The story goes like this:

In April of 2004, my wife and I bought a nice little craftsman home in the Whittier neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.  We both love the city, we both love old homes, we both had high hopes for the improvement of the area.  It was our first home, and we were appropriately naive.   During the inspection process, I asked some questions about some things that seemed abnormal, extremely thick grout lines in the brickwork on the front of the house, things like that.  The inspector assured me it was normal and not to be concerned.  The attic had a complicated, poorly executed web of reinforcement beams slapped in.  Again, I was told this was not anything to be concerned about.

A few months after we moved in, we saw some cracks a couple of rooms against the south wall.  We patched them and painted them and didn’t give it a second though.  This was normal, right?

It turns out, at some point excessive load on the roof had caused cracking in the some of the rafters toward the front of the house.  At some point, someone knew about this, and put in the craptastic reinforcement, which was done in a way that actually didn’t help at all.  Slowly, the south wall of the house began to lean over at the top due to improperly distributed weight where the rafters rested on the exterior brick wall.  Now, the wall leans out about 4 inches or so at the top, for almost 2/3 the length of the house. Dang.

The worst part happened over the year that we were living in New Jersey, so we weren’t there to see the increased warning signs. By the time we came back home, things were pretty bad.  I spent quite a few days calling in contractors and masonry specialists to come ballpark estimates to fix things up.  The estimates were, well, humbling.

I called the insurance company, who came out to have a look.  They eventually told me they believe the damage to have been caused by a particular snowstorm that happened before we purchased the home.  This means that they won’t cover a penny of the damages, and we were on our own.  For nearly a year we looked for ways to avoid paying for it ourselves, but finally resolved that we were on our own, which brings us to December of 2009, when I created this blog.

Going forward, we figured we have two options: fix the damage and try to sell the property at a small loss, and buy something a little bigger or fix the damage and top the house and stay there forever.  Financially, it makes sense to do the latter.  If we can swing the money to fix AND top the house, in a few years we could even decide to sell it at a profit.  Also, if we do this, we can really get the house we want, since we get to be involved in the design.  We are on a corner lot as well, so we have a lot of room to work with.

So there you have it.  I created this blog mostly because when I went looking for articles/information on major renovation projects, I couldn’t find much.  Here’s to minimizing some strangers pain and suffering!