Kenilworth is a great house, and for 150+ years old, it’s in splendid shape. With that said, some things just happen over time that need fixing.
First and foremost was the crawlspace/beam project. Our building inspector found that 2 beams on the southwest corner of the house were in significant disrepair (which was the cause for some sagging of the first floor in that quarter of the house). We dug a channel in the dirt to allow better access to the beams, removing the waste with 5-gallon buckets. We also noticed two 18x18 hand-hewn beams that were in excellent shape, which was quite impressive to say the least. After taking a brief look, we headed to Menards and picked up a stack of 2x6 treated pine, 6 concrete blocks (which saved literally days if not an entire week of time – they’re just drop-in rather than pour-in), 6 18-ton house jacks, and 1 12-ton bottle jack. Using HeaderLok screws to create laminated 6x6s out of the 2x6s, we prepped the jacks and assembled them in the basement. After furher investigation in the crawlspace, we found that the previous “beams” were 2x4s laid flat on stacked bricks – virtually no supporting strength to hold anything bigger than an average man.
We attempted to place the blocks level and realized we would have to dig down about 2 feet (18 inch diameter holes) to fit the jacks in, so we began that process. After a couple days, we were able to bring the beams in with some difficulty and get them up on our jacks (3 jacks per beam) and placed our bottle jack under one to begin.
To wrap things up (pun intended), we laid down Visqueen plastic sheeting to give the crawlspace some sealing from the dirt.
Project #2: The Egress Window.
An old basement window was in place, but it was quite shy of minimum sizes for egress windows at roughly 18 inches tall by 30 wide. We removed landscaping timbers used in place of a window well, 6 inches of gravel, and about 5 feet of dirt to create enough room for a bigger window. Along the way, we found an extremely annoying concrete ledge about 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep (it apparently goes all the way around the house). We eventually jackhammered it out, removed the window, and cut the hole for our window. After that, we had to jackhammer the hole our because the concrete saw wouldn’t cut deep enough. After about 2 weeks, we have our window in place and sealed!
After backfilling around the well (which is bolted with 4 1/2-inch bolts to the concrete), we poured some concrete pillars to hold up our ledger (not shown), cut landscaping timbers to bring the well up to dirt height, put river rock in between the timbers and the well (and at the bottom of the well), and filled in around that. Next we’ll be leveling the floor.
That’s all for now folks!