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Archive for the ‘water damage’ Category

stashed handgun

 

 

we found this gun

we found this gun

 

 

The gun we found tucked in the basement rafters, once everything was gutted added some fun to our otherwise devastating discoveries.

It was rusted and unusable and after doing some research I found out where it was manufactured and when but not much else.  Late 19th century, hand revolver, make H & A.  Hopkins & Allen top-break revolver.  Why would someone stash their gun in the basement and never retrieve it.  Maybe they were looking for a permanent hiding spot, maybe they had to cover up their crime.  All kinds of conjectures came up from friends and family.  This finding really felt exciting and I decided to go to town hall records to see who owned this house at that time, hoping to track down some interesting piece of information.  After spending weeks researching the deeds and titles associated with our house, I learned that this house was owned by many families, all the way back to 1907 where the trail went dead.  Between 1897 and 1906 I could not find any information.  The records were not kept as well.  Even the records from 1907 were all handwritten.  The gun was rusted and unusable, the Oregon rains took their toll.  Nevertheless I am planning to make a collage with the gun and all the other things we found, and leave it in the house as its own bit of history, a memento for generations to come of the history of a Portland Victorian.

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John was extremely excited about gutting the basement, which was wet, smelly and dark.  The stench was unbelievable, and it permeated the whole house.  Even though we had the whole house cleaned 3 times before we moved in, the source of the foul order remained a mystery.  Not for long though.  As soon as John started tearing out the wall panels in the basement he uncovered black mold everywhere.  This was the culprit, unbeknownst to anyone we talked to before we bought the house, including our home inspector.  

I think in retrospect they all avoided mentioning it as a possibility, certain we would not have bought this house under those conditions.  Being from the East Coast, this was not an issue we had ever encountered, especially since our house in New Jersey did not have any such problems.  Portland gets a tremendous amount of rain and the pile of dirt near the foundation had created an ongoing stream of wetness seeping into the house and infecting all the wood and of course the walls themselves, which were made of paper and fiber.  We were extremely naive and completely clueless and were soon to discover an even worst nightmare caused by the water seepage.

old basement walls

old basement walls

 

john ready to gut basement

john ready to gut basement

wet basement

 

basement gutting

basement gutting

Well, the mold was obvious once we tore out the basement walls which were old drywall. there was a lot of black stuff on the other side of them.  The smell was the worst thing.  Then we tore out all the old insulation which was a big mess because it was fiber fill, the old style they used in the 50’s, pure dust.  

Our old house was built with strong old growth wood beams and sills which we found were rotten.  Can you believe it??  Such old growth strength gave way to water and its continuous destructive effect.  

corner post
Once the whole basement was gutted and everything disposed off, I bought a janitorial mold killer and hired a guy to spray it on all the open wood beams, toxic stuff but it kills the bacteria.  We left openings all around the siding for about a year so the air could get in and circulate the mold out.  Then the following summer we cleaned up the basement floor and filled in the large holes and painted it.  The holes were from people digging into it over the last 100 years and not repairing it and the smell from the wet soil was also contributing to the mold.  We also put in all new insulation and new walls.
gutting the basement

gutting the basement

replacing the original beams and sills

replacing the original beams and sills

replacing beams

replacing beams

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Front Yard and Overgrown Trees

It was not so much a yard but a piece of land with bushes and wild nut trees growing on it.  It looked like no one had touched it for 20 years.  Uncared for and untended, abandoned really, except for an overgrown rose bush that seemed to hold some potential, still.  This was March, 2006, early Spring and a handful of Japanese irises were beginning to shoot up next to the rose.  Otherwise there was nothing but weeds and overgrown wild self-sown trees.

We had to take the tree down immediately.  It had been planted by a squirrel maybe 10-15 years earlier and was a hazelnut tree that grew right next to the house.  Since the soil around it had piled up and created a hill of dirt that was above our foundation level we realized the water would continue seeping into the basement as it had for many years previously.  Our neighbor was very happy when we cut the tree down as she had been cleaning its nut deposits for years from her driveway and the baby nut trees it had been forming along side it. 

the tree that caused the damage

the tree that caused the damage

this was the other angle of the tree

this was the other angle of the tree

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