My house is hollow!

Don and I made a trip to pick up all the remaining pieces for the door: more caulk, more asphalt/tar/goop for the seal between the door and the driveway, lumber to rebuild the trim, paint for the door and other miscellaneous stuff.

The old trim was in really bad shape. Bits of it had obviously been replaced over time, leading to an inconsistent and ugly mismash of wood types and stain shades. We measured the pieces we would need, then started to rip out the old stuff. The first bit came off easily – after we got through the four nails at the top, the rest was glued to the wall with liquid nails. Lazy. Then, strangely, we discovered two inches between the end of the drywall and the new door frame that had been filled in with wood. Apparently, the original door had been the standard 32″ width, and some previous owner had built up the frame to suit a 30″ door. It makes no sense whatsoever – why replace a standard door with an extra narrow one? Maybe he had an old 30″ one lying around? Regardless, even if I had known about the gap before ordering the door, I would have strongly hesitated going with a 32″ door, since it would have entailed cutting into the aluminum siding on the other side.

Dimensions and list in hand, we asked for help in the lumber aisle at Home Depot. While Don picked through the 2x4s to find the straightest ones possible, the HD guy and I sought a sufficiently wide – and sturdy – piece to level out the new threshold with the existing cement steps. I said I was looking for a nice, thick piece of pressure-treated wood, but the HD guy kept trying to sell me some fancy, decorative piece. Finally, we found the millwork “expert” who suggested – what else – a thick piece of pressure-treated wood. They didn’t stock the width I needed, but they did have some a half inch wider. Sold. The HD guy proceeded to explain to me how I should measure the piece to the right width and – using a straight edge, dontcha know – mark the width, then sand it down. I agree that sanding is the way to go, and thanked him for his help. Then, upon returning to Don’s pile of 2x4s, the HD guy proceeded to repeat the recommendations for measuring, marking and sanding. Nevermind that he had just explained the exact same thing, 10 feet down the aisle, to me. Don was astounded by the guy’s demeanor – as if I was just the clueless helper on the project, and not the instigator! I told him that this happens ALL THE TIME with HD and Lowes associates. But alas.

This afternoon, Don beat me home and started ripping out the rest of the trim. He made an interesting discovery – in the small, narrow space between the door frame and the corner of the house, the house is HOLLOW. No drywall, no insulation, nada. Just empty space, the framing of the house and a whole bunch of ants. So now we need to figure out what to do there. Is it worth drywalling a space that’s only 2″ wide? Either way, we’re going to seal the heck out of it and insulate it in some way, shape or form. Upon closer inspection, we discovered a small gap between the foundation and the siding – that’s gotta be the entry point for the ants.

Much more to do, but progress is being made. And already, I feel so much more secure with a door that closes and locks firmly.


2 responses to “My house is hollow!

  1. Isn’t it fun with an older home…when you start to undo for former owners repairs you find all kinds of mysteries…Maybe you should check and make sure those ants aren’t carpenter ants..they could be doing some damage to your wood under the siding. Just a thought. Have you given any thought to researching your house for a plaque?…we are almost done, for a house built in the 20’s or later it’s not such a hard thing..a little research here and there and it is fascinating, you get all kinds of ideas in your head and want to make little stories about the former residents…I know you like to write, it might be a good muse as well as some good posts for your blog. BTW…this is Paula from Lovin Elgin…I have a blogger blog too and I am signed in under a different name.

  2. Oh, yes… I wonder what the heck the previous owners were thinking!I have indeed thought about researching, if not for a plaque, then at least for my own edification. I was originally told by my realtor and home inspector that my house was likely built in the early 20s, but I’ve found results of a neighborhood survey that indicate it’s more likely originally from the 1890s. I think researching could be a good winter project – spending some quality time at the library. Good call on the carpenter ants – I hadn’t thought of that. I looked at pictures of carpenter ants vs common pavement ants, and mine are definitely the latter – much too small to be carpenters. Just annoying.

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