Playing Doctor at Fort Casey, Whidbey Island, WA.

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

     One of the spin-offs from having an ARMY is that we learn how to build things better.  There are army The Doctor's House, Fort Casey, Whidbey Island, WAmanuals that can be found for just about anything you might want to construct (or maintain)---from building bridges to building staircases.Army Concrete Technical Manual

     When I first started building and I needed to find out the best way to do something I would look to these manuals for guidance, since in those days codes were marginal or non-existent and they did not tell you “HOW” to do something anyway. 

      One of my favorite manuals was about Concrete.  This manual was great not only for telling in detail what kinds of mixes of concrete to use for whatever project you were doing but how to build the forms to pour the mix into.

     How to cure it. 

     How to pour it in freezing weather. 

     How to pour it under water.

     What size of aggregate to use. 

     All this and more. 

     These manuals have evolved over time, and have become a great way to find out the best ways to do just about anything related to building.  The Army does not DO ANYTHING---except, “by the book,” so, as you can imagine they spend a lot of time and energy in producing great manuals.

Army Concrete Technical Manual

     I get reminded of this every summer at our annual getaway to Fort Casey on Whidbey Island.  The “Officers Quarters” are a group of houses that still remain at the fort.  They Stairs in the Doctor's Housewere built around 1890 to 1910.  Several of the houses are duplexes and one of them, The Doctor’s House, is a single family house.  Up until this year we have always stayed in one of the duplexes but this year we got to “play doctor.”  While there are aspects of these houses that are a little worse for wear, the basic structures are in amazing condition for their age.  The original slate roofs still protect the houses from the elements.  Stairs in the Doctor's HouseThe re-enforced concrete foundations that were a spin off from the gun emplacements and bunkers nearby show no signs of even the slightest amount of settlement.  All the doors hang square.  They have not been planed to fit due to settlement that would be typical of non-military homes of the same era.  The stairs meet current code requirements for tread width and depth, as well as riser height.  Baluster spacings would also meet current requirements, as would the hand rail height.  The handrail also meets current requirements for being graspable.

     And the list goes on and on---both interior and exterior. 

     Another thing that the army understood was drainage.  They knew how to keep basements dry.  They knew about proper surface drainage, proper handling of sub-surface water, proper roof water drainage and proper clearances between wood structures and the ground.  You simply have to understand drainage when you start building multi-level bunkers under ground.    The interesting thing is that they were able to do much of this without some of the impervious water proofing membranes and pressure treated wood that we rely on today.  And I am sure their newer manuals reflect this.

The Doctor's House, Fort Casey, Whidbey Island, WA

     I would love to see some of the manuals that were used during the construction of these houses----120 years ago----prior to current codes AND way ahead of them.

Charles Buell

Seattle Home Inspectors, ASHI Home Inspector, Structural Pest Inspector, Charles Buell Inspections Inc, Seattle, WA

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
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Wendy Cutrufelli
Alain Pinel Realtors - Walnut Creek, CA
Contra Costa Realtor

Fascinating!  Built 120 years ago before the advances in construction materials and code requirements but still structurally solid and up to current code.  Those manuals sound like they are worth their weight in gold.......or could it have been the result of "dropping for 50" if the door didn't hang right? Smile.

Aug 09, 2009 04:16 AM #1
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Wendy---yes I am sure the "dropping for 50" was a factor:)

Aug 09, 2009 04:22 AM #2
Rainmaker
226,377
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Dropping 50 definitely got my head set in the right place. I still have some of those old Army manuals and was pleasantly surprised to see how much of it is available online.

Aug 09, 2009 04:34 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Charlie,

I used to have one of those on military dog training. It was pretty interesting and written during WWII.

Aug 09, 2009 04:42 AM #4
Rainmaker
683,785
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

What a great resource for building things and doing it right.

Steve, You should see if they have one on squirrel training. It might fall under the category of extermination.

Aug 09, 2009 06:54 AM #5
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Sue, so were you in the army?

Steve, see James comment below---great advice:)

James---tremendous resource for sure.

Aug 09, 2009 07:05 AM #6
Rainmaker
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Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

What a lovely little home that is 120 years old.  However, I wouldn't want to live in it.  Those steps would be killers!  Even if the risers are right and the handrails to code, it doesn't give the old body any more strength to climb them!  Give me the poorly built no-step house for easy ingress and egress!  Great blog!

Aug 09, 2009 12:02 PM #7
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Barbara, you would really like some of the three and four story town-houses we have around here:)  Makes me wonder why they aren't promoted as:  "No gym membership necessary once you own one of these!"

Aug 09, 2009 01:34 PM #8
Rainmaker
226,377
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Charles, I started out in Army JROTC as a way to get away from home. I liked it so much that the rest is as they say "history". :)

Aug 09, 2009 02:11 PM #9
Rainmaker
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Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Charles,

I would be happy to help the military write a book on the vast benefits of squirrel intelligence.

Nutsy

Aug 10, 2009 04:02 AM #10
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Suesan, we kind of all take one step at a time to get where we are, don't we:)

Nutsy, I hear that squirrels and the way they can never make up their minds where they are going----make great target practice.

Aug 10, 2009 04:10 AM #11
Rainmaker
226,377
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Nutsy, a Field Manual on squirrel intelligence wouldn't even merit a cover. Pop Goes The Squirrel

Aug 10, 2009 04:20 AM #12
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Suesan---how about a "Field Menu?"

Aug 10, 2009 04:27 AM #13
Rainmaker
226,377
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Wonderful idea Charles, where are Kate and James when we need them?

Aug 10, 2009 04:35 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,243,096
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mrs Suesan,

When did you join the mean people with the big teeth and the nasty minds?

Nutsy

Aug 11, 2009 04:01 PM #15
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That looks like a terrific get away!  The place looks solid as a rock.  Professionalism...

Aug 12, 2009 09:58 PM #16
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Suesan---they are never far away when there is a squirrel to bash:)

Nutsy---you are an endangered species

Jay, for sure

Aug 13, 2009 01:20 AM #17
Rainer
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David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

Interesting post Charlie.  I remember from my own military days (back in the dark ages) that there used to be a saying about how to do things:  "There are three ways to do things; The right way,  The wrong way, . . . and The Navy way."  Can it possibly be that the Army could do things the right way?   NAH.

Aug 14, 2009 03:36 AM #18
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I am sure that competition between the services made things even better too.

Aug 14, 2009 08:03 AM #19
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