I'm tired... forgot how much work an old house is!

61tinkerbellJuly 26, 2011

I need a pep talk! We have restored a couple old houses, but I know we were short on funds, and we lived in the home while we tackled projects. This new/old house looks BEAUTIFUL from the pictures... so many people couldn't see what needed to be done.

The house is a 1937 home, and the roof was replaced 8 months ago, but by a company, now out of business. It was all wrong, and 1 hour after we closed (in May) it was pouring outside.. and inside too!

We planned on renovating the messy stuff and move in to tackle other issues, but one thing keeps leading to another (of course!)

Our MAIN focus is the kitchen (which was FLITHY, previously had rats, squirrels and such) as well as the laundry room, and masterbath (which actually was ok, but I figured we'd get done with the mess before we moved in).

Our house is being totally rewired, and the electricians have been there TWO (2) MONTHS!! I'm so tired of them, and having to use a lead cord with every little thing.

The bath next to the kitchen, we decided to steal the oak flooring to use as repairs, since we need to get new AC ducts, but once that was removed.. it is all rotten underneath (of course!)

Every room needs SOMETHING addressed before I can get in there and paint. All the woodwork is so thick with paint, and latex over oil.. I have to strip everything! I had a couple painter come to give me an estimate, and they said it was too much work for them, they weren't interested.

Here's a picture to refresh your memory!

Click on the link to see some recent demo, and issues we are tackling. DH keeps saying he wants to knock it down... and build new. TOO LATE at this stage in the game! From Sunrise Drive Sunrise - work in progress

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tinker, your home is gorgeous! You had warned that it would appear so, cosmetically, but still! I'll gladly trade my nightmare for yours.. Deal? :-)

The way I feel, is that to buy & love an OLD house is like signing a marriage contract. In both cases you sign-on "for better or for worse, sickness/health" yadda yadda.. Only imagining at the time how great it's going to be, right? Then the new spouse uses the toilet... He smells funny once in a while... he's not as easy to cook for as ya thought... And, really - who warned us they'd leave socks & underwear in the living room?!? Lol...
Honestly, though, I "get it".. The OMG panicky feeling, (usually when you're trying to fall asleep, right?), but you know what? It's going to be ok. I guarantee that I'm not the only one to see your pics & LOVE your home! More importantly, though, YOU love it... That shows in the cleanliness, care to every detail in decorating each individual room.
Love a house that much, (& prove it to her with $$ & hard work), the house will love you back.
FTR, you're doing way better than I... All those pics, not a single paint can, solvent container, heat gun, pry-bar, cordless drill, screwdriver (Phillips head or regular), paint stripper or scraper, fresh sandpaper stack, random PVC pipe fittings/joints in the most inexplicable places... Where do you KEEP your "stuff"?
You're doing great work - & in an old house, it's important work! American history, kept safe from ruin, demo, & Tinkertoy replacement. It sucks, sometimes, but it's temporary - your beautiful home & your impact? Not temporary. :-)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Shoot.. I didn't realize the 2nd link was for completely different set of pics! (I didn't get through very many, yet, but I think I saw every tool & such that I'd previously asked about locations for!).

That looks tough! Many pics look far too familiar, for me.

Are you not living in this house, while work is done? It looks from the pics as though everything is being done at once. With no area to live in, that's not under construction & torn apart, that would be a drag. I hope you're saving a room or two for later, so you have a construction-free zone in which to relax & escape. A really cool forum member mentioned that a while back, & it still seems like a logical & sanity-preserving choice.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ks, thanks for the pep talk!! LOL, yes the whole house is under dust, dirt and tools all over! Thankfully, we are not living in there or this would be impossible! The house also needs to be tented (carpenter ants, previous termites and TONS of living cockroaches!) Those "beautiful" before pictures are so deceiving! The house looks clean, but it is gross. You can see in the kitchen black & gray hairs on the wall... that was above the refrigerator, and is from dogs, cats and RATS! yuck. We found NUTS under the sink in the kitchen, that squirrels used as their home. Rat feces in closets, rotten wood and water damage everywhere. It is a bit over-whelming and we just can't seem to find people who we can hire to assist us a little. Part is because of them, and part because of us.. we are picky, and want it done right!

We'll off to another day of working on the house. I'm able to work during the day DH does a little, but he has an office to run as well!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 4:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tinker- This home has so many wonderful features...just keep thinking how beautiful it will look, after it's cleaned and repaired. It may take a while, but you will be very happy, in your new home :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lavender_lass is right, there are some very cool features there.. And the house is lucky to have been purchased by someone who cares about it (&, sure, frequently hates it right now - lol, @ this point that's par for the course) enough to "make it right".
Wow, imagine if the wrong family had bought it, assuming it was "live-in-ready"? Some of the unseen issues might not have been discovered for years. My nephew has severe allergies - dust, animal dander, if it's in the household & remotely airborne - the breathing treatment machine comes out. If someone like that had moved in? How would they have known that behind & under cabinets & appliances was lurking something like that? Some houses, you aren't surprised to find things like that (I suppose), but they took "staging" to a whole new level! (Honestly, if I had done that to a house to sell it - I'd literally feel like a criminal).
The good news is, when you get discouraged & wonder if it'll be worth it - you can look at the 1st set of pics, & know that you're going to make it look even better!
Is that a Forum "First"? The inspiration photo's being the "before" pics?

Hmm.. A roofing company that went out of business, after doing a lousy job? Shocking. (I know there are a LOT of good roofers out there - I wish I'd found one by now). We actually PUT a roofer out of business - (& in jail, for that matter).

Anyway - keep your chin up, you've gotten a lot done already! Keep posting on your progress! :-)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

tinker, the first pics are of the kitchen before you began renovating? They remind me of the pics of our daughter's new old house (1928)in the realtor's listing.

Your story about the roof leak is so similar to what happened to them.
A week after closing (and they've decided to live there while renovating) it rained really hard. The Spanish tile roof has vent holes just above the gutter. Well, the previous owner hadn't cleaned the gutters in a long time and the water rose to the level of the vent holes, went into the attic space and starting dripping down through the crown molding and building up huge water bubbles in the plaster walls. It was like a scene in a horror movie.

This picture is of the bubbles in the wall as they just began. It got so much worse

The kitchen was filthy. There was dog and cat fur everywhere and rat droppings behind the ovens, fridge and sink.

Notice when they enlarged the kitchen they didn't plaster the ceiling on the other side of the beam. That's another thing...she was told the beam was decorative, but as we've begun removing it we find a huge beam above it. Is it a load bearing beam? We need to find out.

Kitchen sink drain. Nice, huh? And people were living here in this house and using the kitchen.

The floors had been patched going in different directions and in very short lengths. Her Dad is stealing long boards from inside closets to repair the kitchen floor.

Notice the folding table. That's their temporary kitchen during this remodel. It's a good thing they're young.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 9:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bless them for doing this while living in it! Their house reminds me of mine!

Yes, that "before" picture - everything looks nice, actually ALL the before pictures look nice, but when we saw the house in person, we knew that it needed a lot of work (reason it was on the market over a year!).

Here are some of our current pictures!

Old cabinets out - layers of paint & wallpaper will need to be removed!
From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

OUR water damaged walls in living room, all the blistering paint and cracks will need to be fixed. We'll skim coat over entire room before painting. From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

Cockroach on left (one of MANY - yuck) dust, hair and dirt came free with the purchase of this home!
From Sunrise - work in progress

Water Damaged floors will need to be patched in various places! From Sunrise - work in progress

Need to open and investigate these cracks along fireplace From Sunrise - work in progress

One spot of the leaking roof
From Sunrise - work in progress

Bathroom shower tile - popping off From Sunrise - work in progress

Kitchen wall, plumbing done incorrectly, and wall needed repair From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

This is actually cockroach droppings, piled high inside the wall! From Sunrise - work in progress

Squirrels were living and storing nuts under the kitchen sink cabinet! From Sunrise - work in progress

Rat & dog hair above refrigerator.. yuck, she lived here with her teen children. This house in tuck between 2 1.5 million dollar homes.. bet they never knew what was next door! From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

LOTS of paint stripping, wallpaper removal.. my hand and wrist is in a brace, literally! Just had a CT scan to see what I'm doing to it. From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

Progress... From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

Fireplaces stripped
From Sunrise - work in progress

granite removed, revealing original fireplace From Sunrise - work in progress

Rotten shower removed From Sunrise - work in progress From Sunrise - work in progress

Wall down, were are enlarging bath 1.5 feet, other area will be a closet. From Sunrise - work in progress

Master bathroom - floor tile, 3 layers over heart pine floors. From Sunrise - work in progress

Master bath shower, it is so large.. but appears to be original. 3 layers of tile also on this, and look close, on the lower left - an animal nest is there! From Sunrise - work in progress

3 layers of tile inside this shower
From Sunrise - work in progress

The nest! From Sunrise - work in progress

and it will continue!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

tinker - thanks so much for this posting. I just bought my first home, a 1927 Montgomery Ward 'catalog' home. About 11 days into living here (today) the pouring rain came into the basement. Of course the previous owner never had any water in the basement (LOL). There's so much to do, but it somehow feels better knowing I'm not the only one out there. Good luck to all of us! :)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 12:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, the kitchen floor has been repaired as of this afternoon. Next our daughter has to deal with the issue of "The Beam". Two different "experts" have differing opinions...is it a support beam or not? That is the question.
After that comes the wall work and ceiling.
And then, the cabinets.

But for tonight and the next few days we get to take a break.

Before: A small porch had been previously enclosed and it seems the easiest way to fill in the missing boards was to ignore the direction of the remaining boards.

You can see the old doorway in the right corner of the room.

Thank goodness we got to see the damage on the underside of many of the old boards we pulled up. Too far gone to use them and we had to use new boards. Very disappointing.

Once the boards were removed we had to cut some boards to stagger the joint lines.

Hopefully, once the floor is sanded and stained the boards will all match in color.

We even left gaps between the boards to mimic what's already there with the old boards.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 8:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for posting these photos. For those of us who own and love our old homes, the commiserating and understanding of the work you are going through is truly there!
I am currently replacing the old kitchen that I just tore out, and I am running out of steam. So, I logged into GW, and this is what I see as I drink my first cup of coffee on this Labor Day. Seeing what you are going through, has given me a bit more steam to get things finished...... although I'm not sure old home owners are ever 'finished'!
Keep up the good work!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 9:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oldhousegal - my definition of something "getting finished" refers to an application (of something) to the surface (of something). :-D

I've heard it said, that the word can be used to describe the "completion" of projects - but figured it was an urban legend. Lol - I guess it's just rare, but not impossible! (Also suspicious of the word "completion"..).

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

monablair, your daughters home looks a lot like mine, our floors are the same, even the angled subfloor.

Oldhouse, glad you liked all the pictures, your post came after another long day! I'm out of steam.. I was having a "love-hate" relationship with my house, but yesterday I changed my relationship to "HATE"! LOL, so overwhelming at times, and we are paying for this house and another while working on it, and it still will be months before we can move. Everything we touch, we do discover more things wrong. I KNEW this when we bought the house, we have been through it before, but I forgot the the real labor pains!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 7:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tinker, I love old houses. Old houses are my career, too. I write about them. And I really thought I wanted to own one!

Ninety days after buying my 1925 Center Hallway Colonial Revival, I sat down on the back porch steps and wept. I was overwhelmed. Like you, the more we got into it, the more we found.

Four years later, we sold it and had a $80,000+ loss on the house - due in large part to a declining real estate market, but also due to the fact that we put too much money into restoring the old house.

But what are your options?

However, I would have felt a LOT better about the whole affair if we'd not lost any money - or even made some money.

Will you make some money on this beautiful house you're so faithfully restoring? I find that helps a LOT. :)

And let me say - from the photos - it is a beautiful house just dripping with charm and classy features and gorgeous built-ins. I nearly swooned when I saw those first pictures of your house. It looks like something out of a glossy magazine!!

BTW, we sold our old house last month (30 days ago) and have purchased a 1962 brick ranch. Within the first 21 days, we had to replace the heating and air system ($7,000), install all new gutters - due to rainwater problems ($1,300), replace the old attic pulldown staircase ($350), etc.

Point is, all houses that are not brand new have some expensive problems.

But you're house is such a beauty! And sounds like it's in a first-class neighborhood.

And - it sounds like when you're done - you'll have a real gem on your hands.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Old houses are not for everyone. Besides Flippers & Realtors, no one ever said that buying an old house was necessarily a good investment - it's usually a labor of love or it becomes a disappointment, especially if the amount of work is unanticipated. And any investment earned may require very long ownership, at best! If a buyer only sees old properties in glossy mags or on spruced-up house tours, reality may be sobering.

It's a well known inside joke in my urban neighborhood that if someone constantly runs on about 'their investment', it's a sure sign they're headed for disappointment followed by a move back to the 'burbs!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

oh my goodness... I just google and this tread popped up! Here it is.. a little over a year from this post, and I'm sitting here.. tired, paint on my hands and clothes as I wrap up another room.

Looking back at the pictures.. al I can say is WOW.. we have came a long way this past year! We moved in February, and I have been dragging my feet a bit, but I'm back at it. Almost ALL the stripping of paint inside is complete. I have a few more windows I need to do and a few.. I'm just plain old skipping till.... who knows when, if ever! I haven't added ALL the receipts, but last count we just passed $300,000. I do wish at times we never bought this house, but when I complete a room, and have the house clean up.. I'm happy, its beautiful, and full of character & charm. That said.. I will NEVER buy an old house again, those days are over!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tinker, can you post pics of your progress? We'd love to see them!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'll post a few today and get some more tomorrow.. still things to do, but it does look much better!

From Kitchen From Kitchen

master bath
From just moving in From just moving in From just moving in From just moving in From just moving in

Laundry Room off kitchen
From just moving in

Former dining room - which is now our breakfast room
From just moving in From just moving in

From just moving in

front of house
From just moving in

living room From 2012-07-01

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow! That is really beautiful. What a change! Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow! What a great job you've done so far. Can't wait to see more!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 5:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It looks great!., But to be honest..was it worth it? I sometimes feel Americans just go overboard with homes. At the end of the day, after tall this, is an average home good enough?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 5:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tot, for some people, no. But for many, yes. And for some, it is not the acquisition that makes it worth it, but the creation, the process, the personal involvement with the house.

This is a philosophy of life question. Once our basic needs are taken care of, what do we spend our energy on? From what activities do we draw enjoyment? For some it is playing tennis, for others travel or fine dining or raising poodles or gardening or writing a book or volunteering or painting or running a marathon or playing in a garage band or a combination of many of these.

These "hobbies" are the activities that add interest and beauty to our lives and give us goals beyond mere survival. So while our basic shelter needs can be met much more simply, for many people creating a comfortable haven that suits us and expresses us is a source of enjoyment. And it goes back a long, long time. Did the dwellers at Lascaux actually need pictures on their cave wall?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 10:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What quantifies "average" anyway? I don't even know what that would mean. Price? Style? Who's taste? Affordability? Neighborhood?

There are too many variables.

It's all relative.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it looks beautiful! Do you want to come help me with mine...I think we have very similar tastes :)

Totsuka- I don't think Tinker has gone overboard at all. The finishes are nice, but so is the house and I think the choices Tinker has made compliment the house, quite nicely.

If average means builder basic, then most people want something a little different. We don't all want to have exactly the same house or style...I think we all want to be a little unique in our homes, gardens, etc.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you! lavender, I have to pass!! lol

Totsuka, would I personal do this again - no, just because of the work that is involved - I'm too old, however I LOVE the house. This home is a part of history, and homes like this are far and few between in FL as most people knock them down and put up large monstrous homes. This home has been RESTORED. No new floors, no new walls, no new windows.. what was fallen apart has been fixed so that this house can stand for another 75 years.

Yes, we have new tile in bathroom, new lighting, and new cabinets.. but we kept the old cast iron tubs! Certainly the finishes are modest in comparison of other million dollar homes.

The walls are full of interesting history and the materials (old cedar) would be hard to find today. Believe it or not.. we most likely will recoupe every penny spent, because of the homes location (on the bay, 5 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico).

so again, would I do this again, no.. but than again - I am glad I did!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Tinker - I really respect your willingness to keep as much of the home as you could. It is absolutely beautiful and exactly the style I would choose as well. We're just finishing picking fixtures for our new addition and fell in love with that style of schoolhouse fixture you put in the kitchen. I love your kitchen! That would be a dream space for me. And the laundry - oh, the laundry!

In theory, I agree with totsuka. I think that the bar has been raised in this country, and many people are putting upgrades in their kitchens and baths that aren't necessary. It would be silly to put granite countertops in our modest bungalow, but I think some home buyers expect it. HGTV or whatever has made us think that somehow cooking on certain surfaces is mandatory.

I was struck when I lived in England how dingy that carpet often was and how home dwellers didn't seem to notice. I appreciate that sense that if it works it's okay even if it isn't current. Maybe I misread the aesthetic there, but I had the sense they had lower expectations, at least in my circles. Not everything had to be perfect, and people were used to living in older spaces.

But having said that, what you did is extraordinary. And if you have the money, I think home improvement is one of the most satisfactory ways to spend your money, especially if you are committed to restoring rather than renovating.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 9:23AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Plaster stamped like tile?
My house was built in 1915. I am tearing out some 60s...
Just closed on an older home and homeowners policy was cancelled
Six days ago, we closed on the house of our dreams,...
Stair striping and refinishing advice
I ve been stripping and refinishing my stairs in my...
Sanity check: Huge window & shutter repair/replace bill?
Hey folks! I am the proud new-ish owner of 1740s brick...
Craftsman tile question
I recently visited a friend who lives in a beautiful...
Sponsored Products
J&M Furniture TV Stand 027 in Black High Gloss
Beyond Stores
Brella Chrome One-Light Halogen Square Canopy Wall Sconce with Cherry Glass
$166.50 | Bellacor
Scalamandre Zebras Print Red Outdoor Pillow
$199.00 | FRONTGATE
Bird Ottoman with Full Cover
Design Within Reach
Symbol Audio | Table Top HiFi
Area Rug: Mystique Chandler White 5' x 7' 7"
Home Depot
Charlton 42" Bathroom Vanity with Drawers - Espresso w/ Clear or Frosted Glass C
Modern Bathroom
New Super Kazak Desire Red Hand Knotted Wool 2'x6' Veg Dyed Geometric Rug H5901
BH Sun Inc
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™