Friday, July 10, 2009

Hallelujah, It's Raining Lead. Amen.

If you've been following along, which, I mean, obviously, you have, then you know I bought a super run down foreclosed-on home from the 1930s. The previous owner (who I have found out was a Haitian immigrant who tried to run an illegal daycare from the basement), didn't take very good care of the place. The updates that were made were generally half-assed, jerry-rigged or worse. While working last night, I decided to take some pictures of some of the first floor bedroom only examples of the great work.

The inspiration for the photo barrage came from this:

It's a door hinge. I was attempting to remove the door, in order to paint the jamb/trim and ran into a little problem. There should have been a total of twelve screws holding the door onto the jamb; six per hinge. After removing a few of them, I came upon what appeared to be a nail (it's on the middle right of the hinge). There was no channel to insert a screwdriver (I have no idea what the technical term for that part of the screw head is), like all of the others had. I immediately thought to myself, "what is a nail doing in here?" I removed the remaining screws, grabbed a hammer and started prying the hinge out.

After a bit of a fight with the hinge/nail/jamb, I realized that it was, in fact, not a nail, but a screw. I have no idea, nor will I ever have an idea, of how this screw was inserted into the wood without a proper Phillips or regular head on it. I remain dumbfounded.

My second example is Haitian craftsmanship comes from the window frame:

Above is an image of an old timey/cheap curtain rod bracket. You put this bracket up, slip a curtain onto a crappy rod, and mount the rod to this thing. I have no problem, other than aesthetically, with the use of this bracket/rod system. Sure, it's ugly and cheap, but, much the same as a middle aged hooker, it has a lot of experience and performs ably. My problem is with the effort with which the mounting of this bracket was overlooked.

As you can see, the bracket on the right was mounted according to the instructions. The bracket on the left, was not. Looking at the proper mounting, there is a screw at the top to carry the load of the heavy curtain/rod, and a nail in the bottom to ensure that the bracket remains in place. The bracket on the left however, uses a non-included drywall screw for the top, and some sort of flexible screw for the bottom. The top screw is excusable. Perhaps the original screw was misplaced. The bottom screw, which should be a small finishing nail, is abhorrent. It is obviously too girthy for the nail hole, so instead of screwing in cleanly, it warped into what is seen above.

Furthermore, the bracket assembly was overlooked at least 3 more times. There are three coats of paint on the thing. Someone took the time to paint the out of place screw instead of removing it and replacing it. In short, someone put it up, said to themselves, "nice. We can hang some drapes and/or Haitian flags now." Compounding things, someone, presumably the same person, painted over the offending bracket three times without taking the, literally, one minute to remove the screw and replace it. Jesus.

My final example of 'how to not take care of a home' is below:

The image above is the ceiling of a first floor bedroom closet. Fairly flaky I'd say. The best part? It's definitely lead paint. How can I be so sure that it's lead paint? Because it's the only layer of paint in the closet. Duh.

Every inch of this house has been covered in, at least, three layers of paint. The original paint, plus the, at least, two other colors (sometimes more). Since the house was built in the 1930s, as mentioned above, and lead paint was the dominating paint then, one can surmise that the first layer, at least, is lead paint. The only places that don't have more than one layer of paint in the entire house? The ever neglected closets.

The good news? Once all of the flakes are removed, you can prime twice and paint over lead paint with latex based paint to effectively seal it in. Easy enough. The bad news? You have to scrape lead paint. I spent a half an hour in a small closet scraping lead paint flakes/dust. The paint was everywhere. In my hair, under my fingernails, in my eyes and despite my best respirator wearing efforts, in my mouth and nose. I fully expect all of the food I eat to taste a little off for the remainder of the weekend.

Not even one coat of paint in the closets, you lazy jerks?

On the one hand, it's maddening to know that people like this exist and let their kids draw pictures on the door of a closet covered in flaking lead paint. On the other hand, if it weren't for them, I'd still be looking for a house to fix.

Speaking of the weekend, it's going to be a busy one. Paint the two bedrooms downstairs, organize my tools, paint the trim outside (weather permitting), finish up the landscaping, mow the jungle themed lawn, etc.

Almost done...

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