Monday, April 28, 2014

The Money Pit

Will told me this weekend that the support beams need to be replaced. He looked under our house and discovered several are rotten. As in about ten beams with four to six ft. sections of rotten wood.

In order to fix this, we will need to jack up the house, remove the old beam, slide in another, then sit the house down. Jacking up walls could lead to cracks in the plaster, windows falling out, floors breaking, wiring being pulled loose, and Goddess knows what else.

Not replacing the beams means the house will fall down.

And of course, there is the question of WHY the beams rotted in the first place. The one under the bathroom rotted from years of water leaks. The one under our bedroom had termite damage.

The beams are not cheap. I'm not even sure we can buy beams like the one under the house. They are huge, six by eight inches. Imagine squaring up a tree trunk. That's what my house is made of.

My father has a building that MAY have similar beams. He has told me I could use the wood before, but the deal was I couldn't tear anything down until I was ready to use the wood. It's not being used and we're pretty sure someone will burn the building down one day, not out of malice but just being stupid with a cigarette.

But there's some problems, the first being my father doesn't like Will. Dad might not let me have the wood now. And we don't know for sure that the beams are the same. I am assuming they are because both houses were built in roughly the same time. I don't know if there are enough beams. I don't know if the building code will allow using reclaimed materials. I don't know that building supply stores sell beams that big. I would imagine if they did, the beams would be really, really expensive. And while we did fix all the leaking pipes, we haven't treated for termites. Some of the beams might be under too much pressure and that's whole different repair job that probably involves rebuilding the house or at least tearing some of it down.

So that's where we are, a huge house falling down around us while we struggle to live.


Aine O'Brien said...

ohboy. That doesn't sound good. This may not even be safe to be living in - please put your safety first. Maybe you should get a professional opinion.?

FreeDragon said...

I'm leery of being in a professional for two reasons: 1.) He may condemn the house and we will be homeless 2.) The historical society may try to take the house away from us and we will be homeless. That almost happened to my neighbor up the street, she lives in what the first courthouse in Lee County. Never mind that it's been a private residence for over a century or that she's owned the house for decades. People tried to put her out of her home so they could 'preserve' it. They didn't want to give her fair market price or provide her with another home. She fought a long time before she got to keep her house.

I don't think the house will suddenly collapse. I think it will remain standing for the time being barring a hurricane. I don't know how rotten the wood is. It could be just on the surface or it could be all the way through.

My father has worked construction his entire life. This is why I want him to look at the house. He can tell me realistically if the house is worth saving.

The only place where the rotten beams show on the inside is near the front door. The floor board has caved in. We don't walk there. I've mistakenly stepped on the board a few times. It held my weight, nothing shifted, and nothing broke. Would I set any furniture on that spot? Hell no.

If we're going to save the house, these are things that must be fixed. If we are tearing the house down, we can live with it for now.

catherine said...

I'm glad you are safe, I have heard about the tornados that are sweeping through that area, and I was trying to find out if Salem was in the path of any of them. I did find out a lot of interesting facts about Salem. It's a lot smaller than I thought. Is the house insured for tornados?

Jacking the house up and replacing beams is really expensive. Hopefully the building code allows wood beams, some places you can only use steel ones. If your dad is in construction he will know for sure. Good luck and watch out for tornados :)