There is an electric outlet on one of the walls of our house that is located abnormally high on the wall. Maybe the previous owners had a table or something, and placed the outlet at that height because it was more convenient. In any case, it wasn’t where we needed it, and it simply looked odd where it was. Since I am in the middle of fixing up this room, I decided to lower it to a height consistent with the other outlets in the house. That should be a simple enough task, as I’ve done similar things many times before. I started cutting away the drywall below the outlet at the desired height, and continued upward. The saw kept hitting a solid surface a little bit behind the drywall, so I gently continued up to the existing outlet, and then removed the piece of drywall.

What I found was completely unexpected: behind this sheet of drywall was what had previously been the exterior wall of the house! This room was a later addition, and instead of removing the old wall, they just nailed some drywall on top of it!

hidden old exterior wall.
Note the white shingles behind the drywall!


Now I understand why the outlet was at this peculiar height: the previous owners had opened up one row of shingles on the old wall, and simply placed the outlet there. Now, of course, moving it will require quite a bit more work.

This is a great example of where you should liberally comment your code: whenever you write a work-around, or something that would normally not be needed, in order to handle a particular odd situation. This way, when later on someone else owns the code and wants to “clean things up”, they’ll know ahead of time that there is a reason you wrote things in what seems to be a very odd way. This has two benefits: 1) they won’t look at your code and think that you were an idiot for doing that, and 2) they’ll be better able to estimate the time required to change it, since they’ll at least have a clue about the hidden shingles lurking behind the code.

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