“Saving the house from itself”

We did not want to take the house down to studs. The aluminum wiring from 1968 forced reluctant Steven to take that decision early in the planning and discussion phase between Steven, Jacquela, Brett the architect and Mark at Ranserve. Take down all the drywall, remove all the insulation, keep going until  you see the whites of its eyes. It’s daunting. It’s expensive. The job evolves to an entirely different order of magnitude.

Lesson learned: Never ever buy a house with aluminum wiring.

The irony of exposing the entrails is … you get to “save the house from itself,” as Ron told Steven today — the exact phrase Steven used when making that awesome decision to proceed.

Here are today’s revelations during demo that this remodel gets to fix.

No jack studs holding up the header. Instead, the framers opted for metal straps.
No jack studs holding up the header. Instead, the framers opted for metal straps.
The roof flashing failed at this corner of the house, at what will be the corner of the master bath. Water penetrates and leaks down to the kitchen. Good thing it is raining today, to help spot this mistake in action.
The roof flashing failed at this corner of the house, at what will be the corner of the master bath. Water penetrates and leaks down to the kitchen. Good thing it is raining today, to help spot this mistake in action.
The front windows on the second floor were replaced sometime in the 1980s, we think. The framers undersized the header, using 2x6s instead of 2x8s or 2x10s. This error repeats across several windows, because "consistency is the mother of failure."
The front windows on the second floor were replaced sometime in the 1980s, we think. The framers undersized the header, using 2x6s instead of 2x8s or 2x10s. This error repeats across several windows, because “consistency is the mother of failure.”
Ron tells Steven that this is how they built houses in the 1960s -- a hole in the slab, open to the dirt below, through which the builder ran the plumbing. Here's the highway to termite infestation under what was the tub in bath 2.
Ron tells Steven that this is how they built houses in the 1960s — a hole in the slab, open to the dirt below, through which the builder ran the plumbing. Here’s the highway to termite infestation under what was the tub in bath 2.

Steven talked this through with Ron and Cris from Ranserve. They reassure that they have seen worse, that every house in Northwest Hills would exhibit similar failures if opened up for remodel, that everything here can and will be fixed, that we planned for all this, and the budget funds these repairs.

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