Friday, April 06, 2007

Without fire



In my house, there is no fireplace, just two small mantels framing two blocked openings in the upstairs bedrooms.

(Cruel.)

The lack has embarrassed me and, I think, a little bit the house too. Guests with assumptions about old farm house in northern climates and it starts to smart.

My father, a winter visitor also, generously spurred me to action. For my 35th I was given a check: a fireplace Court, go forth and chimney build (though not in a god-voice but with that emphasis).

The other weekend, after a year of un-returned calls in which I imagined the recommended chimney guy didn't exist or didn't care for the sound of my voice, Gary arrived. Gary’s Saab was a bit of a worry.

For an hour then, we sought evidence of what we assumed had been.
To the attic,
beneath to the dirt-floored basement,
outside to poke the foundation,
then, with knocking hands (I get "empty" and "solid cement" sounds switched), long drill bit and a skewer, into my poor wall.

Gary had stunningly bad news.

“No chimney,” Gary said.

My house's stoic builders had, through north-eastern winters, no need for heat.

Gary’s soup-to-nuts solution:
”Build a proper brick chimney, inset via a slice through a side of the house, a propping up floors and a bracing of ceiling, (pause) a laying of a new foundation, a snip at floor boards….
(I don’t know if this is actually what he outlined but definitely the gist.)

”3 months,” Gary said, ”$20-25,000,” when I went ahead and asked.

We did then speak of a non-cost-of-my-subaru option - which would entail the fireplace/mantel/hearth protruding a ways into the living room, downwards from the ceiling and involved no chimney.

We never got to the cost of that.

Now Gary owes me this in writing.

And so I wait, and like the owners-of-old, considering potbelly stoves.

C - chilly but solvent

1 comment:

Annie Murphy said...

oh, i SO feel you're pain. taylor and i are going thru the same issue and are considering ripping up our living room to build a chimney and fireplace. it's a cruel, cold world : )