Monday, January 28, 2013

Drama - There Are Always Surprises in an Old House

It occured to me that if we were an HGTV show, this is the part of the show where you find nasty surprises that kill the budget.  You know the segment....the music changes (to something like the Jaws theme) and there are lots of close ups on people looking stressed.  It's when the designer/contractor and the homeowner get into heated arguments, as they try to figure out how to pay for the unexpected surprises and still do all the other things they have planned.

Since we can't see the point in arguing with ourselves, we'll forgo the drama!!  But we did find some issues that are going to cost more than we anticipated.


This is what rotted wood looks like.  It's got the texture of a dried cellulose sponge - if you squeeze it, it gives a bit. And if you get it wet it can be downright slimy.

This is in such bad shape, it makes you wonder what was holding everything together!

It's the result of a poorly pitched roof and flashing on the shed.  See how the shed roof slopes the wrong way - back toward the house!

We hadn't originally expected to have to replace sheathing on the back of the house.  Especially where it's hard to get at, in a spot like this.  But guess again - now it's in the plan!


We had some basement flooding back in December when we had 5" of rain in one week.  We assumed that was an extraordinary event and it wouldn't be the norm.  But this week, we had some snow melt (and this is Maine, so that's not an unusual occurrence!!!) and the basement had 2" of water in it again.

I've gotten pretty good at channeling it over to the sump pump, but we have to get it fixed.  Thankfully we have experience dealing with this issue, so we called Concrete Prescriptions and they'll be out in a couple of weeks.  So once again, we'll have a full perimeter drain dug around the foundation.

Underspanned Joists and those Scary Basement Stairs

Look at that - 2x4 joists in the floor system!  I think we were so busy looking down at the basement stairs, we forgot to look up.  No matter, we'll be fixing this as we tear out the basement staircase and move it to the other side of the house.  We got approval from the city for the change and hope to move forward soon.  This is a pretty expensive change, but we think it will be well worth it in the long run.

So, what does that do to our budget?  Well, thankfully we had a nice contingency cushion in there, which we haven't completely exhausted yet.  But hopefully we won't have too many more big budget surprises!!

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  1. Oh my goodness! Here's hoping that it is smooth sailing from here.

    1. Thanks Heather, but this is just part of the process. As carefully as you look for issues, it's not until you peel back a few layers and spend some time in a house that you really see what some of the challenges are. That's why we always plan for a few surprises!!!


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