Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


We got mobbed!!!

The Des Moines Rehabbers Club Kickoff Meeting was a HUGE success! People started showing up right before 9:30 and more and more people arrived and Brandon estimates we probably had around 50 people in our house at one time! We were all blown away by the excellent turnout (and we’re sorry if there weren’t enough donuts and coffee for everybody!)

Steve kicked off the meeting with an introduction to the goals and functions of the Rehabbers Club and then invited two guest speakers to present on behalf of their organizations. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch their names, but one was from a group promoting green and sustainable building practices and another was from the Polk County Health Department and spoke about options for lead abatement.

Here’s a picture of part of the crowd that gathered at my house. There were people crammed into the hallway, in the kitchen behind me, and all the way to the back of the living room.


I was amazed at how friendly and generous everybody was in offering advice and sharing resources. It just goes to show you that there was a definite need for a group like this in Des Moines.

Here are some great ideas and tips I got from folks today:

  1. If you have heat registers and doorknobs and other hardware that has been painted, the best way to get the paint off and preserve the finish of the metal is to soak it in a tub of ammonia. It reacts with the metal and releases the paint. Soak for half a day or so.
  2. An easier way (than smoothing the whole wall with joint compound or smooth plaster) to even out the texture on a wall that has flaws or is only partly textured is to mix silica sand like is used for sandblasters into regular primer/sealer and roll on a couple of layers. The sand will give it a fine texture, cover and mask previous textures, and prep the wall to accept color.
  3. The carpet pad that is adhered to the hardwood floor will soften better if you spray it with whatever solvent (currently using diluted fabric softener, may try white vinegar) and then cover the sprayed spot with a plastic bag and a rug and let it sit for an hour or so. The rubber and clay padding will soak up more moisture that way and be easier to remove.
  4. The energy savings from replacement windows may not outweigh the cost of installing them. If the current windows are in good enough condition, doing the work to reglaze and insulate them might be a more economical option and yield very close to the same energy savings in the long run.
  5. Heat guns rock. (I think I knew that already but I’ve now had it confirmed ten times over.)
  6. I had it reinforced to me how important it is to get a respirator. You’ll see pictures of my respirator as soon as it arrives at my house.
  7. Someone pointed out that whoever painted our wood trim did it the quick way, just painting over the varnished wood without stripping or scuffing the varnish first. In some cases you can put some duct tape on the paint and leave it on for a few days and when you pull it off it’ll bring the paint with it, leaving the varnished wood exposed. I’ll give it a try!
  8. Someone showed me a better razor scraping tool that I will do my best to hunt down. It was a Titan brand tool that holds a standard single edge razor blade.
  9. Several people mentioned the Tool Lending Library.
  10. The flooring under the vinyl in the kitchen may contain asbestos so have a professional look at it and see if we need help removing it safely.

Something I will be adding to my blog in the near future is a page dedicated to budgeting. I got lots of questions about my budget and how much we’d spent on each part of the project so far and that made me realize I don’t have one single collection of that information. It’s all jotted down in notes and pockets of folders in my big planning notebook, so I’ll do my best to compile all the important details into a single page for your perusal.
We got the names of several people who offered their expertise on everything from where to find salvaged cabinetry to how to apply reinforcing fabric to the walls. This club could not have come into existence at a better time for me!

Meanwhile, I’m still basking in the warm glow of all the friendly people I met today and buzzing with the enthusiasm to get back to work on my house!

Many thanks to Steve Wilke-Shapiro for bringing it all together!

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