Saturday, June 24, 2017

What You May Find When Renovating Century Homes

When renovating century homes don't be surprised by what you find behind the walls.

Its amazing what you can find when you start pulling apart older homes walls, once that lath and plaster comes down and all the other layers that are applied on top of it you start to find some interesting and some times strange things.

Century homes have usually been renovated several times before we get at them and usually the renovations are repairs, patches and quick fixes like covering old lath and plaster with ceiling tiles or other layers of drywall. Because of this we end up finding things that have been placed there or left or there or brought there by others, here's a little list of things that we have found inside century walls and ceilings;

  • Newspapers. We find a lot of pieces of old newspapers. Whether they were placed there on purpose to mark the date of the renovation, or left there by accident or used as a cheap form of insulation its always interesting to read the date and articles of older pieces of paper.
  • Tools. We've found hammers, screw drivers, electrical supplies, crow bars, nails and several other things.
  • Clothes. Shirts, gloves, shoes and once we even found a corset in a ceiling.
  • Umbrella. Once we found a umbrella in the walls.
  • Cane. Why someone left a cane in the walls is about as weird as an umbrella.
  • Sawdust. A lot of older homes used sawdust to insulate the walls.
  • Children's toys.
Some of the not nice things that we have found have been;
  • A family of mice. Many many mice alive and dead.
  • Raccoons.
  • Cats.
  • Squirrels, alive and dead ones.
  • Wasps nests.
  • Bee hives.
  • We once found a ceiling that was completely filled with Bat poop!
All of the things listed above don't really cost you extra money but some of the other things we find do, once you start removing ceilings in old homes you find;
  • Fire Damage. A lot of old homes have fire damage once you start looking behind ceilings and walls.
  • Structural damage from cutting beams and joists from previous renovations. This is sometimes that reason that an old homes floors go up and down.
  • Old wiring. Knob and tube and sometimes aluminum wiring is still found in these old homes.
  • Old or damaged plumbing that requires repairs.
  • The lack of insulation.
  • Blocked or missing duct work.
Remember that when you commit to opening up century home ceilings you have to commit to repairing or replacing anything that needs to be repaired. You don't want to cover up problems that you find,so in your renovation budget you need to set a side a repair fund to fix whatever you find.

Remember just because an old home looks good and solid doesn't mean that everything will be perfect once you start looking behind the walls and ceilings.

Removing lath and plaster is a dirty and dusty job that nobody likes to do,that's why people try everything to no take them down. But the only real way to properly renovate a century home is to take the rooms back to their original studs, this is the best way to bring the home up to code and also to fix anything else that you find.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.  

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