Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Living Room

Before the Storm (that's our new gutter to the left - it hasn't been installed yet)

When the sill came out, we could see exactly what we were facing with the living room floor.  Cue the
horror music…



Almost every joist was damaged and/or a total loss once again due to the incredible plague that is the termite!  While we knew that some of the joists were damaged, little did we know that all but one were no longer structurally sound.  Jason had originally planned to sister the existing joists, which would entail sandwiching new wood around the old timbers in order to take the support of the floor.  Once we realized that you could actually put your hand around the end of each massive timber and squeeze it like a sponge, we reconsidered our options.  While you may think our decision drastic, we believe it is the best thing for the house.

Removing the baseboards and lower wainscoting

The floor starting to come up...


The worst of the joists just in front of the hearth

In order to attack the living room joists, the flooring had to come out, piece by piece.  Before the flooring could be removed, the baseboards, lower wainscoting and the “most beautiful mantle in Pitt County” (according to Preservation North Carolina, who featured our lovely mantle on the cover of their most recent issue) had to be removed carefully from the walls.  All of that now resides in our dining room.  Jason numbered each floor plank (which are thankfully still in near-perfect condition!) so that they will go back down in the same manner they were originally laid.  This floor was an expensive feature at the time of installation – tongue and groove heart pine, affixed to the joists using a hidden nail pattern.  Jason will re-install it in the same way, and he assures us that it will look as if it had never been removed.

I took this picture while standing outside.

In removing the baseboards near the chimney, we also saw that one of the studs and cross timbers holding up the window were irreparable.  Unfortunately, the pests also began to eat away part of the window casing, both on the inside and outside, so we will do what we can to salvage these original hand-carved features.  Nothing like a few little surprises to stir up your home remodel!

Jason removing the stud using a chainsaw

All of our living room in our dining room.

Tune in for what becomes of our living room!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Under Construction

Renovations are under way!  Jason, our builder, began the chore of replacing the front sill in the living room, and believe me, it is not for the faint of heart.  To expose the entire length of the sill, he first had to remove the lowest couple of runs of wood siding as well as the first-floor porch, and in doing so, he discovered that the most deteriorated portion of the sill was actually right under the front door.  Additionally, the studs in the living room wall had begun to compress into the sill.  The sight of this massive pine beam was awe-inspiring enough, but the added visual impact of the studs pressing down into as if it were made of sponge as well as the fact that large portions of it were nothing but dust was truly jaw-dropping.

The next step was to remove the siding in front of the second story header so that the house could be raised slightly off the existing sill.  He then jacked up the house, took out the old sill and put in the new one, and finally replaced the front porch floor.  All this was accomplished by two men over the course of 6 working days.  Astounding.

Exposing the old sill

A mortise from an older porch

Termite damaged pine sill

The worst section just under the front door

A dangling tenon.  Nobody wants to see that.

Supporting the house

Sand and wood chips.  Formerly known as "the sill."

All that's left...

Bottle jacks holding up the front of the house after removing the old timber

It looks like it's missing its front teeth.

You can see into our front hallway from under the door.

The new sill going in...

Starting to breathe a little easier now

We have touchdown

Proudly sporting her new sill

The front porch back on...


To be continued...