New trim boards had been installed around the garage door because the remodeler had enlarged the opening. I was appalled to see that he placed the bare cedar trim boards in direct contact with the asphalt paving and ground at the corner of the building. In his defense, that garage had been built too low decades ago.
I think the original builder just poured a concrete slab an inch above the ground around the garage. Such a sad mistake (as Queen Cersei tells Lord Stark in “A Game of Thrones”).
My sweet wife had walked ahead out of the scorching sun as I stopped and took photos and watched intently. As I turned and walked across the tarmac driveway, my tiny gray cells started firing, asking all sorts of rhetorical questions:
Why didn’t this renovator use treated wood for the trim boards, because he knows for sure that they will absorb water over time and rot in just a few years? Aluminum coil stock will not prevent water from penetrating the wood.
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If he had no choice but to use cedar, why didn’t he paint the wood on all sides and edges with a minimum of two coats to make it really look difficult for water to penetrate the wood?
Did the church building committee write the specifications for the work, and how could they miss this glaring mistake? I don’t sit on this committee by choice because I’m allergic to drama.
Then I thought about how lucky I was to grow up in Cincinnati, surrounded by old homes built by builders and carpenters who considered their craft a calling, not a job. They passed on decades of construction experience and what they knew about how to prevent wood rot to the apprentices.
A construction technique that you will often see in older homes – and I am referring to those built in the late 1800s and early 1900s – is that the top of the foundation was often two feet or more above. above ground. This kept the wooden siding well away from the splash zone of the falling rain.
This technique also saved money on excavation, as the holes in the basement did not need to be as deep. High foundations like this also had room for operating windows to be incorporated into the foundation, allowing ventilation and light into the basement spaces.
By the time I was at the church door, I was tying it all to the current building code. I then thought of the great writing of JRR Tolkien in his “Lord of the Rings” series of books. He wrote: “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. The story has become legend. The legend has become myth. And for two thousand five hundred years the ring disappeared from all knowledge.
So much accumulated knowledge of construction goes to the way of the ring. Current building code allows wood siding to be extremely close to grade around homes. I constantly do phone consultations with people who have water leaking into their house because the top of the foundation is way too close to the ground. When this happens, it can be difficult to get good positive sloped drainage away from a foundation.
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I thought of some ignorant landscapers and homeowners who pile mulch in flower beds, creating dams that allow water to seep into homes.
I wondered why primary and secondary schools don’t teach home improvement and the basic science of what happens inside and outside your home. Can you imagine the magic of doing a year-long experiment in primary school where children simply take untreated pieces of wood and lay them on the floor for months? In the spring, they examine them and note how they have begun to rot.
If you feel the same way I do about all of this, it’s time for you to get active. Once a month, you should attend your school board meetings and talk about this void in the program. Give concrete examples of why boys and girls all need to learn how things work in and around homes. This knowledge is invaluable.
It is unacceptable that all this cumulative knowledge can pass from history to legend, to myth. That’s why every word I’ve ever written is stored on my AsktheBuilder.com website. He is there for you and for all those to be born in the future, so what I know does not disappear from all knowledge.
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