The 140 mph winds of Hurricane Katrina severely racked our house. That means that the bottom story of our two story house leans to the side. I'm sure this awesome graphic will better explain what happened:
The wind blew our house so that the walls on the bottom floor lean much more than the walls on the top floor.
In the picture below Therese is holding a level to a board that is straight up and down. However, as you can see from the door jams in relationship to that straight board, our house is crooked.
It turns out that every 90 inches one goes up on our walls, it leans 4 1/8 inches over. That calculates to it leaning 2.62 degrees. We could live with that. Especially if I got some shoes where one was taller than the other. Well, actually I could live with a crooked house easier than Therese, but who could blame her for not wanting to live in a crooked house. It's like a Fun House that isn't so fun. But the biggest problem is that in time it will continue to lean more and more, and pretty soon it will be touching our neighbor Mike's house.
So we're not sure what to do with the house. Basically our decision comes down to raising or razing. We could fix the house. That would mean leveling the floor of the house, repairing the foundation, and then straightening the walls. Most people think that would cost in the neighborhood of $80,000. What I like about this option is that is saves a beautiful 100 year old house from destruction. I prefer old things over new things, as after all, I am an ancient Near Eastern historian. It was also the first home that Therese and I bought. Our children's heights are marked on the door jams of their rooms. Therese and I have also spent so much time and money renovating the house. I know every detail about it. So it is like a friend. But many people say that you need to make this decision financially and not emotionally.
If we fix the house we would also have to totally rewire the house, costing about $15,000. Some of our house still has the old knob and tube wiring.
We would also need another $5000 for plumbing. Then you would have to put in new insullation and sheet rock. In the end it would cost almost all of the $157,000 that we spent to purchase the house. So is it worth it?
If we tear it down, which costs about $25,000, then we could do several things. We could rebuild a new house on the lot, we could keep the lot for a few years and sell it when we need some cash. We could also sell the house and lot to someone else who will demolish it. We're still waiting, now more than 110 days after filing the claim, to hear from our insurance company. They tell us that an engineer may or may not have been to the place. Gee, thanks Allstate.
You can see more photos of our racked house in this Flickr set.