Jody’s Home Improvement Nightmare!

Home improvement shows make tearing out a wall look so easy. Trust me, eager amateurs and novices. It isn’t as easy as it looks on TV. Our two story craftsman style house had the “kitchen from hell” when we bought it, but the rest of the house was in such excellent condition, I mentally promised myself a “home improvement” project in the kitchen so we bought it and moved into the house in March anyway.

For approximately six months, I pondered the problems as I sipped my morning coffee everyday, going over infinite possibilities. I had plenty of space to work with, but three doorways and a bookcase making some of it almost dysfunctional.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I kept imagining this big open country kitchen with sunshine pouring into my soon-to-be-much-brighter kitchen from the bay window in the dining-room. However, the only way that was going to happen was if I tore out the wall between the two rooms (the dastardly wall with the bookcase in it).

“Well, why not?” I asked. So I fed the older two boys their breakfast, sent them off to school, put the baby down for a morning nap, and hunted up my husband’s crowbar and hammer. (At this point in this story it sounds like I peremptorily took this upon myself without discussing it with my husband, but that was not the case. We’d been haggling over what the kitchen needed for weeks.)

I tied a kitchen t-towel around my mouth and nose and gave a good whack with my hammer into the plaster and lathe between the doorway and the bookcase. It actually didn’t take all that long to tear it all out of there. I was done before the boys arrived back home from school, and all that was still standing with the 2×4’s that had seemed to be kind of significant at the moment to holding up overhead beams, so I didn’t mess with them. However, I wanted them out of there. Oh, yes, and there were electrical wires dangling from the ceiling, but I could already see the potential!

I cleaned the worst of the mess up and started fixing supper. The kids thought I was nuts when they arrived home from school and wanted to know, “What’s Dad going to say?”

“I knew if I waited for your dad to take it out, it wasn’t ever going to happen,” I blithely replied, stirring the ground beef in my skillet. “Now he has to do something about it.” Hmmm…I’m sure anybody reading these words can see the fallacy in that reasoning already.

Oooh…Mike wasn’t happy when he got home! “What on earth were you thinking of to take that wall out?” he roared. “It’s a support wall!”

“Well on those home improvement shows, they put in these things called ‘headers’ to take care of stuff like that,” I said, as if I knew what I was talking about.

“You’re not listening to me,” Mike growled. “Have you noticed that the back half of this house was added on after the original house was built? This is an exterior wall you’re ripping out here. It holds up the yellow bedroom and the bathroom upstairs.”

Oops! Well, that complicated things a tad bit, I reluctantly acknowledged, but I was still positive it could be done. After all, I’d already ripped most of the wall out. So we called in back-up! I made a telephone call to two friends who had a lot of expertise in home improvements themselves, and ask them to come over, take a look at my dilemma, and offer possible solutions.

“It can be done,” the other Mike told me. “It’s just going to take some big pieces of lumber and some time and muscle.”

In the end, it took more than that. At one point, I thought the bedroom over the dining-room was going to be sitting in the middle of my dining-room floor when they took the two 2×4’s out that were holding the bedroom up. They had put a temporary brace under it, but that was seriously bowing like it might snap like a toothpick while the dining-room ceiling was sagging.

I don’t know how I thought of it, but I asked them if a jack would help. I mean, the ceiling is about to fall on all of our heads, and I’m calmly asking them if they could use a jack. “What kind of jack?” one of them asked.

“A house jack,” I answered. “I found one in the basement.”

“H**l, yes, get the d**n thing, and hurry up!” somebody shouted, and I ran for the back porch where I’d hauled it just days before. The three of them were afraid to let go of the hold they had on the brace holding the ceiling up.

Transferring the weight of the second floor bedroom to the house jack turned out to be a delicate but brutish operation. It took all four of us, and there were a few seconds where we all held our breath while we prayed the house jack wouldn’t teeter and fall when we transferred the weight of the overhead timbers to its precarious perch on the house jack.

With held breaths, we all watched it settle; plaster dust falling around all our heads. We could actually hear the house groan. Within a matter of maybe 5 to 10 seconds that seemed to last way too long, we finally let out a unanimous sigh of relief to see the house jack wasn’t going to kick out. Suddenly, there were high-fives and jubilant shouts resounding through the house. From that point on, it was all a matter of craftsman-like ingenuity and skilled carpentry to secure it to insure the second floor wasn’t going to cave in on our heads.

By the time we went to bed that evening, a 6×6 header was sitting on two 6×6 supports screwed to the two inside corners of my kitchen, and a rectangular shaped brace was sitting on top of that header with 2×4’s wedged into it providing support to hold the second floor up.

People also view

Leave a Reply

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