Demo and Framing is in Full Force

Rebuilding a Beautiful, Vacant Historic Detroit Home (Episode 5)

Christian working into the night on our dining-to-office archway (left). Cal and Christian finally get the header in (right).
“I am certain Detroit and Detroiters will bring their best game and show the rest of the world what we are capable of achieving. There is no doubt that if we work together and open ourselves up to the creative ideas and exciting opportunities all around us, Detroit will inspire people from within and beyond its borders to transform our city into one of the biggest success stories of the 21st century.”
— Dan Gilbert

Fixing Prior Mistakes

This week we tackled framing of some of the doorway changes we want to make on the first floor. We have 2 new archways to build, and one wall that needs some major work. The Breakfast Nook used to be its own separate room, with walls and a door on either side, but the previous owner decided in the 70s to combine the room with the kitchen. It was a great idea on its own, but unfortunately the demolition and reconstruction of the wall between them wasn’t done correctly. The new header was not thick enough to support the weight of the walls and rooms above, and the spacing of studs and supports was incorrectly calculated, leaving the weight of the top 2 floors to bow and bend the new header and causing the floor to sink on the second floor.

Here, you can see the incorrect spacing of the studs. If done correctly these studs should align directly under the joists to transfer weight correctly. (The green and read should stack) The header should also be held up by at least two 2x4s on either end, not just one.

A Hard Pill to Swallow

So the bowing header and sinking 2nd floor were forcing us to replace this wall, but the next problem became how to support the joists on either side so that we could take the weight-supporting wall out safely. With the curved ceilings of the nook on one side, we decided that we’d unfortunately have to remove the plaster in order to fix the problem properly.

Cal Tearing down the plaster with a crow bar and the final result. Piece of the plaster work we kept (right) to use as a guide for when we rebuild it later.

Thankfully, this curved ceiling was in our plan to extend farther into the house, so we decided starting fresh would be a better decision long term and garner us the best final result. Rather than trying to mimic exactly what was already there for the second half, we could do it all from scratch at once.

You can almost see how drastic the bowing is in the header in this image.

Crank It Up!

So after building weight-supporting “false walls” on either side of the wall we wanted to remove, we could finally jack the floors back into place. With an original Detroit Pewabic tile bathroom directly above, we had to be slow and steady, hoping not to crack the tile floors as we fixed the slope. Using our laser measure, we found that the floor had sunk almost an inch in less than a 3ft span on the second floor, so it had a long way to go up!

Cal, always cracking jokes, once the heavy beam was put in place.

Now that the new beam is in place, we can finally remove the false walls that have been holding up the weight! Some final jacking has to be done on one side where there’s still some sinking evident on the second floor. We will double up the joist responsible to strengthen it and remove the bow.

Prep work for the final archway from the main entry to the kitchen. The doorway on the right and left will be filled in.

Next time for Episode 6…

We’ll finish up framing of our archways, and start our High Velocity Forced Air Mini Duct install as well as new plumbing and electrical work! Can’t wait to have running water and functioning toilets!


Our Journey isn’t over! We’ve been working hard since we purchased the home in November 2016 and are writing updates on our progress roughly every week. Make sure to check out our latest updates on our homepage!

Next Episode Here

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