Monday, February 13, 2012

The Cost of Restoration

I have mentioned from time to time about the, um, issues we've had with the sun porch that was added to the house some time before we purchased it.  First, it was a leaky roof, which we repaired as best we could, then a hail storm wrecked the repair and our insurance company paid for a new roof.  But the actual cause of the leaks wasn't the was the flashing around the skylights, which had been bent out of shape the last time the house had been re-roofed and would no longer seal.

So we spent a little extra money on new skylights.

But the water damage to the inside wall was still present, and we knew we'd have to deal with that eventually.

Early last summer, the in-wall  heat/ac unit (just like what you see in hotel rooms) died.  More research discovered that it was just about $150 more to purchase a complete new unit than it was to replace the motor in the old one.

So we ordered a new unit.

When we pulled the old unit out, we made a horrifying discovery:  it had been installed such that it tilted inside the house instead of toward the outside.  All the condensation from the unit had been running down the wall behind the wallpaper and pudding under the rug.  For years.

As we pulled paper down and carpeting back, and eventually sheet rock down, we discovered that the whole wall had rotted around the unit; the sillplate for the wall was rotted, and there was about a 6" hole rotted through the floor.


We got a bit more money from the insurance company to cover the water damage from the leaky roof, but in post-April27-2011 Alabama, that number was figured very lean.  And we were on our own to cover the rot, and to replace the windows and sliding doors, which had all lost their seals and had moisture collecting between the panes.

So, we got estimates and borrowed against the 401k and proceeded to do what we had to do to fix things.  Not to make it fancy, but to just make it sound.

I'm not going in to detail, but we found as we continued that the same mentality that had set the AC unit in tilted backwards had pretty well built the room.  The farther the contractor went in pulling out bad stuff, the more bad stuff and incredible workarounds he found. The latest was dirt packed between the rim board and the patio slab...which had held moisture and fostered a huge worm colony and rotted out a goodly portion of the rim board.

The upshot is that we have pretty well just jacked up the roof and demolished everything under it, one wall at a time.
We've run through all the funds we had amassed for the project; now, we're down to the annual bonus check My Sweet Baboo should get this week and hoping the tax refunds are not delayed.  After that...well, we may just have to tell our contractor friend that we're going to have to put the brakes on for a while until we can get some more cash saved up.

Now, none of this was in our plans when we bought the house.  Overall, the appearance of the house was good.  The home inspector found only minor things that needed work and gave us a good report. We did what we knew to do to protect ourselves against just this sort of scenario.

But the folks who owned the house before us were very big on appearances and very blase' about sound structure.  Nobody foresaw this. But now we've got this situation and it must be fixed.

I have seen many applications from this experience; the one that struck me today as we were discussing the estimated cost to just finish what HAS to be done is this:

The cost of fixing a poorly done job is always greater than the cost of doing it right the first time.

We humans messed up our 'first time'...and couldn't pay for the restoration.  But God loves us so much that He paid that cost a much dearer price than we will end up paying for the repair of the sunroom.

If I can trust Him for fixing my fallen humanity, I've got to trust Him for fixing the falling down porch.

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