When you undertake a renovation you never know what you will find behind the walls and under the floors.
I've found some interesting items over the years:
- Newspapers from the time of the Nuremberg Trials used as underlayment.
- War time wallpaper with British and German planes (same room as the newspapers)
- A Queen Victoria Canadian Quarter from the late 1800's
I've also discovered:
- Fire damage that was not repaired but covered.
- Knob and tube live wires buried in walls.
- Extension cords buried in walls.
- Beer caps.
The renovation of my own house (21 years old so you'd expect it to be built to code right?) is giving us answers to some questions which have come up over the past year we've lived here.
- Why does the bathroom smell like urine? Remove toilet to find 1/8" crusty cake of urine underneath as well as two (2!) wax rings that had disintegrated...rather than using one extension ring.
- What is up with the gurgling sound coming from the tub when we drain a sink? The plumbing drain pipe for the sinks is also used as the vent for the bathtub.
- Why do all the lights flicker in our bedroom when the refrigerator in the kitchen come on? The kitchen outlets and bedroom were on the same overloaded breaker.
- Electrical wire the builders heavied on to get an extra inch in the boxes...which peeled back the plastic exposing live wires (by dragging them across the metal plates meant to prevent nails from piercing the wires).
- ABS drains glued together (crooked and bearly meeting).
- Improperly installed shower liner with mold under it.
- Ground wires not grounded (too many times to count).
I started my career in this industry when I was 20 years old...somewhere around 2 decades ago...there abouts...give or take a few years...yeah.
Ok, not that long ago!
I see the same things, today, I saw way back: young labourers hot boxing on breaks. Improper wire used on jobs. Apprentices left to do the jobs on their own...but there are always issues requiring a licenced professional who know code. Day labourers sent in to the houses to 'install' doors, trim, roofing, cabinets without supervision nor training.
When you buy a house you expect the town inspectors have done their job to ensure everything is up to code. But when you buy a house in a new subdivision the inspectors don't inspect each house...that would be crazy...despite permits being issued for all houses. Inspectors go in to, depending on where you live, 1 out of every 4 houses.
With the warranty that comes with new homes it's not much better than the 'tail light warranty' of the shmoe down the street who works for cash.
We liked that this house was still builder basic. Image what you find when you've had previous owners doing renovations. So many 'renos' simply compound the original issues with their own...'short cuts' or lack of skill/knowledge.
As with anything it is buyer beware. Our bathroom is still opened up as we have to fix the builder's mess of wiring/plumbing and framing but if I'm really lucky the tub will be framed and roughed in soon. I could care less about anything else right now!
P.S. At the very least constructino workers should be easy on the eyes!