Cannibalizing my Craftsman Bungalow

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May 15, 2006, 6:53:08 PM5/15/06
I have a modest 90yr. old Craftsman bungalow that I have owned for over
15 years. I recently bit the bullet and took the time (months!) and
money (you don't even want to know) to have the old composite shingle
siding removed to expose the original redwood clapboard. My
painter/restorer filled every nail hole, scraped every nook and cranny,
carefully and conservatively sanded off every layer, repaired every
corner of old window frame, etc. and finally completed a new coat of
paint that does my little place justice. It is constructed of solid old
growth redwood and feels like it will go another 90 years, no worries.

Until today. My roofers came out today. This is a company I have used
before - they re-roofed my detached garage a few yers back. I don't
have any leaks, but I'm trying to be proactive and not wait for
trouble, so I signed up for a new 30 year shingle. After about two
hours of banging I decided to go out and have a look at progress. I was
STUNNED to see two workers in the process of nailing up a dinky piece
of pine in the place where my front fascia used to be. This was a 12
ft. long 2x8 that completed 1/2 of my front roofline - nice and wide
with an angled rafter end tail. Gasping, I asked "What have you done
with my REDWOOD!?!" "Oh, there was some dry rot on the end" Well, I had
known about that - my painter had informed me and we felt that during
the re-roof would be the time to address it, repair and repaint. The
involved area was about 1-2" deep along about 6" of the rafter tail.
For this they removed the WHOLE thing. Just ripped it off - and were
nailing up a piece of typical modern day lumber - in other words, too
small in two dimensions. A 2x8 doesn't measure 2x8 these days, but my
old one DID. Can you imagine how inadequate that was? I felt like
someone had cut off my foot - being a preservationist is not easy. They
looked at me like I was cockeyed, I was trying not to shoot anyone. :)

My contract specifically notes that the owner is to be informed
*immediately* if any latent damage is discovered, requiring any wood
work. What happened!?! They acted as though they were doing me a favor
- "Oh, we thought you'd want to go with the lowest cost option" Ack!
Removing an irreplaceable lengtht of redwood is an OPTION!?! Gawd, if
they'd only asked me first.

I stopped them and called the co. owner. His crew leader had just
called, so he had a clue what had happened, but hoped it could be made
okay. He apologized for them not consulting me and said he'd call
around for replacement redwood. I reiterated that a full dimensional
peice of redwood was the only viable option. As expected, he called
back saying a 12ft. piece of REAL 2x8 was nowhere to be found and would
have to be custom-milled. No duh.

So - my board seems to have sustained 2 3-6" closed cracks from where
they ripped it off the nails at the peak, where it meets its twin (like
this /\), but otherwise seems intact. Of course there are a dozen old,
long, bent serious nails sticking out in various degrees of rippage.

What are my chances of getting this properly reattached/restored to my
house? Repairing the rafter tail is not the problem (never was!), but
undoing the wanton damage that occured to both the underlayers and this
board itself has me concerned. I am guessing re-glue the cracks and
clamp it for a while? Try to gingerly remove these nails? Anybody have
any advice? Please?


May 15, 2006, 7:09:39 PM5/15/06

If it's just cracked in a couple of places up at the ridge, then you
could glue it back together. It would probably have most if not all of
the original strength. I'd open up the cracks a bit and work
polyurethane glue into the joint. PU glue is a moisture cured adhesive
so spray some water in the joint before working the glue in. The stuff
foams up as it cures so it will make a bit of a mess. The excess can
be cleaned off with a chisel then sanded - probably not necessary as
the ridge isn't visible.

You may want to install a metal connector when you reattach the rafter
to add whatever strength the the connection may have lost.

Latent and concealed conditions are usually found at the beginning of
the job during demolition and that's when you should be most interested
to see what the guys are working on.



May 15, 2006, 7:15:39 PM5/15/06
I would try some restoration epoxy. The liquid would be best to soak into
the rotted end by standing the board in a bag with the epoxy, the same for
filling the cracks/splits on the other end. The epoxy putty would be good to
fill the nail holes to keep moisture out once you have extracted the bent
nails without further damage. It is not cheap stuff, but the roofing company
should pay for it and your time to install it in a proper way.

<> wrote in message

Travis Jordan

May 15, 2006, 7:47:43 PM5/15/06
to wrote:
> I have a modest 90yr. old Craftsman bungalow that I have owned for
> over 15 years. I recently bit the bullet and took the time (months!)

Funny you should post this. Did you see today's Wall Street Journal
article on Craftsman homes? In case you missed it, here is an excerpt.

Historians and Fans Are Racing to Catalog Homes Sold by Sears

Marilyn Raschka spends many of her weekends driving around unfamiliar
neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking her way into strangers'
basements. Once downstairs, she breaks out her flashlight and shines it
along exposed beams, hunting for a letter and some numbers that are each
no bigger than a thumbprint.

The 61-year-old resident of Hartford, Wis., is part of a small cadre of
historians and passionate amateurs on a mission to identify and protect
homes made by Sears, Roebuck and Co. About 70,000 to 100,000 of them
were sold through Sears catalogs from 1908 to 1940. Distressed that the
houses are falling victim to the recent boom in teardowns and
renovations, their fans are scouring neighborhoods across the country,
snapping pictures and sometimes braving snakes and poison ivy to poke
around basements and attics for the telltale stamps that mark the lumber
in most of the catalog homes. Because people can be shy about the state
of their basements, Ms. Raschka brings along photos of her own messy
cellar to persuade them to let her in.

Precut houses ordered from a Sears catalog were shipped by boxcar in
30,000 pieces -- including shingles, nails and paint -- and assembled by
a local carpenter or by the buyers themselves. Styles ranged from the
elaborate, nearly $6,000 Magnolia, to the three-room, no-bath Goldenrod,
sold in 1925 for $445. (Outhouses sold separately.) One of the larger
Sears models, constructed in Takoma Park, Md., sold last year for about
$900,000, according to a local real-estate agent.

The homes caught on as the U.S. population grew and Americans began to
move away from crowded city centers. Their popularity also was driven by
the rise of company towns. In Carlinville, Ill., for example, Standard
Oil ordered homes for its mine workers, 152 of which are still standing.

Sears also encouraged sales to families with steady wages but little in
savings by financing up to 100% of some of the homes. But many
homeowners were forced to default during the Depression, and sales came
to an end in 1940.

Like some of the die-hard hunters, Ms. Raschka herself lives in a Sears
home, a 1928 Mitchell model. "My passion is to find my house's long-lost
sisters and brothers," she says.
In the guide she published, "Finding the Houses That Sears Built,"
Rosemary Thornton warns that "some homeowners become quite upset when
they discover someone is parked outside, staring at their home," and
suggests leaving the car running in case you need to leave in a hurry.
There's a section in her book titled "Law Enforcement Officials" that
says, "Police don't care about Sears homes and when you're
explaining,...less is more."

It's difficult to know how many Sears homes are left. Sears doesn't have
sales records, and while interest in catalog homes is growing, many
people still don't know they are living in one. In addition, identifying
a Sears isn't like spotting a steel-paneled Lustron, the ranch houses
built to ease the housing shortage after World War II. The hundreds of
styles Sears offered varied widely, and many of the homes have been
altered over the years. Further complicating matters, a handful of other
companies, such as the Aladdin Co., of Bay City, Mich., and Gordon-Van
Tine Co., of Davenport, Iowa, produced mail-order homes closely
resembling Sears models.

Even if a house does match a picture in an old Sears catalog, it could
be a later rip-off by a local builder -- or a popular style that Sears
emulated in its designs. Inside the house, hints like Sears-labeled
woodwork can also be misleading, because Sears sold such things
separately. One way to tell: a stamp of a letter and a three-digit
number on beams, which were marked to facilitate assembly.

Measuring the space between studs, or support posts, can be another clue
in verifying a Sears home, especially in an area with a lot of Sears
imitations, according to Kathryn Holt Springston, a 53-year-old
semiretired social historian with the Smithsonian Institution. The studs
of older non-Sears houses in the Washington, D.C. area are often 22 to
24 inches apart, she says, compared with about 15 inches in Sears
models. When she spots what she thinks might be a Sears home in the
Washington area, she asks to be let into the house, and then straps on a
headlamp and looks for exposed studs in the attic, closets and basement.
Ms. Springston has ripped up floorboards and sometimes uses a metal
detector to find nails in studs in the walls. She says she crawled
through poison ivy in one abandoned home and once encountered a snake in
someone's basement. (She measured anyway.)

-end excerpt-

May 15, 2006, 8:59:09 PM5/15/06
Are you referring to an adhesive such as Gorilla Glue? I have used that
before, but never on this scale. You are right that I should have been
"most interested" during the early going of my job. I GUESS I just
rested on the false assumption that they would abide by the
stipulations of the contract and indeed inform me "immediately" and get
all repairs cleared first. I had stayed home all day to be available.
I have learned.
Thanks for the input.

May 15, 2006, 9:07:38 PM5/15/06
From: EXT

> I would try some restoration epoxy. The liquid would be best to soak into
the rotted end by standing the board in a bag with the epoxy, the same
filling the cracks/splits on the other end. The epoxy putty would be
good to
fill the nail holes to keep moisture out once you have extracted the
nails without further damage. It is not cheap stuff, but the roofing
should pay for it and your time to install it in a proper way. <

I have used ConServe epoxy before - is this what you are suggesting?
Good idea to stand it in a bag - wood this old will probably absorb all
I give it. I haven't worked with the putty - I hear it's a bear - but
my painter will be doing it for me.
I think I'll be holding back ~$200 from my bill to cover the materials
and the extra time I need to buy from my painter. He's in the middle of
another restoration right now, but came by to have a look. He cringed -
but he also pointed out several dings they put in my NEW paint with
their ladders. All will be restored, but I'll have to deal with this
gaping void until the weekend.
It hurts to look at it.
Thanks for your help.

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