The lazy days of summer begin as I finish the last painting project. It’s been a busy, productive summer. As I swipe the last paint on our new deck project I’m already planning my relaxing fall— reading books,lounging on the deck and enjoying walks with our dogs. just a few more pressure washing tasks, the car and the upper deck.
I attach the pressure washer and haul it up to the upstairs deck just off the bedrooms. I step on the deck. My first step reveals a spongy deck, odd. I look closer and notice a small tear. I phone John at work thinking it’s a quick fix though wanting him to have a heads up.
John arrives home and cuts away a small section revealing rot. He cuts away more revealing more rot, and a colony of carpenter ants who have burrowed into the joists creating paper where once there was sound wood. We cut away more to reveal joists that once were 2×8 reduced to less than 2×4’s with little integrity.
Just like a horror movie, each day we discover more involvement, rim joists and ledger boards lintels, studs and osb. The demolition easy as the nails that once held strong and the wood once sound crumbles in our hands. We discover mold that has snaked through the joists and moved on to other wood, the wall of our bedroom, the wall of our spare bedroom, our living room and kitchen wall.
We worked every night until dark, then fell into a fitful sleep, went to work, came home and repeated. On our good days we counted our blessings, that John is a Journeyman Carpenter and can do the work, that I’m not afraid of hard work, that we caught it when we did. Other days I sobbed, our beautiful home, no longer beautiful and unable to see the end. I looked at the worry and exhaustion etched on both our faces as the situation took its toll. We held each other tight.
We had no idea, though learn and piece the story together. When the house was built osb was put down for the deck, then plywood was put on top sealing its fate. The osb should never have been placed, the plywood only should have been placed directly over the joists. The moisture trapped, the deck never had a chance. Flashing was omitted at the beginning, adding more moisture, this was rectified but its addition created a tighter seal hiding the damage. We had no leaks in the 3 season porch beneath the deck. Our flooring looked rough by the doors to the deck easily explained by the cold North wind and snow piling up against the doors. Still, we saw nothing to give us a clue. Although we carry house insurance, we learn that nothing is covered and we are on our own.
The demolition complete, a good portion of our home lays on our driveway or in the landfill. The walls in the bedrooms removed and replaced, forcing us to the basement where we set up our bed. We begin the process of rebuilding, countless trips to the lumber yard buying lumber, insulation, typar, blue skin, railing, siding, doors and tiles at insane prices.
Still, We have been blessed with friends, family and strangers offering kindness. Our neighbor made us muffins for our coffee and a stew for our dinner the first weekend. Another neighbour helped to build one of many temporary walls needed as we tore out what was left of our supporting walls. Still another neighbor brought us a device so we would know whether an outlet was live—needed knowledge! He also offered to winterize our trailer taking this task off our to do list. A Home Depot clerk gave us a small discount. My sister brought us donut party donuts. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren arrive one Saturday when I was at my lowest with coffee, donuts and willing hands. Our youngest granddaughter filled bags with leaves and gave me a much needed makeover, complete with sparkly nail polish, a definite improvement. Our grandsons moved lumber, our son in law removed soffits, our daughter and myself loaded rotted wood on their toy hauler, then they took it to the dump. Our son in law’s brother worked here every day for three weeks. John’s work gave him two weeks off, as we raced against time to get it done before the snow arrives. John’s coworker also a Journeyman Carpenter came and worked refusing any pay. We are thankful and surrounded by generous souls.
Tomorrow the Insulators come followed by the Boarders, mudders, tapers and Electricians. We will continue with siding and outside trim, though will get some respite until it’s time to paint 5 rooms, install trim, doors and of course the mammoth task of cleaning. This too will pass.
Our dogs have brought us daily joy as they still need ear rubs, belly rubs and cuddles. Everyday we smile at their antics. They have adjusted to the few hundred square feet of home we have left and by example have taught us that together we are our home.
It’s not how we imagined our favourite time of the year. Still, everyday we have enjoyed the beauty of the changing colours, the transient ducks on the pond and the Geese nearly ready to fly south.
As our province is ravaged by covid and protests are seemingly everywhere, we have hunkered down at home where the din of the world is reduced to a whisper. We navigate our way through our own crisis, blessed to have skill, health, friends, family and love for each other. The memory I shall keep is the night we realized the scope of the project. My husband said to me, “you are the wife I always dreamed of, a true partner.” I know he is the husband I dreamed of marrying. He finds the joy, makes me laugh and holds me tight when I fall apart. Love always wins!