You know, there’s a reason that I’m not the person in charge of building stuff around here. Because there’s so much that I misunderstand about house construction. There’s a new renovation (or two) going down Chez Harlot. Both driven not by the urge to improve our home, but by the urge to not have it fall to bits. The front porch was as shaky as a go-go dancer when I moved in 10 years ago, and we’ve got to replace it this summer or the letter carrier is going to fall through it one morning.
Jean, our family carpenter, (whom you will remember from such classic hits as “why does the back of my house have weather?” and “Oh my, what a big nail gun you have“) turned up, assessed the damage…declared that the porch (in any form) was really not going to make it, and this is the front of my house.
Whoa. Dude is not screwing around. When the porch was dismantled, I found three guys standing around the front of the house.
They looked pensive. What were they looking at? This.
A hole in the side of my house. A huge hole in the side of my house. A place where the bricks have fallen right out and there is …let me be perfectly clear about this….a HOLE in the side of my HOUSE.
It goes right under the bay window in the front (which is apparently the best place that there could be to have a hole in the side of your house. Really ideal.) and it’s huge. Two skunks could walk through that side by side. Hell, they could bring a raccoon, some snacks, a couple of cold ones, build a swimming pool and a skunk manor in there. It’s a BIG HOLE. Me? I don’t like the hole. This hole seems like a poor feature of my home. I’m no real estate agent but I think that this hole would not be a selling point. The hole (Jean explains) is caused by the fact that the 120 year old mortar holding the bricks of my home together is…well. It’s gone. There is none. Let’s try to figure out what the reasonable response to this news is. There’s a big hole in your house and you think:
A. Oh, good. No worries. Carry on. (Said in a relaxed and pleasing voice, as you gently prune the roses.)
B. Holy *&^%$#!!! There’s a *&^%$ing hole in the side of the house? What the %^&* ! are we going to do? How does that happen? The mortar is gone? The bricks fell out because the mortar is gone? #$%^&*##….Wait….this is a brick house! *&^%$!!@!! (Said in a voice that is the exact opposite of relaxed and pleasing, as you fall to your knees imagining yourself hemorrhaging money as every brick in the house falls out and you have to start selling the stash and maybe your youngest child on ebay to pay your contractor and you can’t even ever make it stop because nobody will buy a house with a big HOLE in the side of it. )
That’s the one I went with too, but I did it all in my head as the gentlemen assessed the nature of my destiny. Imagine my surprise when the verdict was…
No worries. Jean is going to stuff some insulation under the bay window, but the basement doesn’t start until further back, it’s just dead space under there, and there’s no reason for me to be upset. None. Those bricks? Nope. They (I swear this) aren’t structural. Jean will put them back in with some mortar just to make me feel better and keep out the vermin, but the bricks? Useless. Who knew? Guess what’s holding up the bay window? Go on. Guess.
The roof! The roof is holding up the window, plus it’s attached to the house, so it’s not like it’s going to snap off (apparently) and the roof (It’s a good roof) is holding up the bay.
I’m stunned. Completely stunned. There are no words for how this is the opposite way that I thought construction worked. You know when you are little and you play blocks and you pile a whole bunch of them on top of each other and then, if you take the bottom ones out, the whole things falls down? Even if you have a really good roof? That’s how I thought it worked. I could not be more surprised to learn that along with the roof…”Force of Habit” is holding up my 120 year old house. That’s right, Force of Habit. Don’t believe me?
It has to be true, because this is what’s holding up the porch roof.
Right. Time for a lie down.