This is a close-up of one of the things that can happen when a house is left to rot. Fortunately this house was left for just a couple of years, so things haven’t gotten too bad.

The house was built of the smaller stones that you see, then covered with a kind of heavy, 19th-century equivalent of stucco. As with contemporary stucco, it can crack. Water seeps between the structure and the stucco, then it freezes, expanding in the process. It can pop that stucco right off – and has done so on this house, in quite a few places.

My contractor will have to remove all the damaged wall coating. Then he will replaster the house with new stuff, all smooth and gold-colored. Some day soon, my house will be beautiful again. Then we will keep it that way with the floor heating, which will evaporate stray seepage and end the freeze-thaw cycle for a good, long time.

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