We are pretty sure whoever came up with the maxim, “It gets worse before it gets better”, was renovating an old house. In our project planning, we told our builder to assume worst-case scenarios for the Big House . . . all the plumbing needed to be re-done, we needed to remove the old heating systems, we needed to install air conditioning, we needed a new roof . . . pretty much everything but walls and floors . . . Weeeelllll, we knew we would need to do some work to “shore up” one of the sagging floors, but we almost didn’t even count that in the face of all of the other work on the list. Relatively, a minor thing. I mean, we were living there for two years!
The sag, however, should should have tipped us off. We found out there there was some termite activity, but again, we had lived there, how bad could it have been??
Bad. Very, Very Bad.
Apparently, termites had, and have, been living there for decades, cozy deep in our floor joists, drawing moisture from the poor drainage plan and exterior walls.
These terrors spilled out of a beam this week. We had already had the house sprayed, and now have a direct-dial-cell-phone relationship with our local Orkin man. At this point, we moved full steam ahead in the removal of every single floor joist in the larger rooms of the Big House in an attempt to eradicate any “home” that termites may have established at Edge Hill.
Let’s see that side-by-side:
This work has given us a dramatic perspective on the construction of the Big House, with foundations (and fireplaces) running deep (but a complete lack of vapor barriers).
The removal of the floors has felt like we are ripping out the heart of the Big House, but we are taking all of these steps with our eye on the future. Insecticide (all of it, right now, please) will be applied. Vapor barriers will be laid. New beams will be installed. The original pine floor boards will be salvaged and returned for the next 180 years. There will be holiday parties and fetes for years to come. But for now, we have dirt pits and and thresholds four feet above grade.
We did make one more interesting discovery. In the rear parlor of the big house, there was a small-board floor installed overtop the original pine floorboards, and we had speculated that they were put in to help prop up a sagging floor. Turns out, that floor had been there a while:
This tag says: “Sam Moore” “Quicksburg, Va”. Sam Moore bought the house in 1846! We don’t know why he installed this flooring overtop the original pine flooring, but we have salvaged it and plan to incorporated it into the floor of the Summer Kitchen.
Upstairs, we have also been de-constructing, and opening a passage from our master bedroom into the future en-suite.
Meanwhile, in the new addition, we look less like a disaster area.
Bricks are going up!
Stairs are going in!
The basement floor is poured!
We have also tied the addition into the original summer kitchen, and integrated the summer kitchen and root cellar into our addition:
At this point, as we walk around, the house looks raw and open, but we know the next few weeks will see us turn the corner and we will begin thinking about floors, finishes, and final coats of paint. Until then we will dream about it getting better.