A Gem in Basic Black

May 24, 2013 | 0 comments

Wachsmuth House from the Back

Wachsmuth House from the Back

For a week or so, most of the Wachsmuth house has been sheathed in tar paper.  As with every step of this look-out-the-window-it’s-so- nearby construction process, I try to remember if my own house-building experience was the same.  In this case, I think not.  Surely, even after thirty-five years, I would recall the drama of a black-clad house.

I really love the way it looks.  It’s bold and dramatic.  I don’t know if it is an optical illusion or not, but the two-story part of the house seems taller and narrower than it did before it was wrapped.  It almost makes me wish they were planning to paint the finished house a dark color, but I know that is not the case.

I think the tar paper has something to do with construction codes – something to do with assuring that the interior of the building is dry enough to rough in the electrical wiring.  Or was that the installation of the windows?  I’m not sure.  If my bay house didn’t get swathed in black before the exterior siding went on, it must not have been a required step in those days.  Or perhaps it depends upon something else.  I am totally confident that whatever was required was what was done.  Ossie and the Mack brothers were sticklers for going by the book.

That’s not to say that they always agreed with all of the code requirements.  I’m not sure that any builders do.  Many is the time that I’ve heard contractors and worker-bees talk about the problems with the modern requirements of air-tight construction.  “A building has to breathe,” they say.

In fact, since we’ve moved ‘into town’ and into this old family house – which is so far from air-tight it is to laugh – I’ve been told many times that it has stood the years so gallantly precisely because it breathes.  Actually, during some of our winter winds, you would say it “wheezes” and “gasps.”  You can feel the wind coming in around the windows and doors – hardly energy efficient and not even close to modern ‘passive house’ construction standards.

But, even as our moisture-laden air wafts in through the cracks, so does the fragrant, steamy kitchen air seep out.  The house does, indeed, breathe and still stands proudly after 144 years, most of its original siding intact.  No tar paper.

But… I digress.  Whatever the code requirements or the reasons that the Wachsmuth house has been clothed in elegant basic black, it is another fabulous step in a process we are watching with interest.  And the pearls that go with that basic black?  Right across the way at daughter Lina’s house until Move In Day!  Hooray!


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