The Pit of Doom in My House

No, not the new house! The one where I live now. Last week, my husband decided to get started on the myriad little fixes it would need in preparation to be sold.

As they say on those HGTV shows, we found some “unexpected issues.”

You’d think we know this house inside and out after living here for 25 years. But even then, there are surprises.

This house was a Cape Cod when we bought it (we added a second floor that turned it into a Colonial). It appeared to have a converted breezeway connecting the garage and house. Except the breezeway never was; it’s our dining room. And there’s a little room beneath it off to the side of our basement.

The Pit of Doom, after all the rotted floor was removed

I imagine this was originally intended to be a canned goods cellar or something like that, or maybe a safe room. When we moved here, we found an excessive number of outlets, plus some odd ventilation pipes, that led us to believe it also served as a pot grow room at one time, LOL. My husband figured it would be the perfect place to store his gun collection, as it had a sealed door and would be easy to dehumidify.

So that’s what he did. Over the past few years, we noticed the floor was getting… shall we say, squishy. My husband theorized that the floor had just been thrown down over a dirt floor. So to begin his fixes, he pulled that up.

And found he was right. All the floor was, was plywood tossed over some stacked bricks. What he didn’t expect was that it was full of water. That had allowed the bricks to sink and rotted out the plywood floor beneath the vinyl, hence the squishiness. And hence, the pit of doom. The only reason it’s not a massive ball of mold is because of his dehumidifier, which ran pretty much 24×7, and now we know why.

So DH’s first project will be much bigger than expected. He consulted with a couple of friends in the construction business, as well as the restoration contractors we used for our flip house (who assured us that thanks to the dehumidifier, there was no mold). He then tore all the floor out of the pit of doom (or “the swamp,” as he calls it), and is going to add a French drain to hook into what we already have, then add pea gravel and finally, a proper concrete floor.

Meanwhile, down in Tennessee, things are moving along with our new house. Our builder sent us pics last week, and it’s beginning to really take shape:


What I’ve Been Reading: I haven’t finished anything this week. I’m enjoying the novel I’m reading right now, but it’s a really long one, so it will be a week or two before I finish. And instead of reading nonfiction, I’m taking a WMG workshop. This one is called “The Future: Refresh and Renew.” and deals with planning for a long-term career in fiction writing. So far it’s really good!


What I’ve Been Writing: My goal this past week was to write 500 words/day, for five days, double what I’d been doing. I met my goal, with 2,875 words! Next week is going to be tricky. I’m shooting for 750 words/day, working toward 1,000 that I’ll need to meet my overarching goals of finishing two novels this year.

How has your new year started out? Any surprises, pleasant or otherwise? What are your goals for 2019, if you set them? And how are you doing with whatever goals you might have, writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

16 Responses to \

  1. Yay for meeting goals! Boo for finding a swamp in your basement.

    I met my writing goals this week. And I was able to get most of the other things done on my list. Didn’t get any stretch goals met, but that’s okay. I had a massive list. I think massive list will be my mantra this year. LOL I’m still refining how to manage my day-to-day now that I’m “retired” and writing full-time. It’s a massive learning process. lol

    Good luck with your goals for this week.

  2. I’m glad your writing is going well, and the new house is looking good.

    Switching the flooring on your swamp room to concrete will add value to your house. It sounds like a lot of work, but it can be done quickly and with a small budget.

    Good luck all around!

  3. It’s good you found the pit of doom now, when you can take your time in fixing it. New house is looking good, too!

    My writing suffered last week, but the ideas are flooding in. But now my laptop is acting wonky. Figures, huh? It’s running like the disc is full (but it’s not). At least I’m able to back it up, in case it needs to be reformatted. I’m not a happy camper.

  4. Instead of running into a pit of doom already this year, Hubby and I spent 24 hours running to the toilet (which thankfully was not a pit toilet!). Instead of telling myself that this is a sign of things to come, I’m holding out that this means the worst of the year has already passed.

    On the bright side, your new house looks fabulous! It is really coming along. It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in with you, so I’m excited to see this progress.

    Speaking of progress, best wishes with those writing goals!

  5. Is it weird that your pit of doom is giving me all sorts o creepy ideas for a story?

    Seriously, though, I’m glad your husband is fixing it. It will definitely help with the value.

    The workshop sounds interesting.

    Way to go on your writing!

  6. Lynette, nice going on your “massive list!” I read that it’s a big adjustment for about a year after one retires, to settle into a routine and so on. I’m looking forward to trying it myself, but that’s still a few years off.

    Lila, thanks! Unfortunately, the basement room won’t add value to our house because we’re already at the top of what we can get in our neighborhood. But this way at least it won’t derail a sale.

    Stacy, that is what DH and I both said, good thing we found this now and not when we’re getting ready to sell. Yay for the ideas! But bummer about the computer – good luck getting it fixed!

    Chris, ugh, rotovirus is not a great way to start the year! But as you said, let’s hope the worst is past, and glad you’re better now. And thanks!

    Erin, LOL I could probably come up with some ideas, too! Like who knows what’s buried under that mud . And thanks!

  7. In preparing to move, we’ve had a similar thing going on here, though only 18 years of residency to deal with, just a lot of unfinished projects (like you and your husband, we raised the roof on our Cape Cod and added a large dormer to the back of the house). A swampy pit of doom however… thankfully that’s something we haven’t dealt with. It does remind me some of a similar sort of room at the bottom of the basement stairs in my parent’s house. They used theirs as a canning cellar, so you probably had the original design down.

    Old houses do offer some interesting things to think about… In our house shopping, my husband and I have tossed around a lot of eras, but mostly we’re going for new. Because as pretty as those Queen Anne Victorians look, we know we’re not up to that kind of project. 🙂

    Congrats on the writing and reading, Jennette

  8. Oh my – I can so totally relate to the unexpected fixes. We have a house that’s almost 150 years old and we NEVER know what’s behind, under, over anything when we start a project. Some of the wiring is original from the turn of the 20th century (if you can believe that) and some of the walls are solid brick behind the plaster. It’s a guessing game when we need to do things. And just try to find supplies to match something that has been here since 1870. Never a dull moment. So I sympathize with your floor problem.

    I’m curious about the WMG workshop – what is WMG? How does one sign up for it? How much does it cost. It sounds like something I could benefit from.

    As always, have a super week.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  9. Eden, that’s interesting your parents’ house had a canning cellar. And yes, you never know what you’re getting into with an old house. Definitely one reason we’re going for new! Good luck with your own house shopping and move!

    Patricia, I can’t even imagine what you must deal with – my house is only 60 years old!

    WMG Publishing is Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s publishing company. Their workshops are great! I’ve taken probably a dozen, and signed up for the lifetime membership a couple weeks ago. They are on Teachable.

  10. I’m glad to hear that there wasn’t mold in your pit of doom and your husband can get it fixed up.

    We live in an RV full time (some weekend trips but not full time travel). We have it pretty well weather proofed but this last week, it stayed in the single digits for several days and the water lines in our basement froze. Not the end of the world usually but when they thawed again, we discovered that the freezing had damaged something in the outside shower for the first time in 4 years. We had a waterfall. We ended up installing shutoff valves in the lines to the outside shower which will keep them empty and not able to freeze again.

    It’s great to see that you’re making progress on your writing goals. I love how you’re gradually stepping up your words per day goal. That seems like a great way to gear up for the higher word counts.

  11. I spent a lot of time last year watching HGTV. My husband found it after his diagnosis, and introduced me to Fixer Upper. He didn’t like Chip Gaines much (he thought he was too silly), but the funny thing is that he was a LOT like him – in life, and in our marriage.

    After he died, I found Chip and Joanna to be a wonderful balm for my wounded heart and soul. I had trouble sleeping, especially before I adopted my rescue pit bull, Noli, who loves to snuggle. I would put Fixer Upper on Hulu and just let it play all night, and that helped.

    I’m glad you know what to do about the squishy floor – and that your husband decided to house his collection there, so there would be a cure for mold issues.

    We’ve got some squishy floors here, too – but the plumbing leaks that caused them have to be addressed before the floors can be. That’s one of my goals for this month – getting that repair scheduled, so we can get on with the process.

    Looks like you’re doing well with the reading, learning, and writing! Hooray!

  12. Ginger, Oh wow, a waterfall sounds awful! Glad you got it fixed – and thanks!

    Shan, Chip and Jo and their family are so sweet, aren’t they? I love Fixer+Upper – and I just found a game for my phone with them! It’s called House Flip with Chip and Jo. So cute! Water is a big problem anywhere it’s not supposed to be – good luck getting it fixed – and thank!

    Fallon, thanks!

  13. Oh no! Pit of doom is a great description! Good thing your hubby has connections and has experience with flipping. And thank God for that dehumidifier! Yay for making great progress with your writing!

  14. All houses are money pits! I love mine, but, golly, I keep finding things that need be cleaned up, spruced up, and just plain fixed. Still working every day and glad to be doing it too! I commend all of you who are writing… that seems to be my pit of doom, darn it. Love your stuff, Jennett!