Historic Echo Park
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Debra van Hulsteyn
I wish my house was in Echo Park.  You guys have it going on!   My victorian house is in Sacramento and I am frustrated trying to find a contractor that would remove the stucco and restore the underneath.    The fishscales are still visible and all the orignial windows are still there, but someone stuccoed over the 12" redwood siding in about 1920. 
My historical society says "yeah, go for it", but I am stumped at finding a contractor. 
Any suggestions are welcomed!
Debra van Hulsteyn
Sacramento, CA

Hello.  Your e-mail was forwarded to me.  I live in Echo Park and I removed stucco from my house.  I did it myself without a contractor.  I don't know if you could tell from the online photos, but it is actually pretty easy to remove stucco.   All you need is a hammer, a crowbar, goggles and wire cutters (plus a small board as leverage).


I'm small and not talented at all in craftsmanship.  In fact, I can't build anything.  Nevertheless, when I bought my house, me and my friends took the stucco off ourselves.  The first thing you need to know is that stucco people put up tar paper, then chicken wire, then stucco.  So you'll just need to snip through the wires and pull the stucco back off the house, albeit in small sheets.


I used a pointy hammer (one I could lift) to carve a path through the stucco.  The path I carved was an upside-down U-shape, about two to three feet tall and one and a half feet wide.  Then I peeled away the stucco, almost like opening a sardine can.


Once I had the upside down U, I used wire cutters to cut through the chicken wire.  You'll need to brush away the stucco shrapnel.  Then you take a crowbar to pull the stucco away from the wall, in a single, stiff sheet.  I hope the photos are helpful.   You could hire day laborers, or find an adventurous friend to experiment ( I recommend the back of the house) to make sure you figure out how to swing the hammer strong enough to cut the path deep enough to reach the wood but not break it.   Once you've got the hang of it, you could either do it yourself or show a contractor.   WHen a contractor will be needed (and I'm hiring one myself) is for the wood repair.  You may need very little repair for clapboard.  I had 95-year-old cedar shingles, so some of those need fixing.


I hope this helps.

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