Surprises found in the walls and floors..

21 Replies

I've heard all kinds of stories about people finding interesting things in their walls and under floorboards when renovating. Some people find money, letters, or antique coins in their walls.. Unfortunately, I found bees nests. Although, I did find some questionable magazines and photos in the bathroom walls, and an old milk order from the 50's in the kitchen ceiling. 

Besides shoddy wiring, has anyone found anything interesting while renovating?

-tickets to a temperance event

-old coins

-racist cartoons from old newspaper (used for insulation)

@Johnna F.

Just wait till you start buying foreclosures and estate sales. The list of weird never stops, especially in their sheds and garages. Sometimes, you find useful things, though, or rather useful hints to the house's history.

The most useful thing I've found in my current reno project is scraps of newspaper in a ceiling that pinpointed when the thickbed tile floor in the bathroom above was installed, 1945, between VE and VJ day. That was very good to know.

2nd floor apartment of a 100 year old house, someone decided it was a good idea to pour concrete between all the floor joists, thereby rotting them out. Have no idea how my contractor got that out or how it even dried in the first place. 

Pulled out an old medicine cabinet that had a slot for used razor blades in the back wall and found something like five pounds of razor blades in the wall.

@Johnna F. Not my story, saw it on LinkedIn by one of my connections who’s a real estate investor. His dry waller has found 500k in the walls on two separate occasions. 1. Was drug money, called the police. 2. Was former homeowners who got it back. That’s gotta be up there
Originally posted by @Peter T. :

2nd floor apartment of a 100 year old house, someone decided it was a good idea to pour concrete between all the floor joists, thereby rotting them out. Have no idea how my contractor got that out or how it even dried in the first place. 

 That sounds like a nightmare! $$

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

Pulled out an old medicine cabinet that had a slot for used razor blades in the back wall and found something like five pounds of razor blades in the wall.

 I found a ton of razor blades in the bathroom wall too! I can't believe people would just dispose of them in the walls like that. So strange. 

My wife and daughter found a dehydrated rat in a kitchen wall during a demo. I looked like it might have gnawed through a knob & tube wire and gotten fried. Old newspapers always provide amusement.

How about stud bays filled with brickwork? Was strange, it was the unattached portion of a partially attached wall on the property line, but there was one interior wall too.  I also was able to date improvements by the 60 year old newspapers stuffed into cracks.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :
@Johnna F.

Not my story, saw it on LinkedIn by one of my connections who’s a real estate investor. His dry waller has found 500k in the walls on two separate occasions. 1. Was drug money, called the police. 2. Was former homeowners who got it back.

That’s gotta be up there

 Not sure about the drug money, but the money that was the former homeowners would legally be your connections. When you buy a house, everything left in it at close is yours, unless their are special provisions in the contract. So money found in the wall belongs to the new owner. Drug money....I'd probably still call the cops and let them know I found 400k ;) lol. 

@Donald S. thats a good point.  Maybe I would have kept it lol.  Pretty sure it was returned like I said though.  Either way how do you leave 500k in a house???

To be fair this can easily happen if it’s an elderly person.  My great grandparents kept cash in all sorts of places and after one of them passed we also found their wedding ring in a hiding place.  

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

Pulled out an old medicine cabinet that had a slot for used razor blades in the back wall and found something like five pounds of razor blades in the wall.

Jon, that strikes me as sort of awesome -- a record of a large chunk of someone's everyday life...  shave in the mirror, take out blade, put in slot.  Repeat 8000 times. 

We've definitely found the old newspapers, razor blades, and concrete in joists - by far the most interesting though is syringes, literally a HUNDRED or more. In the walls of the master bathroom, under the kitchen sink/dishwasher, in the crawlspace and most scary in the tub drain while bathing our little girl! The son who was POA for the mom we bought from looked like he partied hard back in the day and we found the evidence hiding in the walls :) We originally thought it was the contractors who built the house but they looked like the "newer" syringes and knew for a fact when they were behind the dishwasher since that wasn't original to the house.

@Johnna F. I once found a receipt for a model T 1925. It was for 300 dollars and had a 6 month 6000 mile warranty. It was a remodel and I gave it to the owner who traced it back to her great grandfather. He bought it on his retirement day. Was  almost mint condition.  

A secret hatch beneath the kitchen floor of a 1910 mining cabin converted to a SFH. Inside the hatch was an old crate labeled “explosives“, and inside the crate was a small one gallon bootleg whiskey barrel. The date scratched in the lid was 1925, (during prohibition). Fortunately, there were no explosIves in the crate. Unfortunately, all the whiskey had leaked out from gaps between the staves. Also many old tools in walls over the years; usually tape measures (old fashioned kind that fold out like rulers), planers, levels, flat bars, crow bars, nailsets, hammers and such. Newspapers are common as it was used as insulation and they’re often interesting. Smutty magazines are also common and are even more interesting. Scored a sweet K-bar WW2 knife in the wall of an old church in VT one time. All of this stuff is on display in my shop or house. The “explosives” crate holds my kindling next to the wood stove, and the bootleg barrel is on the mantel. Never know what you’re going to find when you open a wall in an old house. 99.9% of the time it’s tons of rat poop, mummified cats, opossums, rabbits birds and insects. Still waiting for the priceless work of art.

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