It turns out that when a house is built by the owner (in the 1950's anyway) that you can be creative with your construction techniques. The front steps were solid concrete! And in the house, the upper floor support posts holding up the roof were just resting on the floor, there weren't any supports underneath on the lower floor bearing the weight! These all had to be added to bring the house up to code - see the huge beams in the pictures and the new support posts.
We also found the elusive sewer pipe - an excavation crew was out to relay the sewer line for the house, it was several feet away from where the city thought it was.