Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nasty Surprises

Pulling it up with his bare hands.

Yes, those are TREE roots

Notice that at some point in time the concrete was cut and a piece removed and the joist was reworked leaving a larger than normal span in the space.

Almost done.

My husband surprised me last week by suggesting that we hire somebody to finish up some of these jobs around here. Since I have been totally burned out on the reno for about a year, and have done very little in the past year about bringing this place back, I was very happy to do so. I had heard some good stuff about a contractor from Dallas who was doing some work for my friend. I called and set up an appt to meet. The first thing I was going to have him do was look at the electrical around an old AC in my living room, which was tripping the fuses. We hadn't used it in about a year and we were either going to fix it if it was fixable or (my preference) dump the piece of junk.
So I woke up and got to work, I knew he was going to want to look at the wiring which runs under the baseboard, so I pulled the carpet back and got a nasty shock. Underneath the carpet a large area of the particle board floor was soaking wet. (I know, right? Particle board? I have some serious questions for the previous owners.)
It was completely rotten all the way through and moldy and smelled horrible. My heart sank. I figured this was going to be a long and costly job.
About that time the contractor showed up, along with the friend who had recommended him. We sat down for coffee and crumb cake (made by my friend, and OH SO GOOD) and got acquainted for a few minutes before he started work.
Abandoning the coffee we made our way over to the corner of the living room. The smell, as I said was horrible. He reached down and pulled a large chunk of the rotten particle board up with just his bare hand. Horrible stuff. He went to get his saw while I just stood there and shook my head. When he came back he marked off a large area of the floor, probably an area of at least eight feet by four feet and began to cut out the rotten particle board. Underneath was an interesting mix of joists, concrete and dangling wires and lots of wet dirt. And tree roots. Did I mention the tree roots? Some strange things were revealed about my house as we investigated the underside of the footings. The first thing he noticed was that the joists, instead of sitting on top of the concrete beam had actually been notched into the concrete. The second was that one of the joists, instead of sitting into the notch, nice straight and even had been angled to meet up with one of the other joists. That was a mystery we never did solve, but it was interesting to note that the concrete footing had been cut away in the area where that joist should have been notched. Somebody had been down inside here before. Also, to my shock, we realized that some of the joists had alligatoring and soot. My house at some point has been on fire.
Realizing the joists were not in great shape, but not terrible shape either, we decided the best thing to do for today was to sister the joists with 2 x 6,s and then block them so they wouldn't move and replace all the rotten particle board with plywood. He surprised me when he said he thought he could be done by five pm, I thought this was going to be a long, long job, requiring several days of work. Having seen his work at my friends house, and hearing the glowing reports she gave his work, I had complete trust that he knew what he was doing and I gave him the go ahead. True to his word, he had all the joists sistered, all the blocking done and all new plywood in place and screwed down by five pm.
We chatted as he was putting away his tools, and I asked if he thought he could come back for a day or two every couple of weeks (can't really afford more, esp since we are about to put a kid through college) to help us get the old place back in working order. He seemed very happy to say yes, and genuinely seemed to really like my house, which made me feel really good about the place, since lately I have been feeling like I am trying to "make a purse out of a pig's ear", if you will pardon the expression.
The end result? I am psyched. I am going to have professional help, just a little at a time for the things I just can't do myself. It is exactly what I have wanted and it means the difference between burnout and moving forward on this old house.
Next time we are going to work on removing the old AC (and putting a new one in eventually) and removing some of the dirt from the outside of the house. We finally figured out that the problem is that the soil on the outside of the house is at the same level as the floor, and the water is just wicking it's way in, and that tree is not helping things either. A drain system is needed in the very near future.

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