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Our front porch was (and is) very appealing from the street. But up close and personal, I was always reminded of the scene from Lady Hawke where Matthew Broderick goes to the ruined castle with the injured Isabeau. Crossing the drawbridge, the priest warns him to, “Walk on the left side.”

For the detailed background, please visit the porch section of Picasa. I started in April and it was “complete” by September. The railing and balusters have yet to be replaced. They need to be completely recreated and I simply don’t have the funds to make that happen. Perhaps some day when other priorities are finished.

With the help of a pneumatic framing nailer, I was able to do nearly all of the work myself. I had a contractor do the block work, but the rest was me and the family. I spent a lot of time demoing the front steps. One might assume that they were poured over some kind of form or mound of dirt or something. But alas! it was one, large block o’ cement. Thank heaven for electric jackhammers!

At first, the curve of the porch concerned me, but luckily I was able to improvise with 2x12s sandwiched together. I started to cut the curves with a reciprocating saw, but that worked like crap. My cheapo band saw certainly wasn’t up to the task. Who knew you could cut a curve with a circular saw? As for facing the curve, that was a snap. I used 1/4 x 8 cement flat siding. Double bonus–it was easy to bend and it will NEVER rot!

Laying the tongue-and-groove, yellow pine flooring was an eye-opener! It’s hard to imagine a time when all of the floors of homes were laid that way. I was nearly crippled by the time I was done. Being on your knees for hours driving and setting nails was miserable. You can’t argue with the finished product, though. It would have been so simple (and cheap!) to have gone with 5/4 treated decking, but it never would have looked right; it would have always looked like a deck.

One of the casualties of this renovation was a pane of curved glass in the front entryway. Part of the foyer is cantilevered and over the years has (literally) fallen out of level. I tried to rectify that. Everything was going well until I heard this loud POP! I discovered that one of the curved glass pieces had cracked. I also found that the front door would no longer open. So back down the foyer went. I guess an old house gets to a point where it simply wants (and needs) to be out of plumb… A piece of replacement glass runs around $300 a pane–an expensive mistake. Luckily, it was simple to patch the crack with lead. Events such as this also create opportunities and inspiration. Imagine stained glass… (stay tuned for that one)

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