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.


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 : )