Leveling floors & ceilings in 120 year old farm house.

First…A little history.

Back in 1985 my wife and I and our 5 children (at the time) purchased an old farm house out in the country that was built in stages beginning in 1894.  We had lived in the city and felt it would be a good idea to move to the country.  Anyway, after about a year of looking at “out in the country” properties, we found this one.  I liked it at first sight.  Being young and strong (but not overly bright), I underestimated what I was getting into in regards to the amount of work and money this place needed.  But, like I said, when you are young, there is that feeling of invincibility…that feeling of “Yea, I can do that…piece of cake”.  Kinda’ like that saying “ask a teenager, they know everything”.

Anyway, I am not complaining.  I have actually enjoyed my life here and the work I have put into the place.  There is a sense of pride and accomplishment when you step back and say “wow, was I really able to do that!”  I really enjoy the projects (once I start them).  One of my biggest struggles is getting started.  Often I will come up with reasons why a particular project is too hard (too expensive, beyond my skill level, too busy…whatever).  But, after my wife plants the seed in my head, and after all my initial resistance, I begin to mull it over, research it, ask lots of questions…then I get started.

This old house was an obvious, very rundown, handyman special.  It had very minimal electricity, no heat, no insulation, sagging floors & ceilings, and many other shortfalls.  In order to get the bank to even give us a mortgage on the place we had to first upgrade the electric to a 200A service in order to install necessary heating. 

Over the 28 years we have been here, the projects have been many…and ongoing.

I often tell people that I live in the projects.

My latest project has been to finally tackle one last unfinished room in the house.  This is an upstairs bedroom with a seriously sagging floor and ceiling along with failing plaster.  The floor & ceiling both sagged about 4″ to the center of the room in a saucer like manner.  If you placed a marble anywhere along the perimeter it would quickly roll to the center.

Tomorrow, I will explain the reasons behind the bowed floor along with how I dealt with it.  Until then…

Pictures of the upstairs bedroom project 


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

That bathroom drywall rot I mentioned? I spoke to my husband about it right after writing that post, and it is on the list for this weekend. yay. It is always true that it is easier to keep something maintenanced than it is to fix it (the mushroom factor comes into play here…)

My husband might forgotten his lesson from the gutters. I know it mightily impressed him last year. For years, he had put off replacing the gutters… parts of the house were without them, and we were having all sorts of moisture grief. I tried grading the soil around the house…. putting in drains from the existing ( what was left of them) gutter pipes. I think my husband was wavering between getting the job done and doing it himself. He wavers alot which is why he married me… I don’t waver much… I like to make decisions, weighing the pros and cons,planning, making lists… all that kind of stuff). But then he decided to get the job done ( git ‘er done!) and it made a world of difference. He almost couldn’t believe it. Gutters are a definite improvement to the house.

I remember reading in the ‘Old House Journal’ years ago about some of the different forms of gutters that old house ppl can run into. Gladly ours were fairly straight forward. Although, come to think of it, when we first moved in we had to scab the supports because the previous gutters were probably the hanging kind, like the barn had. So to make the modern gutters hang straight we had to attach wood supports. Forgot about that. But with the job done on the new gutters it really improved the appearance, too. Sort of like the difference between a wrinkled shirt and an ironed one… neat gutters make for a natty appearance along the lines of the house. I chose a gray color to match the metal roof.

Oh yes, that reminds me of that roof. You have to keep it up, although it seems to last for ages. My husband daubed all the fasteners and then painted it with a special paint. I have to go ask him what kind. wait a sec. Okay, he sealed the nails with roof caulk and then the first year painted with zinc paint. The second time it needed painting he used Sherwin Williams metal roof paint. I told him he needs to co-author this blog. He writes well, much better than I do, and he knows whole lots more about this topic. I think one of the things that has helped him in learning so much about home maintenance is that he isn’t afraid to ask questions. He asks scads of questions. Sometimes that annoys me, but he learns alot and is best buddies with the more knowledgeable people at the Home Improvement stores, like Lowes and Home Depot. But I do all the planning and lots of the research. Sometimes we clash a bit on the nuts and bolts of the final plan. Eventually we work it out and are happy with the result.

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