Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Old House Is Put Together like a House of Cards

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Old House Is Put Together like a House of Cards

Article excerpt

As any Realtor can tell you, everything about a 120-year-old house is charming and "loaded with character" - until these charming, character-loaded things need to be fixed, replaced or otherwise tampered with.

It's a need that, more often than not, I have resisted.

For years, in fact, I've said "no" to replacing the 120-year-old furnace in my basement, mainly because the furnace is so large, I can't imagine how anyone would be able to remove it without dismantling the rest of the house first.

And where would I live while that was going on?

Originally a coal furnace, it was converted to gas sometime after the turn of the century.

And, no, I'm not referring to that big, loud turn of the century we had 12 years ago. (Remember Y2K?) I'm talking about the other one (Y1.9K?) that we had 112 years ago.

One of my house's previous owners believes the conversion occurred in the late 1920s, a quaint period in American history when the economy was a mess, people were arguing about evolution and the Best Picture of the Year was a silent movie.

Despite all this, I recently agreed to a FEW renovation projects after receiving an unexpected windfall: I went to the bank, asked to borrow some money and, for some wacky reason, they gave it to me.

Woo-hoo!

So, what am I gonna do with all this cash?

"I'd like a medium-rare 120-year-old house, please - with all the fixin's!"

And, in short order, I bought a new fence. I ordered a new window to replace the drafty old one in my living room. I had my outside staircase power-washed and stained. I've begun looking at new kitchen countertops. And I briefly - very briefly - contemplated getting a new tile floor in my bathroom.

Unlike my house, my bathroom is only about 80 years old. An amusing 6-foot-by-5-foot space, it's about as roomy as a cramped elevator. And, since it was built years after the house was, it has some amusing oddities, including pipes that run through my (unheated) porch, which leads to all sorts of mayhem on chilly winter evenings.

The pipes then run through the ceiling of my entranceway, which I suppose is why, a few years ago, when I had a leak in the bathroom, the glass light fixture in the hallway beneath it began to fill up with water like a goldfish bowl. …

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