Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out...

Since, this is a rather long post, I decided to post a more succinct summary at the bottom for those with short attention spans.


It has been over a month and a half since I have posted something to the blog. I don't want people to get the impression that no work is taking place, but if they had that impression it wouldn't be entirely off base.

Actually, some progress has been made, but there seems to be a road block that Brice and I have hit since finishing the bedroom (Oh yeah, we did finish most of the work in the bedroom). Brice thinks it is because the house is now livable and inhabited, thus making it harder to find the motivation to do any work. I think that I am just getting frustrated with the slow progress that has been made, and having to do things again, and again, and again...

So to recap what has happened in the last month...

I wanted to weatherproof the house before the cold weather came. I first looked into getting new storm windows, since many are missing pieces and they just aren't in that good of shape. Well, they certainly are cheaper than brand new windows, but the cost of the new windows is a deterrent for the time being. Probably those won't be replaced until next year. The bright side, is that I don't really need anyone to install them as there are already storm windows there and they are just screwed into the house. The down side is that they are $1,000+.

So I moved onto the two exterior doors. They both need to be replaced. The back door, in particular, has gaps around the top and bottom of the door that are large enough to view what is going on outside. The slightly ironic situation is that the side of the door fits so tightly that when it rains and swells, I cannot get out the door without the help of Brice. In addition, the jamb, threshold, and back screen door are also rotten and should be replaced when the door is replaced.

The front door on the other hand is a beautiful solid oak door with glass. The same door at Home Depot cost well into the the $800 range. It pains me to have to replace it, but over the years, the door has not weathered well and has gaps all around the window, splitting joints, and several holes where many locks once existed. It would be far too expensive to fix it, and the house would not have a door for an undetermined amount of time. That probably is not the best deterrent for thieves.

With all my frustrations about the wooden back door, I thought that steel would be the best alternative. It is affordable and won't be subject to shrinking and swelling when the weather is humid (which normally is never on the front range, but this summer has been particularly wet). Too lazy to remove the freshly painted trim, we took the measurements of the doors themselves and took them to the local Home Depot.

This however, was not the way to plan for a new door. After being asked a number of questions that I couldn't answer and discovering that both doors would not be the $170 base model I picked out, but rather two $400 custom cut doors, I went back home in frustration. We removed the trim around the front door and measured the opening. The rough opening was the same size as the door itself. After a few seconds of mulling this new prospect over, we realized that the door did not really have a jamb, it was just hung directly onto the framed opening of the house.

      Now, this is not normally how you would hang a door. The rough opening should be framed and then a door and jamb are placed inside the opening. However, this meant that we COULD hang a normal sized door within this opening!

      Or so we thought... We measured the narrowest part of the door, and found that the opening could hold a 32" door (The current door is 36") For those that don't know much about doors, that is a pretty small door. Most likely this would mean that the next owners should get accustom to my style, because a lot of the furniture would not be leaving (or entering) the house anytime soon.

      It should be noted that at this point in time, I had already phoned my parents and requested their help installing the doors before winter. They were planning on coming on the weekend of Columbus day. The time to order doors and get them before my crew arrived was rapidly diminishing.

      Desperate, I searched for local handymen that might be able to suggest what should be done about the front door. I found a couple of carpenters on Craigslist. The first seemed a little too eager to get the demo saw and create a bigger opening in the bricks. I wasn't really comfortable with that idea. I wasn't sure how this house was constructed and didn't want to try anything too risky with the framework. He asked what I planned to do with the door and I said that I would probably donate it to the local construction recycling center (discussed in an early post). He offered to take it off my hands to save me a trip with the door. Whereupon I tried to negotiate a trade for part of his labor in return for the door. Anyone can tell you that I am not a good salesman. Needless to say, this was unsuccessful.

      The second carpenter showed up half and hour late, got out of his truck and proceeded to pour what looked like a beer onto the sidewalk. He then smoked a cigarette and opened and drank what looked like another beer, before coming up to the front door and apologizing for being late. He said he wasn't comfortable with the idea of removing the framing as he didn't want to be responsible if something catastrophic happened. He suggested just getting a slab that would fit the opening, much like we had now.

      My parents came up to visit despite having no door to install. They surveyed the situation and we decided that the old wood frame should be replaced and a new slab should replace the old door. In other words, the new door would be exactly the same as the old door, only hopefully weather tight. At least this would not require someone elses labor (except my wonderful parents, of course!).

          ***********************SPOILER ALERT!!**************************

          • Brice and I are lazy and have not worked in the house for a while

          • Storm windows are too expensive to replace at this time

          • Both exterior doors suck and need to be replaced

          • Remove all trim to measure for new door and jamb

          • Front door is attached to framed opening

          • Carpenters from Craigslist may be sketchy

          • Front door will be re-attached to frame of rough opening sometime in the near future


        Jen / domestika said...

        I think Brice is right, and it's natural for the first mad rush of energy to slack off a bit once you've got the house in a state where it's liveable. We aim at one project of any significance a year... which means the laundry room might get redecorated in about 2017.

        As for weatherproofing for this winter: what about plastic film window kits, the kind you shrink into transparency with a hair dryer, in lieu of new storm windows? They really do work. Except when you've got cats with long claws who want to sit on windowsills.

        Amandazzle said...

        Actually I will be using the plastic window kits this season. I think that should help with any drafts. I do have cats, but in the past they have mostly left those alone.