For years, the chimney of the house has been slowly separating from the main body of the house. Each year the top of the chimney had leaned a couple of millimeters farther, with the crack and gaps getting wider, letting in the rain and making a quick entry for rats into the attic. Every time it rained, I would feel panic as water ran down the wall.

There were many attempts at fixes: tarps and caulking and spray foam, which would work for a year or a season.

I had contractors look at it over the years, and always I received insane quotes of $30k or $40k. But finally I managed a quote of just $16k to remove the chimney completely and seal up the stucco.

For two days, they've been tearing out the century-old brickwork and stone.