This summer I spent a few months working on a fraternity house at Oregon State University addressing some truly life-threatening issues with dry rot, mold and asbestos.
The 15,000-square-foot brick house was built in 1919 with a slab-on-grade framed addition added on in 1960. The building had been terribly neglected and there was widespread moisture intrusion from leaking roofs and deteriorating cladding.
This wasn’t discovered until late spring when I started looking for a general contractor to address the main problems before students returned to school in mid-September. Given the state of the economy, contractors simply didn’t have time. So — as some of you know me — I rolled up my sleeves, asked some fraternity members to help and we stripped portions of the building down to the studs starting with a rooftop enclosed by a 4-foot-tall parapet wall. This rooftop, which was used for gatherings large and small, simply wasn’t designed to support get-togethers.
So we replaced rotten ceiling joists below deck along with more than 60 wall studs and 55 sheets of new subfloor. The parapet wall, which was atop the delaminated subfloor, actually blew away in the wind when removed.
To make a long story short, we chose a waterproofing system by Pli-Dek, now a division of ICP Construction, to create a rooftop patio that would hold up to the weather and fraternity activities. I had some great help from fraternity members living in town, as well as Troy Lemon, Matt Sampson and Pli-Dek’s Ron Cope who guided us through the application process. (See photos of this project online at www.ConcreteDecor.net.)
Aside from delivering a decorative concrete solution, I found working with this fraternity was nothing short of a great reward. Both my time and theirs was volunteer. At the end of each day they had one unified comment that made my 12-hour days and a 45-minute drive home worthwhile — “thank you.”
Working together showed me that young people have the capability my generation shares, they just need someone that believes in them. They needed a project with purpose along with tasks that allowed them to channel their capabilities and talent. With each change, they increasingly became owners of their accomplishments. It was such fun to observe as they helped solve problems to rectify a crumbling house.
We’re now planning for more renovations next summer. I can’t wait!
Enjoy this edition of Concrete Decor.