Breaking into a wall during renovation is like opening a present from a distant aunt. Your house has had good intentions to hold itself together and protect you from what lurks behind…but once you open the walls up, you MIGHT find something horrendous.
Any renovation will come up against the unknown. As demolition begins, walls will need to be broken into to access the electrical or the plumbing. And it might yield surprises!!
…Did the builder do everything up to code?
…Can mold be growing without you knowing about it?
…Are there other trinkets you might find that someone left there?!
This list is a must-read to learn what surprises you might find lurking behind your walls. Some of these things are simple to fix, and some become a costly revelation. In all cases, they’ll impact your renovation schedule, so stay educated and be prepared!
Potential dangers you could discover behind the walls during your next renovation…
The silver lining about the following list is that anything you find that’s potentially DANGEROUS can be fixed once you know about it. Talk to your contractor about the age of your home and what kinds of things you might expect, according to when it was built and when it was last remodeled…
1: Bad electrical work
This is something you might find in a home built by someone who cut corners, or in a home where a previous owner did a lot of DIY work. This is something we see ALL the time, including loose wires and bad connections.
We’ve even seen gum stuck to the end of wires to cover it instead of a cap!!
And sometimes, even without cutting corners, you just find electrical work that’s OLD. We’re constantly improving the security, performance and longevity of materials, so an old system might need to get replaced because it’s simply come to the end of its rope.
2: Deficient plumbing
Just like there are some corners cut in electrical work, we’ve seen pluming that isn’t up to code. Often, this discovery is linked to water damage or dangerous mold growth.
And speaking of mold…
3: Massive mold growth
We’ve had projects where, once we get into the walls, we’ve found HUGE mold deposits that the homeowners never knew about. Without tell-tale signs that come through the wall or ceiling, mold can grow expansively behind drywall and potentially shed into your air supply.
Mold is one of the most challenging finds because it means wood framing has lost its integrity. This leads to new framing work, which can set renovation plans back several steps.
4: “Shortcut” framing and fixes
If you are in a home owned previously by a DIYer, you might find other structural issues that have been rigged up without meeting code. Informal fixes are often dangerous, and can include framing problems, holes where there shouldn’t be holes, and other things that ultimately will be an invitation for other problems, like mold or pests.
And speaking of pests…
Finding ANY kind of pest behind your walls is the worst nightmare for some homeowners. Cockroaches, spiders, carpenter ants, and mice are some of the most common types of pests here in North Texas…
Fortunately, we don’t have basements in Texas homes, which is where sewer-level pests like rats tend to enter. Still…you do not want to find ANY of the above behind your walls!
6: Roots from the yard
This is FAR less common a problem, but roots from trees and other plants in the yard can disrupt your home from the foundation into the walls. It’s unlikely that you WON’T know about this early on because of structural signs that clue you in, but it’s not unheard of to find roots growing into external-facing walls of Texas homes…
7: Other stuff…
We have found LOTS of random things behind the walls that might or might not have been left intentionally. Some act as a sort of time capsule, as though someone wanted to leave a piece of their home as it was for someone else to find later. Other items are simply trash that someone was too lazy to toss elsewhere.
Just look at this recent find at one of our renovations!!
Preparing for a renovation means including a contingency plan. That means keeping a contingency for your investment AND for your timeline.
The best part about working with our team is that, because we have our designers, production manager, and carpenters on-staff, we are able to handle whatever we find without making a MESS of your schedule. Any renovation done with a list of professionals that you’re stuck managing—the designer, the architect, the carpenter, the plumber, the painter—is set MUCH further back when demolition reveals any of the problems above, because you have to coordinate the fix and move everyone else’s timeline accordingly.
Have you done a renovation before where you had to break into existing walls? Did you find anything?! Tell us your story in our private design group!