Wednesday, May 30, 2012

House Archeology and Floorplan Improvement

We don't know much about our home's history.  I've never been interested in looking at county records to see how many times it has changed hands.  The little I do know about it has been gleaned from the neighbors and the MLS listing.  After months of working on the house we've come to realize the the MLS was not entirely correct. 

According to the county and the MLS the house was built in 1953 which matches a note the builders left on the bathroom framing.  But after months of working on the house it has become clear to us that part of the house is much older. We think that the original house was build in the 20's and only measured 16'x32'.  We're guessing that in 1953 the area was starting to boom and the old house was torn down so that only the cellar and floor remained.  A new house was then built over the old cellar and the newly poured north crawlspace.  The 1953 house would have been a 2 bed/1bath and measured roughly 930 sq.ft. 

The county records do not show a house on the land prior to 1953 but Butte has notoriously bad record keeping, especially for buildings that were not near the mines.  So why are we so sure that there was an older house?

1.     Our basement is constructed from concrete blocks but both crawlspaces have poured      concrete walls.  Block foundations were very common during the 20's and 30's in Butte.

2.     The crawlspace access points are actually old windows.  We have since removed the window frames but the windows that open into the crawl space are an exact match for the windows looking at the back yard.  And the window placement would only make sense if the house did not have an addition on the north side.
3.     The floor joists above the old part of the house are all 2x8 rough cut lumber.  The rest of the house has planed lumber that is obviously newer.
4.     The entire 50's house had oak floors.  But under that is a diagonally run shiplap subfloor.  And the shiplap is different between the newer and older parts of the house.  This is very evident in the bathroom where the old and new shiplap form a seam.

During the 70's another crawlspace was poured on the west side of the house and two more bedrooms were added to the first floor.  In order to reach the bedrooms the office closet was removed to create a hallway.  32" might be as generous depth for a closet but it makes a very narrow hallway.
The main bathroom is on the right hand side of the hallway.  We were fortunate to have an oversize bathtub so the whole bathroom was wider than normal to accommodate the long tub.  We gutted the bathroom over memorial day and since we will be using a standard 60" tub were able to move the plumbing wall and enlarge the hallway to 40".
But we were left with the problem of the headers.  Luke removed the first header because it was not load-bearing.  We think it was there for a linen closet.  But the second header was a problem...because it wasn't a header.  This was once an exterior wall of the house and has the weight of the old roof resting on it.  And all that is supporting that span was a pair of 2x4's.
Luke built a new 2x8 header and we set it into the wall for support.
Don't you just love the pink and purple color scheme we've got going at the end of the hall?
We'll be changing this layout eventually and this pink and purple hall will be part of the guest room.  For now it's just one more thing that would annoy me if I wasn't too exhausted to care.
All our work this weekend has just confirmed our opinion that the pair who built the main part of the house in '53 did a great job.  The walls are square and everything is well supported.  But the later addition was done by someone who either didn't know what they were doing or just didn't care.  I wonder what people will say about our work in 30 or 60 years.


clammyblog said...

Interesting! Remodeling/archeology.

clammyblog said...