My Re-Construction Project


In the early 1920's the first settlement in eastern Manitoba was near the village of Ross and accessible only on the Winnipeg Water District Railway. The first group of homesteaders brought a sawmill and hauled it in by train. They cut enough lumber to build 5 homes before selling the mill. One of those homes was moved 6 miles from Ross in 1975 and I purchased it in 199

The house is built primarily of rough-cut lumber. Most wall studs and floor joists we sawn flat on only one or two sides (with bark left on the remainder) and all the walls, interior and exterior, are sheeted with 3/4" rough-cut planks set at a 45 degree and 90 degrees to the planking on the other side of the wall

The house was "a fixer-upper" when the people before me bought it (1992) and it was in worse shape when I bought it! After 12 years of high heating bills and a leaky roof, I decided it was time the "fixer-upper" got fixed up or I would have to take out a second mortgage to pay my heating bill! Parts of the living room were so cold in a northwest wind as to be uncomfortable and the furnace at half power (10KW) couldn't maintain temperature so the first task was INSULATION.

 I started ripping off the cedar siding April 19 (2009) and discovered that all the siding was attached with 3" finishing nails. The siding is 1/2" thick at the thick edge, the sheeting is 3/4", so the rest of the nail was exposed in the space between the walls .... where they rusted. Most of the nails had to be pulled with 2 hands on a crowbar! (What a shame - I would like to have reused the cedar!)

 Since I want to insulate with 2" of exterior SM from below grade to tight against the roof boards, the soffits and fascia were going to come off. There was so much obnoxious crap above the soffits I should probably have worn an environmental suit! Bird's nests, mouse nests, bees nests, bird poop, mouse poop, dead flies, dead ladybugs, and even one shed snake skin!

 After opening the first soffit, I saw that the roof line and overhang had been modified as I suspected. At some point, someone had added 8" to the overhang and made the last 8" a shallower pitch - just perfect for catching the snow in the spring and forming ice dams!


Since I intend to go with a faux half-timber exterior ( the original short overhang and sharp pitch roof would fit the European look perfectly so the eave extensions are coming OFF.

 After stripping the cedar siding, I add 2" build-outs to the windows and sheet with 2" Styrofoam SM. The intent is to have as continuous a wind and thermal barrier as possible. The SM is going up with PL-300 adhesive and #12 screws into the 3/4 planking. After sheeting, I will add 1x6 boards to form the half-timber appearance and parge the exposed SM to simulate the massionary portions of half-timber houses.

 I have started with the coldest corner (northwest) and working my way down the west wall with the upper course of SM. When the ground has thawed enough to dig, I will use the crawler to remove the top soil so the SM can be continued below grade and then extend out from the foundation at least 24".


I have also just discovered that my dilapidated roof has at least 4 layers of asphalt shingles over top of the original cedar shakes! Oh joy! Considering the amount of work required to strip the roof and the amount of debris that will have to be trucked away, I just might hire someone to do that job while I continue with the walls.


My main entrance door is into a porch that was a more recent add-on to the house and sits on a footing rather than the main foundation. (The crawl space under my porch serves as a wintering place for a colony of Garter Snakes, a function that will be preserved after the re-construction.) As a result of poor insulation and the unheated crawl space, every winter the ground heaves and the back door will not close properly (the shift is nearly 3/4" over the width of the door!) Since the door frame is rotten and ready to fall out of the wall, and since I can't get a standard frame wide enough for the existing wall plus 2" of SM, I have purchased a door by itself and will make my own frame from 2x12. To accommodate any shifting (which should be substantially less after adding the insulation, the door frame will "free-float" in the wall opening, being anchored to the floor at the sill and retained in place by the brick mold (exterior trim boards) with fiberglass bat insulation in the void. With the door due for deliver this week and that wall being the next to be done, the next task is the door frame and re-framing the opening and getting the new door and frame in place.



When I am done it will look different that then thousands of other houses in the area with horizontal vinyl or aluminum siding .... but "different" is good!

 As I said to a friend last week "The next time I get some grand DIY idea, slap me and remind me how old I am!" LOL

 Construction Page 2

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