This past weekend I checked out the South Minneapolis Home Improvement Fair held at a local high school. Like any home show, this event had solid representation from replacement window vendors and design/build contractors, but sprinkled among them were some preservationist- and traditionalist-oriented booths and some useful neighborhood-specific resources.
Here are my highlights:
- Meeting Howard Pauna “The Glass Woodsman” — He was fun to chat with and I had a great time thumbing through his portfolio of custom designed and restored vintage stained glass windows and lamp shades. I’d love to put stained glass in a few of my windows, particularly over the mantle and in the dormer of our master bedroom. I might even attempt this myself after taking some classes at Glass Endeavors, which also exhibited at the fair.
- Checking out the nice looking rain chains from Bjorkstrand Exteriors — Several varieties looked like something I could envision hanging off my rain gutters, if only I could get a handle on my drainage issues. More on that in a future post…
- Getting stucco advice from Donnelly Brothers Construction — The paint a previous owner applied to our stucco is flaking off. These guys talked me through what would be involved in cleaning and skimcoating the old painted stucco to match the new clean stucco on the rear addition. Since Donnelly did the stucco on the addition, they can get an exact color match if I move ahead with this.
- Hearing about the City of Lakes Community Land Trust — I wasn’t familiar with the concept of a residential land trust, but the enthusiastic board member at the CLCLT booth explained how this organization offers affordable housing by acquiring residential property for the trust and leasing the buildings to lower income home buyers.
- Testing Soderlin Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning — I’ve tried multiple times to bait these guys into trying to sell me a new boiler to replace Old Reliable in the basement and they never go for it. Instead, they told me I’m overdue for a biannual boiler service. They’re on my calendar for May.
- Getting the lead out with government and neighborhood resources — Multiple booths offered up information on reducing risks from lead, radon, and carbon monoxide, and how to improve energy efficiency. At one booth, they asked if I lived in the Central Neighborhood, because they had lead abatement grant money to buy replacement windows for three more homes there. I asked if they would pay to restore and remove lead paint from old windows that someone wanted to keep. Their answer: “No.” My reply: “I don’t live in Central anyway.”
- Checking out the hardware from Northwest Architectural Salvage — I was encouraged to see several people at this booth asking about matching their antique doorknobs and ogling old light fixtures. Their flyer included a 20% off coupon– why did I only take one?
- Previewing the Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour — I’ve blogged about MSP Home Tour before, and someday I hope our house will be ready to put on a tour like this. Flyers available at the Neighborhood Revitalization Program booth included a preliminary list of homes on the tour this year as well as the dates: Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. I forgot to ask about the theme for this year’s tour.
The home improvement fair wasn’t a perfect event, but with free parking and free admission, at least the price was perfect. I had hoped I might get to visit with someone about high velocity mini duct air conditioning, which has been on my mind more now that I have some upper level walls and crawlspace opened up. Also I thought I might save a phone call if there was someone from a spray foam insulation business but I struck out there, too.
Nevertheless, this was a house-related activity that I could cruise through in 90 minutes while pushing my 14-month old in the stroller. If I could have the baby with me while stripping windows or framing walls, I’d be getting a lot more done around here.