Progress on Sears kit house

honorbiltkitJuly 29, 2010

A few months ago, when I asked for advice on how to address clearly crooked concrete porch steps on a 1922 Sears Americus model, a few people were kind enough to note that the house was pretty cute even in its dereliction. Some requested that I post more pics as we moved forward. The new windows were installed earlier this week, so this seems like a good time to post.

I bought the house out of foreclosure in April 2009. This photo -- the one I posted before -- shows it in June 2009, after we had removed 300 broken VCRs and a bunch of other abandoned stuff and made the house minimally livable. Porch steps

This is the house yesterday afternoon, with the new windows installed and being painted.

From [728](

[Sorry for the mismatched sizes. I am still getting the hang of posting photos.]

So, the change in the facade was effected by scraping the cypress siding (which is still sound after 88 years), and priming and painting. The problem with the top step to the porch was addressed, albeit imperfectly, with a layer of concrete. The porch roof was jacked up and the leftmost column straightened. The piers were made stable by replacing some of the broken terra cotta blocks in them with bits of terra cotta chimney flue we bought at a salvage yard. And the trim and porch have been painted.

I dug up the front "lawn," put up a fence that is supposed to look weathered, and planted perennials to be the start of a cottage garden. Because all the small perennials I put in looked a bit skeletal, I broadcast wildflower seed, for this year only. It is the zinneas, marigolds, coreopsis, and other wildflowers that give it the over-the-top look it has this year. (It was even scarier before I felled a dozen sunflower plants in preparation for the photo.) The sheer mass of the wildflowers is pretty shocking -- and amusing to the neighbors -- and I can only hope that the perennials have survived.

On the left side of the house there is a cafe cum bar. I planted bamboo in March to create a screen against the noise and look of the place, and it has been as invasive as I hoped.

There are a couple months' more work to finish the inside, but the facade will be changed only by installation of a new front door, a more subdued garden, and lovely never-needs-mowing nitrogen-fixing clover in the tree lawn. And the supports for what are supposed to be window boxes will be removed, because they would just be a bit too twee eveb for me.

Cheers and thanks.

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Beautiful! You've managed to turn a broken down dump into the charming home that you knew it could be. You should be very proud of yourself!

I'm in the middle of doing something similar, although the exterior isn't quite as bad, although neglected for sure. A 1915 Craftsman house. We've replaced 23 windows so far, had the porch interior roof put back on, gutters fixed, chimney capped, and trying hard to kill the years of weeds which have accumulated. Also, have managed to save a gorgeous hydrangea tree which we thought was a goner from being choked by ivy. Front path and front stoop is about to be fixed (brick has to be relaid and stoop needs repointing) and a unnecessary concrete pathway from the front to the side door is being removed due to it being in terrible disrepair and we'll probably never use it as there is another way to access this door from the rear.

There's more to do; some painting, new doors, lawn improvements, etc. but some of it has to wait until the fall/next spring.

It's quite exciting and your photograph certainly inspires me to keep moving forward at a point where I'm exhausted beyond belief :D

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 9:13PM
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Gorgeous! You've done excellent work. When can we see inside??

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 6:09AM
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Your neighbors must LOVE you. Looks great.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 7:07AM
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If you truly have INVASIVE and spreading bamboo, you might want to put down barrier for it. Of course you can always keep it cut back with a lawn mower when it gets thick enough.

You might wish to take a look at the bamboo selections of Plant Delight Nursery. I trust them when they say "clumping" which means they are polite about the way they grow in your yard. I bought two of the clumpers which can take our weather here. Depending on your zone, you might choose another variety.

Your house is a beauty, and I am fascinated by the way you have made such a difference in this ole lady. She looks good to go for another 90 years!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:54PM
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It's already beautiful! Keep up the good work!

I love the flower garden out front. It's very cottage-y. The cottage garden folks would love it.

Do be careful of the may be more invasive than you had ever hoped!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Thanks for the compliments. This has been and remains a long haul, and it helps to know that other people think it's worthwhile.

sivlayleah -- It does sound as though our projects are similar, although I am sure your house started life more up-market than mine. But I am pretty happy with the house. However shabby it looked, it was relatively pristine. It is probably the only Sears kit in the neighborhood (there are quite a few, as the railroad runs within a couple miles) that has not been clad in vinyl siding, had its porch enclosed, or been otherwise horribly violated.

marita -- I hope the inside will be ready to see by October. It is not as cute as the outside, an in some ways it will be less carefully finished. E.g., the kitchen will have come completely from craigslist, ebay, and ikea. But with the new windows having gone in last week, I can at least see that the natural light inside is pretty good, despite the porch roof.

arlosmom -- My neighbors are very complimentary but they have chosen to ignore the hat I put out to allow them to monetize their appreciation. (Actually, I am usually sweaty and dirty when they see me, and they may find me on the whole alarming.)

moccasinlanding and krycek -- If you click the "before" photo twice, you will see that there is concrete sidewalk parallel to the bamboo bed on either side of the charming chainlink fence. You will also see why I wanted to have a living screen up as soon as possible. And I do keep on top of the new shoots, cutting those that arise in unfortunate locations to the ground, even though it grieves me to do so.

Cheers and thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 1:47PM
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What a beauty!!!! Thanks for posting the pictures. You've done a fine, fine job in breathing new life into that beautiful old house.

That cypress siding is amazing stuff. It'll last for many more decades - if given a bare minimum of tender care (and good paint).


Here is a link that might be useful: Another Americus (Is the plural Americi?)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 5:22PM
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