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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Our Storm of the Century

The Demo Begins...

3/7/2018... We had a terrible storm here in the fall that severely damaged our family room. This room was buit by the previous owners and it was an attachment to the main building. The storm decided it didn't like us having a family room, so it huffed and it puffed and it wrecked it, ripping off siding, bending metal on the roof, caving in the ceiling, soaking the sheetrock, walls, insulation. The dead weight of what was left of the structure was pulling down on the other walls in the building so the structure had to go, and fast. Not only that, but the rush was compounded by the coming of Winter, which stops all outdoor activities until the Spring.

Even though I had just gotten out of the hospital, weak and sore, we had to take care of this problem before it pulled down the rest of the house with its dead weight. The structure was almost 500 square feet and not safe to be in. Our first job was to clear the land around the structure so that we could safely walk around it. We piled the hardyboard siding carefully because we would need some to cover the hole where the sliding glass door used to be. Our plan was to just make it a solid wall.

My son Rob hired a handyman to come help us with the roof demolition. Climbing up and down a ladder would have been a little difficult for us at the time. The metal had to be taken off the roof, then the tarpaper, then the sheathing, and finally the roof trusses that were holding up all that weight. I took care of removing the sheetrock from the ceiling, the ceiling insulation, the lighting, and ceiling fans from inside the stucture. Once our helper removed the sheathing, it was blue skies after that. Once everything above our heads was removed, we figured we could do the rest ourselves, so we thanked our helper and sent him on his way. Meanwhile, since it was the change of seasons, we had many rainy and windy days in between the nice ones, so that slowed our work down considerably. The goal was still to remove the structure before the winter firmly sets in.

I started by disconnecting the power going to the building. There were three main lines servicing that one room, one for the lighting, one for the receptacles, and one for the air conditioner. Most of the wiring was white wire, which meant it was set up for 15 amps, which explains why there were so many service lines. I would have put in 20 amp service, the yellow wiring, and changed the circuit breakers to 20 amperes. Keeping the air condition on one dedicated line, which was 220 volts, the rest of the room could have been taken care of with one 120 volt service line. Besides the wiring being wrong, we also found out that the main header beam which holds up all the weight of the roof running down the middle of the room, was just a 2x6x24 plank. This explains why this plank eventually bent in the middle, causing the roof to sag in the center, which caused a lake to form on the roof. This lake would eventually rot the roof, cause major leaks, and as it happened, the ceiling sheetrock caved in and fell on the floor. Another example of the builders not knowing what they were doing.

The mornings were starting to be really cold, but the afternoons would warm up enough to make it possible for us to work outside on the structure. That cut our workday in half, adding just another delay to our rush to get this done by Winter. We began by removing all the windows, and the 36 inch door. We also removed the air conditioner, planing to put it in the framing that will close the hole where the sliding doors used to be. In case you're wondering why we didn't just leave the sliding doors in place, well that was because they had removed the doors and left just the hole, leaving a passageway from the dining room to the family room. I framed in this hole, adding a window and a spot for the air conditioner. Now you could look ourside from the dining room, and the air conditioner/heater would help take the place of the fireplace we lost in the demolition. The new problem all this created was that all the other doors in the main building are 24 inch openings, making it really difficult to bring in furniture, or take out furniture that is already inside. Someday, somewhere I will have to replace one of the exterior 24 inch doors with a 36 inch door.

We started taking down the 2x4 framing. Nothing a recipricating saw couldn't handle and make quick work of it. With all that framing gone, we ended up with a nice dance floor, except that it was rotted due to all the rain that had fallen on it. Pulling up the floor was no picnic, since they decided to put an enormous number of nails on the floor. The support lumber under the floor was also pretty much rotted, so we had to throw all those away also. Our plan to salvage some of the materials from this demo was not panning out. The hidden damage was more than we had anticipated. We kept stacking all the debris in separate sections thinking that someday soon we would load it on the red trailer and take it to the city dump.

As you can see by these pictures, they used two by sixes to support the weight of the floor. That may have been ok if they would have made provisions for the water not to come into the walls from around the doors and windows. A little caulking around the window frame and door jam would have done wonders to stop that problem. We had to cut all the flooring out with a circular saw becuase there were so many nails holding it down that the floor panels would not budge.

These pictures show the cinder blocks under the support beams. The ground was not leveled, so some blocks were higher than others. They solved this problem by putting little pieces of wood on top of the cinder blocks, which of course, crushed down to almost nothing making the floor uneven in some spots, and shaky in others. They could have treated to original space under the building with sand, then tampered it down to make it more solid and somewhat level. This way when it rained, the building whould not have slowly sunk into the ground at various speeds depending on what heavy furniture was above. Since most of our furniture in the family room was around the perimeter, rolling a ball from the center of the room always made it go to the ends.

Stacking the cinder blocks to another part of the yard, we eventually got to the point where the area was free of any building materials. We took some of the hardy boards that we saved in the beginning and after putting insulation into the framing, we closed off the hole that used to be where the sliding glass door was. That wall now has a window, with an air conditioner and heater above the window. Let me tell you, those ac/heater units are not light. It took three of us to get the unit into the wall above the window.

Attaching the box blade implement to our little tractor, I was able to smooth out the ground and make it somewhat level. Really doesn't look too bad now that it's all done, and just in time too. The days have gotten too cold to be working outside. The Winter has set in and this time for good. No more warm afternoons and long days. Now it's starting to get dark around 5pm. At least the heater works well, thanks to Rob's idea of replacing the ac we had in the family room with a unit that has ac AND heat.

I know I should have written this story in November, but I was spending alot of time in the hospital back then and never got around to telling my story until now. Don't be shy and leave a comment or send me an email. I don't twitter or use facebook, instagram, linkedin, wayout, farmers.com, or any other dumb time wasting website. I like keeping it simple even if the thought is outdated.

In any case, enjoy life while you have it, and stay healthy...

Tony

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