late last year, i noticed fungi creeping through the gap between the floorboard and the skirting board by the front door. i thought it was a small growth as a result of the wet weather we were getting in the winter, so i scraped the thing off and added some anti-moss liquid (exactly!) and thought nothing of it. then, early in the spring, the living room floor on the other side of the wall had some brown dust on it. great, now it’s woodworm, i thought. the thing was, the skirting board had cracks akin to rot, as opposed to the ‘burrowed’ look one would get with anai-anai. after failed attempts of using insecticide, i got my maintenance/builder guy to have a look see.

it was dry rot. my heart sank after googling it – this is pretty much ‘cancer’ of the house, where the fungi spreads rapidly as its mycelium traverses masonry and brickwork to reach any wood present in the house. when the wood rots, it loses its structural integrity, and you can imagine what happens to the house if this is left untreated. the fungi (serpula lacrymans) is in the form of ‘pancake bodies’ (which david removed as much as he could) with its mycelium tentacling (if there is such a verb) everywhere to find wood which is its food source. what about the brown dust which i thought was wood? they were actually spores. flippin’ science fiction stuff, this.

the heartsinking feeling got worse when i found out that this is not covered by any home insurance. this needed to be remedied fast, and after having the problem surveyed, remedial work started last tuesday. the ‘shiitake pancakes’ were growing on two joists and was rotting the nearby timber plate which was supporting the brickwork for the internal wall between the hallway and the living room. the problem was that the cellar was done up and this meant the beautifully plastered downlighted ceiling of buangruang room had to be partially removed to gain access to the damaged joists.

the spread of the fungi was greater than we initially thought, as on clearing the cellar to facilitate remedial work, i found more of the stuff on the floor of the cellar but pretty much in the same vicinity of the dry rot. this meant more plaster off as the front cellar walls needed treating.

i was initially upset by the prospect of the remedial work, from the damage on the existing structure of the house, to the amount of money to be spent on the work. a mate of mine was quite philosophical about the whole thing which gave me some relief – “people spend twenty grand or so for a kitchen, what’s a few grand when it comes to saving the structural integrity of your home?”.

wise words indeed.

[to be continued]