Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Dead Dinosaur in The Yard

Here's the sugar-coated expectation: We've tasked ourselves with resurrecting a wonderfully historic abode that embodies our fantasies of the Gilded Age.

Here's the reality: We were living with a dead and decaying dinosaur in our yard right next to our Chateau, and it was becoming more decrepit with time.

We were self-congratulatory in buying the house as we prevented the possibility of an undesirable making camp there. The carcass would have been finished off in a matter of a few years. Now a mammoth project awaits.

We hired an inspector to give us a detailed prognosis. Here were some of his findings. Starting with the obvious, here's the roof…

Not only was this roof long neglected, whoever installed it was an amateur at best, a clueless do-it-yourselfer at worst...

Missing flashing!

Granted this was a difficult area to access, the installation of these shingles nevertheless was ghastly.

And of course, the gutters sagged painfully...

Note all the gravel that had accumulated in the already "expired" gutter. The masons at the right were tuckpointing our Chateau at the time of this photo.

One of the most alarming things our inspector found was the state of the electrical wiring. “I wouldn’t spend a night in this house!”, he proclaimed.

Indeed, the electrical wiring was a relic from the Victorian era and it wasn’t about to handle today’s modern electrical demands. Heating, lighting, appliances and computer hardware all going at once would overload the circuits and very possibly cause a fire. Here were the electrical findings...

Overloaded and undersized circuits.

Deteriorated service entrance at the meter.

Unsafe service entrance to the garage in back.

Additional splices in knob and tube wiring.

Electrical cord extension used as permanent wiring.
No comment on the idiot who did this.

Scorched extension cord also used as permanent wiring.
Another idiot undoing of the house.

Other evidence of burns which miraculously did not do the house in...

Burn marks at the furnace.

A charred beam in the attic. Hmmm, it would be interesting to browse the archives of the Courier-Post to find any newsworthy reportings on this.

A leaking roof exacerbates the consequences of electrical load problems...

Water puddle in the attic.

Cracks in the 2nd floor ceiling plaster - very likely the result of water leakage.

Moisture damage at one of the main floor windows.

Leakage below the tub. You are looking at a wooden "doghouse" built to contain the plumbing adjacent to the tub. You can see the edge of this tub in the photo's left - a nightmarish pepto-bismal pink tub born of a bad 1950's designer's dream.

There were water leaks all the way down to the basement.

Piping along one of the walls of the basement.

Dried water stains on floor framing,
in the basement ceiling.

Termite trails in the basement. Evidently, the moist basement created a hospitable environment for the buggers. With a ready meal of barnwood that covered the walls,
this was termite heaven.

Open and filled well in the basement floor.

So, first thing’s first – prevent the house from self-destructing. We had the roof covered in plastic to prevent further leaks...

To get to the roof, a makeshift bridge was created from a beam which spanned the 2nd floor windows of the Chateau
and the house.

The entire roof gets the treatment.

As does the garage roof.

We then employed the services of one of Hannibal’s most respected and long-standing electricians – JM&S Electric. This will be the subject of our next post.


Lola said...

Nora - This is a great blog. I'm so fascinated by the history of your house that I'm inspired to start looking into this history of ours! I look forward to following the story of your renovation project(s).

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