There are many words for the structural components of a house. I’ve had to learn a number of them since I started living in this unrenovated Californian bungalow probably built in the 1910s.
The foundations are secure now I guess. It’s been restumped, many meters of bearers and floor joists have been replaced and the entire floor is new – newly polished and newly scratched.
But everything else is cracked. While some of the internal lathen plaster walls have survived ok, there are a couple of walls that need to come down and those that can pass muster need to have cracks filled in, new paint splashed on, everything made good before the skirting boards are replaced.
The skirting boards are old, greatly painted over into an aubergine like colour. Some have splintered in the removal process. I am tempted to just slap them back on. As winter closes in, this will become more and more likely. Currently from within, I can peep under the external walls and watch the lowest 5 cm of the outside world pass by.
There isn’t a bathroom or an inside toilet. The bits and pieces are scattered around in the storage shed and garden awaiting a new plaster wall inside and a plumber. Instructions were miscommunicated, new holes need to be cut, old holes filled and piping re-laid.
And I haven’t even looked at the roof yet. It looks ok from the outside. The colorbond metal roof isn’t too rusted. The roof line is straight now that the house is level. But some of the gutters should be replaced. And during windy nights, I think about cutting off some of the neighbouring tree’s lower branches.
There is other work to be done too. But as the days get shorter and darker, I cannot see myself doing more on this place. My heart has moved away, my visions and plans for it dimmed. My work mentioned a six month Darwin stint which, at my protests, changed to a week with most work done remotely from Melbourne. A part of me regrets their swift response.