s fine? Stop and think.