Saturday, November 10, 2007

They Huffed And They Puffed But Couldn't Blow It Down

The house is getting close to sixty years of age. I've owned it for forty. Over the years it's been "tented" for termites several times, repainted a bunch of times, and the roof has been reshingled a time or two.

Back in the 1940's and 50's they built houses to last. They built them to withstand hurricanes. After a few decades of minimal hurricane activity they slacked off on the building codes, then Hurricane Andrew came through thirteen years ago. Hurricane Andrew proved that pressboard (wood chips glued together under pressure into 4 x 8 foot panels) is nowhere near as strong as plywood. Prefabbed trusses made out of 2 X 4 lumber isn't the equal of rafters and joists made out of 2 X 6 lumber. New houses in the south end of Miami-Dade County and out in west Broward County under the new weaker building codes were demolished by Andrew. This house suffered a few torn shingles but the roof still didn't leak.

Still, in between tentings there was a bit of termite damage, and the wood around the eaves had some rot. The tar paper under the shingles was drying out and would likely start leaking at some point. New tar paper meant new shingles as well and the house needed painting. While we were at it I went for upgrading the windows to "current hurricane code" complete with aluminum stor panels. The city had come up with some state grant money to rehab "moderate income housing" and since I started to collect Social Security I was squarely in the moderate income bracket. If I'm still living here at the end of seven years the loan is 100% forgiven. Otherwise the loan balance gets prorated and due at sale.

In this photograph they'd already stripped off the old shingles and tar paper and were replacing some wood. The sky was darkening while they worked. Those guys sure work fast. A couple of hours later they had the tar paper in place, beating the rain by a few hours.


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