This house is old; Heather always says it was built in 1836, though I don’t know of any documentation of that. I just discovered the county’s tax records say it was built in 1860, which given what I know of the property’s history seems to me to make more sense than the 1830s, but as far as I know either or neither could be correct. Anyway, it’s about 150 years or more.
The hand hewn beams in the basement are as far as I know the originals, and mostly they’ve held up pretty well. There’s one exception. There was an undiscovered leak under the bathroom floor for many years that got that beam wet, and it went soft.
Apparently a contractor put in some posts some years back, and raised the sagging house up, but it started sagging again. In 2002 Heather’s father’s brother in law somehow got hold of a massive I-beam, and the two of them somehow got it in place under the bad beam and jacked it up. That probably kept the house standing these past six years, but it needed better. The posts holding it up were sinking into the dirt floor, and the I-beam was cocked at a slight angle to the vertical, not a stable situation.
Besides that, the other beams were not as well supported as they could be, and an old wooden post was failing, and the opening for the basement stairs had been done badly and was also sagging.
So we got a contractor in to fix things up. He put in some good reinforced concrete pads for the posts to stand on, he secured the I-beam and straightened it (he was highly impressed — and, until he stabilized it, scared — by that I-beam, which he described as being something you would usually see, not in a house, but in a skyscraper), he put in a new post to replace the old wooden one, he strengthened the stair framing and added posts there, bringing everything more or less level. Actually one beam had been jacked up too high and needs to settle downward a little.
While he was at it, he cleaned up and organized a lot of the stuff in the basement. That wasn’t part of the contract, he just did it anyway.
So the structural problems are, we hope, taken care of, and the basement is in better shape than it’s been for probably at least four decades. This isn’t to say there’s not a good deal more work to do there, more cleaning up and repairing, but the main concern has been fixed.
Between that and verifying the septic system is in decent shape and finally getting our possessions covered by insurance (which we did recently after procrastinating far too long) I’m breathing a lot easier about our situation.
Next? We need to talk it over between us and with experts. The house’s exterior is in very bad shape and I think that ought to be taken care of next, but exactly what to do requires some consideration.