You’ve bought an older home and now you’re ready to renovate. You know who your architect is. You know who your contractor is. You even know what you want to do.
What you don’t know is that underneath the linoleum in the laundry room is 3/4” plywood.
Sitting on top of 2X6 floor joists.
Resting on Astroturf.
Laid over brick pavers.
Sitting on top of the original concrete garage slab.
We always tell a client prior to starting a renovation to expect at least one surprise. No matter how new the house or how many prior renovations, there is always a hidden condition about which no one would have guessed. Sometimes it is good (mahogany paneling behind drywall) and sometimes not so good (“Why yes! Those are active termites in your master closet!”)
James and I didn’t get too far into our renovation before we had our first surprise – the framer looking at the vaulted living room ceiling and telling the contractor, “This will never pass inspection.” Fifty years of wear and tear had left the framing of the ceiling sagging and in some cases broken. While we had thought the framer might be able to patch up what was there, the reality was that the entire ceiling, including the ridge beam, needed to be reframed.
The second came after the new roof had been put on and we couldn’t help but notice a slight sag over the garage we’d never seen before. Some examination found that during the roof replacement, a knot had popped out of the ridge beam, allowing the beam to flex. Again, a little extra framing and problem solved.
Still, surprise! Or as the contractor would call that – a “change order.”
We’ve actually been very lucky that our home, although 50 years old, was built well. Someone even commented to me that we should have been happy the house had insulation all of those years.
However, we don’t always get to share that experience with clients. Sometimes once the renovation process starts, you find out just how much really needs to be fixed, even when you’ve tried your hardest to discover issues before the first hammer swings.
As for the laundry room example above? Yes, that did happen on a project.
And no, we didn’t leave that as a surprise for the next owner to find.