When I've had time lately to get rehab work done, I've been focused on the basement. The initial reason was to deal with the rodent infestation, but with that seemingly taken care of, the emphasis has now changed to getting structural stuff squared away.
In reality, structurally, the vast majority of the basement is just fine. The foundation is pretty much intact, and the posts and beams holding up the interior of the house are doing their job. If I wanted to leave all of it as is, it'd be a defensible decision.
However, the perfectionist in me, as well as the structural engineering education I received many years ago won't allow that to happen. The posts need a little help, and the longer of the two beams, it's sort of a disaster. Doing its job, yes, sort of, but a disaster nonetheless.
Let's start with the original setup, shown here:
The front of the house is at the bottom the pic; the rear of the house is at the top. Originally, the front of the house's interior was supported by one long wooden beam and three wooden posts beneath it. That's still the setup today, but with some amendments, a couple of which are shown here:
The front end of the beam must have rotted away at some point - due to water infiltration before the covered front porch was added - and about a 4' section of it got replaced with a few 2x8s. Rather than replace it from the foundation wall to the first original post, somebody added a lally column to support the joint where the replacement 2x8s meet up with the original 8x8.
Despite all the basement gutting I've done this setup is still intact, mostly because it appears to be a house of cards and until I'm ready to really make it go away, which will involve all sorts of beefy temp walls and jacks and dicey situations, it's probably best left alone. And even if I could live with the horrible aesthetics of the 2x8s and lally column, structurally, it's a legit failure:
Remember the basement floor demo at the front of the house? The floor was lauan on top of tile on top of tongue and groove pine on top of 2x4s, laid flat, on top of concrete. For that stupid lally column to be halfway structurally sound, it would need to be placed in line with (on top of) one of those 2x4s.
But in this case, it's not; it's placed between the 2x4s, which means there's a void between the metal lally column and the concrete floor. That's a no-no. And even if the thing had structure connecting it to the concrete floor, with no footing under that particular spot on the floor, it's still not a proper setup.
So there's that. Then there's the first/original post:
For all the rockstar craftsmanship that took place 100+ years ago, one thing the builders back then definitely didn't get correct was their understanding of how concrete and wood interact. Long story short, if you embed wood in concrete, sooner or later the wood will rot. This post is on top of a concrete footing, but the bottom couple inches were embedded in the concrete floor, and that's led to some bad things over the years. But there's no sense in trying to repair or replace a section of a post, you pretty much have to replace the whole thing, so this one's gotta go.
And this is the section - the front 1/2 of the post-and-beam setup - that isn't all that bad.
The rear 1/2...somebody did a "remodel" - my guess is to increase the headroom under the beam - many decades ago and essentially replaced the 8x8 beam with a 3x8, and replaced the two 8x8 posts with a few 2x4s slapped together. This was the original arrangement:
And this is all the stuff, in yellow, that was redone over the years:
It's all kind of a mess, and while it's done its job, I have doubts about how well it's accomplished its only mission in life. Why? Because the basement stairs are between the yellow section of beam and the foundation wall to the west, which means the floor joists in that area aren't supported by the foundation wall on that side of the house; they're supported by that dumb 3x8.
And I think it's sagged a little bit over the years.
Everywhere else, that beam is a "helper", located between the east and west foundation walls that support the floor joists. adjacent to the stairs, the floor joists are just supported by the 3x8 beam and one foundation wall, 15 or so feet away.
I still haven't entirely demo'd that section of basement, mainly because like the lally column, everything is so half-assed that I felt like I needed to add some temporary supports before taking anything apart further. As such...no good pics, so you'll just have to take my word on it.
As for the posts and beam in the back half of the basement, they're all still original, but in this case the foundation wall that separates the basement into halves is what's a mess. I'll discuss it down the road...when my pointing efforts reach that point in the basement. Until then, I'll keep plugging away with the pointing...
...and hoping that lumber prices come back down to earth sometime soon. Even if they don't, I'm gearing up for the insanity that will be replacing those front three posts and the entire beam within the next month or two, so I can get on with the big interior projects on the main floor with a solid, level(ish) set of joists underneath it. Wish me luck.
Very Over 2020
Let's not belabor the point: 2020 has been a pretty rotten year for everybody, all things considered. I fall in the category of people who shouldn't complain too much in that I'm still employed and to the best of my knowledge, the virus hasn't taken the life of anybody I know personally, but maaaaaaan...what a dumb year.
At my job I'm an hourly employee, and my income is typically determined by overtime opportunities. During non-virus time, I can count on a fair amount of OT to bolster the paycheck; with the virus, working from home, etc., those OT opportunities haven't existed until very recently. That hasn't really impacted me other than money I thought I'd have to get this rehab underway, it hasn't been there. As such, the project has gotten off to a slow start.
Then there's the mice infestation I wasn't entirely planning on. That's taken a crazy amount of time to rectify. And the yard, which will be a neverending project. And an umbilical hernia, which is more weird and gross than it is painful or dangerous. And a wonky knee, that nobody can figure out. And last week, while taking the dogs out to one of the local conservation areas, I was eaten alive by some sort of mutant chiggers, a fitting event for a chigger of a year.
But it hasn't been all bad, not by a long shot. And today, this little 50-something pound ball of energy and curiosity and athleticism and feistiness and stick-eating playfulness officially turned 1 year old.
Let's take a break from house talk for a minute, because not a whole lot of rehabbing has gotten accomplished these past few weeks (the upside of OT is bigger paychecks; the downside is having less free time), to talk about Freckles, who I adopted in December of 2019 and is the little sister Roscoe treats just like a little sister. They mix things up from time to time and Roscoe lets Freckles know - DAILY - that she is not, under any circumstances, to even sniff his food, but when we're out and about, if he thinks Freckles is in any kind of danger (legit or otherwise), he's all teeth and growls and big brothery.
So...December 17, 2019, that was Freckles' "gotcha day".
And, like, 2 days later, stuff got real. REAL real. When I got Freckles, Roscoe was 10-but-about-to-turn-11; it'd been a while since I lived through the craziness that comes with puppies.
For example, that first night, Freckles was so wiped out from the excitement of day #1 that she slept just fine in her kennel. When I tried to make that happen on the second night she wasn't havin' it. I know there's a school of thought that says you're just supposed to let the dog whine and cry and eventually they'll stop; there's also a school of thought - the one I follow - that says you have to pick and choose your battles, and I needed some sleep in the worst way. Night #2, Freckles slept in my bed.
She did that for a few more nights until deciding to commandeer Roscoe's bed - the first indication that this little girl was all alpha - where she slept every night until very recently deciding she wanted to sleep in my bed again. The difference between the early days and now is that now she jumps onto my bed, despite the mattress being many inches above her head.
For a few months, Freckles just sorta followed Roscoe around and did what Roscoe did.
From almost her first day at home with us Freckles was a fantastic eater, knew where to go potty, slept all the way through the night, and didn't seem to have any allergies. Between that - which was comparable to Roscoe's first few months with me aside from the potty thing, which wasn't really his fault - and how much Freckles seemed to mimic Roscoe, I figured Freckles was going to be, mostly, a smaller version of Roscoe.
And as is usually the case, I couldn't have been more incorrect.
Freckles is Freckles. She shares some habits and skills with Roscoe, but she's also got a bag of tricks that are all her own. She keeps things interesting, for sure, and while not being all that big, she is as fierce as the day is long.
Now she's officially got 1 full year of life under her belt...I hope she's enjoyed it.