Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rebuilding --- In More Ways Than One

Rebuilding an old foreclosure house is becoming a job in itself. So many hours (and money) put into it, and yet decent progress has been made, even though I only closed on it on June 20th. It's starting to resemble a house now, much of the major essential problems (plumbing, etc) have been taken care of, now it needs plenty of drywall and new windows (well, a new fence and siding too, but that can wait).

The house has had it's problems, both from the previous owners, and from rather odd  (to say the least). I live in a rather old suburb of St. Louis, which is very industrial, the city is literally built around steel plant that is now owned by the corporation, US Steel which has a rather interesting history in it's own right.

Most of the neighborhoods in this town, Granite City, were built in two phases, one phase was between the 1920's to just before World War 2, and the second phase was post World War 2/"baby boomer" rebuilding from the late 40's to the early 60's. Very few homes in the community exist that were built after the 60's, and most of those are in a small number of new subdivisions on the outer edges of the city limits. 

From what I can tell, from helping my dad work on his house (built in the 1920's), rebuilding a house for a relative who is a landlord, and now working on this house, it's glaringly obvious that building codes apparently didn't exist, or weren't enforced until the 1950's. When you start tearing out walls and floors in homes that old, you find some rather screwy things that make you wonder, "What kind of idiot did this?". 

Walls that aren't even in height, length, etc, compared to equivalent walls in the same room, and all kinds of bizarre construction methods used to build them. I remember putting down laminate flooring in my dad's kitchen, and realizing that the same wall in the kitchen was angled at such an odd angle lengthwise that it went two inches farther into kitchen at one end than it did at the other. We had to cut the laminate planks at an angle down the whole length (that was a pain). 

This house is no different, when I tore out the drywall, I found the regular studs supporting the wall that have apparently been there since when it was built, but then there was extra studs, put in shortly after. That created some headaches putting in insulation, (it didn't even have insulation in the walls in the first place).
 Not only did I have to cut the insulation to fit since it's made to fit the standard 16 inch spacing between studs that is common throughout the US, but some of the extra studs weren't even straight, they are in an angle, leaning to the left, some only slightly, others rather heavily.

Then there was there was the cleanup that was made necessary because of the previous owners. I've heard quite a few stories from the neighbors of what they were like, and I can tell it's true from the condition of the house. Two inches of dead bugs in the stainless steel kitchen sink caused the the exterminators HUD brought in when they took it back, and holes that suggested that they not only liked to punch the walls, but throw each other into them as well. They even let the kids paint their names on the walls, and paint over one of the windows.

The neighbors called them "hoosiers". It's funny how that term has different meaning throughout the US. My sister lives in northern Indiana, in a town not far from South Bend (famous for being the home of the University of Notre Dame). To some people, it means a resident of Indiana (and the word is usually capitalized), and is used that way throughout the state.

I find that rather funny anytime I'm there, like when I'm in a gas station, and lotto tickets are in display cases by the cash register, declaring in bold letters "Hoosier Lottery".

The term has a very different meaning in the St. Louis area. In some parts of the country, it's an equivalent term to words like "redneck", but here, it has a meaning and implications  that are kind of hard to explain to outsiders. It's a very severe insult here, meaning someone who has no class, no dignity. It's usually a person who has no respect not only for themselves, but for anyone in society as well. It's typically a person who is well, quite frankly considered a drain on society in many different ways, depending on the person. It could be someone who is a felon of some variety, like someone who has been in prison due to addiction of some type (typically heroin or codeine here, but can be alcohol as well), and/or is a thief.

Or it can also be someone who for whatever reason can work, but won't, and choose rather to mooch off of their family, local charities etc. Unfortunately, there are too many of these types, and they all ages, from their 20's to their 60's. I had a good laugh when a neighbor of my mom and dad's bought a massive new flat screen TV, and then about 2 months later had his electric shut off because he wouldn't pay the bill, and then was trying to get his in laws to pay to turn it back on. What an idiot..... He keeps getting jobs, and then gets fired because he won't work, and won't leave his bad attitude at home.

Anyway, enough about the town. Doing all this rebuilding made me think about how at times I really feel like that house, life built poorly from the start, and knocked around quite a bit. It will take longer to rebuild my life then it will the house, but progress is already well underway. It may be just a month or so before I move into the house, which will be a big step forward.

There's so much life out there left to experience, and there will be more time to enjoy it. There's people already in my life that I need to reconnect with, and I would love to meet some of the people that are followers of mine on Google +, that live in the area. It's going to feel overwhelming, but it will be a new chapter in life, and I'm more than ready to move on.


  1. Sounds like fun. I remember doing this with my father when I was younger too. Enjoy it.

    Interesting thing you bring up with words though. I often find theists like to play word games and do not get down to the actual arguments.

    1. Words can have very different meanings depending on who you talk to, and where you live.

  2. I'm dealing with structural damage that's going to force us to redo the entire kitchen and bathroom. Yey... Hang in there!


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