Part II – The Rot and the Stringers
Once the one side of the house was closed up, Jared and his dad made a channel on the opposite side of the house. This side was a bit trickier because it was the side with the dislodged the old-growth log, along with the foam blocks. Since Jared was a tad apprehensive in trying to dislodge the foam barrel right where the log was hitting the floor (from underneath) at the front of the house, he started at the other end, where the dining area will eventually be. What Jared and his father found were not only a bunch of compacted foam blocks, but also pieces of 55-gallon steel drums stuck down there. They removed as much of the flotation as they could, and then moved on to the front side of the house. What they found on that side was as expected—even more compacted foam blocks, including a rather large bulge on the subfloor where foam blocks and the log had tried to pop up when they all became dislodged.
We finally stopped trying to do the work from the inside and had the professionals take care of the last few pieces. The diver/log guy and his assistant ended up removing (from below) about a dozen foam blocks in total, many of which were reusable, once they were wrapped. You see, the new code specifies that foam blocks need to be wrapped, or encapsulated, so the foam pellets don’t float out in the open and pollute the waterways. The dislodged old-growth log was also put back in its original spot, a new stringer was installed, and the existing stringers were hammered in place with huge pins (like very long railroad spikes) to the old-growth logs.
In the meantime, we continued working on the rotten joists. The cost of wood to replace this rotted mess was starting to get out of hand, especially when it came to the 4-by-8 beams. Thankfully, a construction worker we became friendly with who was working on a neighbor’s house mentioned that we could save costs by buying two 2-by-6 pieces with one 2-by-4 on top instead, and gluing and screwing them in together, to make one 4-by-8 beam. We knew at inspection time, before buying the house, that there would be some issues, but we never imagined the extent of the damage, under the myriad types of plywood, planks, and super-slippery red floor. I would say that we ended up replacing about 65% of the joists and beams holding up our house.
One last bit I seem to have forgotten to mention—the wall on one side of the house had no support. I know, a major detail to have missed, but at this point, one would think the whole project was a huge detail to begin with—am I right? Anyway, what Jared did was borrow a bunch of jacks from friends and family and used them to lift the sagging wall and support it. I had Jared check the Internet to see what he shouldn’t be doing, and he quickly learned that you should only jack up the house one-eighth of an inch every day—any more than that, and you run the risk of breaking a window or cracking a wall.
And so the day finally came when Jared replaced all of the rotten joists after spraying down the mud off the logs (the diver/log guy’s assistant mentioned that you should always remove any mud on your logs in order to prevent rot), the wall was jacked up, the joists and 2x6s were put down, and the plywood sheets were screwed in.