Jacked Up


After 187 years of sitting on the same sills and foundation, the cottage had started to get quite comfortable with her surroundings. Sinking into it here, restraining herself and staying level over there. She and gravity were getting friendly. With all of that settling in going on, you can imagine the impact that it had on the floors and overall structural integrity of the building. That’s a long way of saying, she was really wonky and it felt like a funhouse in there when walking around.

The central joist supporting the floor system was the highest point and from there, the east and west sides of the structure sloped off to the road and river respectively. Both sides of the house needed to be dealt with, so we tackled the front first. In order to make the floor level (or at least a lot closer to level), we had to ensure that the sills and joists (your vocab word for the day) were solid. The sills were the first to go.

In order to replace the sill, our contractor had to demo the lower portions of the front walls of the main structure. We’d gotten a little overzealous during our shingle-removal project the weekend before, so the few feet of exposed clapboards add a nice touch of visual sloppiness to what would have otherwise just been marginally haphazard.

He was able to save two of the posts, but you can see the damage on the one that supported to the northeast corner. He cut out the damaged section and was able to slip in a fresh piece of lumber (you’ll see this in a future post, promise).


Prior to the new sill getting installed, the crew had to jack the front of the house up. Please take a moment to think about our house getting jacked up like a car needing a tire changed. We were assured that it was a normal process though it did feel sort of impossible in the abstract. Nevertheless, metal plates were screwed into the posts and then hydraulic jacks were used to raise up the front of the house. Once raised, the contractor then had the flexibility to remove the rotted sill and replace it with new pressure-treated lumber. Once the sill was replaced, we could then begin working on the new floor system and a new basement floor. However, before we get ahead of ourselves with any of that, we need to talk about how the house spent a few days looking like it belonged in E.T…

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