Been There, Done That: One house problem always leads to another

The new floor in the kitchen came out so good we decided to do the hallway, too. This meant the shoe closet had to be emptied. We haven’t kept shoes in the closet since the days when our beloved Dukie spent long hours napping in there, but still kept the name. Everything had to come out, clothes included, but to go where?

The back porch is already filled with everything out of the utility room, the basement isn’t done yet and we’re running out of hidey-holes to stash stuff.

And what am I supposed to do with all of our clothes? Lay them across the bed for the time being, but the only bed in the house is the one we sleep in. We took the bed in the football room down and out a while ago.

That was an adventure in hell. It was just Dave and me trying to wrestle a queen-size mattress and box spring out of the room and down the steps. The turns at the landings were the worst, but we got’r done.

We had just bought some giant totes to put away our Christmas stuff and store in our basement (when it gets done). Perfect spot for our clothes till the hallway gets done.

The floor took a bit longer than expected. It’s sloped down toward the utility room and had to be built up to be level. We knew our house was built in sections thanks to our neighbor whose wife grew up in our house.

He told us the front half was built in 1930 — a narrow two-story building with the kitchen and living room downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. No bathrooms.

He said the back half was built in the 1960s. Then the back porch and the utility room were added in the ’70s.

What we’re finding out is that the back half was built as a single story at first. How we found out was a minor tragedy. The lack of walls in the basement left us with our britches down when we got that cold snap in December. The water pipes froze, then burst and water was coming out of our kitchen cupboard.

That can’t be good.

Our son checked it out and sent me this text: “Found where the water line broke — way worse than I thought. Both lines broke and grenaded in multiple places.” Grenaded? Is that even a thing?

He tore the wall out in the utility room to get to the water lines. That’s not as horrible as it sounds. That was one of the better walls in there, but they all need to be replaced at some point.

That’s when we discovered that the utility room had come into being as an afterthought. Previous owners had simply framed in a room on top of the concrete floor of the back porch.

When the interior wall came down, there was the beautiful wood of the back of the house — second half.
In continuing to repair our water lines, our son gave us a choice — to get to the second floor lines, he could go through the downstairs hallway ceiling or the upstairs bathroom floor. The hallway? And mess up our brand new floor? I don’t think so, Scooter.

As for the upstairs bathroom, I never really cared for that tile anyway. When the floor came out, we saw the sub-floor — also sloped toward the back. Like it had at one time been a roof. So the back half of the house was built as a single story and the second floor added later.

But that still doesn’t explain why the floor in the downstairs hallway is sloped or why the “designers” blocked off a whole foot of space, the entire width of the bathroom, just to hide the stink pipe.

We gained four square feet in the bathroom when our son tore that false wall out. And got a toilet smack dab in the middle of the room. He had to reroute that line while he replaced all the others.

He found us a bargain so good on a vanity at the home improvement store the manager was crying foul. Hey, we didn’t price it, they did.

So now, we have brand new water lines in this old house. We have new floors in the kitchen, hallway and downstairs bathroom. As soon as the roofer comes and fixes the leaky roof in the upstairs bathroom, we’re going to have new walls, a new floor, a relocated toilet and a new vanity in the upstairs bathroom.

Yep, life is good.

Laura Nethken
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