What the hell were they thinking?

You can see what Aunt Polly thinks about some of the things previous owners did to this house.



There’s an arched alcove cut into the wall in the dining room. There was fake-wood contact paper on the bottom/shelflike part of it. I took it up and found—beautiful old oak. That’s what they put the contact paper over.


The previous owner sprinkled sand all around the outside of the house. When asked, he said it was somehow related to stopping water from coming into the basement. Water does not come into the basement, though, so maybe it works.

When we viewed the house, there was one switch in the living room that didn’t seem to turn anything on. We asked the owner what it operated, and he said he didn’t know—that it had never worked. When we moved in, we found out there was a bulb broken off in the hall light socket. When we removed the broken bulb and put a new one in, the hall light worked perfectly. This guy had lived here 23 years.


When I was making arrangements for the house inspection, I was told the attic was inaccessible—the door to it had been drywalled over 15 years earlier. I made the owner break through to give us access. Nice attic. Lots of storage space.


In renovating the big bathroom, we found several sorts of slipshod decisionmaking. For instance, the bottom of one set of wall studs was cut out to make room for the radiator plumbing. This is what holds up the wall. Oh, that’s why the wall was sagging! Thankfully, this was not a load-bearing wall, but the roof is pressing down on it. Also, we noticed differences in the plaster when tearing down another wall. It was normal width at some points and really thick at others. Later we saw several clues that suggested the bathroom had been smaller (and had a high-tank toilet, by the way) and when it was expanded, the biggest continuous wall took a jog where the new section started bcse the closet on the other side intruded on the space being added on. So whoever was making the bathroom bigger decided to remedy this by piling heaps of plaster on at one point to build out the area between the old wall and the new one. We are going to have to address this problem ourselves. I’m sure our fix will be brilliant! Ack.


In the smaller bathroom downstairs, we found that a previous owner’s solution to aging plaster was to build false walls a couple of inches in front of the true ones and install that fake-tile paneling on it.


In the downstairs kitchen, there are 6 doorways. The doors leading into the dining room and pantry were removed at some point (and tossed–they are not here anymore, wah!), but ones to the back porch, basement, bathroom and bedroom remain.

The transom in the side porch door was removed and replaced with interior paneling. No, it did not keep out the rain leaking through the hole in the porch roof.

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2 Responses to What the hell were they thinking?

  1. Patricia W. says:

    You’ve got me beat! I have only five doors in my kitchen!

    The broken lightbulb is pretty funny, the guy must not have been a very curious person, not a good sign.

  2. n54th says:

    Woohoo! No, wait, er …

    You’re so right about the PO. He’s a very nice guy, though, and I guess I’m lucky he took a hands-off approach to so many things. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford the house—and wouldn’t have found my life’s work! As in, gotta go work on it some more!

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