Saturday, December 5, 2009
I didn't really bother trying to find the exact source of the leak, since it was definitely under the bathroom. There was no crawlspace, so the bathroom had to be gutted anyway. Once we gutted the bathroom it became clear that the entire inside of the house would have to be gutted. No more patch jobs. I had heard that the house was built on railroad ties, and it was true. No real foundation. To top it off the house had sunken 6 inches in the corner. I had to make a series of quick decisions. I decided to do an entire renovation from the ground up. I knew if I were to tear down the house, the city would never let me rebuild it. It was too close to the property line and would have to be moved to the set-back code, not leaving me any space to move it. Not to mention that the house is in a primary flood zone, as the incorrect alignment of the Rio de Flag runs directly adjacent to my property. I would have to do all the work with the existing structure under radar. After taking some measurements, we realized that the ceiling height was 6" higher than 8 feet from floor level. That meant that I could finish off the inside, by making it square and no one would know that it had sunken. Since I couldn't tear the house down and build a bonified foundation I would have to make a foundation inside the house by digging under the railroad ties and encasing the ties, and wall studs in solid concrete. Then there was the roof. It was practically flat, and became permently damaged from the huge snows from last year. The leaks could not be stopped. A new roof would have to be built, right over the old one. This was the plan, and I knew that no contractor would take on the challenge. They only want to do the easy stuff- new construction. Even if I found one desperate enough to take on the task, I would've beeen in the poor house by the time I was done. I would have to cash out on all the equity on the property, and have a new loan payment. To top it all off, the economy was tanking. Property values were sinking, and Kristi's job was up in the air. The daunting renovation was weighing on me with the realization that I would have to take all my savings, vacation time, week-end time, and every waking moment not at work to do the renovation. And I had to hurry. I was loosing rent for every month there was no renter. I already lost last year's vacation to put the roof on my house, which was still not done on the inside. I was saving my money to finish that, and had to quickly drop that dream and start a nightmare. This was the low point. I thought surely Kristi would be packed and down the road. Last year's project was taxing on the relationship as it was. I knew I could do it, but I new I couldn't do it alone. The path would be arduous, but clear. I presented the plan to Kristi and my Dad. Some how they reluctanly were on board. I think that they saw no other options either. They knew I was in trouble, and by the grace of God, loved me enough to stick with me to the bitter end. Oh, did I mention the mold and smell of cat piss?