Where’s my bulldozer?

This is installment two which I promised you in this morning’s post, and  it takes place on the Mountain Farmlet.  NOTEIf you are in the least squeamish, then bypass the closeups in today’s carousel!  


When we purchased the new to us Mountain Farmlet, we had no idea how much work it would entail.  We took the tour, had it inspected, KNEW it had warts, but fell in love with the old place nonetheless.

However, we had no idea when we signed on the dotted line that there was so much hidden damage. 


“We said, Sure it needs patching and painting but it looks pretty good for a house that is so old.”

I told you about the bathroom floor, and you can see for yourself that the old place needs patching and painting.  However, what we couldn’t see underneath the old paneling, paint and wallpaper was all the MOLD.  Some of it is black, and some actually green…

We found it when we decided to remove the cupboards and cabinets to replace the sagging and stained pressboard bottoms.


There was a section of wallpaper covered  plywood installed over the left edge of the counter.  To get that out we had to actually tear out the cupboards, and then remove the plywood.   Had they been installed with screws instead of nails we might have salvaged them.    As it was, prying on them only let the wonderbar sink into the walls behind.

Uh-OH.  😦


And so it begins…

We have our work cut out for us.  We are going to have to do all the inside wall repairs ourselves.  We are not going to be moved in by Christmas. And, whether you can understand this or not, we are actually grateful for that piece of plywood that was in the way of the damaged counter top.  It set into motion a chain of events that will in the end protect our investment and our health!

At this time we are now planning to remove all the wall layers in every room and to replace that sagging and deteriorating particle board subfloor!   They are porous materials, and collect moisture, which has resulted in mold in the walls and a squishy floor.  We will then clean and spray the cladding with a fungicide to kill any mold that we can’t see.  While we are working on all this we will be thinking about what we want to put up for walls.

Actually, I would love to do this to the cladding!

However, I haven’t a clue about how to seal the cracks to keep out all the bugs and mice!!!  What comes to mind involves numbering it, carefully taking it all down, applying a barrier (but what kind???) and then reinstalling the cladding

If you have done this before, then I would greatly appreciate your advice as to how this can be done. 


NOTE:  About that bulldozer in the title, well, you do know I was kidding right?  😉

42 thoughts on “Where’s my bulldozer?

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says:

    if i were in mississippi, i’d be on that natchez trace and heading in your direction! i love a great challenge, and love seeing the day-to-day improvements.. in 1996 we bought a 7,000 square foot ugly duckling in ntz and had many crews working in the restoration. i was there every day and learned SO MUCH so now when i see a small project, i think, ‘piece of cake!’

    that helped prep me so much for my life in latin america! latin america has taught me that much more, as i ‘ve learned how to do things when parts are not an option.. they resort to primitive methods..

    your home is going to shine, and i am not sure when i will be in the usa, but i hope hope hope there will be enough time to come see you. i have to be reallycareful with time out of the country of ecuador for the next three years.. over 90 days per year and your visa is null and void!

    i have to tend to business in costa rica and next will be a trip to the usa.. tomorrow i go to get a temp visa to keep me in good graces while i wait on the ‘real’ one – a business one for me as a working artist, and it’s going painfully slow… they’ve never processed this kind before, so they want to b sure they’re doing it right!

    good luck.. consider this a great creative challenge and do not lose sleep over any of this.. mice? there are the ultra-sonic devices that you plug into a power source and it sends out the vibrations that repel them… get several (more!) cats…

    focus on a small room, like the laundry room and fix it up b/c it will go fast.. and thn you’ll have one area ‘finished’ and you’ll feel good about what you’ve done. .. then say, ‘next…’

    send me photos of your kitchen! and floor measurements! tzeebra at yahoo.com

    • Lynda says:

      “…mice? there are the ultra-sonic devices that you plug into a power source and it sends out the vibrations that repel them…”

      There are few plugs in this place, Lisa, but after stripping down the walls, then perhaps that will be an advantageous time to call in the electrician… Yes?

      As for your visit, well, if you are here I will come to you if I have to my friend! And as for the work, well, it is just going to take as long as it takes.
      The sooner I adjust to that fact, well…

      I just need to adjust to it, that’s all. 😉

  2. tootlepedal says:

    It is what people call a project and I call a huge amount of hard labour. Good luck with it. I don’t know of any way of keeping mice out. I found one in a drawer in a dresser in our garage.

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Annie, your comment made me think of when the lead character in “Under the Tuscan Sun” wanted to remodel her kitchen! Apparently, that old distressed stone can be very unpredictable? 😉

  3. victoriaaphotographyictoria says:

    I have a couple of friends who were ‘poisoned’ with black mould and have spent most of the last ten years chronically ill with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and MCS (severe multiple chemical sensitivity).

    Black mould eventually causes brain damage & even death. Don’t want to scare you, but I do want to stress how important it is to get rid of the toxic black mould (in particular).

    I’d be stripping every single surface and replacing everything (no matter what the cost). I daresay a google search will give you the best way to treat it all, if you’re going to do it yourself. But I’d be calling in an expert assessor first. I think it would be worth the professional fee to get an expert’s advice on this one. Be mindful that the sprays and chemicals may may make your new home uninhabitable for a long time.

    I am allergic to mould (even on Brie & Camembert cheeses) and can’t breathe. I have had terrible trouble with sore throats and health probs ever since I found out my bed (placed against an outer wall) was ‘wet’ and covered with mould at the end laying against the wall. I had to replace everything (new bed, doona & all linen & pillows) and now have it placed about 7 inches away from the wall. This wall never showed a single sign of mould on it, but despite all the cleaning and new items, during the winter, that wall feels icy cold to the touch. I have a large panel heater in the room now. I rent my flat, and can’t afford to move.

    After the massive floods went through Brisbane, Queensland in Australia, most homes that grew the black mould were pulled down as uninhabitable.

    I guess you’re going to also have to rip up all the floors and see what sort of ground and foundations are underneath. You may need to do a lot more work than you think. It may be that there is insufficient space between the wet/damp ground and the flooring. You may need to damp proof up to waist height. I worked in a house that had damp proofing done and it is a long haul lot of work requiring professional expertise.

    I can’t imagine how you would do it and not inhale the mould spores. I would have thought that this sort of thing is a case of full protective gear including breathing equipment. Thing is that you can’t see those spores and you’re breathing them in while you are exposed.

    (That joke about the bulldozer may not be a joke at all).

    • Lynda says:

      Vicky, thank you for your concern. We are taking precautions and had already decided on respirators for next time. So much dust too! I have been to very few places here in the south that did not have mold issues. Most houses smell musty, and the folks just put in “Plug-ins” or burn scented candles. Now THOSE will shut my lungs and sinus down for sure! 😛

      I think if you took the whole of the state and dipped it in fungicide it might just do it. Except for the winter when it is cold, it is always HUMID here. This summer was the worst, however. I think is has rained more days than not this season. All the active mold was in the wallpapers and wallboard. Whatever we decide on for the walls, they certainly must not be papers or gypsum products! But really, I’m still wanting to seal the wood and paint it like in the photograph from Houzz. When we are done there will be no wallboard or particle board left in this place and all the natural wood will be sealed.

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Vicky, what you are describing (cold, damp, mold) is the result of insufficient(or non-existent): insulation: where cold air meets warm, moist air and condensation forms as a result. Your landlord is responsible for maintaining your building and ensuring that it’s properly insulated. If he’s resistant, you might mention that this will not only save on heating/cooling costs, but also stop the building from rotting (and thus better protect his investment). Barring that, there must be some sort of landlord/tenant legislation?

      • victoriaaphotographyictoria says:

        Thanks Deb, but there are all separate owners for each flat in my block of 12. In Australia a renter has to pay all utilities for their individual flat. I am reluctant to ‘rock the boat’ as my landlord allows me very cheap rent and hasn’t increased the rent at all for the last 3-4 years (whereas all rents are increased annually in Australia). I have cleaned all walls and leave the windows open most of the day (when possible), but I am super sensitive and have MCS.

        It’s not the landlord’s fault I have health problems.

        There is such a high demand for rental properties in this area, I would not like to move unless I was really forced to. From what my American friends tell me, the whole property rental system is different in the US.

        Luckily there’s no black mould in my own flat. Am concerned that Lynda & Bob might get sick from invisible mould spores and/or the black mould which is hard to eradicate. Good to hear Lynda is aware of the danger.

  4. George Weaver says:

    How funny! I viewed the gallery before I read the rest of the post. I was thinking how I would really hate to cover that wood back up with something as utilitarian as sheetrock. For this house, you need to use the original plank walls. I hope you can work that out. It will be lovely!

    • Lynda says:

      No kidding, Julie. That job alone took us nearly the whole day. We got home, got cleaned, ate dinner and then died in front of the TV. We woke up later and went to bed. LOL!

  5. duck duck goose says:


    My heart goes out to you, this is what I am dealing with at the old homestead here on the farm as I make it into a viable B&B.

    I Would suggest this: seal everything up & insulate and then buy used barnwood for your walls. Dont get too hung up in the original wood being used. Altho I guess you could seal, insulate and put plywood up and then put your old wood over it.


    • Lynda says:

      Great minds think alike, Connie! I was just pondering this last night. With a proper sealer on the side facing into the insides of the wall I think that would work… If I can afford the plywood. One room at a time… right? 😉

  6. pattisj says:

    Sorry you’ve found unexpected work to do, and moving-in plans are delayed. You will truly know every inch of your house when you are done, and there will be much satisfaction in that.

    • Lynda says:

      Patti, I said it before, and I’ll say it again, “The waiting is the hardest part.” It’s not the work that is so very hard, it isn’t really, it is the waiting to get going. We need to get far enough along that we can have a useable laundry and kitchen. Then we can be there to really get the work done. 200 miles RT every Sunday is getting O.L.D.! And you are correct. If we can pull this off we will be very pleased. 😀

  7. chatou11 says:

    Oh my, you are going to have a tremendous work Lynda, but be happy to have discovered all these trouble before you get in the farm.
    It’s a great challenge and I am sure after all the work, you will have a pretty farm and I love the kitchen you are dreaming of.
    When I moved in my house I had plenty mice and I bought poison, caring for my pets. I have no more now.. The mold is more difficult to get rid of, Look à that link http://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/traduction/absorber+l%27humidit%E9.html .. Good luck to both of you and I hope you will be able to heat the house before you move to dry it properly.
    best thughts

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Chantal for your encouragement and for the link! We are so grateful to know that when the winter arrives we will have plenty of heat available to keep us dry and warm! This, at least, is not one of our problems. 😀

  8. Littlesundog says:

    I will be asking FD if he has any knowledge on how to work on the numerous issues you face! As for mice, I know in our 40X 60 metal building we have never had mice, I believe, due to the ultrasonic devices you plug in, as mentioned by Playamart. I would highly suggest you get an electrician in to install additional outlets. You can never have too many!

    Good thing you are optimistic and “cup half full”!! I tend to veer to the negative when faced with situations like the Mountain Farmlet… but oh, what a wonderful place it will be when you finish! I’m so proud of you and Bob for tackling this piece of history.

    • Lynda says:

      It feels monumental at the moment, Lori, and we will be happy gain any knowledge the FD has to offer! I keep thinking of that old joke:

      Q: How do you eat and elephant?
      A: One bite at a time.

      The perfect time for the electrician to come will absolutely be when we have exposed all those walls. We will surely save a bit on labor costs if we have done this step for him!!!

  9. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    (Hi Lynda, be forewarned that this is a big one…)
    LOVE the look of the exposed boards and I think that showing off the old girl’s bones is a GREAT idea! You’ll have to be very gentle though, as they’ll most likely be very tough and brittle after all this time, but how else can you expose all the places the mice can get in?
    The other major thing? Moisture is THE mortal enemy of log buildings and, from everything I’ve read from people who’ve restored/repurposed them, the first course of logs is always in need of replacement as rot occurs from contact with the soil. By exposing the home’s log walls, you accomplish two things: it allows them to dry out [but first, be sure to correct grading so that groundwater and eaves-troughing drain AWAY from the structure] and remain “healthy”, as well as allowing access to repair/replace any failed or substandard chinking (to finally answer your question; ) with something mouse-proof!
    I’m sure there are many more, but here’s just one article I came across…
    SO glad you guys are taking the time to do the job right (and I’ll bet Mountain Farmlet is too; )

    • Lynda says:

      You are correct, Deb. Thankfully, the old building was built up onto stone supports, At some point some log lifts were added. We have had all of that replaced with adjustable steel lifts to old the main supports. Many of the old wood beams were replaced too do to old insect damage. These are the same guys who installed our moisture barrier too. The cabin end of the house will probably be the last to be worked on. We have no idea what to expect, however, much of the national preservation literature, and private bloggers information, I have been reading seems to suggest that the outside cladding of the structure seems to have preserved them very well. It will be exciting, or not, when we do get to that point. Thank you for the information on the chinking! 😉

  10. Mary Strong-Spaid says:

    Lynda…I tried to reply to a comment of yours on my website, but for reasons unknown, WordPress thinks I am not logged in this morning (and I am logged in). It might end up in your spam folder, because it says it was posted by “someone.” I will try again later today when hopefully I will be more than just someone. 😉

    • Lynda says:

      Mary, I have been having issues with WP here too! It told my one of my replies was already posted and that my second effort to get it to take was a duplicate! I hit the refresh button and it seemed to mysteriously self correct. 😯

  11. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    You’re talking about sealing the wood to stop the moisture problems… You’re probably going to hate hearing this but, first you need to find out where the moisture is coming from and correct the problem – no amount of fixing up will help until you do. May be caused by a multitude of things…
    Poor drainage: water runoff going toward, instead of away from the foundation walls.
    Proper foundation drainage: present? functioning?
    Leaking roof: 1) check condition of shingles and flashings around chimneys, plumbing exhaust stacks, valleys where roof lines intersect, etc, 2) insufficient roof pitch – especially where additions intersect. 3) eaves-troughing: plugged, leaking, non-existent, sufficient pitch to run properly?
    With a pond that close and the water that flows out around the old well, is it possible that ground water is a problem and the house may be built on an artesian spring? Sump pump?
    Only once you stop the water from coming in, can the house dry out and stay dry… No more sealing necessary: )

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Something’s wrong. Haven’t been getting any of the responses so far. Sending one more to fix the problem… (I hope?)

    • Lynda says:

      Old wooden houses are drafty. The inner walls dry out precisely because of their ability to breathe. I just read about this yesterday. I will try to find the reference and add it here. Seems the wood pulls in the moisture and expels it according to the seasonal shifts of inside and outside temperatures. Anyway, to completely seal/entomb the outside walls will cause the moisture to become trapped and destroy the wood. Weird, I know. The house has no efficient way of dehumidifying in this very humid environment. We have had 75 to 98 percent humidity all summer long! This unfortunately comes part and parcel to living in the deep south. 😐

      Again, the house now has a water vapor shielding underneath, and it is also built uphill from the pond and the spring. There is a very good natural grade down to those water sources.

      As for the roof, well, since the foundation guy has been there to do all that lifting and leveling, we do have leaks in the roof. We were expecting that to happen because when you move the house from below that movement keeps going right up to the top. Result? Leaking roof!

      The roofer is scheduled to arrive any day now. 😀

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Truly, I don’t see how you can avoid stripping everything back to the original boards – just the fact that you’ve found mold in one place means there’s a pretty good likelihood of it being elsewhere – for the sake of your own health, not to mention the rehabilitation of your historic gem in the rough. Plus, how can you fix moisture problems if you can’t see them all?

  12. shoreacres says:

    I don’t have much to add, but you’re exactly right about not making a home too “tight”. The old beach houses in Galveston are a perfect example. They sit right there on the edge of the Gulf, and survive year after year, dry as can be. They don’t look as nice as the McMansions, but they don’t have a problem with mold, either – even the ones that don’t have AC running 24/7.

    Here’s a little example of what can await at the end of all those steps you’re going to have to take! Granted, it’s pretty high end – but yours will be just as glorious!

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you for sharing the link with me, Linda! I must assume that being an island that the air would be very hot and humid there as well. This gives me hope for alternatives for my inside walls… I have a plan.

      Glorious? Perhaps. Authentic and fun? Definitely! 😀

  13. LB says:

    I’m responding to both of today’s posts here:
    Congrats on the job well done with the leaky faucet!! We just never know what we can accomplish, do we?
    I’m a bit overwhelmed just reading about the job ahead with the mold, and boards, and the sealing, and the wet, and the mold, and … !!! What an awesome support group you’ve got! Wish I could offer information or knowledge so for now I’ll just offer support and good wishes!!
    (and to let you know how impressed I am with what you all are doing!)

    • Lynda says:

      LB, you would not be the only one who is overwhelmed with this job. We were so tired after all our work last Sunday. I suppose for that very reason alone, that it is a good thing we are so far away. It gives us all week to get rested up for our next round of hard labor! 😉

  14. SmallHouseBigGarden says:

    Thank GOD for that piece of bad plywood! Mold is such an insidious issue! I had a friend who recently bought a foreclosed condo and ended up bringing two rooms down to the studs to be sure the mold was going, going, GONE.
    Best of luck as you begin the repairs!

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you! It is going to take some time and money, but we’ll eventually get it done. Sadly, we will get it all done by ourselves. We can’t afford a contractor. So far, we are finding that it is only the wall coverings that have been an issue. All the wood inside the walls, with the exception of some insect damage, has been dry and sound!

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