Often when you open walls during construction, you are suprised by what you find. Sometimes there are good suprises: the urban legend of a bag full of money never seems to materialize, but often a vintage newspaper or some an old tools do pop up, and they are interesting and fun for a little while. But more often than not, the suprises one finds are, in a word, disastrous.
We found this out last week when we were innocently switching out an old display and fixing a water stained ceiling in our office restroom. We knew something was up because the whole rear of our building is a giant retaining wall for the neighbor next door, and we've had seasonal ants make their way into this area. But this year some of the ants had wings, and we were worried. So out comes the old display, and up comes a layer of subfloor, and suprise suprise, this section of our 100 year old building is built directly on dirt! That is, raw dirt, with long ago rotted wood beams, and several layers of old flooring – obviously one laid over the other as the bottom layer dissolves into the substrata. And inside this dirt what did we find? A squirming, pulsing colony of happy termites of course! And in the water stained ceiling we found creeping mold and rotted structure. So basically, the perfect storm. We were slowly being eaten from below, and rotting from above. Doubtless, our building would implode at any moment, taking all neighboring structures with it.
Well that may be an exaggeration, but it didn't feel like it at the time. I realize this from countless suprises we have found over the years of projects we've done. It is an emotional time because your timeline and budget you've been so good about just went out the window. You just have to stratch your head in amazement ("so the sheetrock and paint is really the only thing holding up that wall?!"), and chuckle a bit, but then do your best to make it right.
That's where we are now – all the walls and ceilings in this area are gone, the bathroom disconnected and gone, the dirt dug out, treated with pesticides, and a new slab floor poured. No one's happy about it, especially in this, how shall we say, iffy economy. To say the least, capital improvement is not high up on our priority list right now. But you do what you have to do. You fix it. Its the only safe and responsible thing to do. We tell our customers that, and we are willing to take some of our own medicine when we have to. In other words, cheer up, it happens to everybody, and it could always be worse!
Many many weeks later. Almost done. The upside of situations like this, and I'm now using "situation" instead of "disasters" in light of recent weather events around the country that put this kind of thing in perspective, is that you get something new in the end. So not done yet, but here's a view of the "almost done" new bath, made to look somewhat old in this case. Or you could say "Classic" but with a bit of flair.