These People Unearthed Secrets in Home Renovation Projects

Lindsey - November 6, 2023
Photo: Guaranty Pest Control

Termite Infestations

Discovering pest infestations during a home renovation can be a disconcerting twist in an otherwise exciting project. Whether it’s rodents, insects, or termites, these unwanted intruders can pose serious issues for the structural integrity and safety of the home. Infestations may become evident when walls are opened, insulation is removed, or hidden spaces are exposed. Addressing the problem is vital, not only to protect the integrity of the renovation work but also to prevent health hazards and structural damage. Professionals may need to be brought in to assess and eradicate the infestation, followed by any necessary repairs or remediation.

A termite inspection is common and a great idea before purchasing a home. Inspectors call this a Wood Destroying Organisms inspection, as termites aren’t the only ones that may cause damage in this way. A qualified inspector will look for the small details the untrained eye might miss. They’ll also look at your property for conditions that might lead to future infestations, including firewood and debris, wood siding touching soil, mulching materials, landscape timbers and deteriorated wood nearby. According to Turner Pest, “Termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year, and are known as ‘silent destroyers’ because of their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected.”

Photo: Reddit

Hidden Safes or Caches

Homeowners have occasionally stumbled upon concealed safes or hidden caches within walls or floorboards. The contents of these discoveries can range from valuable items to mysterious keepsakes. That is, if the homeowners can crack their codes (or find a way inside without)!

In yet another captivating tale of hidden treasures within the confines of one’s home, a couple stumbled upon a safe concealed within their kitchen while dismantling an antiquated kitchen island. The safe’s contents, which included a bingo card, a mysterious blue book, an apparently aged bottle of liquor, and, most astonishingly, a substantial sum of cash totaling just over $51,000, added an element of enchantment to their renovation project. However, the safe’s enigmatic contents also left them with lingering questions and a sense of intrigue, as they embarked on the task of unraveling the mysteries that lay within its secure confines.

Photo: Our Vintage Bungalow

Vintage Wallpaper or Wall Murals

Peeling away layers of old wallpaper during renovations can reveal vintage wall coverings, showcasing the design preferences of a bygone era. Homeowners may question whether to preserve these charming remnants of the past as part of the home’s history or to update the space with a fresh, modern look more suited to their tastes. And while old wallpaper may need to be replaced, playing with modern statement-making designs is always a good idea.

Plus, should you encounter wallpaper during a renovation project, you can document the layers as part of the history of your home. Tammy of Our Vintage Bungalow shared her family’s wallpaper documentation as they worked through 120 years of design choices. Even if you make changes, inspiration from the past could be the key to your beautiful home.

Photo: ARTnews

400 Year Old Artwork

A kitchen renovation can make a huge difference within a home – both for the current residents and potential future buyers. Aside from improved functionality, it can add an aesthetic appeal. But what happens when hidden art is found during a kitchen renovation? Well, homeowners then face a choice: whether to preserve these found masterpieces as part of the home’s history or to incorporate them into the updated decor, celebrating the fusion of past and present.

Such was the case for an apartment dweller in the English city of York. His contractors discovered a biblically-themed fresco behind a kitchen wall! He was disappointed when said contractors continued installing cabinets, but he later found more of the 400-year-old world extended in another space of his home. Now, the owner can enjoy the fresco and is working to have it properly assessed and preserved.

Photo: Today

Decades Old McDonalds Wrappers

The article goes on to discuss findings including a donkey grave, historical maps, prohibition-era bottles, and more. Renovation work can reveal historical artifacts, certainly, but sometimes those remnants are especially strange. Today tells the story of Grace and Rob Jones, who began renovations on their 69-year-old home in 2022. When Rob removed a built-in toilet paper holder, he found decades-old McDonald’s wrappers and “neatly preserved french fries.” It was a kind of time capsule, though perhaps not the one they’d have chosen.

Renovations can truly be a journey through time, where the walls and hidden corners of an old home or building hold secrets waiting to be unveiled. These unexpected relics of the past not only add a touch of mystery to the renovation process but also remind us of the layers of history that are often concealed within the structures we inhabit. The Jones’ unusual find of fast-food remnants serves as a testament to the serendipity of such endeavors, offering a glimpse into the culinary preferences and lifestyle of a bygone era, and perhaps prompting homeowners to embrace the unpredictability that comes with the preservation and transformation of their living spaces.


Unusual or Historical Artifacts

Occasionally, important historical documents, such as newspapers, letters, or legal papers, have been found hidden within the structure of a home, providing insights into the past. Sometimes renovators will find more valuable historic items – like pottery or tell-tale remnants from the past.

According to This Old House, “Ideally, if you live in an old house you should call the state historic-preservation office before you begin work on an addition. But if the backhoe crashes into pottery fragments while breaking ground, it’s not too late. In most states, unless you come across human remains, you’re not obligated to call in the experts. However, proper identification of artifacts—even a dig of the site—could reveal a lot about the earlier occupants.”

Photo: Arch20

Unique Building Materials

Sometimes new homeowners will find unconventional building materials used in their renovation projects. You might think vintage bricks, reclaimed timber, or even repurposed industrial elements are odd in today’s modern era. However, there are even odder materials that have been used in construction over the years. These aren’t necessarily in homes, but can you imagine coming across them during a renovation project?

Homes have been created out of recycled bottles, corncobs, legos, cork, aluminum cans, and glass. Have you seen trending shipping container homes? Shipping container homes are actually a sustainable and cost-effective housing solution, repurposing discarded shipping containers into functional living spaces. These innovative dwellings offer versatility, with their modular design allowing for customization and easy transport, making them an increasingly popular choice for eco-conscious homeowners seeking efficient and unique housing options. What materials would you be surprised by and love to see in your future home?


Walled-Up Windows

It may sound counterintuitive, but there are a number of reasons why homeowners might choose to wall over windows. If a window provides a direct view into a neighbor’s house (and vice versa, someone might close up a window for more privacy or for more security on a ground-level window. They could also want better furniture placement or to create functional built-ins. Older windows may not be energy-efficient, leading to heat loss or drafts. Walling over the window can improve the insulation of the room, potentially reducing heating and cooling costs. Perhaps one of the most common reasons are structural concerns and compliance – changes in local building codes.

In some cases, homeowners may need to obtain the necessary permits and follow building codes to carry out this modification legally – especially in a historic home. An interior designer shared her journey of unwalling a window in an upstairs space in their home. After seeing windows on the outside that didn’t exist on the instead, she decided this must be what happened: the prior owners didn’t want to bother with permits and just made the interior changes they wanted. It’ll be hard to understand why they did it originally after seeing the beautifully restored version!

Photo: Wikipedia

Bizarre or Secret Passages

Discovering a secret passage during a home renovation is like stepping into the pages of a mystery or adventure novel. The possibilities are endless: from clandestine escapes to hidden chambers. The decision to preserve and incorporate a secret passage leads to interesting decision-making for homeowners, but with care they can make it their own.

A woman who purchased a 148-year-old home recently shared her secret passage find. In the video she posted, she shows a narrow door that looks like it should lead into an upstairs bathroom. However, there’s no door into the bathroom from that side. When she opens the door, viewers can see it houses a staircase that’s been blocked off. This is made less creepy by the stickers with 1970s icons adorning the back of the door. Commenters speculate it leads to former servants’ quarters turned into a teen bedroom, but time and further exploration will tell!