Hello! New here

sally2_gwAugust 22, 2010

Hi, I've been lurking off and on, but thought it's time to join in on the fun here. We bought a 1905 farmhouse in NE Oklahoma a little over a year ago, and have been very slowly fixing it up whenever we can get up there, about ever other weekend.

Anyway, I have a couple of questions, not so much about our house, (although, there are plenty of questions about our house for another time and post) but more, etiquette questions. The other day I was on my way somewhere and saw a house that looked similar to the one we have, but looks like it's completely restored. It's so cute! I took some pictures of it, but was very tempted to knock on their door and ask for a tour to see what they've done, and to see what's different about their house from ours. Has anyone here done something like that - just knocked on someone's door and asked about their house and restoration job and even asked for a tour? Secondly, I thought about posting a picture of that house so y'all could compare them, but wasn't sure if it's proper to do so. I don't feel right posting a picture of someone's house without their permission. What's the etiquette for that?



p.s. I've read some of the thread about vinyl siding, and if you'll note, the above example shows how NOT to do vinyl siding. I can't wait to get rid of that, but there's so much more to do first.


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I am just LOVING the style of that little house. OMGosh, the folks who own the house looking like yours would likely feel complimented and if they didn't think you were professional thieves or axe murderers would likely invite you in to show you what they did to it. We get that request occasionally from curious people. We've also stopped and chatted with owners of a home similar to ours on a different farm to swap similarities and information.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Thanks, Calliope. We really like it. The girl we bought it from didn't take very good care of it, and I'm sure we'll be making mistakes with it, but we're going to do our best.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Re visiting: First I'd take pictures with you of your house to share. Don't expect to get inside right off the bat, either. Ask about exterior things and keep the visit short. Invite them over to see your house if they are interested. In other words, offer to share before you ask them to share.

I am a very private person and while I wouldn't mind some contact and questions about our house I would resent like Hell any pressure to show it to a stranger, merely because the stranger was curious. OTOH, I am not offended by a person sending (or leaving) a note about some facet of the property that is visible from the public road. And if asked a question, I would answer gladly if I had the info needed.

But I get people on a pretty regular basis who think that because they're curious about my house and old farm that somehow that equates to me having to show it to them. Often these people are visitors (not only tourists but both academic and vocational old house "experts"), or new to the area or old house ownership, and somehow the evident age of my buildings makes them think my farm is a community resource. I get it that it is a shared visual resource, and since it is an unusually intact survival of a typical 19th c farmstead, that it "belongs" to the shared cultural landscape of my area, but it is also my home. And I don't live in Sturbridge Village. Nor do I welcome people who seem to think that I should show them through (or allow them to photograph) the barn complexes simply because they "love in old barns".

I had a silly conversation about a month ago with someone (total stranger who drove up the farm road uninvited) who started off by saying that they were interested in my place because it was obviously such an old farm and "so many of these places are being lost" these days that they wanted to see it before it was "too late." Hello, I know it's unusual, I've deliberately kept it that way - for decades -by not reno-ing it in the 20th/21st c. style. However, it's not under any threat of being "lost". Unlike their own old farmhouse which they said they were "taking back" to some ill-defined point in the past by (among other things) tearing out the plaster (which was described as "old stuff made with horsehair" eeeww!), opening up the the kitchen to the "family room" and replacing the drafty old windows. (Which as long-time readers will know is a perfect Trifecta of my personal peeves!) They had just bought the place in June and weren't going to move in until it was all completed in the Fall. Meanwhile, they saw my old farmhouse and thought that they might just "take a peak" to see if they could could glean any ideas about "authentic" features to have reproduced. Other than intact plaster, period room arrangements and orginal windows, that is. Meh!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 4:57PM
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What exactly is so bad about tearing out plaster walls and ceilings? After 100 years, they are often crumbling and cracking. Opening up rooms and replacing windows I can totally understand. But why the plaster?

The PO took down most of the plaster and put drywall up and I am forever thankful for that. I don't have to be constantly repairing plaster cracking. Not to mention the wireless internet can penetrate more than one room. And you can't really tell that it's drywall instead of plaster.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 5:50PM
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Liriodendron, you make some excellent points. I thought about sending them a letter with a few pictures enclosed, and starting that way. I could invite them to see our farmhouse, but it's a 4 1/2 hour drive from the Dallas/North Texas area, which is where we live for now, and where I saw the cute house similar to ours. Their house is on a busy street in a town that's almost a suburb of Dallas. There's quite a few cute old houses in this town, so they may get bugged a lot by curious people like me. So, that's why I asked the question, and I'm happy to have gotten thoughtful answers.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 7:44PM
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What Liriodendron said, I buy into that. Respect the privacy.
And I've walked up to the front door of a house down the road from my DH's cape up in Massachusetts, and talked to the owner. I was not seeking to get a tour though.

Actually, I had been so impressed with the house's style and landscaping, and it was fall and the trees were brilliant colors, and I had some great pictures of their house. I wanted to share them with the folks I felt would most appreciate them. My photo editing software turned plain photos into works of art, something they may not have access to. So I left some big 8 x 10 photos. Loved their house.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 10:28PM
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Krycek, re plaster:

The point is that if it is intact in an old house it is an original material and should not, IMO, be trashed just because it a) might need repairs occasionally- as does drywall or b) so wireless internet will work. (BTW, wireless internet works just fine through plaster on wood lath. When I hit preview below I will be sending my signal more than 30 feet through three interior walls - six fully plastered surfaces. I have to do that because the room I'm in has no mod. cons., not even power, never mind a phone jack or cable service.)

Plaster is a far superior wall finish compared to drywall which is, at best, a cheaper subsitute. Plaster has superior acoustic qualities; it offers better fire suppression; it provides excellent thermal stability; and an outstandingly beautiful appearance. It is also, these days, a luxury material used only in the most expensive construction. And if kept intact and repaired when needed, extremely longlasting. My walls were constructed more than 150 years ago.

Of course it needs repairs from time to time, but these can be done fairly simply, in most cases. I will have to replace the plaster in most of an entire room soon, both walls and ceiling. Enormous chunks have fallen off the lath (6 X 8 feet square sized chunks), but that's due to extreme water and structural damage from a tornado, not because the material failed under normal use. I would never consider drywall as an adequate, permanent, substitute for it.

However, since you are pleased to have a de-plastered house, all's well. We, each of us, have what we like best.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 1:33AM
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Okie-dokie, I'll follow y'all's advice and not ask them for a tour. You're right, that would be way too forward. Thanks.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:16AM
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I agree with liriodendron about plaster walls. We recently bought the 2nd oldest house in our town: built in 1780. It's in great shape for an old house but needs a little work. Down the road someone more recently bought the oldest house in town built in 1746. They have gutted the inside and removed the roof so I guess now it would not qualify as the oldest!!! I don't know what condition their house was in, but I don't quite understand buying something old if that's what you wanted and then demolishing it! We will be doing some plaster repair particularly on the living room ceiling as gravity is taking over in one small area

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 12:43PM
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Welcome, Sally! I wanted to share with you that I grew up in NE Okla, and oh, does that house look similar to a few I knew... grannie's, great-grannie's, great aunt's. Be sure and check for termites! Did you buy it as a summer place near a lake? I like the flower beds you've made around the porch.

Is your attic room a finished space? Where do the stairs terminate on the lower floor? Grannie's house had the strangest door about eight inches above the floor in the livingroom. When it was closed, you might think it was a closet, but it was the door to a steep set of stairs to the attic. They attempted, but never quite finished the attic room.

As to your curiousity about the house similar to yours, if you see the homeowners outdoors, it doesn't hurt to stop and tell them that you admire their home. That way, you might at least have a chat about the outside of the home. I would feel complimented, if I were the owner.

Best of luck with your 1905. Pop in here now and then and let us know what you are working on!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 3:24PM
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I like your house,too. Double parlors? I wonder what shape the columns are in under that vinyl, if indeed the original columns are there.

The house almost looks like it may have been a public building at one time, a church or meeting hall because of the tall windows and double front doors. Do you know its history?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 4:43PM
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You have what is known as a "double pen:" house.
Here's a link for Oklahoma folk architecture.

Here is a link that might be useful: Double Pen is OK

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:07PM
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Hi, again. No, Kim, it's not near the lake. It's just NNW of Tahlequah. It's a single story, with lots of attic space, but no support or floor in the attic. Converting the attic is on our wish list. As y'all can probably tell, it needs a new roof, so when we get that done, we'll hopefully also be able to put in the structure needed to make the attic at least usable for storage, if not as an extra room.

It was originally a farmhouse. It's mostly been in one family, which bought it several years after it was built. (I don't remember exactly when, though). The girl (She's a very young adult) we bought it from was the granddaughter of the woman that lived in it most of its "life." The granddaughter inherited the house from her grandmother, but clearly she didn't understand the work involved in taking care of a house, much less an old one in the country. That's why she was selling it. When we bought it 1 1/2 years ago, one of the front rooms was a living room, and the other a bedroom. The living room has a door that leads into a kitchen, and the kitchen has a door that leads into the second bedroom, which is extremely tiny - barely enough room in there for a twin bed, much less anything larger. Somewhere down the road, someone build a closet in or off that room. Out the back door of the kitchen used to be the back porch, but was enclosed several decades ago, maybe in the '50's or 60's, we're guessing. We tore down some drywall on the wall between the back porch room and the kitchen, to discover the original clapboards. We've timidly peeled back a little vinyl from one of the posts, but haven't seen exactly what's underneath, but there is a post there. Don't know if it's original or not.

Thanks for all your comments. We can't wait till we can move there permanently!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:56AM
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Welcome to the board! I love this board and I'm sure you will, too.

What an interesting house! I can't wait to see pictures of the inside once you move in and get things going!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 3:15PM
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