Fugly Architecture Thursday - when bad renovations happen to good homes

This post hits a little too close to home.  Its not really the architecture that's heinous -its merely an early 1990s addition to a Victorian shotgun.  However, its the manner in which an addition was done to said Victorian shotgun and what it has created that is the criminal act.

What makes it worse is that it is our house :-(

I highlighted some water issues that had created a bit of a situation when we initially moved in back in this post.  Mr. Bama, being super handy man that he is, fixed the asthetic ramifications of the problem, but didnt solve the root of problem.  Our awesome landlady got on trying to find the problem and after calling some contractors, found out that we needed gutters and it would help, at least a little.  Gutters installed, problem still not fixed.  Nothing was happening to the problem spot (damage semmed to be contained), but it was evident something was continuing to be wrong at the front of the house.  Here, in the early 90s they added a section for the bedroom to bump out onto part of  the front porch that once spanned the whole front of the house.  Great solution for more added square footage, if you do it right.

Turns out, someone forgot to install the flashing from the old roof to the new roof correctly and brace the bay window properly.  Therefore, while the bones of the original house are in great condition, the "new" construction was not waterproofed correctly and therefore has allowed the introduction of awesome things like water and wood eating bugs into the house.  The actual wood siding had holes in it from where water had just bore down on it.  It was apparent that the construction company that did the addition had NO business putting new additions on old buildings.

So our land lady decided to make the call and have the siding replaced (I truly dont think she knew the extent of the damage that was only showing a little bit on the outside).  When I walked outside to talk shop to the really great workmen tearing off our siding, it went something like this:

nice man working on the house: "well really, a lot of the damage seems due to the age of the studs and that they're just old wood "  

me: "um, actually this addition was done in the early 1990s"

Nice man: "oh.................wow"

Needless to say it was pretty bad -  The sill plate on that addition had almost disappeared and the water-repellent membrane was torn to shreds (note: if you're not architecturally/construction savvy, this just means the structure was compromised and the elements that kept water out were pretty much gone). 
Pardon the crummy picture, but this is the front of our house after they removed the
siding 3 days ago.This is NOT good!
The wall studs were whittling away  to nothing.
If our huge tree in front of the house wasn't in the way, you'd see the holes in the
siding about 5-6 planks of wood-siding up.
Yay new studs!  Yay new felt water-repellant membrane! yay new WOOD siding!

I was also pretty nervous that they would be puting something cheap and terrible for the building, like vinyl siding, onto the house in place of the old wood siding.  Vinyl is unattractive, completely inappropriate for historic homes, temporary and a totally NOT green building material.  Image how happy I was when they pulled out pretty wide board WOOD siding! It had the same form, but isn't as decorative as the siding on the original part of the house.  This is completely fine, since the new materials shouldn't even attempt to mimic the original house (it is an addition... after all) but its is still complimentary to the original siding.  

So far they've finished putting up the siding and they should be painting it in a day or two.  The awesome workers also reinforced our porch banister in addition! Moral of the story, if you are a construction company who agrees to do renovations and additions to historic buildings, PLEASE keep in mind that old and new construction techniques are NOT the same and odds are, the older techniques are hands and feet more solid than anything constructed now a days.  You need to know how to properly match up the old and new construction so that you do not allow the elements in and that your new construction does not compromise the integrity of the original structure  Because if you don't think of that, the result isn't just fugly, it's expensive and very damaging.

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