Restoration 101 – 1 – a novice approach

Sunroom & studio
Just one ply window this side but note bracing below.
Front entrance
Ply windows where originals “blew out” in earthquake.
Not many windows left from this angle.

Time to begin my story of restoration – restoration of our earthquake-damaged house.

Just by way of introduction … in February, 2011 a massive earthquake shook the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Yes, tragically, many lives were lost.  And I think it is safe to say that anyone living through the experience will never forget it!  There was a major earthquake in September the previous year but that happened in the early hours of the morning and, though there were serious injuries, thankfully, no one was killed.  Subsequent aftershocks rocked the city for many months. Many folk left Christchurch for more “stable” lives but that wasn’t a consideration for my husband and I – we had arrived from the North Island just one week before the February shake to help with earthquake-damaged home restoration after the September quake. And so begins our story of restoration…

Moncks Spur 005
View from upper window.

Eighteen months after we arrived in Christchurch we bought an “as-is-where-is” home. It was so badly damaged that the real-estate agent showing us the property wouldn’t venture inside for fear of it crumbling about her in the event of a further shake.  Hubby and I weren’t daunted by this prospect and climbed the first level of spiral staircase… Wow! the view that beheld us was enough to sell us.

Sunroom - kitchen
Sunroom-kitchen- temporary workspace.

And so began the process… yes, we did our figures and costings (who can trust those when one is venturing into the indefinite??), miraculously gained insurance and mortgage, and moved in six weeks later.  During this six weeks we had scoured the second-hand building material yards which were naturally full of second-hand windows, doors, kitchens, timber & you-name-it from damaged & demolished buildings.  We bought temporary windows to fit the big open spaces where windows had blown out in the earthquakes and fitted these as well as possible into said spaces.  Fortunately, it was spring when we moved in so the gaps were looked upon positively as natural ventilation!

Dining area & kitchen pre-temporary windows.
Dining area & kitchen pre-temporary windows.

Smelly, wet, snow-damaged carpet had been ripped up and dumped to reveal varnished chipboard – quite acceptable for now. Curtains were torn down – we didn’t need curtains anyway as all the neighbours had moved out of adjacent homes.

The fridge had spilled its contents and food left in the pantry had well passed its “use-by-date”. Nothing a bit of elbow grease didn’t shift!

Lounge with ply walls.
Lounge with ply walls.

Some external walls needed temporary bracing  and a couple of internal walls had ply inserted to strengthen them in the case of another shake-up. So a bit of muscle power, a few hands to help, many buckets of hot soapy water and a sad vacuum cleaner later and we were ready to move in…