My Crummy Old House Looks Better than Yours ...

In a previous post, in March (so long ago), I detailed the rebuild of the back door and all the other crap that had to be redone, as more and more wet-rot was discovered on the west wall (the back) of the house. One part of that rebuild that was attempted, but not satisfactorily completed, was the south-west corner of the house.

Sadly, this corner has seen the absolute worst weather of any part of the house. The rain hits it full-force, the sun bakes it all day long, and it's where the most pedestrian traffic passes.

The last "contractor (charlatan?)" to work on the house was STEVE MARCH who left me with this insane, "I-can't-even-figure-out-what-process-went-on-in-his-damaged-brain-to-put-together-this-haphazard-contraption" thing below.

Steve March, a terrible contractor i would never hire or recommend, made an absolute mess out of this corner of my house. His remedy was awful and he destroyed many original details in the process.

A different angle so you can better see the contraption that wraps around the old porch post (sheathed in aluminum - the aluminum went away)

Wishing on a rainbow

 So, rather than accommodate this hideous mess, I went out on a limb ... I wished upon a rainbow and received from a friend, gotta love her, the following glitter-bedecked unicorn image. She sent it after she read the "crummy house" post (thanks Jill, you're a doll.)

I think it worked.

Less than 2 weeks after receiving this "glittering prize," I scheduled to meet with a builder that we have used many times in the past (still not sure why he didn't do the backdoor ...). He came over and we discussed the mess, talked about the simple, clean solution that I wanted, and in a few days, he had the whole thing rebuilt.

A few accommodations along the way

The original design of this corner of the house was as such:
the outside wall of the house was built of horizontal clapboards that met in the corner at a 3 inch wide vertical corner board. Above that was a ledge for the porch opening. On the ledge sat a "post," built-up of 4 wide-boards on the corner of the porch to support the porch roof. 

See photo below, it will hopefully make some sense.

If you look carefully at the house right above Jody's head, you can see the wide porch post above a narrow corner board (both painted white). That's the corner of the house that was rebuilt. See after photo below.

Since creepy Steve went crazy with his saw-zaw, several clapboard ends were not salvageable. Some clapboards also exhibited wet rot on their ends (near the corner) that would have proved awkward to patch effectively.

The best option was to patch in a new vertical corner board on the bottom part of the wall that was wider than the original 3 inch wide corner board. That way the bad ends of the clapboards could be trimmed back a few inches to clean, sound wood. The new corner board would match the width of the original porch post immediately above, thereby visually extending a single "post" from the top of the porch to the foundation.

In reality, patching a new wide corner board onto the existing original old porch post would have created another area for potential water leak—fewer joints means fewer potential leaks. I opted to remove the old porch post board, and use a single 12-foot long piece of lumber to fill in the removed porch post and missing corner board—one single board that extends top to bottom.

Removing some additional wood gave me a chance to clean out the structural parts of the corner, add some insulation and shore-up the existing structure—some areas were a little "soft."

Above is the "guts" of the corner. The red colored post is a replacement from "i don't know when." The fuzzy looking stuff is poplar sheathing and some pine? structural members. Those were sheared up, made sound, and new water-tight finish carpentry added to wrap the corner.
Fitting the boards was pretty straightforward, though it did take 3 of us to fit in that 12-foot long bugger. Once that was in place, a few small patches were needed at the window sill and a bit of caulk, just to be sure (interestingly, before attaching the new wood to this corner, the contractor caulked each meeting surface. I like this approach. It means that there is caulk within the joint between the boards, not just smeared on the surface.

A few days later, when the weather permitted, I primed and painted the area ... finally.

The smooth flat corner board was enlarged and extended from the old porch roof line to the foundation. While not the original design, it was a necessary compromise due to the clapboard ends being rotted back about an inch (too much to maintain the original design) and since this area gets a good deal of water, I didn't want to patch every clapboard and expose more joints to potential water infiltration.

Close up of the corner and the window sill. There is a small triangular patch that the contractor spent about 45 minutes carving with his pocket knife to make fit - THAT'S the attention to detail that I seriously admire.

I also put down a new floor in the sun room and have been painting it - I plan to stencil it to look like encaustic tiles. Have been working a lot in the Japanese garden and have plans to scrape and paint the front porch floor, soon. Look for more, here, soon.


  1. Your old house looks nice and I truly like your post and hope to get more updates from it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Looks like we have a mutual admiration society forming.
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