Who Built This House?

From Janelle:

When we bought our 80’s Ugly house (built in 1982) we bought it because of the location and the good bones.  The house was steeped in dark oak and beige, two things that are very un-me.  The house seemed to be well built; exposed wood beams were sizable, the beige carpet in good shape, the wood banister hefty and every cabinet in the house, while ugly, was high quality.  We were dismayed to discover shoddy construction.

When we converted an upstairs bathroom into a half bath/laundry room last year we discovered that someone had cut a horizontal line through the vertical beams supporting the house to run water lines.  That meant that the top of the roof line in the room was supported by, get this, nothing.

Since we are physically moving the kitchen from the back of the house into a more prominent position in the new great room

Kitchen has moved into the space in the forefront and the supporting wall is now gone

Kitchen has moved into the space in the forefront and the supporting wall is now gone

we had to move the main kitchen sewer line.  It was then that we learned that the center piling that supported the house was held up by, wait for this, nothing.  As described in ehow.com “Cast-in-place concrete piles are made by driving a cylindrical shell into the ground to the desired depth and then filling the shell with liquid concrete. The shell doesn’t contribute to load bearing capacity but provides a hole in order to make the concrete pile. …conditions must be favorable as the concrete must be able to harden in the form.”  Obviously in our situation, conditions weren’t “favorable”.  The “bag” that was used as a “shell” either moved or wasn’t positioned properly so the piling that should have been supported by a concrete block was supported on wait again, nothing.  Every day for a week or so when I left for work I’d look down into a hole at a guy and ask “Are you still digging?”  He’d laugh and keep shoveling.  We pumped in more concrete and voilà, a main buttress actually supported on….something.


In order to remove a supporting wall we had to jack hammer through the foundation (Lewis can explain that one) but there was not one but two foundations to tunnel through.  Apparently when the house was built over a 1950’s bungalow an additional slab was poured.

When we opened up the back walls to install the new sliding doors and windows Contractor Don pointed out that the headers were not the same size and that it would look odd if they didn’t match.  He recommended that one be replaced, we concurred and the windows are now symmetrical.

After months of digging to China, chasing wires to figure out what they led to (that is another story for another time), re-plumbing and rewiring the entire house and a slow down over the holidays we are back on track and moving along .  We may even have the drywall finished next week.  Progress.


From Lewis:

The story is the same with almost anyone who has done a remodel, you never know what you will find once you start looking. Sometimes I think it would have been easier and faster to start from scratch. Anyway we knew there would be a lot of work needed once we started changing the structural components of the house. And it was five holes dug in the house and a trench.

What is wrong with your house?  How well was your house built?

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