Unpleasant Discovery Number 1: Rotten sill plate in at least one section of the house.
We've always known that there was a slight slope to the floors in one front corner of the house. By removing the existing siding and the old clapboard under that, Rob found the cause, a sill plate that needs to be replaced. Here's another shot of the rotting plate:
The remedy involves jacking the house up and replacing all of the rotted and compromised wood, before settling the house back down on new plates.
Unpleasant Discovery Number Two: A Very Poorly Built Addition
At some point in the house's history (our best guess is in the 50's or 60's) a two-story addition was added to the back of the home. Unfortunately, we've discovered that the entire addition was actually built very carelessly around an existing two-story porch. The addition was simply framed in around the porch, and it wasn't tied in at all to the existing structure of the home. The result is that the addition is not safe or practical to use for our planned further bump-out of the rear of the home. Here's a shot of the old exterior wall that was covered by drywall:
And below you can see the side view of the house that shows the addition - look closely at the roof line and you can see where the addition starts (right by the second story screened porch):
The remedy will involve tearing the entire two-story addition off the back of the house and rebuilding it from scratch, with our slightly enlarged footprint in the back.
Unpleasant Discovery Number Three: Not one, not two, but THREE ceilings.
The third nasty discovery involves attempts to cover up failing plaster ceilings by previous owners - two different times. As you can see in the picture below, there are three distinct ceilings in this bedroom - the original plaster ceiling with lathes showing, a thin drywalled ceiling over that, and finally a third ceiling with thicker sheetrock nailed onto added cross boards.
The remedy is unfortunate. We have made the decision to take the house all the way down to the studs on the interior walls and ceilings. With all of the repair jobs over the years, the plaster simply cannot be saved in this home. We wanted to save it, but there is just too much wrong with it. By getting the interior down to the studs, we'll be able to ensure easy access for new electrical wiring throughout that is up to code, new plumbing throughout, high efficiency and green insulation, and a final interior finish that will last for many years to come. Now that the decision is made, we have a lot more demo (and Tyvek suits) in our future.
And finally, the bad news: Our Chestnut Tree is Asiatic, not American. We finally heard from the Foundation that the second round of testing has determined that we have an Asiatic species (most likely Chinese or a hybrid). Oh well, we'll love it anyway, and that does explain its long and healthy life.
So, even with all of these not-so-great discoveries we are still looking forward to moving this project forward so we can move into this home before we are too old to enjoy it. And, we don't really have to wait to move in to enjoy it - on a recent nice summer day, Joe and Tereasa joined us in Urbanna and took a nice long kayak ride down Urbanna Creek from our back yard: