Your Late April Church Update

Most of you are aware by now that we bought a church in our town and are now in the process of renovating it, and and I know many of you are curious about how that renovation is coming along. So, here’s a brief update: It’s coming along pretty well! Let me walk you through three of the biggest things currently under renovation.

First, and perhaps most significantly, the church now has a whole new roof. The previous roof was not a disaster, but it needed to be replaced, as there was some leakage and other issues that ultimately would have presented long-term problems if left unaddressed. The new roof is, I am told by my wife, whose professional experience is directly relevant to this information, a 50 year-colonial slate dimensional shingle, which basically means that this roof will almost certainly outlive me. There are flat surfaces on the roof which have been resealed, and masonry work which has been updated. This was all not inexpensive. On the other hand, now that it’s done, I probably don’t have to think about it again, and if I do, it’s very likely our insurer’s problem. Which is great.

Second, we are redoing the balconies of the church. The previous balconies were multi-level, to accommodate tiered rows of seating, and also, thanks to a cantilevered overhang, not exactly structurally sound; when we got the church, the (too-low) railing of the balconies were peeling away from the wall. We are making the balconies all one level, removed the cantilevered part and are going to be putting on a taller, rather more secured railing. The balcony areas are going to be my combination library and chill out area, and are going to be pretty awesome when they’re done. I’m really looking forward to this area being completed.

Third, we are redoing the concrete retaining walls that surrounded the church property, elevating it up from the street — here you can see, by way of a retaining wall that’s already been removed, how far up from the street the church is (Krissy, five foot ten, presented for scale). The retaining walls were as old as the church and were not designed to let water drain out, so over the decades they degraded and tilted. The new retaining walls will have seep holes and better general design, and will again last for decades.

(You may notice that the area where new wall will go through also appears to go on the property of the house next door to the church. That is the old parsonage for the church, and we also bought that when we bought the church. Why? Among other reasons, so that we wouldn’t have to ask anyone else’s permission to, say, tear up a crumbling retaining wall and replace it something more structurally sound. No, you can’t come live in the parsonage; the previous owners were already renting it out and we kept the tenants. They’re lovely.)

There’s more going in inside the church, particularly in the basement area where we’re revamping the kitchen and putting in another bathroom, but that’s for another update. For now, a lot of big things are getting done, and the church will be better than ever because of it. I’ll be happy when it’s all done.

— JS

39 Comments on “Your Late April Church Update”

  1. That balcony looks like a loge. House concerts? Tell me you’re going to host house concerts there!

  2. Thanks for the update. Looks fascinating, thorough, and expensive.

    We are currently finishing a house on an um, challenging site and I can relate to some small part of what you’re going through. Especially the roof that will outlive me. That is sort of a strange feeling.

    I feel your pain about retaining walls. Well-constructed ones still require maintenance; if the weep holes become blocked then much hilarity ensues. You’re doing the right thing, though I’m sure the cost is making you wonder about that.

    Have you had to deal with supply chain issues? Out here in the Pacific Northwest things are completely nuts.

  3. I hope that this is not a question that comes from lack of reading previous posts. However, I do not recall ever reading what the specific purpose the Scalzi’s have in mind for the building. The mention of the balcony as a library/chill out area is the MOST specific comment I recall from any posting about it. Has Mr. Scalzi mentioned specific plans/purpose for the building that I missed?

  4. I’m basically a lurker here, but that looks awesome. I love renovation stories\updates! seeing the transformations that take place is really inspiring as to what can be done with a space.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Looks exciting! Thanks for sharing.

    Out of curiosity – Is the property old enough to have ever had coal fired infrastructure? Fuel oil storage on site? If yes do you have any information about the soil conditions around those things? Does Ohio have any regs about the owners telling you about all that stuff? Probably not critical if you aren’t growing food on the property, or have a drinking water well nearby. (Sorry professional interest/paranoia :) )

  6. Thank you for preemptively answering the question about living in the parsonage. Saves a lot of time.

    I have something of a combo library/hang out area and highly recommend it. Of course, my library is a board game library, but still. Recommended either way.

  7. So, what books are you going to write to pay for all of this? (And when can I purchase them?)

    The space where you’ve leveled the balcony looks perfect for a hidden compartment or secret passageway. They would be a great place to hide when the earth is invaded by an alien race upset with how they’ve been portrayed in some book.

  8. Is the downstairs torture chamber…er…fellowship hall properly sound-proofed?

  9. Looks like he’s planning to live there, if the “library/chill out space” comment is any indication.

  10. Will the church get it’s own cats, or will yours shuttle back and forth as necessary?

  11. That’s a lot of work, and a lot to manage – congrats! The roof looks fab, in an English kind of way. And judging by the speed, you knew all about this when you bought it – a little like our rentals, which ended up with nicknames of the Fire Swamp (luckily the gas leak under the rainfall pooling didn’t actually set on fire) and the Pit of Despair (awesome mechanics pit had to be filled in due to liability issues)

    Glad no one managed to declare it an historical building for any particular reason – out here in San Diego, I’m old enough to be declared historical if I stand still for too long.

  12. I don’t believe John as ever stated his intended purpose for the church. I have long suspected it will be his campaign headquarters for another run as SFWA President. He’s served 3 terms already (yes, he’s what we call a “slow learner” snark).

  13. Love hearing how the church is coming along. The town should give you their “best citizen of the century” medal.

  14. The roof is really beautiful, the mixed shades of blues and grays. I redid the roof on my former house and was really tickled by the idea that it might outlive me. I spent a lot of time choosing the color and coordinating it with the rest of the trim, so whenever I drive by my former home I’m still really pleased.

    And watching someone else’s renovation is always a good time!

  15. The roof looks great, I’m looking forward to more installments of “This Old Church”

  16. My guess is that John is planning a live action reboot of The Muppet Show, with him as Kermit and his SF writing buddies as the other Muppets. The church is being re-modeled into the Muppet Theatre.

    No on tell Disney, I’m really looking forward to the first season.

  17. Just sitting around one day, and you wake up, and Scalzi’s your landlord.


  18. The Scalzi Church of Irreverence

    Looks great! Sealing the outside usually is 80% of doing the work inside, as most of the damage inside is caused by the damage outside.

    I can’t wait to see what you turn it into! And the recording studio—I can’t imagine you doing all this without putting in a recording studio. 😉

  19. Thanks for this peek into your project. Is the goal to have this all completed by this year I assume?

  20. This is beginning to look like a “venue”. Movies, concerts, small events.

    I could, of course, be wrong.

  21. The balcony areas are going to be my combination library and chill out area, and are going to be pretty awesome when they’re done. I’m really looking forward to this area being completed.

    The fact it is suitable for holding court and supervising trial by combat is just coincidence. (I’m pretty good with money if you need a Master of Coin.)

  22. Nice of Krissy to let you highlight her in project manager mode. She definitely has the right look. With Athena being grown up, you won’t have to be ‘Athena’s Dad’. You can now be referred to locally as Krissy’s client.

  23. Congratulations and condolences on the remodel. Congratulations because it’ll be fabulous when you’re all done. Condolences, because remodels can eat your life!

  24. “There’s more going in inside the church, particularly in the basement area, where we’ve just uncovered a cool old sarcophagus.”

    Thus begins Scalzi’s first horror novel.

  25. Why not put a solar roof while you were at it? Protection from energy bills, ecology, etc.

  26. It will be a soundstage for filming churchpunk laser battles. Pew! Pew Pew Pew!

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