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Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Posted by clover8 (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 15, 09 at 23:09

Hi everyone,
Having the old house blues. I purchased this circa 1911 house in Rhode Island back in July and unaware of the costs and emergency repairs, have invested every last cent I have into this money pit. The house and the land on it are very historical. This is the 3rd house on the original late 1600's field stone foundation. It sits on 5 acres of rolling meadows that is a nature lovers dream. Has floor to floor hardwoods. But despite all of that, it is literally tearing apart every part of my life.

I really just want to sell it and be done with it. I can't imagine trying to keep up with it. It is my very first house. I'm 37 and saved all my life for my dream old home. But, very ignorant to all the costs involved. Home inspection report was obviously a joke. Seller was untruthful on Seller's Disclosure, and now I'm stuck with all of the previous owner's problems.

I love old homes, and I think you all here are heros to go through major sacrifices to revive an old home and keep it living on. I always saw myself restoring a house, little by little, as time and money allowed. But, when you have big costly surprises thrown at you all at once, what do you do?

I'm not even talking about decorating or cosmetics. Just things like updating the wiring since it was discovered a month after I bought the house that it still has alot of K&T.

All the windows (21) of them need replacement because they are so leaky. No insulation makes this house very cold. But I knew that before I signed on the dotted line. However, with all the emergency repairs I can't afford even a woodstove to keep warm. Luckily the cost of oil was good this winter.

I've done as many "little things" DIY projects myself to make this place look pretty. Have stripped all the 1970's wallpaper, scrubbed and patched walls, and put fresh coat of paint on walls. My BF, who lives with me, have even taken down a ceiling in one of the bedrooms (ceiling tiles) and sheet-rocked and plastered it ourselves. We've retiled the kitchen floor and counters ourselves. I've even taken down the old cupboard doors and sanded and repainted them. We've also cleared out massive brush on the land and revived some old stone walls. These little projects do feel good when completed, and have kept our motivation up a little because they didn't cost us that much money, only our time and labor, plus a bit of supplies. But, we stand back and have to put out big fires now that needing attention.

The big things I've had to do was emergency plumbing on the 2nd floor bathroom that leaked like crazy and caved in our hallway ceiling underneath a week after we moved in. Had to rip out the entire hallway ceiling, have new plumbing put in, and then have it sealed up again. Two chimneys needed UL liners even though it was stated on Disclosure that chimney's were relined in 2001.

Now, my BF and I are broke. We didn't expect to spend our 6 months of emergency savings in 2 months. We didn't expect I would be laid off a few months ago. After I got shocked today from the old knob and tube switches when I removed the switch plate to paint, that was it. The frayed cloth around the K&T was fried. And, so was I. This was a very rude awakening. I immediately called an electrician that specializes in "old house rewiring" and he told me the house would cost $7,000 to rewire.

By the way, I didn't get this house for a bargain either. I paid $335K for what I thought was an old house that was at least updated electrically, plumbing wise, and had safe chimneys.

I knew all the cosmetics involved - they were all visible. I knew the detached garage was falling down. I knew that the above ground pool outside leaked and would have to be removed. I knew that the long dirt driveway would be a mudpit in the snowy and wet weather. I knew the overgrown trees hitting the roof would have to be cut back.

It is the things that I couldn't see, and didn't anticipate, and it was also the blind faith I had that a Seller's disclosure would be truthful, that gave me the courage to buy this place. And it was the true ignorance I had about old houses. Friends and family can't believe what a complete lemon I bought. It truly is my worst nightmare come true.

My relationship is on the rocks because we have no money to fix things and bicker constantly about how to pay bills. I just want to throw in the towel.

Anyone here every in the same predicament, and what did you do about it? I could use some sage advise. I know I was ignorant to all the things that could possibly be wrong with an old house, but, this was way out of what I ever anticipated.

Please, any advice or comments would help. Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Yes. Yes yes. ;-)

Our situations are different - but DH and I definitely have a love/hate relationship with our house. It is causing us to manifest our stress through physical symptoms. It is a strain on our marriage. It's being worked on now and someone called up our contractor (his sign is in front of the house) and asked if we wanted to sell. DH seriously considered it. But then he remembered that we've put more into it than it's worth. ;-)

We thought we were very thorough during our inspection. We knew if we bought the house that we'd be renovating the kitchen and bath. We knew there was still active K&T. We knew the furnace needed to be replaced. And we got alot knocked off of the asking price for the furnace and a few other things.

We did not know that there was significant rot on the soffits, that the foundation was worse than expected, that the roof was worse than expected, that the electrical was worse than expected, that the insulation there was useless, that the plaster walls were worse than expected. We too were ignorant and had we known the extent of the repairs that would be needed, we wouldn't have bought it.

We have our good days and bad. There are probably more days at this point where we wish we'd never bought it - but then something good will happen, and my faith will be restored. ;-) We have only had our house since July, I think (hope) this is just a phase, we are still getting over the initial sticker shocks, and frankly still learning.

As for your windows...don't replace them. Especially if they are original. The look of your house will completely change. My house is in Newport (so we're practically neighbors!), where we have a Historic District Commission and are prohibited from replacing our windows with new. When we discovered this we were flabbergasted - until I started learning about historic windows here and on other sites, and now I cringe in horror that we even thought about ripping ours out. Take a drive down to Newport and walk through The Point. You will see plenty of historic homes (including ours) and can evaluate their windows. You'll then see what happens to the character of a house when people rip out the originals.

If you restore your windows, add weather stripping, and good wooden storms, they will be just as efficient as replacements. And they will last alot longer.

I've learned alot about old windows on this forum (am still learning) and that is one area DH and I have decided to DIY - it might take a while, but it will save us about $20k (cost of having our windows totally refurbished.) See my window restoration quote thread here, Molly's responses directed me to a site where I am learning alot.

Not to turn this into my soapbox rant about windows - I only mention it because it is an area where you can save a huge chunk of change. Winter is almost over - you made it through with your drafty windows. Get storms made for next winter (if you can) to offer some protection, and then start on your windows one by one.

I do think it will get better. Just communicate as best you can with BF, try to appreciate each other, and acknowledge that you are in a stressful situation together. And don't feel like you have to rush. Your house has been there for 100 years, if something has to wait it's not the end of the world. :-)


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Kpaquette,
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. You have no idea how much your story has cheered me up!
By the way, I know Newport very well, you live in a great area!

I'm sorry you and DH are going through the same thing, but you give great advice.

I so appreciate your insight on the windows. You are right, they do change the appearance of a house. I'm no stranger to hard work, so I will learn as much as I can about restoring windows and just take my time. :)

I guess what gets me the most is that I would never, in good conscious, sell a house without disclosing what I know is wrong with it. That is just me. I think everyone is like that, then I learn quickly that they are not. The previous owner is an extremely wealthy and well known doctor in New England, and just to know he knew about a few health hazards within the house and could sell it without disclosing it, is beyond me.

But, we are stuck with it now. Time will tell what will happen. I'm trying to stay positive, and yes our stress has manifested physically as well. We are in constant physical pain. And I think 99% of it is the stress of this house. I'm sure it is because I never have been in a worst physical state before.

Maybe something good will happen today, and I'll get a break. One can only hope.

Good luck with your house, and stay in touch here. Its good to hear about your determination in spite of everything!



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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I KWYM re: the sellers not disclosing. We dealt with that here in PA (Newport is our summer house) - huge scandal in our development (newer construction) with the windows being installed incorrectly and major leaking issues in over half the units. We had some leaking but were able to fix for "only" 5k, others spent $30k having their windows and stucco redone. On the sellers disclosure it specifically asked if there was a history of window leaks and that box was checked "no." And our PO is a hot-shot Philadelphia attorney! Jerk.

In Newport we were victims of a PO who had done "repairs" - the wrong way. Everything that she did was on the cheap, so for instance, our "8 year old roof" was already failing. I think she hired local handymen for just about everything. Same for whatever interior stuff she'd done. Basically for 15 years the house was neglected, even though she did do some things, they either weren't the right things or they were done wrong.

I know it's hard, but try to let that go. Right now it's bringing negative energy into an already stressful situation. You can't change other people or what was done. It's a shame people aren't honest but I'm a firm believer in karma. ;-) I relish the thoughts of my hot-shot attorney getting his just desserts in a myriad of ways LOL.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

oh clover, I'm sorry to hear what a bad time you're having with your house. Keep in mind that all the stuff you're doing now are things that only have to be done once. We bought our house from a liar too (extreme termite damage that we know he knew about -- our termite inspector said he'd already been to our house to complete a report for someone else that backed out of buying it).

All I can offer is encouragement. Get your mind around doing it slow and learning to do as much as you can yourselves. No one else will care about doing it right as much as you will. To echo kpaquetete, windows are definitely something you can do yourself. Storms will make a huge difference if you can afford them, and if not, put up some of the plastic that adheres with a hair dryer before next winter.

I hope that your garden explodes with beautiful bulbs this spring. That's the kind of surprise that you deserve right about now. And plant yourself some lettuce, peas and tomatoes when the weather is right.

And keep reminding yourself, you and BF are on the same team. Being supportive of each other can make all the difference in the world. Keep strong. It will be SO worth it.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

My husband bought this home before I married him. I have renovated more than a few over the years, myself.......and never would have torn into this one. But he did, and this is the home we decided to live in when we married; instead of selling both and buying a new one, building one, or moving into mine.

Arlosmom made a very good point. A lot of the things you are replacing will have to be done once and you know it's right. This house was on its last gasp of life when my DH bought it. Had he not, it would have been history by now. He had no illusions about what was wrong with it, they were obvious. Nobody 'lied' about its condition, thankfully, so there is no resentment. He also got it very cheaply, THANK GOD. Because bringing it back to life certainly hasn't been. But, if we had built a new one, we'd have just as much in it, only we wouldn't have had the unique and much beloved home we have now.

It's still in some respects a sow's ear. He made it presentable looking to move in, and addressed some immediate issues like heat, lol, and new wiring, but the thing with old, old homes is that you address the issues what won't wait first. #1 safety, #2 addressing issues where if you don't attend to it, it's going to cost you more down the road, #3 making it economical to heat #4 nagging structurals # 5 esthetics. We are finally to the esthetics part of it.

What we have found works for us is to ENJOY the aspects of what we do have at the moment, instead of being caught up in a finished product. This has been a work in progress for almost thirty years now. We have also found that although I am sure people thought we were both nuts when we bit into it, we don't hear that much anymore. People just admire the uniqueness of the property, and tell us how much they are enjoying seeing the old "***** property" return to its glory, or how much they'd love to own an old home like this. We normally just grin and think to ourselves they may not have said that if they were busting their guts like we did.

But when all is said and done, I'd do it again. You just have to learn to be a willow and bend and not an oak and stand rigid with the blows. Only you can decide if it's worth the commitment or not. God knows most of us can relate. But despite the work, and the money, I can't even imagine not living here anymore and suspect that when we die, it'll be know as " the old (our name) property. Old homes are for people with dreams in their hearts.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Clover,

I'm pretty sure I know exactly what you're going through because I have been there. So here's what I do as soon as I hit one of the "I've had it with this d*** house" patches: S-T-O-P doing projects. Take the next two or three weekends and clean up/pack up all the projects, tools, supplies etc. for everything that you have going right now. Stow everything tidily, but out of sight so it's not in your face reminding you off all the undone jobs.

It sounds like you and your BF have spent all your free time since you bought the house working on it. It's high time you took a break, from its emotional, monetary, and work demands. Old houses can stand a lot of deferred maintenance, but relationships (human ones and the one with your banker) need regular attention.

If you take the spring off, I guarantee you'll feel much better by mid-summer and can decide, then, if you are ready to address the energy conservation issues before winter. If you can't, then you can get through another winter without them, or with a partial solution.

The only exception to this would be dealing with the switch that gave you a shock. For that one switch I would see if you can get it squared away. Don't go in for a whole house upgrade, just fix that local problem. Call the "old house electrician" and pay him to make it safe.

I frequently counsel new old house owners on this forum to do nothing, or least as little as possible, in the first year of ownership. I think that old houses are most vulnerable to errors of judgement about what really needs to be done when they've got brand-spanking new owners. I'm not saying that you have made any mistakes (it doesn't sound like it to me from your post). But for other reasons you have got yourself metaphorically painted into a corner. So instead of beating yourself up about all the things that still need to be done, maybe you can look at this hiatus as a smart and thoughful way to approach the whole project.

Do a deep cleaning, arrange your furniture, get out all your pretty pieces and put some spring flowers on your table. Call your friends and have a party (or two). I suspect none of them will notice all the projects still left on your actual (or mental) to-do list.

Things will seem much better if you take 3 or 4 months off from slaving on the house. Heck, you'll probably feel better after the first weekend off. But stick it out for longer than that. It sounds to me like you really need to decompress.

HTH,

Molly~


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Ditto to everything Calliope said; after 21 years, I'm only partially at the aesthetics stage but I don't plan to leave anytime soon.

When you're burned out or run out of money, garden. Chances are the place needs landscaping, too. Instant beautification that you'll see everytime you or your guests enter - & a much needed break from the overwhelming problems!

Good luck & don't give up - most of us have been there.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Photobucket

Yes. When working on the inside gets to be too much, then you garden. LOL.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

It sounds like you bought a wonderful old house, but inspection or not, these post purchase discoveries regarding the chimney and K&T trouble me. I know you're tapped out right now, but I would be tempted to consult with a real estate attorney. If there was any deception on the part of the POs or if the inspector missed any material problems, then you may be able to recover from the sellers or inspector or their insurance carriers.

I too had buyers remorse for a year or so after we bought our old house. Like you I had always dreamed of living in an old house and when the opportunity presented itself we went for it. We moved from a new-to-us colonial in a residential development to a quiet street with just a few homes in the same town. We gave up a family room, finished basement, deck, pool, generously sized bedrooms, etc.

Our new old house was in pretty good shape, but our DD was born the week we moved in and after DH and I both took unpaid family leave we didn't have much extra cash to do anything with the house. The house had to be painted and that took whatever cash we had left after the closing. The POs also left the basement and barn full of junk and rather than fight with them over it after we moved in, DH rented a dumpster and we cleaned it out ourselves. The kicker was when we got home from vacation and discovered that the bathroom ceiling had collapsed. The PO had installed a shingled roof on the back of the house but the pitch was too shallow and rain penetrated the shingles and leaked into the ceiling. Our insurance company did pay for those repairs, but we still bore the cost of the deductible.

It took a year and half or so, but I finally started to bond with my house and now 12 years later, I know that we made the right decision. We've since added a family room addition, installed a pool, and finished a bonus room in the barn. Of course we have also corrected the POs dangerous electrical updates, replaced the cast iron waste pipe that blew out, the boiler and hot water heater and the kitchen floor. We've learned to live with gurgling drains because the PO never installed the proper vents, settled for a small frig because the PO installed the kitchen cabinetry based on an outdated refrigerator size. The list goes on and on and it never really ends.

Over time you add your own personal touches to the house, repair or replace what was done wrong or badly by POs and at some point you begin to realize that there is no place else you would rather live. I hope the same holds true for you.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Clover,
Hi. 1913 Bungalow here. I'm so sorry you are hating your house right now. You love old houses and saved for your dream old home... but sometimes, in the slog of practical reality it is hard to keep that dream alive in your heart. I know how you feel. It sounds like your property is idyllic and it is the first day of spring. Do something outside with BF and get out of the house.

I hate money. I've always felt that way because there is never enough of it. I love my old house. I grew up in tract houses mostly and always wanted an old home. My dad, who was a highly capable handyman type, tried to warn me about all the work old houses require, but I wouldn't listen. We bought this home that has been in my husband's family for three generations now - so we did have a good idea going in what was in good repair and what was not. But some things, you just never know. For instance, a few years after we purchased it, our WWI era sewer pipe outside collapsed. DH, always wanting to do things the best way if you have to do them, convinced me that we needed to put all of our utilities underground when replacing the sewer pipe. The sewer, gas, electric, phone all went out to the alley in that direction, anyway. So, this was our first "infrastructure" project and it took a trench you could ride a bicycle through dug in our back yard! $12,000 dollars that we didn't have later, we were done. We did get a nice driveway out of it, though. Borrowed from our 401(k) and paid it back pretty fast. But, YUCK! For years after that, everything seemed to be "infrastructure" (or what we have humorously called "socks and underwear" - you have to have it, but nobody sees it!) New wiring (which, by the way, you do not have to do all at once), new plumbing, new roof, repairing windows, taking out a chimney, asbestos removal, new furnace, repairing plaster and finally, about 10 years after we purchased the house, we got to do some things like updating the bath and kitchen. We've saved, we've borrowed, we are saving again... and just when I thought I had saved enough to finish my upstairs master suite (that has been a construction site for about 5 years) - the garage needs a new roof! Leaking like a sieve!

Don't despair. We've all been there and you have good company here. As others have said, deep breath, and sometimes you need to walk away from a project that is overwhelming you. I agree... garden!

Would I trade my home for any other? No way. They'll have to carry me out feet first, if I have my druthers. Sometimes I wonder what I'll dream about when the house is "done" (well, it'll never be done, but I can see the end of the big projects now). I've been reading a fun book about ghost stories lately, and DH and I can really relate to the idea of a home as sheltering generations of families, each leaving their imprint on the spirit of the place. I sometimes feel that the house has an "appreciation" for all the good work we've done restoring it. I know that sounds odd, but I've always been an anthropomorphist. We hope our home stays in the family for another generation, even though we don't have children of our own. Maybe one of the nieces or nephews will have the temperament to love an old home.

Hang in there, Clover, and keep dreaming. IMHO, dreaming is one of the best, hopeful, things you can do in life.
Cheers,
-Kim


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

As I sit here reading this, I swear to you, flakes of paint drifted off the ceiling above me onto my laptop!

Anyway, oh my gosh, YES!! I've been to this emotional layover, and recently too. You've already gotten all the good advice I could give you, and from some of the same people who held my hand and heart a couple of months ago. The only thing I'll add is find the things you love, no matter how small, and list them in your head when needed. I have a list going in my head constantly, like: "why oh why did we buy this house!?!?" response in my head: "because it's a GREAT neighborhood and near a park and x and y and z". It helps. Most of the time ;)

I just bought the Working Windows book used on Amazon and will be attempting my first window this summer. We also have old windows and no insulation. It was a very cold winter - lots of blankets are thrown around. We recently had an energy audit to help prioritize and 1 of the tips we were given was about the plastic you can put over your windows in winter. Do I hate that junk? Yes, of course I do, but I can't imagine what the bills would've been like without it! They said: 1. Don't skimp - get the 3M or comparable stuff. Skip Frost King and the junk sold at Big Orange (wish I'd known that BEFORE winter started!). After you put the tape on, before the plastic, run the hairdryer over the tape a little to get a good seal of the tape to the frame/wall/whatever you are sticking it to. Our windows will take a long time to restore, and we aren't even close to affording new storms, so plastic it will be every winter for us. I have also been known to hang blankets over the windows when I couldn't afford insulated drapes (buy them used at Goodwill), and roll up towels to stuff against the windows on the ledges. Every little bit helps. Nicer weather is coming soon and that will help too =D


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I agree that you need to take a break for awhile. It does get overwhelming and it's ok to take a break. Then get a good contractor/house nut friend to walk through the house with you and help you with a 1-2 year plan. What is the most critical to do? Are there a few quick fixes, such as painting and buying new drapes that you can do in 6 months to give yourself a boost without breaking the bank? If you lay it out in a plan you can stop worrying about some of it. The roof won't fall in ---hopefully -- and you can control when you do what. Also, don't replace nice old wood windows if you can fix them.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I get tired of having to work on my house, often think back to my apartment living days and how wonderful it really was. Other times I really enjoy working on things. I regret replacing my windows. Once I did I then saw an episode of This Old House where they showed how to rejuvenate old windows and make them weather tight. I kicked myself many times over this.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

You've gotten some good cheering up, but it's great to see this thread, because I think living in old houses you need a pick me up once in awhile.

We bought our house three months ago. The PO's lived here for 60 years, and as they aged, so did the house. We've replaced the roof, which was leaking into the house through the walls and spreading mold all around, we've cut down trees, that were encouraging squirels to chew through our lovely woodwork and make their own homes in our house. I thought that the only pitter patter of feet that I would hear would be from my own children, but again today, I heard the pitter patter of squirel feet- ugh.

I think that the disheartening thing that all old home owners go through at some point is that when we bought or moved into our house, we saw the potential. You buy the house knowing there is work, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We weren't at all unrealistic about time or work, but when you go from moving to living in a work zone with no concievable end in sight, it gets depressing. Right before hearing that pitter pater, I was walking through each room in our house realizing that every room needs something done to it. In some cases, cosmetic, in many others, more than that. It's kind of depressing looking at the terrible 80's wallpaper in my room and knowing that I'll be living with it for another 5 years because there are so many other things to do.

My only real therapy is driving by or through new developments. Then, I feel lucky to have my empty attic room that needs the insulation torn out because it's filled with mold, lucky to have the bathroom floor that probably needs to be replaced to the studs because our clawfoot tub is sloping slightly. Even lucky to have my yucky wallpaper. It's a tough choice, but an important one- all of us are preserving history through hard work and love. Thanks for doing that Clover, and all here!


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I have to tell you, you're singing my song.

I had to laugh reading your post, not laughing AT you, but laughing with you, because that's really what you need to do to keep your sanity.

I finally reached a point and had to admit to myself that money isn't everything, material things aren't important in life, debt is a fact of life, and the only thing that matters is there's food on the table and a roof overhead, even if the roof is caving in. LOL.

First timers here, knew it was a fixer upper, but didn't realize HOW MUCH work would actually be involved. UGHHHH. Talk about ignorant. Every realtors dream, right?

Yes, my body aches at times when I go to bed from all the labor, I get little quality time with my husband, I didn't see the sun the first summer, the second summer I ran outside whenever I could, which wasn't very often, by the third summer I caught on as to why my husband preferred yard work over house work, and said screw the house projects and spent the rest of the season landscaping my yard and adding a patio. My regret is that I didn't do that the first year. You need a place in or around your home that you can call serenity. You need something to associate positive thoughts with your house, and this was my thing. Yeah, winters really suck. I'm dying for warmer weather.

If you aren't into gardening, I'd recommend trying it, even if you have a brown thumb like me, it's VERY therapeutic. Find SOME hobby that doesn't involve indoor house projects.

We remodeled our kitchen, a project that was supposed to take several months, turned out to be a year without a stove. Can you imagine eating out, every day for practically every meal for an entire year? Our foodstuffs were on picnic tables in the dining room. It wasn't worth unpacking our belongings because there was so much dust around our house from all the work that was being done and that still needed to be done. I even had contractors commenting on the dust bunnies rolling around my floors. Yeah right, like I have time to clean in this insanity. I can't even get a vacume cleaner from one end of the room to another! I can't tell you how many times I was late for work because I couldn't find my keys. And if you knew me, I'm actually an organized person.

There's only so much you can do, only so much time to do it, and only so much money to spend. I love working on the house, but it stops being fun when money starts being the main issue. My parents always taught me, repairs come first, decorating comes last. I say now, where does cleaning the house fall in this list of priorities, because let me tell you, it doesn't fit. LOL. Did I tell you I have pets? ...dogs, cats and dust bunnies.

I knew our home had potential, and after 5 years we are FINALLY now starting to decorate, but it's not much. I still have rooms with half painted woodwork, the other half stripped off. We had to refinish all the hardwood floors, remove all dog-peed carpeting from previous owners, new roof, gutters, painting a garage that had holes in it and paint peeling to the point that the majority of the garage was missing paint. I'll never scrape a garage again. Next time siding is going up.

I have to-do lists saved on my computer that haven't changed (I was laughing the other day showing my husband a list from four years ago!) I literally could only remove one or two items from this list. In four years. And we work on things every chance we get, but the list never gets smaller. It grows and grows the more you get to know your home. I still have a strip of wallpaper that was never removed in my hall between two trim pieces. Every time I walk past, I think, I'll have to remove that someday....someday! Today, it's not important.

I found so many buried garden tools, bricks, rugs in my yard it was like someone came in and just threw soil on top of everything. Hideous. I can't tell you how many times we've commented about the previous owners, "what were they thinking?"

This is just the icing on the cake, but you get the story. In the middle of this, of course, the furnace goes...then the hot water heater...then the car needs unexpected repairs...then there's a step crack in the basement that leaks...then you find carpenter ants in the attic...it's always something, and I used to pride myself on having a substantial savings account. No sense in living in the past, right?

BTW - I've been asking my hubby if we should buy a wood stove to save on heating costs. LOL

We argued with eachother and grinded on eachothers nerves the first few years (and yes, this is the first few years of our marriage which is SUPPOSED to be the honeymoon years, right?), until we reached a point and asked ourselves, what's the rush? We'll get it done when we get it done and won't go broke in the process. Let's enjoy life while we still can.

Have you considered a home equity loan? Pay off your bills, and use this money for priority repairs. Spend money on cosmetic stuff as you have it.

There are times that we regret buying our home, and other times we appreciate the character that comes with it, and the fact that as time goes on you can call it your own because of your sweat equity, it makes it worth the while.

If you aren't too far into it, try to sell it if it's feasible. We are so far in, we'd lose money now if we had to sell, so we're here for the long term.

You know what makes me feel better? Looking at before and after pictures. It gives me a good sense of accomplishment, to see what I've created, and makes it worthwhile. I love my home, I love what we've done to it. And when people come over and see the differences we've made, it makes us feel good. It's a long haul, but you'll get by. Put the cosmetic stuff aside, focus on what needs to be done now, and like I said earlier, do the cosmetic stuff after you've built up your savings again. Sacrifices need to be made, but it'll pay off.

Good luck. Hang in there. You aren't alone!

-Madness in Wisconsin


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Yes. I have sobbed hysterically over it, kicked it, cursed it and complained about it. But I've also nurtured it, defended it, cleaned, loved and cared for it... And 4 years and 150K later, I can finally look it in the (very carefully restored) eyes and say, "I win. I own YOU now."


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

This is a great thread. It sounds like we have ALL been there, to some extent.

I just really wanted to echo the advice to just flat-out take a break. It is SUCH a morale booster to just leave all that mess behind and goof off for awhile. Also though, I find that I start getting antsy if we haven't done a project in awhile. It helps to do something that is really gratifying for me to the house, even if it is something simple. Just to feel like you are making some progress, even if you are too busy to tackle a really big project.

And, I have been in my old house for three years now, and I am so glad that Molly and others gave the advice to not rush into everything all at once. Thank goodness we didn't have the cash to make a bunch of changes at once, I know for a fact that we would have done things I really would regret now.

Thank goodness we have this support group to remind us that it's all worth it.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I would really love to see photos of all your "money pits"! Anyone?


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Here's mine in an incredibly unusual 5 inch Louisiana snow in December!

Photobucket


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

My present house is one of the newest I have ever lived in.
The main portion was built in 1930

I 'lived' in a couple of 1950s houses while renovating, but never intended to stay in them and had other older houses while working on them.

I have renovated town houses in Alexandria, VA that date to before 1770.

The biggest problems seem to arise from shoddy work performed by folks trying to 'get by' for the lowest dollar.
They leave even more problems behind than they started with.

I have seen huge timber framing members (14x14) chain sawed to get a 4 inch plumbing drain through.
When the ceiling then cracked, they built installed jack columns, then built a 'wet wall' to conceal the posts.
An attempt to fix a problem that should never have happened.

I have seen more crazy wiring than you can shake a stick at.
Single conductors fished to feed an outlet than then picked up a neutral from a separate circuit (using another single conductor).

Plumbing vents that simply ended in concealed spaces.
No wonder the house seemed to smell bad all the time.

If you have an old house, prize it for what it is.
OLD.

Plaster walls.
Joists that measure 2 inches thick and have saw mill blade marks on them.
Floors with tight old grain that cannot be obtained now, even from the river salvage folks.

I have reworked double hung windows with new seals.
I am willing to remove sash weight and insulate the cavities, then put in spring counterbalances (Pullman Manufacturing).
Most of the insulation value comes from the better seals on newer windows, not the actual double layer glass.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I love my house that was built in the early 1900's. I even enjoy working on repairing the many things that I want to change in my home.

But what I absolutely hate are the mice that find their way into our home. No matter what we do we can not get rid of them.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I read and re-read each one of your comments, and I want to say I feel so totally blessed to have each one of you share your thoughts and advice. I don't feel so alone now. And I've taken your advice on taking a break. It has helped me so much!

And, yes, I love to garden! So, that will be my focus this summer. I even already started tackling the brush and weed garden in back of the house, and instantly felt better as I got to see the soil underneath.

Also, we had a huge pile of rocks in the meadow, not too far from the house. We always wondered what it was covering. So, last weekend, we removed each rock and discovered the original artisan well that is about 80 feet deep. Our neighbor came over to help my BF move a huge flat granite piece over it, and while they were moving the dirt, we found a brass nozzle with an engraving on it. I ran inside to find out on the internet what it could be. Turns out, it is a trombone mouthpiece from the 1920's!

Just seeing this, and imagining that at some point there must have been a big old band playing in the meadow back in the 1930's made my day.

So, I'm trying to focus on the little things that make this house so special. I still have a very bi-polar relationship with it, but at least I have some good advice from you all to deal with it better.

I'm going to take the advice given here, especially the one on saving up for the major repairs first, then big cosmetics last.

One of the big issues that bother us the most is the fact that we have well water that is highly acidic and corrosive to our pipes. It is so acidic that it is leaching the copper from the copper pipes into our water. My hair turns so blue that I have to have the copper removed from it every 4 weeks (I have brown hair with blondish highlights) and it was so bad that my friends and family thought I suddenly got really into punk-rock and was highlighting my hair blue! Our skin feels like crap after showing. Every month I have a blue-green tub and sink in the bathroom that we have to scrub like crazy to remove. And forget about the dishwasher. All dishes all come out needing a quick rinse and wipe down before putting away. Washing the hardwood floors with this water leaves a cloudy film. That is the thing that depresses us the most. We thought living out in the country, we'd have crystal clear and exceptional water. How wrong we were. But it can be fixed.

So, we got prices on getting an acidic water neutralizer and water softener. It will come to the tune of $6K, which we don't have at the moment, but that is the first thing we will get done once we have the money. I am considering a home equity loan. In the very least going through all this with an old home, we want to feel clean when we bath.

I will keep everyone posted here. It is a great joy to be able to connect with old house lovers and their trials and tribulations. It has undoubtedly given me the inspiration to carry on. Thank you all!!! :)


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

This is probably one of the best threads I have read. I love the great advise that everyone has given. I feel that way about my house about every other week and am so broke I can't imagine getting to the decorating part. I do have an idea. Being broke makes you think of ways to get things done (right) with out spending a pile. Look for recycling centers, salvage stores, second hand shops and flea markets. I have learned that nothing beats an incredible find (unless its free, but I will cover that soon) that gives your spirit a lift. And just in case you haven't tried this- Log onto a website called freecycle. You may not get the stuff you need for the house, but you may. You would be amazed at the old doors, hardware, cabinets, dressers, rugs, curtain, etc, etc,etc.... that people throw away. Join up, keep some stuff out of the landfill and get stuff for free. When your broke, the last part really helps. Good Luck and hang in there.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

This is such an excellent thread, I just couldn't help but resurrect it. :)

We've taken MANY breaks in our quest to rehab our old house. We've milked our cash cow dry MANY times. And still we aren't through. 6 years and counting..not a long time by some standards, but living with only half a kitchen for 5 of those years makes it seem like an extremely long time. ;)

ITA that you shouldn't rush your rehab. We did, only to end up remodeling the remodel because the rooms didn't make us happy (I've painted almost all of them twice and one three times..the bathroom and the kitchen are both on rehab round two). No, it isn't easy living with constant projects surrounding you day in and day out. What makes it worth it all is finally seeing results...makes all those missed vacations and all that money gone literally down the drain worth it all when you can look back in awe and say, 'just look at it now!' :)

Even after all this time, we still find nasty surprises leftover from the POs. As I'm typing this, my husband is repairing a section of rotten flooring we discovered when we tore out our kitchen sink base during our latest kitchen rehab...you really have to laugh at some of the things POs do/don't do to their homes, otherwise you'd be crying ALOT. I really hope, clover, that you are in a good place with your home and that the work is proceeding well. In the end, it really is worth it all to look at your home and be able to say, 'I did that' with pride.

And yes, I have ALOT of gardens...took my frustration out on the dirt. ;)


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Ah yes... I wouldn't call it hate exactly, more like bitter disappointment. I tend to see w/ rose colored glasses, being somewhat creative I see "what could be" a lot more than "what really is." What I'm coming up against that hurts way more than the unexpected costs is just that no matter how much I pour into this house it is never ever going to be the beautiful pristine house that I envisioned and that it was 100 yrs ago before it was divided into a two flat & many decades of idiot slumlord neglect and abuse happened to it. It can't be altered back into a single family house without spending way more than is wise given its location - nor do I want to - being a single woman I chose it so I could have rental income.

Yeah, I'm getting it to where it's liveable and it does have at good bit of its original charm... potential renters always love it, usually get so many applicants I can pick & choose.... but so many of the original features - big massive stpme pillar posts on the porch, original kitchen cupboards, etc. are LONG GONE and it is really painful sometimes to look at it and know how it was and how they just chopped the s*** out of it for no reason than they wanted to wring every cent out of the place they possible could. The first floor in particular has a lot of cut and paste were they reconfigured the layout a bit without much care or skill in putting it back together. Every day I curse at those cheap cheesy b******s. (Excuse the salty language here.)

Anyway I was going to suggest to the OP that maybe you were once ignorant, but now you're not. Comeon, admit it-you've learned a lot, haven't you? Maybe it is time to rethink what you want, using your new knowledge. Assess what your capabilities are, maybe find something that doesn't need as much work. AND.... start lining up some good inspectors in case you need one! Be sure to get one who loves old houses and has had experience - you can tell by chatting with him/her for a while. Cross off anyone who doesn't want to chat with you a while. Someone who truly, honestly loves old houses is going to want to talk about them! They will be able to give you good ball park numbers and different scenarios about how repairs could be done.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I couldn't agree more that with what Kasha Kat said about chatting with people for a while to see what they know about fixing old houses. People who know what they're doing just naturally want to talk about it, and those who don't try to change the subject or quit while they're ahead. If he or she convinces you they've been through it before, only then give them consideration because experience is paramount in this subset of the industry. Just because you know how tear down a wall and hook up a nail gun doesn't qualify you to update an old house.

What excites me most about old houses are the things brickeye mentioned - old materials. No matter how much the PO's taste was all in their mouth, or their judgement was questionable, they invariably leave behind lumber that is far superior to anything commonly available today. It's a joy to work with even if it does take some time and effort to salvage it and put it to new use. Of course, recycling old materials is generally outside the realm of for-profit contractors, but for those with the time to invest, it's just another reason that "old" is better than "new".

And by the way, for those lamenting the beauty that has been "chopped up" by PO's ill advised renovations, be consoled that at least you have some semblance of the inherent beauty of traditional architecture. What's really sad are the many examples of houses built in more recent times that have been "butt ugly" since the day they were built! Just drive around your town looking closely at the homes with a critical eye and come up with a percentage of homes that could even compete with your old house for a sense of comfort and charm just to look at. Pretty darn low, I imagine.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

I'm rehabbing a 100 year old "transitional" Victorian/Arts and Crafts home, and I appreciate this thread!

bigshoes, I couldn't help but respond to your post about mice. Have you tried the low-tech approach? Get a cat! I'm serious about this--my old house had a mouse problem until I moved in with two cats. Problem solved. It is not that my urban cats would know anything about catching and eating mice, but their very presence completely stops the critters.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

This is year 19 in our old house. We've put on a roof, re-wired, re-plumbed, put in a new well, new deck, etc., etc. We are working on a new bathroom upstairs but the two old ones had been inoperable for four solid years.

I know what everyone here is saying. There is the good, the bad and the ugly side of owning an old home. If I had the money to hire everything and just do it all at once, it would be one thing. But we scrimp and save an throw money at this black hole of a place we call home.

It seems like there is always something more we need to do. Oy. Here's a link to our album, excluding the new bathroom progress photos. If you want to see this year-long project, just let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our house photos


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

marita, I want to see pictures of your house! I have a circa 1900 millworker's house (meaning tiny and plain) that's clearly straddling the line between Victorian and A&C. The floorplan and massing are very much local vernacular Victorian but the moldings, porch, etc. could have been yanked from an early bungalow and transplanted here. I have pretty much no interior pictures except for before we moved in because it's still in a disaster state.

More often than not I hate my house, so I'm right there with y'all. There is SO much work that needs to be done that it's really discouraging, especially since we don't have the money to do it or the skills to DIY it although we're slowly trying to develop them. Hard because we have no one to teach us. Not even cosmetics, I'm talking about structural, insulation, electrical, disintegrating kitchen and bathroom, that kind of thing, before getting to the insane amount of cosmetics. We bought it from a flipper who put some lipstick on a real pig - we learned after we bought it that it had been a badly-neglected rental for decades, it was "THAT house" on our street - and we're stuck fixing all his band-aids that our highly-touted-but-daft inspector missed as well as his cheapie "updates" that are already falling apart. We bought the best thing we could afford having been led to believe by the inspector-twit it was in much better condition than it really was, and then lost over 20% of the property value in less than 2 years, so now there's no equity to draw against as planned to pay for repairs. Value is expected to drop even further as 4 houses within 500 yards are abandoned and a 5th is expected to go shortly, but I'm just trying not to think about it. We couldn't be more stuck if we'd been dipped in superglue.

When I look at the long, long list of things that need to be done I sometimes wonder just why we didn't rent a condo. *wry grin* We've been taking breaks from doing projects (mostly forced to by a month of really, really bad weather!) but that just seems to make me more discouraged.

I'm still trying to find things to love about it after almost two years here. If I squint so I don't see the leprous paint I like the big chunky interior moldings. About half the house has plaster walls which are quite nice, although I need to squint at those too. Floorplan's pretty decent. Wide pine floors in the downstairs. Two nifty Eastlake exterior doors, although one's down cellar and both need fairly extensive restoration.

What really makes me sick is that I know of an Eastlake Victorian for sale not too far away, built about 10 years before mine but is in MUUUUUCH better shape and 50% larger, but is priced at a good bit less than we paid for this one. Waaah! Untouched mouldings, un-wrecked floors, original stained glass windows, built-ins galore, double parlor, gorgeous staircase, 2 1/2 bathrooms loaded with original details, almost no drywall, perfect exterior, lots of new "socks and underwear"... if we could unload this place and break even (downright impossible in this market) we'd probably be thinking really, really hard about moving again!


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Thought I'd add onto the thread again, as I see it's still going. Yes, it helps to hear other people's trials with renovating. One thing to add-- it helps to stop now and then and do a quick decorating project even if it means painting a room that needs some plaster repair (without doing the repair...I know, horrible, but sometimes if the repair would take 4 days...let it go, clean it up, paint it and go back to it in a year). I've done a lot of draping fabric over curtain rods, sewing the ends and calling it a day -- looks better than when you started and it might take a few hours. Hang a few pictures even if the room isn't ready yet. It helps!


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

We have lived in our 1913 Foursquare for over 7 years now. I have definately had a love/hate relationship. When people ask, what are you doing this weekend, I just want to smack them. What do you think? WORKING ON THE HOUSE. It's ALWAYS something. There's also the question, why don't you just hire someone? Sure, we could hire someone to remodel the kitchen. But what about the roof? and the siding? and the deck? and the bathroom? and the floors, walls, attic, basement, on and on and on. If you hire someone to repair everything, then you've put way more money into the house then you'll EVER get back. It gets overwhelming at times. I seriously don't know what I'd do with my free time if I didn't have this house to work on.

I really resented it until one day, a few years ago my kids told me I could never sell it. That they loved this house and one day I would have to sell it to them. I was shocked. THIS house? The one we slave over and that is constantly in chaos? The same house that tells you it's NOT okay to invite your friends over, until the deck is rebuilt, b/c it's too dangerous for guests. THIS HOUSE? And that made me really rethink it.

The house is huge. The house has 8inch tall baseboards and working pocket doors. The house has 2 acres of wooded yard and allows them to do what they like in the yard. This house isn't so new that they have to worry about denting the floor. But it's much nicer than the smaller ranches that some of their friends live in. The basement was remodeled for the three boys and their friends. They have sleepovers there (with extra insulation, so I can't hear them!). If they want to change their room, or we need to add something, we just knocked down a wall, or build it in. Can you really do that in a new house? This house has sucked us dry, financially and emotionally. But it also has made us rely on ourselves even more. We find out how to fix things and we teach our kids that you do NOT have to be dependant on others to get things done. In the end, it has been worth it. And with at least another 2 years (hahahahaha, isn't that funny) worth of work on the house, we will continue on.

What also made me feel better was watching my friends and family with their NEW houses. I have already see two people who built houses within the last 7 years need to replace ALL of the windows in those houses. Really. Also the furnaces. One friend needed to replace the exterior doors in his 5 year old house, built in an expensive neighborhood. PLUS, the siding. Just b/c it is new doesn't mean it's done right. Watch 'Holmes on Homes' on HGTV. BIG eye opener.

Sometimes, you forget how your house looks nice. I find that it's good to take pictures and look at them on the computer. When you're walking into your living room every day for a month and only see the floors that need refinished, you miss the antique fireplace mantel you bought and installed and the stone tile you added. The walls you redid and the built ins. When I take a picture and look at it, I see the beauty of the ROOM, not the damage to the floor. Also, it's good to compare the new pictures to the old ones. Were there really hearts on the country blue wallpaper? hahahaha

Lastly, dealing with the PO's previous mistakes are always What were they thinking? Just when we thought we got all of them corrected, we take down the deck to find they didn't use flashing on the ledger board. Sigh. I always worry that once I remove every last trace of the 80's, it will be time to remove every last trace of this decade. :)

Sorry to go on and on, but I just found this forum and I'm glad there are people here that are just like me. Working on their old home, loving it and hating it. I wonder if everyone has lists for every room, if by the time you get to that list for a room you change your mind, if you have more than 4 projects going on at a time and if you think you'll be done by the time your youngest time graduates high school. If your idea of a great Sunday afternoon is going to Menards/Home Depot/Lowes and shopping. If the guy from the local wine/coffee shop knows your name very well (coffee in the morning/wine at the end of the day)and his first question is what are you working on now? If your friends/family come to you first when they get bids from their contractors, to see what the materials would cost vs labor, because why in the world would they put in a new door by themselves, let alone go on the hunt across the internet and two states to find the perfect 100 year old door for their house, then build it into the opening?

Is this a disease?


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Oh yes, definitely a disease! And I just keep getting worse! This weekend I ripped up a little bit of carpet, just to see. LOL It was so exciting, and way more fun then the cleaning I was supposed to be doing (though some of that did get done too).


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Welcome, Ohio 1913! Loved reading your post.
Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Yes, we have lists (if only mental) for every room and by the time we get to it, our ideas have changed.
Yes, we've had 4 projects going on at once and (although we don't have kids) we wonder if we'll be finished in time to enjoy it before we have to move to the old folks home!
Yes, the coffee people know us by name and I've been such a regular at the paint store I have a contractor's account and have seen their staff turn over at least once!
Yes, we've found salvage doors and hauled them 200 miles home because they were a perfect match for the powder room and ordered storm windows from half-way across the country (Ohio to Colorado!) when others would've replaced the window!
You've definitely found like-minded company here. And, I'm so glad your children value your home the way you do. Stay in touch with us.
Cheers!
-Kim


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

After living for 10 years in our beautiful new lake home, we sold and bought a 100 year old house. While I love the character of this old house, I can see that there will be never ending projects and renovations that can or need to be done. We have installed new hardwood throughout the first floor, but due to former renovations not being done properly, we have a few slopes on our floor, here and there! -- Sooooo, sometimes I long for a brand new house again.

This house has very little storage, so we are working on building more shelves, bookcases, etc. The nice big eight sided (we have a turret) master bedroom, has one small closet, only big enough for my husbands clothes, so I have claimed the small walk-in closet in the guest room. The third bedroom upstairs had been turned into one big bathroom, which is very nice, but I have had to cram my office into the small room, which was once the bathroom.
However, with my new desk and storage unit, everything is fitting quite well now.

I could go on, but, --- Yes, I too, have a love hate relationship with this old house!


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Doesn't everyone have a love/hate relationship with their old houses?

This was our house when we bought it Thanksgiving 2004.
p06s

We didn't even bother with an inspection....having rented a similar house just around the corner, we knew it had knob and tube wiring, ancient plumbing, a leaky roof and a foundation that needed stabilizing at least. So we've had no real surprises, except at our own stupidity at hiring bad contractors. Now, we did also consider how much money we had to cover the big things when we made the offer, so we've had that going for us. Of course, we've gone well over that but just put things on hold until we can do them. Except the roof, we had to take out an additional loan on that, as that could no longer be put off until we saved enough. Fortunately the interest rate was fairly low (3.9%).

For more recent photos, see my blog in the attached link....as you'll find, it's still VERY much a work in progress. It's a labor of love and a labor of everything-but-love. I second the recommendation for when it gets too much, STOP. We worked like crazy for the first year - initially going over daily after work and 10+ hours on weekends until we moved in (toilet was hooked up that day, that was our main priority for move in) and then a similar schedule for the rest of the year. We backed off a little here and there as the rest of our life got in the way. At least once a year we go on a big push to complete a new project (e.g. my daughter's bedroom so she could finally move out of our room at 2.5 yrs old). That took 6 months. Then we took a 'break' - by that I mean we did little projects, worked on the porch (got a grant for about 75% of that), focused on landscaping, built a playhouse and some shelves ;) Meanwhile, another 50% of our house still needs work. It's all livable/usable, but in nowhere near it's final state (raw wood on floors, sheetrock up but not tape and float, windows not restored/not usable....)

It sometimes puts us on edge and at each other's throats. But then we take a break. Go do something fun, non-house related. and rejuvenate ourselves.

And start all over.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Money Pit


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Ah, the 'just to sees'. I have done that quite a bit. Ripped up carpet (found mold in the padding, so that one turned into an all nighter to remove all the carpet in the house!), knocked off plaster wondering if there was a fireplace but just found a chimney (so hubby had to fix it ), started knocking down walls, etc. It usually happens when you're sitting there by yourself going, I wonder....

Thanks for the warm welcome kimkitchy! It's nice to hear stories and know I'm not alone. And to feel better...cjra, your house was a bigger project than ours - you have guts. :) No guts, no glory!

We've gotten ALMOST past the 'don't come over, it's too dangerous' phase. The deck should be the last of it. After that, it will be mostly cosmetic or in areas with no traffic, like attic windows, basement remodeling and refinishing woodwork. But it's worth it.


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RE: Anyone Have A Love/Hate Relationship with their Old House?

Ohio1913, you wrote so eloquently!

I definitely understand exactly where you are coming from. We just took the caution tape off our porch recently (in reality, it should be there, as there's a banister missing, but there's no longer a fear of falling through the floor suddenly). We put off having a party for the longest time because "we want the house to be done." Then it was "we just want the house to be safe." Then it became "we'll just warn people about the unsafe places and keep an eye on their kids."

We don't have too many "just to sees" because we stripped nearly everything down to start with. However, we do have a chimney hidden in a wall and wondering what's really there. It happened to be the ONE wall in the house in good shape, so we suppressed our urges and didn't look....

I too frequently look at the old pictures. Whenever I feel like we're making progress at a snail's pace, I just look at the pictures of when we bought it and feel better. When we're finally in a 'done' (which is really a 90% done) stage, we'll print out before and after pics and hang them on the wall, for everyone to see. Our neighborhood has a lot of other houses like ours, so everyone's in the same boat, but some of the newer comers who bought already restored houses don't fully appreciate the progress.

On a related note, when we were first looking for a house, we had a more limited view of what we could do with a fixer-upper. We often said that if we had seen this house first, we never would have made an offer. But after seeing so many houses over a year of looking and getting a better sense of what needed to be done, we felt we could do so much more. Now, having bought it and worked on it for years, we say we'd never do it again.....


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