Shivered Timbers

Everyone who knew me from my prefarming days knew me as a inveterate builder.  So their questions directed toward me are often, “What’s new with the house?”  And my answers for the last five years have been, “Nothing.”  After we moved in, we patched holes in the roof, fixed a few broken windows, and replumbed the rust-clogged plumbing, but we haven’t had the time or the heart to start home renovations.


But that is changing.  We’re starting with the worst part of the house, the addition that was built in 1909.  Leaky windows and (apparently) a history of leaky roofing, along with an ill conceived patio that traps rain again the wood framing all conspired against this part of the house.

The first thing to do is to tear out the rotted sills.  One 8×8 sill beam was so decomposed that the kids were able to remove it entirely with their fingers.

Concrete patio placed right up against siding is a bad, bad idea.

Other sill beams look solid on one side, but when you flip them over they are pretty ugly.  It’s a good thing that these timber framed houses have such structural redundancy.

I welded a 2×4 channel and some gussets onto a 6x4x3/8 angle for jacking from the outside.  Other jacks are positioned inside the house to equalize the pressure on the wall.

The house is heavy.  I’ve got four 20 ton jacks employed lifting here and there, raising the sill beams high enough above the rubble foundation to slip some rubber sheeting under to prevent capillary water movement.

Grace Ice and Water shield in place.  Thanks to Joe Lstiburek for good details on rubble foundation retrofits.

Honestly I don’t feel I have the vision for this run-down old house to see it restored to pristine original condition, nor do I have the time or budget to go whole hog for a “deep energy retrofit”.  But I’ve got to do something to keep it from falling down, so I’m putting one foot in front of the other and I’ll see how far I can go with the renovations.

2 thoughts on “Shivered Timbers”

  1. We’ll never forget our first night visiting you…8 of us at the time, camping out on the floor of the upstairs room. Maybe the next time we come, we’ll tell you about the little “accident” we had up there…to be continued…

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