Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The perils of living in old houses

So the house I live in, well part of it anyway, was built in 1900. Then there was an addition in the 1940s and another one in the 1980s. It's the 1900 part that has us a little concerned. When you own an old home, you know that the simplest task that requires opening something up, like fixing plumbing or electrical work, will undoubtedly reveal some heretofore unknown problem of obscene scale with a heartstopping pricetag. This has happened to us more times than we care to think about. The combination of exposure to daylight or fresh air or something, causes the combination of cobwebs and ancient twine that were previously holding things together to crumble instantly. So the plumber/electrician whatever informs you that your formerly $200 job would now take three days and cost upwards of $1,000. Sometimes when I lay in bed at night I swear I can hear the house slowly disintegrating. Anyway, this past week, we had parts of the exterior of the house replaced. It is stucco. Old, crumbly stucco. I don't particularly like stucco. But the thought of the cost of ripping stucco off of a 2300 square foot, two-story house and replacing it with something else caused my husband to curl into a fetal position on the floor of the garage, so we chose not to. Instead we would re-stucco the bad parts. So Last Friday was the day they opened the side of the house up. Every time the phone rang at work, I worried that it was a contractor calling to confirm that the house had collapsed at the first hit of the sledgehammer. That didn't happen. But what did happen was that everything they found under the stucco was rotted. Able to be pulverized with slight hand pressure, like a clump of sugar. Fifty years of water damage they said. We did have water dripping from the ceiling into the dining room whenever there was a sideways rain, but 50 years? We were the only homeowners in 50 years to deal with the problem? People were setting out pots and buckets for 50 years? So, $4,000 later, the stucco is new again, in places, and we don't have to worry about water in the dining room. But other places still exist and I have seen what lies beneath, and I am afraid.


Blogger EFB said...

so sorry to hear that! i can totally relate though. just had the cornice and window trim painted and during the process one of the windows fell out. now we need all new windows. it's a domino effect.

4:08 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

That sucks. Windows are expensive. We had ours done last year. I wish we would have spent more though and gotten really nice wooden windows. I didn't even think about it. Hindsight is always 20/20 I suppose.

1:40 PM  

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