Maybe "renovation" isn't the most accurate word to describe the current project; "repair" might be more suitable, but what it boils down to is...redoing what another contracting crew did maybe a year ago to sort of dress up a 19th century back porch. I guess maybe I'm repairing a renovation...?
If you keep up with these blog shenanigans, you'll know the house. It's in Kirkwood and was built forever ago; it's the house where I did a big barn beam mantel, a laundry room island, and most recently, custom window sills to replicate the originals. Now...the porch, and this porch is easily going to be the biggest fiasco I've dealt with yet over there. Why is that? Not because it's old, and not because it was built 120+ years ago, but because it required some work - part of the porch was demo'd to make way for an addition to the original house - to get buttoned up once the addition was built, and said work was done by an absolute hack of a GC.
Anyhow, here's the porch:
I think this pic was taken several weeks ago, during a quick visit to do some preliminary poking around to see what was what.
The big chunk of the house staring you right in the face, including the majority of the porch, that's original stuff. I don't know that anybody really knows when the porch was built, but the prevailing opinion is that it is not original to the house (built in 1858), but was definitely added sometime before 1900. In short, it's old. REAL old.
On the right hand side, that's the new addition. There had been an addition there previously, but it made more sense to demo it and rebuild, especially given that, if I remember correctly, the interior of the previous addition wasn't quite as ornate or grand as the original house.
The pics are a little tough to make out, but here's what the previous version of this house and porch (it was L-shaped) looked like:
Unfortunately, the stuff I'm working on can't really be seen in the previous pics - there's a giant bush/tree/weed in the way - but even in recent years, the porch was in relatively decent shape, all things considered.
The biggest issue I've been asked to fix...well, there are a lot of them. Basically anything the previous GC touched, it's wrong and/or ugly and/or unsafe and/or not to code and/or ridiculously bad work. Fortunately, all of it sort of revolves around, if you'll refer to first pic - the one I took a few weeks ago - the right side of the porch and the post that's there. If you look closely, the porch floor changes colors near the very right hand side; the grey colored stuff is original, and the bare wood, that and basically everything beneath it and above it are new (and has to go). The post that's there wasn't there originally and as-is, doesn't fit right (notice how the roof slopes towards that post? That's because the post is too short and nobody wanted to take the extra 30 seconds to cut some lumber to make it the right height to maintain some semblance of level across the front of the porch roof.)
Oh, and that right side post, and the corner of the porch floor, and corner of the porch roof, none of it's not really supported by anything, so the first order of business was to shore things up.
After my preliminary poking around a few weeks ago, when I tore off that ridiculous moldy lauan skirting (lauan is typically used as flooring underlayment, not exterior...anything), I realized that the corner of the porch was a cobbled-together mess and the post was supported by wood. Not concrete, wood. Somebody simply laid some boards on the ground and started slapping stuff together on top of it and as if the slopes and poor fits and sketchy construction weren't enough, all of it was sinking. Further exploration today revelaed just how janky all of it really was.
The paver you see in the above left pic, that's what's holding up the corner of the porch floor, and it's just sitting in dirt. In the same pic, where the new 2x joist roughly (and I'm being nice) meets the existing joist, that joint is supported by a 2x that was laid on the ground - a 2x from 1858 - with a random, loose brick from an old cistern or chimney wedged between it and the joists.
To the previous GC's credit (where's the sarcasm font?!), that 2x that's buried in the ground and essentially supporting that entire corner of porch, it's treated wood. And there was another 2x below it. Regardless, there is zero excuse for that not being a proper concrete pier. Or even an improper concrete pier; that'd be better than burying wood in the mud.
Then again, if this is the way a crew leaves a construction site - this is a pic from underneath the new part of the porch, which was fully opened up and accessible to the previous GC - with rags and trash and soda cans and who knows what else laying on the ground...they probably can't be expected to do real clean, decent work.
What did I do to fix this, you might be asking yourself...well...here's what I did:
I first supported everything in a relatively sufficient, temporary manner.
I needed to get weight off that post - which is a fiasco all on its own - so I could cut some of it away, and I only needed my support structure to be sufficient for 24 hours. So, I threw down some gravel and stacked fresh 2x6s and a couple douglas fir floorboards underneath not only that rim joist, but also the floor joist perpendicular to it, yielding a pretty solid wood-on-wood structure. I was able to use a long pry bar to lever the porch floor up a bit, allowing me to really get a snug wedge of sorts underneath the corner of the original porch.
Directly above that, I screwed a couple random 2xs together to form a pretty massive 4x6 or 4x8 post that I ran from the porch floor joists up to the header that supports the roof. This carried the weight of the roof down to the floor, and from the floor to the stack of 2x6s.
On the right hand side I used the paver and a couple random boards that I'd demo'd to hold up that joist, although that right hand stuff...it's really not carrying any weight, it's all cobbled together to begin with and if all of it collapsed then I'd have a really good excuse to redo it. In short...I wasn't too concerned with the right hand side stuff, it can wait for another day to get dealt with properly.
Maybe I should point out a minor detail...this porch only needs to get through another year or two before it gets replaced, but for tax credit purposes it needs to look like somebody gave a sh*t when they were redoing it. As such, the goal of this job isn't to just blindly replace everything or make everything perfect, it's to make the thing - at the very least - structurally sound, safe, and look as though somebody really tried to make it a decent structure.
Once I had everything supported properly, I cut away the bottom of the post. I needed to do that to give myself some room to dig a hole, but also because...the post...what a fiasco. In modern construction, as an example, it's pretty typical to use a solid 4x4 or 6x6 post and then, if somebody so desires, wrap it with some kind of trim. In this instance, the hollow section of the post trim wasn't big enough to accommodate a 4x4, so whoever put in that right side post, they sort of made their own stuff to fit inside and carry the weight of the roof.
In spirit, they had the right idea. In execution...they get an "F".
Why? Because they just basically haphazardly carved chunks of wood away from a 2x6 until it fit inside the post trim, and then slid what amounts to a 2x2 next to it, although the cuts were horrible and without attaching the 2x6 to the 2x2, the 2x2 is pretty worthless and the 2x6 - which got shaved down to maybe a 2x3 to fit inside the post - isn't a whole lot better. It's like supporting 1/2 of the weight of the roof weight - and roofs are stupid heavy - with a lone 2x4. Sliding a site-built 3x3 inside the post would have been exponentially better. It probably would have taken more time as well...and probably why it wasn't done that way.
With things properly supported and the post cut away, I dug a hole about as wide and as deep as I could. It's every bit of 12-14" across and pretty close to 24" deep. In that hole went concrete. Given the situation and the constraints I had - trying to dig a hole with an entire porch in the way - it's pretty decent, and immeasurably better than just laying a couple boards on the ground.
Tomorrow remove the temporary supports, install a proper galvanized post base, and a 4x4 to carry the roof weight. Once that's done, I can start trying to dress things up. I don't have a real solid plan for that yet, simply because so much of what was done previously is so sketchy it's really difficult to tell what's doing what, and what needs to be replaced in what order. But...it'll get figured out. Maybe not quickly, but it'll get figured out. :)