100 years old · 1916 · before and after · cattywampus · construction problems · Dallas · drywall · fall · flooring · hallway · Highland Park · historic home · home · home renovation · home restoration · living room · old home · old house · pier · playroom · Prairie Style · preservation · renovation · restoration · Texas · trim work · Uncategorized · wooden floors

A Cattywampus Hallway.

Swinging into Texas Fall; 80 degrees and sunny one day, 40 degrees and sleeting the next!


Our beloved light filled 100 year old home is filled with millions of engagingly historic features I adore; it is also filled with several challenges brought on by the passage of time. The most irritating of these age induced issues involves gravity and a deteriorating pier. These unavoidable realities are to blame for the emotional sink in our hearts and the physical sink in our home.

We became aware that there was a sag in the structure once we pulled up the carpet in the upstairs hallway. Under the carpet we discovered a less than lovely concrete putty which superficially hid the rather significant sag; but there was no hiding the essentially detached pier below the home. We repaired the below ground pier, pushed the first floor ceiling upwards from the living room, and achieved a relatively level second floor. Please review this previous post: Floor dip. Here are some photo reminders.

Below: Goodbye carpet, hello concrete putty used to conceal the floor dip. Initially my heart sank because the floor was damaged, and then my mind began whirling to answer why in the world someone put concrete putty underneath the carpet and on top of gorgeous hardwoods.


Below: Reality sank in when we discovered a deteriorated pier beneath the house; this pier was the underlying cause for the dip in the center of the home. Many years ago, someone tried to superficially fix the dip with concrete putty and carpet on the second floor. Although the putty and carpet were fine cosmetic band-aids, they were not sound or long lasting solutions to fully repair the structural slump. Below you can see the beginning of the second floor wooden floor/concrete putty removal.


Below: Second floor wood floors pulled up and extra support beams added to the original beams.


Below: The deteriorating pier below the home was rebuilt but we still needed to push up the second floor from the first to achieve a level second floor.


The house was realigned, extra supports were added, and we were set to move forward, well, at least we thought we were ready. We naively assumed all ceilings and floors were fixed and perfectly even, and there would be no further alignment issues. Well, a month later after drywall and after trim work we realized what wide eyed optimists we really were.

Below: Photo proof that our newly realigned house and newly dry-walled and newly trimmed home was indeed not perfectly balanced. This is the upstairs hallway looking from the playroom back towards the main upstairs hallway and on into the girls’ bedroom.


The intersection of the main upstairs hallway and the playroom hallway was the epicenter of the failed pier. In retrospect, we can now say that of course the second floor ceiling would sink along with the first floor, the first floor ceiling, and the second floor. But the judgment of hindsight is not a kind thing to put upon yourself at any point in life, and especially not during a 100 year old home renovation. So, instead of being irritated, we had a glass or two of wine and weighed out our options for how to move forward with the problem at hand.  In this case we walked up and down the hallway to decide if we really had to fix the problem. It is an old house and we have embraced and celebrated this fact by keeping several of the imperfect quirks unique to our home and older homes in general. However, in this case it only took us two times of walking down the hallway to know it was just far too cattywampus to accept as just another old house quirk. The second floor playroom hallway ceiling and trim had to be pulled out and realigned. We had already repaired the less than supportive pier, the sagging first floor and first floor ceiling, and the sagging second floor; we now needed to do the right thing for the second floor ceiling. The oddest part of the whole situation was that we had no idea how “off” the hallway was until the trim was fully installed; the most painful part was pulling out a very newly installed ceiling and trim. Watch the progress below.

Below: Looking from the playroom back towards the main hallway before the first round of drywall and trim work. The hardest thing about this problem was that the askew nature of the hallway was not fully noticeable until the new drywall and trim was in place.


Below: Hallway with drywall applied but still no trim work.



Below: Newly applied drywall and trim work that we knew almost immediately had to be removed to address the structurally imbalanced issues in the ceiling.


The 100 year old physical sag continued up into the attic, and therefore the second floor ceiling sagged in this same spot just as much as anything else. We made several measurements in an effort to ensure the remade hallway ceiling would be visually aligned and structurally solid. So, we pulled up the newly dry-walled and trimmed playroom hallway ceiling and began again. We added additional beams in the second floor ceiling to support the attic above. We cut these support beams at specifically measured angles, slightly deeper towards the center of the home, to give the visual impression that this hallway was always and is now perfectly aligned to the rest of the home.



Below: Final final final final product. Finally visually and structurally aligned.


Below: Before realignment on the left and after on the right.

In retrospect, we should have seen these issues coming, but we did not. But now that we know what is involved, we can be thankful we only had one dip in one small area of the home due to one deteriorating pier. We can also breath a huge sigh of relief that the issue is entirely fixed, from ground to sky, and at every point in between.

Below: We are also in the process of giving our lovely trees some love and hugs in the form of manganese sulfate supplements.


Night night and love and hugs and snuggles.


Love and hugs,

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