Raising the Melrose part 1

What is the Melrose you might ask?


As far as I understand it was built by the Carrothers Builders in 1887 as a single family residence. It contains about 3200 square feet, has a 12' deep band shell wrap around porch with capped round and tapered columns.  Another distinctive stylzation is theOxford County  Palladio windows interpretation in the upper slate roof lines, that house  a bead boarded attic and upper cupola.

I could go on and on but we'll cover the construction and details further in successive blogs.  The problem is that it appears to have been built on disturbed soil and when people tell you that they don't build them like they used to, well, now we have building codes that are very important and these articles will point out why.

I should point out that I am a 25 year Veteran of Home Contracting specializing in Restoration of Period buildings, such as the Mason House, now Quince Hall B&B on Albert St. and Wonhan St. S. Ingersoll.  The CEEPS Hotel, and other London Richmond Row Facades, work on the Canada Building Western Fair Grounds and many other historic buildings in the area.  That of course is the fun stuff.  Along with adding historically sympathetic additions to area homes, the odd new home build and numerous modern Construction Projects I am well experienced to be a Realtor.  So when you see the back of my Century 21 Heritage House Brokers Business Card you will know why I make the Bold Statement "Absolutely no one knows Homes like Clive".


"They sure don't build them like they used to"  it really is a cliche' as yes they did build some glorious homes but not always with posterity, let alone 125 years in mind when they built the melrose

The problem: the original building site must have been a sloped property on the west side ie. about 1/2 way through the width of the house. For 20 feet of the roughly 40 feet of width, the land was filled and the foundation set on disturbed soil.  So 100 years later when I purchased the home from the owner that had resided there since the 60's I actually knew the house had settled.  As her Contractor for a good ten years I had instructed her to have the house resupported as it was sinking into  what I had not yet determined, disturbed soil.  That came later when I avoided the $4000 cost of bored inspection cores by an engineering firm and sank my own test holes that came up with brick shards and finally fine river pebble and sand from the pre-historical Thames River.    An earlier build on my first home at the top of the original River bank yielded 3 feet of top soils and rewarded me with an Indian Head Nickel.

Needless to say it was obvious especially on the upper floor that their was a 4" slope in the floors from the front and back walls to the centre of the house 28' wide so 4" of slope over 14' at its worst point.  To much to ignore and to much to start renovating.

So while I digested the thought of tearing out the centre of the house and disturbing 70% of the interior we busied ourselves with the exterior getting rid of the pastel blue and white and instead changing the color over to a more in vogue Light and Dark Sage with ivory soffits and porch pillars and columns.  *The Burgundy doors and Shutters are scheduled to go to gloss black this year.  We restored the shutters that had been tossed, thankfully in the attic, reclaimed others and like any paintwork meticulously cleaned, oil primed and sprayed them with our commercial spray guns to a generous thickness with our Trade favourite Glidden (now Dulux) Weather Temp Exterior Latex.  This product has given us excellent performance over the last 15 years in the business.  We have used most everything from Sherwin Williams to Benjamin Moore to Pittsburgh and more.  Quality and performance are what we look for with credible professional Technical Data to back up the product, ie. on period buildings even prior to and into the 1960's homes were built without vapour barriers.  Because of our climate their is a constant movement of water vapour and air moving back and forth through the building envelope trying to balance humidity levels and air pressure levels (mostly from combustible fuels for furnaces, and ventilation fans) so if your remember basic Physics those two different air conditions, inside/outside continually want to equalize.  So what I am getting at, if your paints won't allow moisture to pass through then you will get lifting and mould growth.  The trick, exterior trims that are not acting as a barrier to inside air can be painted with the classy semi glosses, but the wood sidings that are wall sidings or if your attic soffits are warm these areas need to be able to allow moisture to pass through and should have a lighter sheen flat being the best, different manufacturers call their sheens by different names so a Pearl or Satin are as far as you want to push the finish sheen since as you add sheen, more plasticizer is used and it is less permeable to water vapour migration.  Their is lots more to know about paints, oil primers, prepping, caulking for cosmetic and water migration reasons.  For more information drop me a line at clive.egan@century21.ca outlining your situation and I will set you on the right path.

And until my next blog in the series, make sure you check out my pictures and I will have more for you soon.

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Clive Egan

Clive Egan

CENTURY 21 Heritage House Ltd., Brokerage*
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