Structural Repairs: How to “un-butcher” a house

Moving or removing walls, enlarging window openings, altering doorways– these are major renovations that, while not especially difficult, require a clear understanding of the structure of a building. We unfortunately moved into a house where the previous owner had made numerous changes that compromised the structure. Notwithstanding the inherent danger of our investment collapsing (literally), we were faced with the financial hardship of undoing his work, fixing the resulting damages and compensating for the changes made to the structure


A dangerous situation

Everything the previous owner touched had the potential for catastrophic consequences, not only for the structure of the house, but for the safety of his family.  With his mistakes buried behind drywall, we had no way of knowing the extent of the damage when we moved in.  As we opened up walls, we were shocked by what we found.

When he wanted bigger windows, he just cut bigger holes without modifying the framing.

When he wanted a larger bedroom, he removed a wall.  Unfortunately, it was a load-bearing wall.  Half the house could have collapsed with tragic results.

When he wanted to move plumbing, he didn’t let the pesky top plate of a supporting wall stand in his way.

A do-it-yourselfer with a vision and demolition tools can be a dangerous combination if there is no understanding of basic construction principles.  That was clearly the case here. The additional materials to have done the renovations properly in the first place would not have added much to the overall cost.  However to fix these issues and ensure that there were no other hidden gems required us to gut much of the house– a major renovation project and financial nightmare.

Structural Repairs: How to “unbutcher” a house

The Back Dormer: Repairing water damage and fixing framing problems
The Back Dormer:  Adding ventilation and eliminating water leaks
The Sunken Tub
Supporting a house from the basement up
Load-bearing walls