We’re working on a house in the 7th Ward that was relatively complete when it came into Project Homecoming hands. When I say “relatively complete”, I mean that most of the inside has flooring/paint/trim/doorknobs, etc. This isn’t a house we’re rebuilding from the ground-up.

Or are we?

The major problem here is that beneath the siding (which looks fine), and beneath the old siding beneath that, and beneath some plywood and tar paper under that, is the framing of the house which has so much termite damage that the wood is sometimes more air than wood. So we have to replace virtually all of the bottom four layers of framing under the house.

Under new siding
The “new” siding comes off


Under old siding
The old siding comes off


termited sil
termited sil

Termite damage is often hard to see, because the termited wood is often either not visible – as in this house because it was under the siding – or the wood itself is visible, but there are no signs of damage on the exterior of the wood. This makes for tricky work because you have to learn to look for subtle signs, and because submitting a budget for a job like this is tough when you can’t see how bad the damage is before you begin.

So how do you fix all this? Basically jack up the house section by section and cut/tear/saw/smash/pick out the damaged wood while the weight of the house is taken off. Install the new wood. Rinse, repeat.

If you’re lucky, you have several people to help you:

Vols under house
Brave volunteers set up jacks under the house. I swear the jacks aren’t the only thing holding the house up over their heads.


Even most of the floor joists are done-for, so we have to swap in new ones:

Row of joists
Row of joists


Moranne under house
Since they’re so soft and rotten, the existing joists have compressed under the weight of the house. It takes two people with mallets and strong legs to take turns smashing it into place while the other pushes on the other side with their legs.


It’s often careful, time-consuming work. But there’s a dog on the other side of the fence so it’s not so bad at all.

Vols w Duke
Vols w Duke