Wife and I have a 2nd home built in 1910. Because of some storm damage,
we're having to do major repair and are considering some significant
rennovation, but have some concerns...Please excuse me if I don't use
the right terminology; I'm certainly not a construction expert!
The big issue is, the house has no sheathing. We've removed the
interior wall-board (some kind of early sheetrock), and I see...studs
and the back of the clapboard siding, which are planks of pine, I
Because of the age of the house, there are some gaps in the clapboard,
so I can see lines of daylight, from inside the house.
The first question is, how to seal this? If I just replace the damaged
wallboard with new sheetrock, the next big storm will blow moisture in
the cracks of the clapboard siding. Conceiveably I could somehow caulk
everything from inside, but that strikes me as a mammoth job, and I
wouldn't trust the integrity, if the siding expanded or contracted in
Second, we're considering raising the house onto a higher foundation.
It's very low to the ground, and doesn't have sufficient piers. The
building code would consider that as "moved" and we'd need for the
structure to meet current codes. That's fine for the wiring/plumbing,
as I was planning to do that anyway. But I'm concerned that the wall
structure as I've described it -- just studs and siding -- will
certainly be an issue. There's no insulation, and I doubt the roof is
properly "tied down" etc..
Short of stripping the entire house of its siding, do I have any other
What any of us think does not matter. You local building inspector is the
one to ask about codes. The house has been standing for 96 years so it is
sturdy. You can seal with spray insulation. Considering the age of the
house, you may want to talk to a local person that does restorations for
some guidance. It can be well worth the money to have something done
properly and not cause damage.
Mr. Pawlowski is certainly correct in his first statement.
Interpretation by local officials is the reality within which you will
have to work. Given that, I live in an 1831 vintage house with no
Careful maintenance including regular painting seems to keep out the
rain - including Hurricane Hugo that did $100,000 worth of damage. I
would contract with a local architect or engineer that specializes in
old homes. That area of expertise is important and I can give you some
annecdotal evidence to back it up. The design professional should know
the local rules and local officials well enough to reach a reasonable
Before you spend another dime, or expend another weekend doing demo, get a
competent residential designer or architect to evaluate the place and do a
rough workup of the material costs, and labor costs for anything you aren't
able to do yourself. I have seen many gold-plated sow's ears over the years,
where the inside space was remodeled to a T, but you look in the basement or
underneath, and shine a light in the attic, and the basic structure is
either gone, or totally inadequate. Unless the bones are solid, and the
foundation good, any money spent on rehabbing is basically pointless. It may
be fine, and easily jacked and placed on new piers. Or it may be impossible
to cost-effectively bring up to modern standards. Not all old houses are
worth saving. As to the immediate question of no sheathing- like the other
guy said, talk to local code people. Areas I have worked in, jacking a house
is <not> considered moving, it is considered foundation repair. Now if the
place is 'red tagged' due to storm damage, they may insist on all sorts of
things before giving an occupancy permit. Along with the local permit folks,
your insurance underwriter will likely have opinions to offer. Most people
would consider the old siding to be the sheathing, put a vapor barrier over
it, and another layer of siding. If you want to preserve the look, yeah, you
could chink the old wood from inside and outside, one board at a time, fill
stud cavities with something waterproof like rigid foam, and then
vapor-barier the inside before you rock. Not the best way, but workable.
That sprayed expanding foam like they love on This Old House would also
work, but it is pretty expensive, and needs to be done after the wiring and
Be aware that it is easy to trap moisture in the wall if you start trying to
seal it up. Many old structures last partly because they are well
ventilated. Wood shingles, for example, often do not keep out all of the
water but they allow any penetrating water to evaporate readily.
Do you have that straight from the local building official, that a
foundation repair is considered to be moving the structure? We replaced
the foundation on our 100-year-old house a couple of years ago, it was
*not* treated as a move and did not require any other part of the house
to be brought up to code, even though we raised the house more than 18"
with the new foundation.
The foundation itself had to meet current code, but we would have
exceeded that anyway -- as long as we had the work going on anyway, the
marginal cost of upgrading from code-minimum to a foundation that would
meet more stringent seismic codes was less than a thousand dollars, well
worth it for the peace of mind.
firstname.lastname@example.org is Joshua Putnam
Thx, folks - some good stuff to think about.
First, there's no historical value, and only slight sentimental
attachment to the structure -- it's just an old house with lots of
Second, I do have confirmation that lifiting the house up 5', or so,
would be considered a "move" per our state's building code.
Finally, y'all are right -- it's an extremely difficult quandry,
whether to simply bulldoze vs. rennovate. It has led to some screaming
arguments, but fortunately not divorce. :)
The basic issue is if we bulldoze, we have the cost of
demolishing/removal (say $12k) the existing structure plus the cost of
a new house. At approx $115/sf, let's say $200k for a new, custom-built
1500-1600sf house. There would be some big benefits -- it could be
relocated on our lot for a nicer view. And it would be a new, modern
house. OTOH, we're now starting with 0 equity, and a substantial 2nd
mortgage. We might be able to lower the cost of the new construction a
little bit, by doing some of the finishing work ourselves -- we've done
lots of tile work, and I've DIY'd hardwood floors, we can paint, etc --
but my understanding is most banks want new construction to be
turn-key, and don't want the homeowners to do any work....
The other option, is fixing what we have. Right now I have ancient
wiring, a bathroom in a rotting addition, warped floors from
overspanning and age, and no wallboard in any room except for the
bedroom/kitchen (to keep things marginally habitable). Oh, and there's
no central air/heat, but just some window units, and the windows are
So are thoughts as far as fixing it up
1) upgrade wiring / replace windows / remove bathroom addition, and
frame in a bathroom somewhere inside the main structure /seal &
insulate siding (now that I know there's an option) from inside /
sheet-rock/ paint exterior and interior. If it's not too unreasonable,
also figure out how to add central air -- it would probably have to
come down from the ceiling, since the house is only 1.5' off the ground
2) Do all the above *plus* try to raise the house 5' off the ground
onto a new foundation. This would improve the view from the house
dramatically. I should probably add, while I'm typing all this, that
the other issue is a semi-nice water/wilderness view is blocked by a
neighbor who's built a 6' wall around his property. If we could raise
the house, we'd see over it. Also, the house would now be properly
supported, we could get under it to install central heat/air, etc.
The advantage to 1), is we could probably afford most of the work with
a HELOC, or something, and we could also put a lot of our sweat equity
into the project. We would *increase* the equity in the house. With
2), I'm worried the total expense would get up around $100k or over,
and it seems kinda silly to me to spend that much, and still have an
old house with problems that will never end....OTOH, there's still the
"view" question, and my wife hates the idea of spending $50-60k to
upgrade, and still not having a good view.
So -- we've been kinda going around in circles. We've had some
reputable builders come in, but quite honestly, are having a hard time
getting any firm figures, since, they too, wonder if the inspector will
allow XYZ. Plus, good builders are extremely busy and have plenty of
work building new houses, and the general impression I get is that this
isn't an easy or desirable project. :)
That's where we are. I very much appreciate the advice, so far.
don't forget a second story porch and skylights and roof decks for the
you may have some ordinances about fences and allowable building
heights to look into, consider consulting a local architect. is it may
be much cheaper to make a purchase offer on a nearby house in good
condition with a view. like maybe the nicer one with the tall fence?
this home project will put your marriage in the doghouse indefinitely
since it is an unending list of modernizing and repairs.
1. what does the wife want?
2. give it to her.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.