Posted by: Catherine Weston | January 28, 2013

Leaking roofs or good foundations?

We live in a typical British town house, built just over 100 years ago.  Like many similar houses it has a basement room, originally used to store coal.  It has probably never been particularly dry, although some attempts have been made to proof it from damp.  When we bought the house from the builder/renovator almost 4 years ago it looked pristine and we have appreciated the storage space.

It’s proved handy when international students have needed somewhere to leave a large bag or two over the summer vacation while they go off travelling.  All kinds of things of ours have been stored down there too – anything from old paint and bottles of wine to home made marmalade and toilet rolls, including a great many things that we really should have given away or thrown out long ago but hadn’t quite got round to it.

After a while we noticed that, in spite of an external pump and a dehumidifier, things left too long down there began to show signs that all was not well.  For a start my old leather walking boots attracted a powdery white sheen and the salt dough Christmas tree decorations went soggy.  Jams and jellies attracted mould on the upper surface, though the most spectacular outbreaks of mould were on the homemade Christmas puddings carefully stored for 2012. Mineral salts erupted from the walls and the paint and plaster buckled and flaked. So finally, after carefully counting our savings, we called our builder friend Stuart to take a look.

The basement is not the only part of the house that needs weatherproofing.  The conservatory roof has a habit of leaking in a different place every time it rains, so we wondered how much it would cost to fix that too.  We wanted to replace this ageing plastic roof first so we could move all the stuff from downstairs into a dry conservatory and then tackle the empty basement.  But Stuart thought it might be better to tackle it the other way round: ‘Well, the conservatory, that’s just an extra, isn’t it?’ he said, ‘But your basement is at the foundation of the whole of your house!’

And that’s a good reminder as we carry on into 2013 to get our foundations right in other parts of our lives.  Every day over the last couple of weeks, as the builders removed plaster and dug out concrete to get back to the original brick, we’ve been reminded that Jesus is the rock on which we build our lives and ministry. He is proof against all the storms of life.

We’re also hoping we eventually get a dry basement without breaking the bank.

Mouldy Christmas pudding

Mouldy Christmas pudding



  1. Really helpful … thank you!

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