Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Renovation Realities

You might recognize that title as the name of a program on the DIY television network, a show in which people with varying levels of experience take on a remodel of their home. My husband loves that show. I have a suspicion it's because he likes to feel superior to the poor, poor souls who are over their heads with their renovations.

Well, we're about to enter our own real-life version of "Renovation Realities." When our son announced at Thanksgiving break that he planned to transfer from the college he was attending to the one where I teach, my husband and I started weighing options for housing. Although my position at the college gives a significant tuition break, housing costs are not covered. And while we don't mind having the son back in the household for a semester, I think we all are agreed it's a good thing for a young adult to live on his/her own rather than staying in the homey old nest.

The end result of our deliberations is that we decided to shop for a small house in town where our children could live while going to college (since the daughter says she wants to attend the school where I teach, as well). Our reasoning was, if we're going to be taking out a loan to pay for housing, we might as well be putting that money into something that will give us tangible property at the end rather than simply paying rent on the dorm or an apartment. So we scouted the local real estate market and found this lovely little old house not too far from campus.

It was something of a bargain, since it was a foreclosure with some damage from an indoor dog (the carpet reeks, believe me!). We closed on the house in mid-February, and recently, we began the process of bringing the house up to our standards of "liveable." While it will be a departure from the normal content for this blog, I plan to do a series of updates on our progress over the next few months.

Although the weather has been seriously cold to work in a house with no heat, we've started. The first step was to get an idea of what was inside the walls. I took a hammer over one day after work and chipped in to a couple of walls enough to discover previous owners had put drywall over wall boards - without bothering to put in any insulation. It was at that point we knew the project was going to be, as my husband is fond of saying, a "total gut job." Since that time, we've been able to take most of the interior wall boards off one of the front rooms, so it looks like this:

We were pleased to discover the opening on the right was originally a door that had been boarded up; we were planning to put an opening between those two rooms anyway. One of the things we will have to do is reconfigure the floor plan of the house. As it stands right now, one of the two bedrooms was at the front of the house and actually had one of the two front doors opening in to it. That room is now going to become the living room, and the room with the other front door (pictured here) will become an eat-in kitchen.

My husband and I are excited about the project. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but we both like this kind of work (we've built two houses in our 25 years together, and we're still together, ha ha). We've never renovated an old house, though, so I know there will be challenges, just like the people on the TV show face. There will be discoveries, too; we've actually already had some that I will talk about in another post. One discovery, though, is worth mentioning here. Last Saturday, the husband and I spent the morning at the house tearing down drywall and boards. We noticed that someone had done work across the street to level out the ground, making it obvious that something is going to be built across the street. Some friends stopped by to look over our project, and since they live in town, they knew what our new neighbor will be - the new police station and a new park for town. We were quite pleased to hear that, especially since our kids will be living in what is now sure to be the safest house in town! : )


lil red hen said...

This will be an interesting journey to take with you; I love those renovation shows! I attended school in the buildings that used to be across the street from your house.

Ephemera said...

Thank you for the tour today. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but it's going to make a nice little place when you're finished!

Ephemera said...

A follow-up on our conversation this afternoon: Nails: Clues to a Building's History (http://www.uvm.edu/~histpres/203/nails.html)