front steps

We continue to plug away at projects at Firefly Cottage! We’re trying to focus on the ones that we need external help with, which includes repair to some bricks on the exterior of the house. There was some spalling on the upper section of the chimney, as well as some not-well-sealed-anymore spots at the chimney cap. Those are all fixed now, hooray! We also had our mason work on the front steps, which were in need of some patching, some mortar repair, and a big thing of replacing the pad on the front steps.

Roof in progress at Firefly Cottage

I stupidly forgot to take a photo before they got started, but you can kind of see in this photo from last year that the central pad was pitted and cracked and sunken in some areas, so it needed to be replaced.

Front steps repair work

Here’s the front steps with the main pad removed.

Front steps repair work

And here it is with new concrete! It looks so much better, and it a lot safer for walking on. It also contains a lot more structure than it used to – the rebar on the original installation was pretty wimpy and minimal, so it should be more durable over the next 75 years than it was in the past 75.

Front steps repair work

We also had some patching on the steps for bricks that were spalling. The type of bricks we have aren’t easy to find, so replacing them wasn’t really an option. With a little weathering, these will blend right in. I’m really pleased to have this all fixed! Now that the outside of the chimney is fixed, we need to get the insides cleaned and make sure the flues are in good repair (even though we aren’t planning to use the fireplaces for fires due to my allergies, we want to know that they’re safe and operational). This type of project is really not very glamorous, but it makes up for it in peace of mind!

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molded

Remember the vine roots I mentioned that had grown along the mortar lines between the bricks? Here’s a fun example:
Roots of this tree formed themselves into the spaces between the bricks.

Looks neat, eh? I’m mostly just happy that it didn’t get INTO the mortar. Our strategy of cutting the stem at any points we could get through it seems to be working – the top of the growth is wilting and dying and the parts that are stuck to the house are getting easier to remove as they dry out.

I believe that I’ve identified the aggressive plants next to the garage as wisteria, so now I need to get that away from the structure. There’s a lot of grape hyacinth and some milkweed growing nearby, though, so I don’t want to lose those. Slowly but slowly, I’m getting a plan together!

Star Trek approval

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