Sunday, November 1, 2009

THE GARDEN MONSTER AND OTHER HORRORS

Nothing tells you more bluntly that you have a monster restoration project than two things: a falling ceiling and a neglected, weedy yard. First about the yard…


What the hell are those humans DOING to my yard?

The backyard of Laura’s house is a JUNGLE with nothing but weeds – thick trunked weeds – growing there. It’s survival of the fittest with various weeds muscling and nudging one another for their own turf, so they can continue to grow out of control.

Think I’m kidding? Here’s a typical bi-monthly haul of mowed down weeds – only weeds. No grass grows in this yard.

This bird was overseeing our efforts.

Here’s one of us after wrestling with these critters just a couple of weeks ago.


The Garden Monster


The Garden Monster's claw.

Contrast this with the backyard of our adjoining house, lush and green like a tropical garden.



So we have a yard that is our burden. But it will eventually be our joy as we turn the yard into a lavish garden, one a true Victorian would be proud of.

Next the ceilings…

For any of you restoring a house, don’t you love it when you come upon yet another plaster chunk that dislodged itself from the ceiling?

If it's just the ceiling (often, it is not), be thankful. Deteriorating ceilings are symptoms of bigger roofing problems. Here’s a major example of this when a roof recently collasped in a building just down the street and around the corner from us…


The recently condemned building at 520 Broadway.
(Photo courtesy of Hannibal Courier-Post)

The collasped 2nd and 3rd floors.
(Photo courtesy of Hannibal Courier-Post)

Why, oh why do people allow their buildings to get to this condition? For months, this building was offered free to anyone who would step up and restore it (within an 18-month timeframe). There were no takers and now the City of Hannibal is coughing up over $40K to demolish it.

If you think this folly wrought on Hannibal is done only by neglectful, fund-less locals, I assure you it is not. The deterioration of otherwise desirable and useful properties has also been the domain of out-of-towners who bought their properties at prices unheard of in their native cities.

Often these out-of-towners come from a sunny climate and are virtually ignorant of the effects of extreme cold and stormy weather in the Midwest (Case in point: just last month, Hannibal witnessed its greatest monthly rainfall at a whopping 11-1/2 inches. Normally, October sees a little over 3 inches of rain.) They’ll leave the house unattended during the winter months not understanding that an unweatherized, leaking roof will allow water to infiltrate the house and cause ancient electrical wires to ignite and burn.

This happened to one Californian at the worst possible time of year – a time when Hannibal streets were clad in ice. Add that the street was very narrow and steep, and this owner’s house became a total disaster when fire trucks couldn't make their way up the street to douse the ensuing fire. Owners who get away with a powerful drenching of their hardwood floors are more the norm and are the lucky ones in this case.

No danger of this with the Laura Hawkins house. The first thing we did (and what every new owner should do with an old house) was replace the roof and replace & upgrade all the electricity. Nearly all old houses in Hannibal come with a deteriorated roof and old knob and tube style wiring (often uninsulated and almost always unable to carry large, modern load demands).

So, Laura’s ceiling…

Here’s what it looked like…


Major plaster losses.



Major water stains.

Here’s the work ongoing to replace the ceilings totally. No half-ass, patching jobs for this historic house. The ceilings will be our subject of a subsequent blog post.


In the end, all of the ceilings in Laura's house will be like new.

1 comment:

sandy said...


نستخدم افضل ادوات تنظيف و غسيل الخزانات لاننا افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة و عمال مروبون وحاصلون على شهادة صحية فقط اتصل بنا لتحصل على افضل خدمة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة

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