My wife and I recently celebrated our anniversary, and my parents gave us one of the coolest presents I've ever gotten: a "Liberty Bell."
Fortunately this one doesn't have the iconic crack on the original...
...so it still rings. I'll prove it in a video at the end of this post... but first a little history.
Since it's been awhile since my grade-school history lessons about the bell, I looked the story up online. The original bell hung in the first meeting-place of Congress, which is known as Independence Hall. It was rung to call the delegates to meetings.
During the lead-up to the Civil War, it became a symbol for abolitionists who wanted to "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof" (which is what's inscribed on the original bell).
Since I don't have an Independence Hall of my own, I decided to hang it on the corner of our barn, which is the first thing visitors see when they drive into our property. I pondered all sorts of ways to mount it, but in the end, I decided to put it on a simple bracket.
First I built a bracket from three pieces of 2x4, screwed together. Here's a front and side view to give you an idea of how it worked.
Next I pre-drilled three bolt holes in the front of the bracket to match the location of the pre-cast holes in the bell's mounting assembly. Then I screwed the bracket to the barn wall.
It worked beautifully. Press PLAY to hear the bell ring.
Do you have a special little project like this that could use a handyman's help? I'm always glad to hang a bell, install a light, put up a porch swing, or do the other small jobs that make a "house" into a "home."
I recently repainted a porch, and I can't resist showing you the best picture first.
Don't you just want to sit there and enjoy the pleasant fall weather?
The porch was actually in pretty good shape when I arrived, but closer inspection revealed that it needed a new paint job on the railings, the floor and the swing.
The swing was really gratifying to repaint.
While I was there, I also re-hung the porch gate. I used double-swing hinges, so you can push straight through the gate no matter which way you're going. It makes a big difference when you're coming onto the porch with an armload of groceries.
If your porch is looking tired and dirty, why not call me and get a coat of paint and a pick-me-up? The curb appeal of a clean porch is a great investment in your home value and, more importantly, in your lifestyle. After all, who doesn't enjoy a comfortable porch swing during Asheville's warm fall weather?
It's not even November yet, and I've already gotten a couple of calls from clients who are ready to winterize their homes. And according to the almanac, it's going to be a looooonngg cooooolldd winter. (Brrrrr.)
With that in mind, I thought I'd show off a few options for preventing drafts and saying warm during our Asheville mountain winters.
Especially in historic homes with old-fashioned fittings, it's quite possible that your front door is letting in a draft. Storm doors can stop drafts, and they also let in light on sunny winter days. I can measure the door for you, pick it up at the hardware store, and install it. You don't even have to lift a finger.
The newer doors are also very subtle and attractive.
Interior "Storm Windows"
This is another great way to stop drafts without having to replace all of your windows. Bonus: I've recently learned that they're the preferred choice in historic districts such as Montford, because they won't change the exterior look of your home.
These aren't the heavy, expensive Plexiglass windows that are so hard to put in and take out. The latest product is a super-heavy-duty plastic film stretched on a frame that friction fits into your window opening. And as the title implies, they're "installed" from the interior, so you can take them out if you want to open the window.
They're also very subtle in appearance, and they come in white or bronze. Here's an example of a white one:
You can barely tell the difference.
Here's what they look like up close:
I really like these as an alternative to the old Plexiglass windows. They're cheaper, they're easier to install, and they work.
Another common winter problem is drafts around otherwise solid doors. In those cases I recommend weatherstripping.
Now, you may harbor a few grudges against weatherstripping. It's true that the cheap stick-on stuff is awful. It's made of a low-quality foam that quickly degrades and leaves an ugly mess.
However, I can install a heavy-duty silicon rubber weatherstripping that lasts a lot longer and really stops the drafts. I can also install a permanent metal-and-rubber door sweep along the bottom of the door to prevent breezes from blowing in under it.
If you live in Asheville, Weaverville or Mars Hill, and you want to keep Old Man Winter at bay, give me a call, I'll be glad to help you stop those chilly drafts.
If you own a second home, especially one that's in another town or another state, you've probably discovered how hard it can be to get maintenance done, You have to get in your car and drive over just to tighten a loose doorknob... and a big job like interior painting is even more involved.
Case in point: One of my clients recently inherited a home that was in good structural shape, but needed a complete interior repaint as well as a few other minor repairs. The home is here in Asheville, but she lives in Texas, which is quite a drive for a paint job! Luckily a neighbor referred her to me, and I was able to help her with the project.
I'm halfway through the interior painting, and the patched and repainted walls have already made a huge difference in the look and feel of the home. Take a look at these before-and-after pictures which I recently emailed to her.
I had to paint over old wallpaper in some places, but luckily I know how to do that.
Now that the new paint is on, you can pay more attention to the fine old woodwork in the home.
The fresh paint really brightens the space up and makes it look clean and move-in ready.
I still have lots to do on this job, but I already have the satisfaction of seeing an "old" house become a "new" home. More importantly, I get to help someone tackle a long-distance project which otherwise might seem impossible, and I can send pictures and status updates so the homeowner knows everything is being done right.
If you need maintenance or updates on your second home, please let me know and I'll be glad to help. I'll keep you in the loop and make sure everything is done to your satisfaction. Give me a call... I love this stuff!
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