Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week 1 & 2

It was decided that we should start our demolition with the 1927 addition to the house(The Music Room). We choose to work on this area first since this is where the live termites had been discovered. We, also, felt the interior plaster was not in good condition and needed to be replaced. Removal of the plaster will allow us to: find out how much damage is inside the walls, the condition of the windows, replace the electrical and plumbing, and allow us to insulate the music room. Upon pulling off the plaster we were shocked to find that the termites had did extensive damage. In some places the 2" x 12" x 20'studs are completely gone or in a paper like condition; more than 80% of the studs are gone or seriously damaged. The large antique wrought iron doors are actually being supported by nothing. The 6" x 6" post were completely gone on one side and the other was half gone with live termites in the wood. The windows were actually in great condition. They were made of cypress and were untouched by the termites. The roof was redone approximately 10 years ago but it was decided that it would need to be redone with a better system. Some termite damage was detected in the deck and will have to be replace. The walls were not insulated and we found a problem with water leakage and moisture. The walls need to be sealed and a system to allow moisture to leave the structure like weep holes needs to be added.

We did find some interesting things inside the walls. Once the plaster was removed we found two of the original porch post inside the wall and a portion of the original porch railing. In addition we discovered the wall between the historic part and the addition was made of brick. At one time an indoor fountain existed because a drain was found inside the wall and it was mentioned in the 1930's Historical Survey. It was a Benvenuto Cellini in craved brass and would be priceless today. It was a duplicate of one given to the Pope in Rome. Mrs. Schertz, also, had an original Thomas Sully portrait. When the plaster was removed from the decorative arches at the iron doors it was discovered to have a craved wooden fleur de lis on each side. Unfortunately, the termites had eaten them to a point that they could not be saved. A sad note is when the bath room was added the plumbers of the time cut into the original railing to allow for pipes. Also, when the porch was enclosed the bricks were just stacked between the posts and railings. This was not built in the proper manner as the original structure and we believe it is not structurally safe. I have hired a structural engineer to provide us with the proper information to correct critical areas in the house. The termite damage was so extensive we had a decision to make whether to save the Music Room or tear it down and rebuild it. It all depended on the condition of the ceiling beams.

The ceiling is redwood and the beams were wrapped with the redwood. We unwrapped the beams and found they were made of long leaf pine. They were an unusual size of 2" x 13" X 18'. Each beam consisted of two of those beams sandwiched with a spacer between them and supported with an iron rod. The beams were in good condition with minor termite damage. It was decided to save the Music Room since the beams, windows and stucco were in good condition. The first two weeks have proven to be interesting! Sorry to say that we have not found any buried treasure yet!

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