Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Our building inspector is really turning out to be not so cooperative, to put it in the most polite terms possible. He has now totally forbidden me to install a foundation like I want, and like I have (had?) approved plans for. Apparently, my plans have been officially unapproved. This will set me back 4-6 months and cost thousands of extra dollars to attain nothing except make him feel superior. After exploring various legal options, I'm just going to do it his way, I think. God will fix this minor injustice one way or another, and I feel sorry for Mr. Building Inspector when that happens. Of course, from God's point of view, both of us are hideously bad sinners. It's just that I have admitted it and accepted God's help, and he hasn't yet. I have grave concerns about the disposition of his soul and am praying that he get right with God.
OK, on to lighter fare.
Since the weather has pretty much shut down further progress on the shop, I have switched to remedial work on the house. Before I can do any serious work upstairs, I have to jack up various parts of the main floor that have sagged over the last hundred years or so. Since I had no obvious place to start, I just picked the worst example and tore into it.
The dining room floor sags 2+ inches in 8 feet. This is because the outside foundation seems to be holding up fine, but the wall in the basement that is supposed to hold up the living room floor isn't doing its job very well. When I tore off the plaster (Sorry Mr. Garbage man, I know those bags are heavy! ) and the lathe (fantastic kindling for the wood stove!) I found out why the wall wasn't doing a very good job. The bottoms of all the studs had rotted right off and the top plate (horizontal framing member that goes between the vertical studs the floor above) had been reduced to dust by termites.
Ordinarily, when you replace a structural member like this basement wall, you put shoring up to support the house before you remove the bad parts. In my case, I noticed that the studs were literally flapping in the breeze and not even holding up their own weight, never mind a substantial part of the house.
Once I got all the rotten yucky stuff torn out, then I put five screw jacks in place. Ahh, the wonders of leverage. I can only hope that Archimedes makes it to Heaven so that I may congratulate him on his fine understanding and proclamation of mechanical principles. Then comes the grunt work. There's a big screw at the base of each metal pole. One uses a big wrench to twist the screw, and pick the house back up to where it belongs. A screw, which is really an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder, gives one amazing mechanical advantage. I actually physically picked up the house, just using my muscles.
You work your way back and forth, cranking each screw half a turn so you don't put undo strain on the framing. Pant, pant, pant. Picking up a house is hard work, and in fact it can be aerobic exercise. Within ten minutes, my heart rate was up in the cardio range. Who needs jogging? Then you let it sit for a few hours or overnight, and then you do it again. If you are careful and patient, you can jack a house up without cracking the drywall. Since our drywall/plaster is all crap right now anyway, I have no need to be that careful. There are a few rare advantages to having a house that needs everything replaced on the inside.
Have a fine thanksgiving and be mindful of the many, many blessings we have been given.
Monday, November 19, 2007
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