I’ve been reluctant to write about what I call The South Wall Project. It has been dragging on for two months now and really set us back on the farmhouse renovation. It has been the most challenging part of this project, and it has been hard not to be discouraged while tackling it.
The south wall rot has turned out to be about one thousand times worse than suspected, from moisture to start but then from extensive–nightmarish even–termite damage. Bob says the house was essentially falling in on itself, that’s why all the leaning walls. He estimates in 10 years the house would have started collapsing if not for the work we are doing to rebuild it.
I haven’t written about The South Wall Project because there is so much to say. So I’m going to try telling the story in pictures…
We knew there was rot in the south wall when we bought the house. We had no idea just how horrible it was.
Our first indication that the rot might be more than expected? The window that came crashing down onto the floor behind me one day. All the supporting would around the window was completely rotted away.
The rotted header above where the window had been. Once Bob saw this, he started realizing we might have a much bigger problem on our hands than we thought. Boy, was he right!
Here’s another shot of the rotted out header although the photos can’t replace seeing this stuff in person. It is shocking.
When Bob started pulling off the siding on the outside, he discovered the floor joists were rotted through with termite damage. Why the people who put in the foundation never bothered to mention this is beyond me!!!!
And it turns out the studs were rotted out and nothing was holding up the corner of the two story house on this side nor on the east side either, we discovered later.
This, people, is termite damage. The wood just crumbles in your hands. It’s a pain to pull it out because dust flies everywhere and you can’t get a grip with your pry bar, the wood literally disintegrates. Can you say “disgusting”?
Termite damage in a floor joist. Nice! And this was one of the better pieces, just before it got tossed on the burn pile.
To redo the wall (which is what we’ve had to do), we had to first put in a beam to hold up the second story. Here you see the beam and also that by the time the rot was all pulled out, we didn’t have a wall. At all.
Here’s Bob standing in the hole that was the wall in that bedroom. On the ground? Loads more rotted wood for me the demo queen to burn.
It got worse. When Bob moved to the living room to start on that wall, it literally came tumbling down as you can see in this photo. Thank God no one was outside when this happened. We have been really lucky twice now!
Here’s our living room. Really airy, don’t you think? After the wall came tumbling down and Bob pushed the pieces the rest of the way off, this is what we had at the end of the day: Nothing. This living room wall was completely open to the outside. Did I mention starlings nested in the house during all of this? No? Well, they did. And I can’t stand starlings on a good day!
This is where we’re at right now. My hero of a husband has the bulk of the framing done and OSB and windows tacked in to keep the rain (and starlings!) out. It was enough to enable the electricians to get started although it is far from done.