There’s a truism in this business: “You never know what you’ll find when you open up a wall.” If it’s what you expect—healthy studs with adequate insulation—nobody ever talks about it. Since I brought it up, I guess you know where this is headed.
Our long-term contractor Ruben started demo on the Roadrunner house late yesterday. Since the air conditioning was off and the high temps are hovering near the century mark (closing in on 40° for our friends outside the US), he started by bringing down the arches on the front porch. That little bit of demo has already improved the looks of the house, and we found adequate support for the span. The arches weren’t supporting anything but their own weight. So, we’re happy about that.
Our new AC contractor for the region came by this morning and unclogged the drains, so we could turn the AC back on. The guys were really happy about that. He gave the rest of the system a clean bill of health, except for the code changes implemented since the units were installed. He’s preparing a bid to address those minor issues, which mainly involve upgrading the thermostats.
With the house cooling down, the guys moved in and started peeling the 1970s-era wallpaper off the walls and ripping up the carpet and cheap vinyl floors. They hadn’t even opened the wall when we got our first bad surprise. One of the kitchen walls showed water damage that had been hidden by the wallpaper for centuries. Okay, it had only been hidden for a matter of decades.
We opened the wall to determine the extent of the damage and caught a good break to equal the old one. The damage was caused by a leak in a drain line that hadn’t been used since the water heater was moved out of the attic. The carpenter ants that had moved in to take advantage of the wood and moisture had moved back out when the water went away. The only real damage we have to correct is not that expensive. We just have to replace the sill plate, a couple of studs, and two or three sheets of drywall.
We got another big surprise under the antique carpet. In addition to what Ruben said was 20 pounds of dirt—See why I hate carpet?—the entire second floor subfloor except for the addition, was 2×6 tongue and groove pine. You might expect to find this in a house built before 1950, never in one built in 1970! The next bit of good news is that the material is still available, so we can repair a few careless patches previously hidden by the carpet and extend it to the addition. This wonderful find should help us increase the value of the house without going even farther over budget than we already are.
“How did you get over budget at the beginning of the project?” you ask.
Let’s just say I got started working with computers in my previous life so the computers could do the math. That fact helps me out in managing these projects when I get the math right to put into the programs. When I estimate costs for a 3200 square foot house using 2200 square feet as the multiplier, we end up starting the project over budget.
Let’s see where we end up.