Little job turns into big one

For two summers, we worked hard to renovate the main cabin at our camp.
Windows were replaced, new knotty pine panelling was installed, an ash floor was laid—and the cabin looks beautiful.
We then began upgrading the sleeping cabin by installing new windows through most of the rooms.
Just two front windows remained to be replaced. That was this year’s project.
The job looked pretty simple, although the windows were going to be taller than the existing ones and that required some minor adjustments to the depth of the opening.
I kidded with Al McTaggart out at Lowes Lumber this past week that you can never have too many items at a cottage to make repairs. The time and effort saved to pick up an extra board, some screws, and some plastic pipe really outweighs the cost of travel and time back to town to pick up those pieces.
Little did I know how prophetic those words would become.
I began the minor renovations by removing some panelling that has been on the walls for more than 20 years. That is when this minor renovation became much more major.
For the last several years, after any rainfall, the closed-up cabin always seemed to have a musty smell. We thought it might be a leak in the roof and we had checked the ceiling for problems.
But taking off that first full sheet of panelling that ran around the existing window identified where the problem was. The yellow insulation was black and the bottom plate of the wall was even blacker.
I went out and checked the window outside. The wood bottom of the windowsill had the consistency of soft sponge, hidden by paint.
The windows were long overdue for replacement. The leak into the cabin was clearly identified.
My wife and I chose not to precede any further until we had air masks at the cabin.
On Saturday morning with a vacuum roaring, I slipped the nozzle through the plastic and began sucking away the black, soot-like material. When I had removed as much as possible, I then cut the plastic away and pulled out the fiberglass batting.
My original plan was to wash the wood down with pure Javex bleach to kill any mould. On closer inspection, however, disinfecting the wood was the least of my problems. Rot had set in and the bottom plate of the wall had been totally destroyed—and perhaps the floor on which it sat.
The outside wall also may have some rot in it (I haven’t gotten to the beams yet).
This little project is growing. The siding on the front of the cabin all will have to be removed, and I have to find someone less stout than me to wiggle under the cabin to examine the beams.
The person has to be ready to work in confined spaced, in sweltering weather. That may prove the toughest part of the repair.
My list is growing for the repair. Some studs, some 2”x6” boards, nails, screws, insulation, and more are on my sheet of paper. A four-hour project probably has grown to a two-day project if everything goes well.
And I suspect that once the windows are in, the current panelling and ceiling will look too dated and it, too, will be replaced.
The renovation project is growing.
I really can’t complain, though. The 30-year-old sleeping cabin has stood up well and these will be the first serious renovations to it.

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