The one where I kill a wall then rebuild it

In the process of preparing to build a mini dry sauna in a glassed in porch (aka the sun room), I busted into the existing wall attempting to get down to a solid surface onto which the sauna framing could be attached.


vintage photo of the house

The house before the remodels and solarium addition in the eighties. Notice how the front porch sticks out farther than the rest of the house. You can see a remnant of this cut off extension called out in a photo below.


Solarium_listing photo

The listing photo for the house when it first went on the market. By the time we looked at the house, none of these plants were in there.

peeling cracking wallboard

We knew the wall had problems, there is visible water and UV damage, and seams are coming coming apart, the paint had totally failed (probably not exterior paint).

peely wall

Old wall surface, you can see it cracking where the gaps are. The paint has been flaking off and drifting all over the room. Super dusty and dirty, and I couldn’t wash the wall since it wasn’t waterproof – not ideal for a greenhouse where I need to water plants and wash things regularly.

I suppose I could’ve simply placed the new construction up against the old wall, but worried that there were problems that if covered up would cause problems later. I expected the wall to be a mess inside, but definitely underestimated how much work it’d take to clean up before I could start building the sauna. I also didn’t expect it to be completely moldy between the outer layer and the building wrap paper. That was horrifying to discover, and I’m glad to have it removed since I get asthma from molds and mildew.

rotten wood

Some areas of the wall were worse than others, having suffered untreated damp issues and leaky plumbing for decades. This section is completely rotten from the outer layer to the wood core, with ample mold between the layers. Gotta remove the entire outer layer of the wall for building health reasons. Luckily the core structure is solid and unscathed by the water damage.


This house was full of ‘creative’ fixes and half-repairs when we moved in, so the state of the outer wall was no surprise.

outer face ripped off

Under the cement board and sheetrock scraps layer is a layer of junk wood battens, then some very randomly placed weatherization paper chunks, then the original siding under that.

After ripping the wall open and tentatively stripping the outermost layer, then losing sleep debating what to do, I decided to pull the entire wall off, down to the studs, get rid off all the dirty/moldy old materials, and put new siding up before building the sauna.

wall by door

Maybe you look at this and think “GROSSSSS”, but I see it and think how gorgeous this old siding will look with some minor repair, fresh stain, and some new, thicker, nicer trim around the doors and windows. Notice the left side gap has some siding that used to come out around an old porch area. Whenever I can, I like to reuse or restore original materials.

down to all siding

Original siding after all the other crap was removed from the wall.

all facing gone

Finally got all the siding off the lower parts and stripped the wall cavities of hundred year old dust, disgusting old insulation, vermiculite insulation crap that trickled in from the attic, and a bit of rodent debris. This construction project is allowing us to put all the electrical conduit into the wall where it belongs also.

I have husband buy-in and design input in this project, but am doing all of the planning and physical labor myself in order to fulfill a life goal of building something major without assistance – aside from the junk removal experts, the JunkBoys, and my favorite electrician Charles Dean.

debris pile

The mega debris pile of all the moldy and failed building materials pulled off and out of the wall (plus the rotted wood gutters we pulled off and replaced recently)

Thank you to the Junk Boys – who visited today and made my debris pile disappear like magic. Being car-free can be challenging during a DIY construction project, and this is one service that helps me get things done.

In the next update, I hope to have electricity installed for lights and sauna heater and new fan controls installed. After which the new wall siding should go up quickly, followed by framing and building out the sauna.

I’ve been doing my planning by modeling the construction in 3D using a free 3D modeling program called Sketchup and some plan elevations drawn in Adobe Illustrator. A preview…




The outer wall of the sunroom isn’t shown here, but the area with brick floor has floor to ceiling windows and a glass ceiling – shown in the second photo from the beginning.


A huge thanks to the team that created Sketchup 3D and everyone who has contributed 3D models to the free library. During the holiday break, I barreled through every Sketchup course on, in order to ramp up on the software quickly. Since then, I’ve created a full 3D model of the house inside and out, the yard, the electrical components, and to dream up the sauna and some other future interior additions. Being able to sketch and plan in 3D is a huge advantage in planning construction. My sauna plan is ‘built’ using 3D models of lumber with actual real-world equivalents, so it becomes not just a concept drawing, but a building plan to work from. Pretty powerful amazing awesome fun stuff – I’m loving it!

Do you have construction experience? Want to tell me all the things I’m doing wrong? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your perspective.