The Great Wall

Overview of the Project

Originally the owner of The Great Wall solely wanted to remove old siding on the back of a porch addition (the name refers to the shed roof addition that originally was built as a porch) that ran the length of the house and re-side with vinyl to match the rest of the house. There were extras like cutting off pool shaped contours of the deck where there was no longer a pool. Also splash from the roof had obviously rotted part of the wall adjacent to the deck so there was at least some repair work on the schedule.

Ultimately the project ballooned into replacing the whole wall because previous repairs had only covered up the water damage in the wall and masked the problem until deeper investigation was performed. The project continued for 3 months as the owner wanted to contribute his labor to the job which allowed me to proceed with other ongoing and new projects. Actually the owner was pleased with this slow progress because it often allowed extra time and investigating to learn underlying problems and address them in the most efficient and effective manner.

Early Stages

Clues to what lay in store.

Temporary Supports

Closer inspection had revealed that the beam holding up the wall, roof and ends of the floor joists was very damaged from rot so measures were taken to support the building so it could be worked on safely until new support structures were in place. The following gallery shows temporary supports I used.

Unveiling the Problem

Next the old siding was removed revealing more rot in and older layer of siding and the studs.

Finally Sided – The Original Objective

The owner put in the insulation and helped put on the 3/4 plywood I used to maintain the original wall thickness. His dad was recruited to help with the siding installation. Nice folks to work with!


The dry wall was so difficult to access behind the temporary wall, it made sense to salvage it so the project could move forward. What was saved in materials and disposal, was probably used in time spend repairing the old sheetrock but the owner was not looking for perfection so it worked.

Deck Trimmed and Upgraded

The deck was mostly rebuilt by the owner but I added a starting board where there never was one and a finishing rip at the end. At the house end, I cut and routed the ends to give a finished look.

Plugging Possible Leaks

Finally an important part of the project is to prevent future damage from the same water source. I concluded that the water damage to be so universal in the wall that the leak must have been from the roof. I suspected ice dams and failed rolled roofing from over the years that allowed water in the wall particularly in winter. Since the roof was only a 2/12 pitch it seemed very susceptible to ice dams even though the roof had been re-done with corrugated metal. I could imagine ice dams accumulating at the edge and forcing water through the lap seams so I found the sealing strips usually sold with the corrugated metal and by removing seam screws, I was able to add the strips.

Another possible source of water was from the flashing where the shed roof met the main building. It was well fit to the roofing but was lapped onto the wall without the siding on top. This open edge of flashing was another potential leak as well as very ugly so I added more flashing that fit under the siding and lapped over much of the roof flashing.

1 comment

    • Joe Homeowner on October 19, 2013 at 10:04 am
    • Reply

    Cliff Dutton has done various work for us, but this testimonial is specifically related to the biggest job he did for us. No homeowner likes to spend money on repairs. What started out being a reasonable sized project grew to be a rather large project. This was a case of not knowing the magnitude of the problem until you uncover it a bit. Unfortunately, the damage to the house was worse than we feared due to a history of water damage and “band-aids” that did a good job at hiding the structural deficiency. At no point during the “marathon” project did I want anyone else on the job. I admit I became stressed at times, but not because of the work that was being done, but because the work HAD to be done. One of the greatest strengths Cliff has is his ability to solve a problem without sacrificing quality and minimizing costs. Because we have such an old home, simple tasks can be often more complicated. During the big project Cliff did what he could to minimize the amount of disturbance he caused, and when the weather allowed, stuck to his schedule. Another thing I appreciated was his willingness to allow me to help with certain tasks to save me money. Because some of the required work was repairing previously improper construction methods, Cliff took his time evaluating the best choice of action. Some work prompted some very creative thinking and “out-of-the-box” solutions. Many contractors can do common or straightforward tasks, but when faced with a “curveball”, don’t always do the right thing. Cliff does not compromise with doing the right thing and his high standards leaves you with confidence and fine craftsmanship. I’d recommend Cliff for your next construction project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.