01 November 2010

Holey house, Batman!

The last few months have been pretty stressful around here. We discovered shortly after moving into our new house that the foundation was severely damaged in places and much of the back wall was rotting. We discovered this when removing drywall and insulation in the basement to get rid of a strong rodent odour. Thank goodness for the rats, without which we would have lived on in blissful, if precarious and chilly ignorance. Don't get me wrong, blissful ignorance has its place, but in matters of structural integrity, it's perhaps better to know the painful truth.

The last two months have been a flurry of excavating, knocking down walls, rebuilding walls, insulating, and general construction. Luckily, we've got a great contractor/therapist who has tons of experience fixing broken houses and calming stressed-out homeowners. There's nothing like seeing your house on jacks to activate your blood pressure. We've finally gotten to the point where things look better at the end of the day, rather than worse, which would help with getting a good night's sleep except for the fact that we're also at a point of writing significantly large cheques.

I've had moments where in addition to feeling fear, disappointment, and anger at being thrust into a big renovation project, I've also despaired at the waste and energy consumption this project has caused. I console myself with the thought that preventing an older house (but not that old) from collapsing is pretty green compared with knocking it down (or letting it fall) and building new. We've upgraded the energy efficiency pretty considerably in the process, so I'm hoping our planetary impact will go down over time. Still, the dumpster in the driveway has been filled and emptied several times since we began.

We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel: the basement doesn't have a hint of bad smell, we know for sure the foundation is sound, we are confident our well will not be contaminated (that's a whole other story), we are snug in front of the fire and there's a lovely window in the living room where a blank wall used to be. I think I'm going to like it here.

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