Pop quiz, hotshot. What's the last thing you want to see when you're tearing out disgusting old carpet in your 80-year-old condo building?
Is it splotches of white paint on your vintage hardwoods, including white footprints that run the length of your hallway and master bedroom?
No. You were planning on refinishing those anyway, so while it makes you wonder what the heck happened, it's not a game-changer. Guess again.
How about the fact that whoever installed the last carpet did the job as if he were being paid by the staple, firing random bits of metal willy-nilly, like a 9-year-old with a new toy? Or perhaps the telephone lines to each bedroom that were stapled every 8 inches down the middle of the hallway?
Nope. It's annoying for you to have to pull up all those staples, but after finishing, no one will know but you. Give it another shot.
Oh, I know. It has to be the CEMENT that some careless slob threw down on top of the hardwoods to level out a low spot in the floor.
Wrong again, although that will surely cost you.
Really? What could be worse than Portland cement in the middle of your hallway? Unless...
THERE'S A GAPING HOLE IN THE FLOOR OF YOUR MASTER BEDROOM!!!
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!!! Or loser, as it were.
That's right, folks. After spending the better part of a day ripping carpet out of my hallway and tearing out all the nails and staples left behind, I move on the next day to the master bedroom, only to find this waiting for me:
I put the $20 bill down there for scale, but it seems pretty appropriate, as I will apparently be shoveling hundreds of twenties underneath my feet just to have a nice surface on which to walk.
And yes, by the way, that is an empty can of Miller High Life underneath my floor. I say they should change their slogan from "the Champagne of beers" to "the Champagne of contractors who don't give a crap."
A previous owner discovered or created the hole in the floor of the master bedroom. He said "oh, darn" (paraphrased).
Owner decided fixing hole would be a pain, and it was easier to just cover it with carpet.
However, since he determined that the 496 feet of undamaged hardwoods were now useless because of the four square feet that needed replacing, he decided to use them as a dropcloth for an aerosol paint sprayer. He blasted the trim in the hallways white, and spray-painted some movable objects on the floor of the master bedroom, turning it almost completely white (see photo below).
Said owner stepped in puddles of white paint, both with shoes and without, but didn't bother to wipe his feet before prancing around on his new paint shield.
Next, he decided that the slope in the hallway where it meets the guest bedroom was always so annoying, and since the hole in the master bedroom had clearly ruined all hardwood in the hall and both bedrooms, why not just buy a bag of cement and level it out?
Then, he decided that both bedrooms needed a phone outlet and that his conveniently ruined substrate meant he didn't need to bother hiding the phone wires along the baseboard. He could just staple the wires down into the hardwood, into the cement, and cover the whole thing with carpet.
Finally, he drank a beer, smoked two cigarettes and ate some plastic-wrapped snack cakes. He tossed the remains of all of the above into his budgetary sinkhole as one last obscene gesture toward whatever fool bought the place next.
He finished the cover-up with cheap carpet that concealed the bizarre crime scene for years. The carpet gathered dust, mold, spores and all varieties of disease-causing microscopic lifeforms. Of course, he knew where the hole was, and not to place any furniture over the spot where his carpet pad had nothing beneath it.
The carpet remained until this week, the beating of that hideous beer can no doubt tormenting the old man in his sleep. He must have known the pain he would someday cause a foolish twenty-something who was taking his first foray into property ownership.
It's an all-too common tale really. Man buys house. Man wrecks house. Man does a bunch of ridiculous crap to prevent future owners from finding out that the house is wrecked. Man dies in the same room as his flooring fiasco and his sister from Indiana sells the house to me.
OK, maybe the last part is fairly unique, but it's still unfortunate. I haven't even ripped up the carpet in the guest bedroom yet. That's tonight's quest. Maybe under that carpet I'll find a bag of cash he left behind to cover the damages. Somehow, I doubt it.
Now, picture time!
Here's the master bedroom/aerosol paint studio:
Here's the cemented end of the hallway. Notice the cement is on top of the white paint, and the phone line is on top of the cement. That confirms my timeline.