A glutton for punishment.

I must be one because I still want to fix up my old, rundown house.  Structurally, it’s sound, but there are oh-so-many problems that will equal a lifetime of repairing and maintaining.  And no, my home is not as bad as this one pictured, but sometimes I feel as if it were.


I was convinced that the red squirrels were back in my ceiling as I could hear a constant chewing sound all through the day.  The pest control people said no, no squirrels are inside.  The chewing got worse as the week wore on.  Yesterday, I pressed my ear to the wall near the ceiling to see if I could ascertain where exactly the sound was located.  I tapped and knocked on the wall and ceiling.  Then, the ceiling opened up with a small flap and a swarm of close to 100 yellow jackets flew out and flooded my living room.

Apparently, whoever built this house used some sort of paper-based pressboard which is a wonderful material for chewing up and turning into a yellow jacket nest.  After a thundershower of Raid (which said on the package that it was fine for indoor use but I still think I’m getting cancer) and taping up the hole, the room was wasp-free, and I managed to escape un-stung.  I spent today washing curtains and cleaning every surface and item in here for fear of poisoning my cat, my family and any guests who deign to enter.  Tonight I will put more chemicals up in my attic to ensure that the hive is destroyed.

If you are in the market for an older house (circa 1940 or earlier) be prepared for all sorts of shenanigans and fix-ups for things that weren’t done right.  Then again, I don’t trust modern contractors either.  While codes are better, I think a lot of new construction is just shiny stuff that looks nice but will crack and crumble piece by piece in 20 years or less.  The glazing on those double and triple-paned windows will not last more than 20 years and will require an entirely new window.  I have to reglaze many of my old wood windows, but with that maintenance, their expected lifespan is 200 years.   That laminate flooring won’t hold up like true wood or natural linoleum flooring.  And if you think you can breathe new life into your vinyl siding with a coat of paint, think again.  It doesn’t like to hold paint at all and you will be replacing that as well in 20 years.  Spend more money on long-living natural or better engineered materials.  It’s healthier for you, more economical in the long-run, and environmentally sound.

I know someone who bought in to a brand new, gorgeous and expensive condo development.  The place is gracious, spacious and clean but before even moving in, the contractors were called back to fix the crooked sheetrock in the living room and repair the shoddy flooring work they did on the stairs.  Just recently there was a problem with the dishwasher leaking into the ceiling and causing damage in the finished basement. I don’t think the place is even 5 years old.

I would be super-angry if I bought new and had to deal with that nonsense.   Maybe I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but at least I know what I’m getting and I know to expect certain problems.  In a world where everything is made to be disposal and single-use, it does give me some gratification to know that when I’m done with it, this house will be better than even its former glory.