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Done (mostly) but disappointed

The race against the clock fall rains is over. We had pleasant showers last night and the region’s most esteemed meteorologist says that’s it: Summer is officially done and we’ll be seeing a lot more such “pleasantness.”

After darned near doing myself in on Wednesday, I slowed my pace of work. As a result there’s still miscellaneous trim, touch-up, and clean-up remaining. But I did finish the gutters at 2:00 yesterday afternoon, a few hours before light rain moved in. That was the last big, important thing — the last thing that couldn’t somehow be made to fit between showers.

Then — sigh — in the evening I checked them and discovered one long span wasn’t working properly.

Given the put-together nature of Ye Olde Wreck, which began life as one big room and later had six additions tacked onto it (somewhat randomly in several cases), most spans of gutter have been short — 14 to 16 feet, which falls into the “even a girl can do it” range. None of the gutter work has been fun exactly. But only the 28-foot span across the front of the house was really, truly hard and really, truly not a one-person task.

That span was made more difficult by a roofline best described as funky (since kerflotchy caused too much consternation). I thought I could visually straighten the worst funkitude with my gutter layout. But alas, Yogi Berra was right: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

This morning I had to go out and deliberately make the gutter look worse.

It doesn’t look so horrible in photos:

In person, though, I cringe at every dip and rise. All that work! Only to look as if somebody halfassed the job.

The Wandering Monk and I might be able to work together to remove the worst funkiness while still getting a good slope toward the downspout. If nothing else, I could paint the gutters (next year!) the same color as the fascia boards so they wouldn’t stand out so grossly. But right now I’m Homeowner Heartbroken.

I must remind myself what a huge improvement five years (and 4.25 months) have made, even with all remaining flaws. Here’s the before:

The last bit of gutter I installed was a small span on the unregarded east side:

That, too (having been painted, trimmed, and guttered this summer and excavated out of the mud a couple of years ago, thank you, Monk and friends), is worlds beyond what it was:

The before photos don’t show how horrendous it really was. The slopes came so steeply down against the house on the east and north sides that when I walked around the house to inspect it I had to brace myself against the walls for support, as I couldn’t stand fully upright. And oh, the ratty tarps and the rusty nails and bugs and … shudder!

So yes, I’ll get over being disappointed about wavy gutters (which don’t look too bad on the east side, and are fine everywhere else). Oh, and on the front side, you may have noticed that there’s one drop with no downspoout attached. That, per Pat’s suggestion, is where I’ll try out a rain chain.

But right now, after all that huge push-push-push to complete all the major exterior work, I’m feeling a bit let down.

Oh, so here’s something nice. This is for Joel, who keeps asking. But also for the future. You can see that this is undone. But I hope you can see that the new faux greenhouse window the Monk created for me is going to be wonderful.

And it’s all made possible by the dear readers and supporters of the Living Freedom blog.


  1. Fred M.
    Fred M. September 8, 2018 2:00 pm

    What I see I like…you’re hired!!

  2. Claire
    Claire September 8, 2018 2:15 pm

    “What I see I like…you’re hired!!”

    Thank you very much, Fred M. I’m honored. But I QUIT! I ain’t never doin’ this again, no way, nohow.

  3. James
    James September 8, 2018 2:31 pm

    Claire, I am not above flattering you. But, seriously, this is the total and honest truth: I’ve studied those photos, looking for all this horrible dip and rise in the gutters, and … I can’t see it.

    Maybe it looks worse close up, although I doubt it. More likely, it’s the kind of thing that can easily be seen by the person who did the work, and no one else except a gutter professional. But please believe me: to a “regular person” who sees this from the street, it looks wonderful!

    Congratulations on the great job you’ve done. Take a break!

  4. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson September 8, 2018 2:49 pm

    I’m with James…I don’t see nothin’ horrible. If they do their job, if they drain properly and take the water away from the house, then you’ve done good.

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X September 8, 2018 4:16 pm

    I would be proud to have been a part of such an accomplishment.

    Proof that hard work pays off!

  6. larryarnold
    larryarnold September 8, 2018 5:01 pm

    and no one else except a gutter professional

    Who would probably say, “Yeah, I see why she did that.” Almost any time you’re moving water, level is a bug.

    Went and looked up “rain chain.” Cool.

  7. free.and.true
    free.and.true September 8, 2018 5:02 pm

    I’ll second or third the folks about not seeing the problems in your photos. What I do seem to see — in the pic from the road side — is a nice straight-looking run of gutter (properly and very faintly sloped toward that center downspout) with an upper roofline that does seem to wave a bit.

    If anything, it looks to me like you’ve made the place look *nicer* with your gutter work.

    I doubt anyone can talk you out of fussing over the issues you’ve noticed… but I hope you’ll notice that you seem to be the only one noticing them. And so long as you’ve got them firmly attached and flowing well without leaks, well… you know, you could maybe just let the worry go for a few days and see what happens…

    In fact, I’d like to know what brand and type of guttering you’ve been using. I have two straight runs of about 17 feet each to do, and I’d like to DIY it too. Are yours the glue-together kind, or the rubber-foam-gasket snap-together kind?

    And btw, your greenhouse window looks tidy and cheerful!

  8. Claire
    Claire September 8, 2018 6:06 pm

    Thank you, dear people. I still cringe and even think about tearing that section of gutter apart and redoing it. But you’re probably right that I’m the only one who’ll ever care.

    And free.and.true is also correct to note that the rooflines wave. In fact, the upper roof “frowns” (though less than it did before this summer) and the lower roof “smiles.” I was hoping to harmonize the two roofs a bit with nice, straight gutters, but no luck.

    free.and-true, the brand is Repla K and it’s the glued type. The same outfit makes Rain Go, a rubber-gasketed type. I wonder if Rain Go would have been easier? The local lumberyard has both. I liked the slightly flashier style of Repla K, but the sealant was messy and I didn’t always get it right on the first application.

  9. progunfred
    progunfred September 8, 2018 6:16 pm

    Wow, that is cute. Next spring, a little landscaping with low shrubs and greenery that flowers to hide the black downspout tubes (what are those called?) and you’ll have a very nice place. Now I see why the neighbors love you.

  10. John
    John September 8, 2018 6:24 pm

    The gutters look fine. Also their white color and the white color of your windows work well together, should you decide to leave the color “as is”. At the end of every big remodeling type job I have ever done, I see all of the flaws… because I am still so very close to the work.
    Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough.

  11. Arthur
    Arthur September 9, 2018 1:56 am

    RE: rain chains and downspouts; there’s a reason for gutter extensions and splash blocks – they help carry water away from the foundation. Having a house sit in soggy soil is not an advantage, for any number of reasons. Even carrying water a few feet away is beneficial. And, a lot of work has been expended over centuries to rework the grade around a house to slope away from the structure to help move water away.

    For the chains, some pavers, with a slight slope away from the house, may be an attractive solution.

  12. Joel
    Joel September 9, 2018 6:32 am

    Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever done a gutter section I thought looked right on the house, which subsequently *worked* right. We beat it into ourselves that everything on a construction job has to be level, but gutters are really not allowed to be level or necessarily even straight.

    Also by the way: This Spring I put up a 16′ gutter by myself and was very pleased with myself at the end because I found getting it up and working rather challenging. And now you call that span so “short” that “even a girl can do it.” May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.

    And I love your greenhouse window. 🙂

  13. DistOne
    DistOne September 9, 2018 9:15 am

    You have inspired me to modify our gutters to create a rain catchment system this fall. We don’t see as much rain as you do but it would be nice to have some water backup, since we have no well.

  14. Zendo Deb
    Zendo Deb September 9, 2018 1:16 pm

    I hope your neighbors band together and buy you a weekend package at a spa. The must love what you’ve done for your neighborhood.

    Looks good.

  15. Claire
    Claire September 9, 2018 1:28 pm

    “I hope your neighbors band together and buy you a weekend package at a spa.”

    Oh, I wish! They’re nice enough to do it; maybe I just need to drop more hints. 😉

    Thinking a break would be wonderful, I did (just this morning) look up the little beach-town studio apartment I used to rent. But its cost has doubled in three years, so that’s not happening. But oh yeah. A getaway, whether covered by appreciative neighbors or by me or by pennies from heaven would be most welcome right now …

  16. Joel
    Joel September 9, 2018 4:04 pm

    Claire, I may have asked this before but what was the house’s original foundation? Seemed to have had an awful lot of soggy wood in contact with soggy ground.

  17. Claire
    Claire September 9, 2018 4:29 pm

    Joel, the original foundation is the same as the present: block and beam. The old version was just in a heck of a lot more contact with a heck of a lot more soggy ground. Over the years, the house has been jacked up as much as 7″ in places. Most of the rotted, bug-eaten foundation beams were replaced with new treated ones. Plus we excavated as much as three feet of soil on the north and east sides and built retaining walls to keep that soggy ground from advancing.

    So … same foundation type, entirely different prognosis.

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