|stairway to haven
||[Oct. 2nd, 2017|04:38 pm]
Hemlock B. Bootsalotta
One of the big things that worries me about our current state of brokeness is figuring out what house repairs can be deferred until we have some money to spend on them. Our front porch, for example, is showing some pretty serious wear lately and really needs to be replaced.
It's not just the age of thing, it really wasn't built very well in the first place. The front steps have never been up to code. There should be an extra step at the bottom, and whoever put them in cheaped out by putting a short riser underneat the bottom step instead. So that first step is really tall and people keep tripping over it. The porch itself is made out of poured concrete and when you stand in the cold room underneath you can see how it's starting to sag, because the frame is either rusted out or was never adequate to support all that weight. The whole thing needs to be ripped out and replaced.
But that's not an option right now. So we need to keep it holding together long enough that it will last until we have the budget to get it rebuilt.
I had a week off work in September, so I decided I was going to use it to fix the steps. They had developed a thick crack that ran down each step a couple of inches from one side and since the steps themselves are basically hollow rectangles filled with sand, they were threatening to split all the way and just fall into two pieces. Big chunks of concrete had also fallen off the faces of a couple of them and the sand was constantly weeping out. Fixing it took a couple of days of filling in parts of the gaps, letting it dry and then building it up with another layer. I mixed up cement until it was the consistency of thick putty and wedged it into the widest gaps, using it as a base to fill the holes with chunks of rock and brick and then slapping more cement on top to smooth it out.
This weekend it was time to do the porch. The frame has rusted away and there are big holes where the flaking metal has caused the surrounding concrete to just collapse and fall apart. The face of concrete slab has also crumbled away, and When Axel was cleaning it the lintel over the basement door snapped off into a couple of long slabs of solid rust.
We scavenged some rebar from the stretcher we used for the pig roasts and it fit perfectly into the hole above the door. We filled in all the gaps with spray foam and then I covered bits and pieces of it in more cement.
I'll be honest, it looks like shit. I have never worked with cement before so I was pretty much figuring it out as I went. A professional would have built a frame to support the face so that it could be squared properly, we didn't want to spend the money on the wood so we wedged a slab of tile in front of it and braced it in place with stacks of loose bricks. The cement is lumpy and patchy and I didn't even try to cover up the bright blue foam sticking out from underneath the first step.
But the most worrying holes are now sealed and it will keep any progressive damage at bay through the next freeze-thaw cycle. Which was essentially my goal.
Then last night I had a very long and very detailed dream about the existing renos falling apart, complete with collapsing stairs when I attempted to climb to the second floor and the drywall just folding itself gracefully into dust all over the house.
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