Ok, the party is over. Seventy-five of our friends and neighbors had attended this Ugly house open house.
It was time to start the gutting out and total makeover of this old crack house.
I was aware that the process was going to be extensive, but I had no idea how extensive. I was soon going to find out; in fact, even sooner than I had expected.
I had been bothered by a strange foul-smelling odor coming from somewhere in the basement. I knew that it had been wet and that there was mold. This odor was unlike any mold I had encountered while working as a city and state building inspector. This odor was
new to me.
I had planed on tearing down the temporary walls that were erected in the basement to make what was suppose to be two extra bedrooms. One was for the elderly mother of the former owner.
The windows in the basement had been busted out and had rotted over time. They were poorly repaired. The repair job consisted of two-by-twos with plexi-glass screwed over the rotten frame. Cardboard was stapled over this to keep the light out.
I don’t even want to know why, let alone think about it.
I began the demo process. The first thing to fall out of the make-shift false ceiling was a crack pipe and a porn magazine collection.
Nice start, I thought.
If that was all I was going to find I would have been ecstatic.
As I got deeper into the demo I noticed that the smell was getting worse. I had knocked out all the remaining windows to vent the basement and help dry it out. I had planed on replacing all the windows with glass block. I knew I had to stop the water leakage in order to ensure a dry basement. If I was unable to sell the house to some one I felt would fit in the neighborhood, my plan was to build a mother-in-law apartment in the basement to rent out.
The house was zoned R2 so a duplex was legal. With all the zoning and building restrictions, the city pretty much nixed my plan to split the lot off and build another house on the vacant lot. This wouldn’t have been economically feasible. I had initially wanted the lot to build a proper new shop. As my previous two shops had been converted two stall garages, I had to settle for poor lighting, cramped low ceilings and no heat.
I finally got the basement gutted out. The smell was worse and I still was puzzled as to its source.
There had been an old bathroom at one time over in one corner that had been taken out a long time ago. The drain was plugged up so it wasn’t sewer gas I smelled.
Upon further investigation I found this old roughed-in bath that had cracked and settled parts of the cement floor. I thought this would be a good time to remove this section of floor and replace the bathroom. I had planed on putting in an egress window. I also planed a new efficient kitchen making it a completely self-contained mother-in-law apartment.
One fourth of the basement would be used for the laundry room and a utility room to house the furnace. I also planed to replace all the electrical wiring in the basement and possibility upgrade the main panel box.
I took a sledge-hammer and broke out a section of the cement floor in the old bathroom to investigate the plumbing drain, replace it and bring it up to code. I discovered that it was an old ball style drain and that it had rusted out. It didn’t meet the current code, so I knew the city was going to require me to replace it.
The city already had given me notice that they would have preferred me to have torn down the house. If I was to salvage this house, their expectations were going to be demanding.
I assured them I was prepared for this.
In hindsight, I understand why they wanted it condemned; perhaps they were right.
I finished breaking the cement out and dug up the old drain. I cut off the old clay pipe and noticed the sand under the floor was wet and that it smelled.
I began cutting out the old drain when I discovered the problem.
I was not pretty.
Major in fact.
All the plumbing had rusted out and had been apparently leaking into the sand under the concrete floor for years. Urine and human feces had been seeping into the fill sand under the floor.
The smell had now become overwhelming.
I knew instantly this was a huge problem. It would not only require replacement of all the plumbing, but I would have to use a jack-hammer to break up the floor and remove at least two feet of the fill-sand under it.
There was no other way to do this, but one bucket at a time.
I had to break it all up, put the cement in a five gallon bucket, then carry it up the steps into a waiting dumpster.
After all the cement was gone, I then had to remove all the foul smelling sand one bucket at a time and then replace it the same way.
I wanted to sit down and cry.
What the hell did I get into?
That was it. I had started digging my way to hell I thought.
Little did I know that was only the beginning of what I was to find.
copy right all rights reserved D.Jerzak 04-12-07