Reality Check, Plus Engineers Bearing Good News

We've pretty much given up on being done with taping and painting by the open house. Right now, we'd be glad to have all the drywall up and the drywall jack returned to the rental place by then. Maybe we'll also have the dumpster out of the yard by then, too.

We'd scheduled an extra cleaning session with the housekeeper this week, in anticipation of having more done. Some of that is going to go to waste, but the house is extra-filthy from all the construction and the skipped housekeeping visit two weeks ago, so I'm looking forward to two solid days of cleaning.

Painters continue apace, working their way around the front of the house with the scraping. I think wet sanding comes next.

Also in the House News today: we had a visit from Ralph Kratz, a structural engineer. He came and took some pictures of the house and talked to us about foundation work and seismic engineering. We got two really great pieces of information from him:

  1. if we do a real replacement of the foundation as it now sits, with no digging down for a basement, we don't need to throw that work away when we want to add a basement; we just stick the new basement wall inside of the replacement foundation. Which means that we can afford to do the best job on the foundation now and not kick ourselves for wasting the money. Also, he pointed out that working on the crawlspace area to make the house rigid is 100 times more important than upstairs. So we can close in walls without guilt.

  2. the unsupported back wall is fine, because it hasn't fallen down. I'd been under the impression that merely standing up for 125 years was not a sign of goodness of design, but apparently that's all that you can ask for as far as vertical structure is concerned. For seismic forces, a bit more is required, as noted.

Which means that we're going to put some extra effort into doing a really good foundation replacement in a year or so, sooner if possible, without worrying about basements and all that.

Ralph was also very happy to hear that we were going to take the chimney down. Chimneys are basically bad news all around in earthquakes. And since the gas fireplace we want to put in can be done with a direct vent, we don't need a chimney at all.

posted by ayse on 12/15/03

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