the regenerator

One or two of you might have wondered, why the slow blogging the past years. Well, please join me for a tour of the reason. Personally, I think it’s a pretty good excuse for my not cluttering cyberspace, but… you’ll be the judge and jury.
In my previous post, the bitter rambling about Dostoyevskian wrongdoing, I mentioned that the flaws of the house are quite well-documented. This is true – wherever I lay my hammer, my camera goes too.

To regenerate means:

1. To reform spiritually or morally.
2. To form, construct, or create anew, especially in an improved state.
3. To give new life or energy to; revitalize.
4. [Biology]. To replace (a lost or damaged organ or part) by formation of new tissue.

On sunrise Centralgatan, I am the regenerator, and my house is the object of revitalization. Whether this is also spiritual reform, I dare not quite say. But I swear I hear the old house whispering “thank you” to me…

When the house was re-assembled (another story) in Karis in 1933, it was built for two families; ie lower floor appartment, and upper floor appartment. This meant two entrances, or two concrete staircases. When my parents bought this house in 1984, they closed one of these, and has not been used since. During these past decades, it has moistened up the adjacent wall to murderous effect. As I opened up the panels, I was all but able to put my fist through the lower logs. Johnny Rotten, man. The concrete brute had to go. So I rented a big fucking pneumatic drill, and went medieval…

Ka-ka-ka-ka-ka! After unleashing unlimited fury for a few hours, I had reduced the old steeled-up tough-as-nails concrete staircase to a trembling pile of pebbles. Truly enjoyable day, I’ll say.

Whaddya know. Everything was rotten and contaminated with poisonous fungus. All out! As you can see, the floor is isolated by half a meter of turf, sand, sawdust. From a historical point of view, very interesting. From a personal angle, very depressing. At this point, I felt like it was just too much for one man. This was just the tip of the iceberg, after all. Perhaps I didn’t possess the skill and heart to save this house after all…? Oh, I was down. I think that what kept me going was that at least I’ll get the house cheaply now… (if you read the previous post, you will now be able to have a nice chuckle!)

Since I am crap at giving up, I continued. First, I covered the upper stone plinth/base with a layer of mortar, smoothing out the craters that collect water. Then, a moisture barrier on top of that. Of course, new wooden parts inside the wall and below the floor.

True old-school woodworkers who wield big axes like windmills, with real experience to rebuild old log timber houses, are today rare and hard to find. This is sad, because houses built on log timber are treasures from the past that need to be preserved.

Well, I neither had the skill nor the wallet to travel hundreds of years back in time. Instead, I got the advice to improvise. The house is now partially on 2×6 stilts (L-irons up and down, big stainless steel screws). Just as good as gold, and better isolated.

Warm and cosy. No more wet feet.

And if you thought it was all over now baby blue – well, that was just the first 3 metres. As I turned the corner, and cut open the front, and was met by what I want to call creepy white toxic shit, I knew I had to go all around the whole house. The. Whole. House.

It wasn’t pretty. Frankly, I was angry that I was stuck (I had already been renovating for far too many years to turn back) with a rotting house that some would have burned to the ground to make room for something new and plasticky. But above all, my family deserves a wonderful charming healthy house, and that is what they are going to get, even if die trying.

As I mentioned previously, the house was re-assembled here in 1933. When you strip down the layers, you see that it is wrapped in newspapers from -33. Here, announcing the gathering of a raittiusliike, or in English, a prohibition (of alcohol) movement.
Funny – when I cleaned up underneath the house last spring, I found so many empty bottles of booze, it took four full trailers to ferry the junk away… gawd, what a disgusting and downright scary place the crawl space underneath the house used to be. Despite half-expecting it, I did not come across any human bones down there – altho I found practically everything else. The mess explains how the house fell into neglect due to lousy bums living in it – but I’m more than a bit embarrassed that my parents never cleaned up the crawl space after we moved in in the 1980s… hmm. Well, done and dusted. Now it is so nice and airy down there, you could rent it out!

Moving on, 3 metres at a time. As long as you replace the rotting shit with hard wood, a log timber house is a structural marvel, a living breathing thing, flexible and earthquake-proof.

I must admit I had a bit of a “moment” at this stage; the whole floor was about to collapse when I trimmed away the lower log… there was just a few centimeters of fresh wood left, but it had been enough to carry up the cross beams. By a stroke of luck, I had put a tiny wooden bloc underneath, and that kept it up long enough for me to prop it up properly.

This just goes to show that the floor could have dropped out at any time in the future… amazing. You know, I thought, ok, whatever, I’ll get a good price on the house……………

Now, every single cross beam, lifted by my trusty 3-ton jack, has strong supports below the house. It took awhile to install them, and it was freakishly “uncomfortable” to be down there, knowing a mountain of floor construction is resting on a small piece of wood. Die trying, I said. You probably thought I was exaggerating.

Around the next bend. Here you see the layer of mortar on the stone, to prevent puddles to form.

Jigsaw puzzle. To quote the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Wahey! Original dry log, a couple of meters. Thank you, house.

See that yellow electrical chainsaw? Dad’s old Partner, from early 1980s. I’ve been taking good care of it, still cuts like a razorblade. (This regenerator project has chewed through four chains already. Who the hell has time to sharpen them, when you can go to K-Rauta and buy a new one for 10 bucks?). I did acquire a new Makita chainsaw, too, but my Partner handles all dirty deeds, like cutting close to stone or nails.

This is a good side shot of the problem. Rain water has gotten in along the white-painted horizontal lower flanks, and caused the lower logs to rotten away. As you see, there is just a few centimeter of fresh stuff left. What a fucking ballet. Makes you wonder, has the old house been standing on will-power alone?

This extension to the house was built in 1933. As you can see, normal vertical beams, not the log timber frame of the main of the house, which is much older. You have to be a bit more careful here, when you cut away the lower part.

This wall was in extra-terrible condition, had to go far up to find fresh wood.

Here I went out on a limb and ripped out the whole lower log timber, because I did not want to split the new one into two. Luckily, the house stayed upright. Hehe.

Andy was here/spare parts by Rafael Pyton.

Well, I’ll let Leevi & The Leavings take this one;

Likipitäen jo kolme vuotta tätä taloa nyt tehty on
pelkkä ajatuskin tuskaa tuottaa
jos tää rakentaminen ei tähän päätykään

joskus tahtoo mennä sormi suuhun
vaikka yritys on armoton
läpi kiven perse edellä puuhun kun
yötä myöten kiivetään

se ei oo mies eikä mikään,
jos ei valmistu talo omin hartiavoimin
voitan kaiki vaikeudet ja viivytykset

vasara ja nauloja koko rahalla…

The song is a poetic masterpiece. Ask me, do I feel like it perfectly illustrates my struggles? Why, to the T!

Brand new shoes for you, my friend.

I suspect you can’t relate, but: Imagine how good it feels to put new panel on?

Like you have the healing hands of Jesus!!!

There. Now you know what I did last summer. Of course, that was only half-way. Yep, it means the other half of the house awaits…

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