Saturday, August 09, 2014

Back of House Falls Off

Since my marriage broke into shards in 2003, I have lived in this ghetto flat in the Mission. My landlady didn't raise my rent for all of that time until a year ago. Since then she has raised it by $3,000/year. Still I pay far below market rate because this neighborhood is popular with the well-paid young tech workers who have flooded into San Francisco in our latest tech boom.

Frankly, most of us long-time residents are hoping for a bust -- soon. We are sick of getting priced out.

Meanwhile, my landlady always hires the cheapest laborers she can find and tells them to use the cheapest materials they can find when the building needs repairs.

The building often needs repairs. It was built in the 1880's. It is twice as old as I am!

Over the past week, the back stairs started collapsing, so she brought in a contractor who agreed to repair the dry rot parts of the stairs for about $1,500. As he started, the places where the stairs connect to the house started failing, revealing dry rot on the back of the building proper.

Once he started trying to repair the back of the house, the whole of it revealed itself to be rotted through and through. The wood paneling was neither redwood nor treated. It was all cheap stuff never meant to face the elements. Now she upped his fee to $5,000, reluctantly.

Once the siding ripped away, it turned out the studs were rotten too. They were also not the right kind of wood. The windows fell out, they were cut glass, not windows, and when they shatter they create life-threatening shards.

(Remember this is earthquake country. Things fall off our houses all the time.)

The frames holding the windows? Rotten, held together by paste that has long since rotted.

Next, in addition to all of this, the inside of laundry room was a piece of plywood coated in black mold. As the workers removed the rot covering it that inside wall split and cracked.

Now the wind rustles through my flat. And I cannot help wondering whether the cold I have had for the past six months or so might be related to the mold?

Who knows but as I did a load of laundry this morning, I noticed that the whole back of the house started dancing around like a Mexican jumping bean. I bet if a tiny earthquake hit today, the entire back of my house would collapse into the garden below.

Should that happen, I would hope I would not be folding my kids' laundry at the moment it occurred.