This week we have been focusing on evaluating the condition of the two original Federal period rooms on the north side of the house: the dining room (NE) and the back parlor or study (NW). In general, the north elevations of buildings are more prone to weather-related problems. They take the brunt of storms, they get wet and they dry much slower than the sunnier west and south exposures. So bad things tend to happen: like cubical brown rot fungi. We knew, and our architects confirmed it, that both original federal rooms had extensive rot damage from years of unchecked water infiltration. The conditions were readily visible to the naked eye inside and out and were built into our planning for the Phase I project this summer. But you never exactly what the true conditions are until you open up the wall to probe the state of the structure inside.
The NW room wall was clearly the worst, and we had hoped to retain the wall intact and repair/sister the framing and portions of the plates as needed to provide structural support for the new roof. But as we peeled back the layers, it was clear that the rot attack was too far advanced to salvage the wall. Where they existed at all, the lath, studs, and plate crumbled to the touch. More mulch for the garden.
So, it was decided, in consultation with our architects, that we will need to rebuild the wall to the exact layout and framing dimensions of the original with new Douglas Fir stock.
Very depressing news. And then it rained…
As a consolation, we were able to salvage a good fraction of the old growth cedar shingles on the undamaged sections of the wall for patching on this and other elevations. The window frame, sill, and sash were also previously salvaged and can be repaired and reinstated.