Loose riser

One day a few weeks ago a riser on the front porch steps fell off. We’re not sure what prompted this, but looking at the board there was no visible screws or nails for attaching it, so the real surprise was that it hadn’t fallen off a long time ago. Also pictured is one of the greatest power tools you can buy: an impact driver. If you ever do any level of home improvement, buy one of these. If you think your cordless drill or electric screwdriver is good enough, you’ve never used one of these. It has an amazing amount of torque and it can screw in or unscrew just about anything. Combine it with square head or Torx screws and maybe a screw guide and it becomes nearly effortless. Anyway, back to the porch.

After tipping the riser board back into place only to have it fall off again for a couple of weeks, I finally got around to screwing it back into place. This is obviously about the easiest repair ever, but sometimes in the midst of all the complicated problems we’re trying to tackle with this house, the little, easily-solved problems have a certain charm.

Speaking of our more complicated problems, we found out that we likely won’t need to underpin our foundation after all. It turns out that the basement floor and possibly the first floor joists are not exactly level (shocking!). Measuring the height of the ceiling in the corner of the basement instead of the center resulted in a free extra few inches, enough that we can probably excavate to the bottom of the footing and still have enough height to meet code requirements. That little measurement difference will probably save us from spending thousands of dollars on new concrete!

We’re still working out how to do some of the next few steps from an order-of-operations perspective. First we need to repair the structure in the basement by installing a new steel beam, steel columns, and new footings. Once that’s done we can move the laundry and storage from the first floor to the basement so we can start gutting the first floor. The tricky part is the basement floor itself. We’d like to hold off lowering the basement floor for now because spending a ton of money making the basement nice when we don’t need it for years is unappealing. We want to finish the first and second floors, the exterior, and maybe even the garage before tackling the basement.

Unfortunately, if we don’t lower the basement floor now, we’ll have to install the new HVAC equipment on the current floor. When we lower the floor later, we’ll have to also lower all the equipment despite ducts, pipes, and wiring installed where they are now. We talked about just lowering the floor where the utility room will be now and doing the rest later, but that complicates the weeping system and the radiant tubing that will need to go under/into the new floor. Another possibility is trying to mount the equipment in such a way that we can lower the floor around it. Whenever the floor is redone we’ll also need to replace the sewer line and possibly the water supply line, and both are expensive.

The architects and contractors we’ve talked to are used to everything being done at once, so the “simple” answer is for us to get a construction loan, move out, have the whole house remodeled, and move back in. Obviously, that’s not really what we have in mind. Working through challenges like this makes me appreciate it when I have a nice, easy problem, like fixing a riser on the front porch.

All better


One Response to Easy Problems

  1. I take it the “easy” problem was fixing that riser and not what to do with the basement…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *