August 24, 2007

Help - what's that claw?

At the moment, my husband is exposing the foundation wall of our house due to a problem with rising moisture (nothing severe, I'll write about it once we know what we're going to do about it).

Today he dug about 50 cm deep and there he found this:

The "thing" is about 5 cm long. What is it? A dog's claw?

Any idea will be appreciated! :) :)

August 12, 2007

Gender equality in diy matters?!?

I can't quite believe that I'm really going to show you this picture of my humble self, but I'm sooooo angry right now.
Why do folks at diy stores ignore women diy-ers? Why do they answer your husband if you asked a question? Why is there a pic of a man on every tool they sell but never one of a woman?
And - and that's the last straw - why do they sell protective clothing and protective shoes beginning with size XL (clothing) or 40 (shoes), whereas women need (on average) size M and 38? Don't we need any protective stuff because we're not worth it? Or are we just not meant to do any work in a house apart from cooking and ironing and cleaning?
And IF they have anything in sizes actually fitting women - why for God's sake is that stuff pink or purple? What the hell do I need a pink tool belt for? Or a pink tool handle that is black after the first "real" use anyway? Why should I like pink qua gender (I do like pink anyway, but that's not the point, is it!?!)?
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying there are no differences between men and women, but these pigheaded prejudices and stereotypes and that out-dated role model just drives me mad!

Ok, and now let me show you what a woman really looks like as a diy-er - no glamour, neither chic nor trendy, no pink tools, no make-up, quite scary and sweaty AND - she is thoroughly enjoying herself!!!

By the way - I'm refinishing an old kitchen buffet on that picture, but I'll write about that once it's finished. Apart from spending too much time in diy stores, we are getting a lot done in the house, have been talking to several local companies and craftsmen about a new heating and new/old windows and had to deal with one major disappointment. But more on all that once I calmed down a bit :)

August 04, 2007

Yes, we are a monument!

It is official now: Our house is a protected architectural monument! Thanks everyone for keeping your fingers crossed!

Two preservationists - the one responsible for our town and one of the superior authority - inspected our house thoroughly (and I, of course, had been cleaning and tidying like a madwoman the night before...). And in the end they decided that the house is "worth" being officially protected and listed, not only for being a part of the old town but also for itself and its inside.
Two main aspects were crucial: On one hand there are several well preserved old parts in the house (doors and doorframes, the attic, the cellar) and on the other hand our house represents a typical example of how this kind of houses were usually renovated in the late 19th/early 20th century.

This is an extract of the mail we got, of course they'll send us an official notification later on, but this is enough for the moment:

That's what it says:
In addition to the urbanistic significance of the building (built around 1600 and renovated around 1910 in half-timbered fashion), the following findings lead to the classification of the building as an architectural monument:
  • Numerous interior doors of the 17th and 18th century.
  • Mighty cellar with groined vault underneath the northern axis of the building.
  • Complete truss of the construction period.
  • Assumption that the mighty northern house end represents parts of the first city wall before the town's burst of development.

Especially that last bit of information is sooooo exciting. I really have to take some time off to dig in the local archives.
Anyway, we are really happy and the fact that the house is now officially an architectural monument motivates us even more to go on with all of our projects!

Here are some pics of the details mentioned above:
The cellar:

Possible city wall:

Some of the doors and door frames:

August 02, 2007

Renovating the historic pavement, II

After choosing the right stones, the brute part of the job began ;) The paving stones had to be pressed into the ground. My husband did it by hammering on a piece of wood with the blunt side of our ax:

It sure was an exhausting job, but we didn't want to use a vibrating plate because the pavement would have lost its characteristic unevenness.
Slowly but surely we advanced

and finally finished this work step:

Then the gaps had to be filled with some kind of grout. We used "home-made" gravel-sand, consisting of the sieved soil we had dug out before.

What next? The gravel-sand was removed by hosing the spot with water, then we refilled it with gravel-sand, hosing it again ....

And this is the final result:

I think it turned out great!

August 01, 2007

Renovating the historic pavement, I

Our house and the two adjoining buildings (a workshop and a former barn) form a courtyard of about 150m². The bigger part of it is covered with historic pavement, made of both limestone and field stones.

This is what the pavement looks like in a close-up view (yes, I should weed more often...):

For some unknown reason, there was a spot of about 2 m² in front of the barn where the pavement was completely missing:

As it turned into a muddy wetland after each rain, we decided to pave it. And of course we wanted to use some original old paving stones. We have already learned by now that a lot of missing material that was removed in the process of previous renovations is still to be found somewhere around the place. Therefore we started looking for hidden paving stones. And found some: in the garden, in the flowerbeds, in the former pond and so on:

At first my husband removed some soil (about 20 cm), filled that hole with a layer of gravel-sand of about 10 cm and then fitted in matching stones.

Read more about the next steps and the result in part II of this post...