There is an excellent book called “The Underneath” by Kathi Appelt about some animals that learn to sacrifice and survive together underneath. This isn’t too much of a stretch to say that we, here at our house, have got to learn to survive despite what we have UNDERNEATH.
When we first contracted our contractor, George, to do the major renovations on our house I distinctly remember telling him that I wanted to make sure everything underneath the hundred-year-old pier and beam house was good – meaning no termites, no rot, and leveled. He hired a company to come in and replace rotted beams and level the house and they assured me there were no termites.
A year later we had suffered through a pretty severe drought. There were cracks running up and down near windows, doors weren’t shutting correctly, and the kitchen terrazzo tiles have broken into pieces. Well, we decided, houses settle. Houses settle. It must be the drought.
One day the dog managed to squeeze under the house to chase a not-belonging-to-him cat. He came out soaking wet and muddy head to toe. It hadn’t rained in months. That was the first clue. Something was terribly amiss underneath.
But times were not good. Other emergencies with family and rent houses came and went. The underneath had to wait. I withheld my worries from the family because they seemed trivial compared to the failing health of loved ones and the busted pipes at rent houses.
Then this year came and with it an amazing soar in home prices. Time to sell the extra properties. We put the gorgeous Victorian gem on the market at a moderately higher price than we expected. Within four hours we had a bidding war and a signed contract for way over the amount we had asked. Wow. We sold one of the rent houses. We did not do so well there but it was outside the city and we didn’t expect to, but it sold, and that was the amazing part.
So, I mentioned to my husband that I was worried about the underneath of our house. I have an excellent handyman who despite his severe fear of spiders said he would help me clean out the old insulation from underneath and check for rotten beams. The first thing I asked him to do was to take off the skirt boards from around the outer perimeters.
And then yesterday we found the drip.
When water is run inside the house it becomes more like a stream. As a result there is a bog under the house. It doesn’t run out from beneath and across the yard and down the road. No. If it did we would have noticed and done something about it before now. The drip is only enough to keep it a wet mud-pit. Only enough to get those middle piers to slowly sink down creating major fault lines in our walls and tiles.
The plumber is coming tomorrow. After that we’ll need an electrician, then the termite inspector.
Fingers crossed we don’t have to deconstruct the house to get to the pipe that is the culprit in all this.
And Kathi, we have a lovely Calico cat underneath. She is happy under there. The dog is too big and bulky to squeeze under easily. But if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have found the problems in order to fix them. Hooray for the beasties!
- Reading Kathi Appelt’s The Underneath (morecakeplease.wordpress.com)
- What Termites Can Teach Us about Getting Organized (projecteve.com)