These were the professional photos taken of our house for the real estate listing. I wanted to remember just how it looked in its prime state (that means perfectly clean with no kids around). This was the best we had it after 5 years. You can see how it looked when we moved in here, here, and for the most part here. Of course those posts only highlight the house. The gardens were probably the biggest visible change.
Some of the things we did in 5 years were; rip out old bushes and put in all most all new plants, dig up the back yard and put in gravel and gardens, revamp the sprinkler system. A new architectural roof with plywood sheeting. We partially tore out an obsolete chimney, and put in proper ventilation in roof. We also fixed the faulty set up with the bathroom fan. We installed a new high efficiency furnace to replace the old oil burning one, which included installing a new gas line to the house. We also got new hot water heater, and a new fancy schmancy dishwasher. We put in all new plumbing from the kitchen sink to the clean out in the basement where new plumbing had been put in to the alley before we moved in. This included jack hammering the basement floor and then putting in new concrete when we were done. We tiled the hearth around the fireplace and made it level with the wood floor again. I restored almost all the historical storm windows, as well as a complete restoration of the 4 over 4 pane historical picture window with accompanying storm. I also did a restoration of two other widows. We put in new floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and instillation of appropriate baseboards in the kitchen to replace the vinyl wrapping that was put in by the previous owner. We put in a new/old back door to match the existing doors and windows with a screen door on the back porch. We tore out a rotten deck and replaced it with a smaller new set of wooden stairs. We replaced most of the rotten basement windows and a picture window (that had been installed in the 70s in the enclosed porch that didn't open and was stained and discolored), with a widow to match the pane window on the front of the house. We rebuilt the missing medicine cabinet in the bathroom and stripped paint off the baseboards in the kids room and restored the woodwork. I refinished the wood floor in the kids room. We got the house and soil tested for lead and had all the woodwork on the outside of the house painted, and replaced some of the wood on the exterior that had been previously been damaged by ivy. I painted every room on the main floor. Hubbs tore out a bunch of cheap fiberboard paneling and drop ceiling in the basement as well as a bunch of 1x1. He also tore out a bunch of rotten framing in the basement, and disposed of it all at the dump. We took apart an old piano that was left there when we bought it and used a sledge hammer to break it apart so we could get it out. Tore out a strange door frame at the top of the stairs that didn't have a door to match, fixed the plaster on the stairs and repainted. We framed in a bathroom in the basement with existing plumbing. We insulated the belly band on the house in the basement and put up new insulation and framing in the laundry area. We painted all the trim and doors on the garage. We replaced the exterior scary aluminum electric panel from the 70's with a new one in the basement. Replaced the nob and tube wiring to the garage as well as have the entire garage re wired to modern wiring and up to code (that included digging a 12" trench to the garage through the yard). We built a picket fence around the two side yards with gates and tore out the old chain link. We had the house tested for radon, and had it looked at by a structural engineer to determine where the load bearing walls were and if the attic could be finished. I installed new 1930's reproduction light fixtures in the dining room and bedrooms. I stripped paint off of the original hardware in the kitchen. Hubs built a new hand rail for the back porch. I replaced at least 3 windows that broke while we lived there. I dug out the garage as on the backside it was buried by 3 feet from 80 years of garden debris composting down to earth. Hubs built me a clothesline. We built and tore down 2 chicken coops. Paint paint and more paint. This list is not in order, its just a haphazard remembering of our doom.
Phew. Typing up that list was exhausting. I can't believe we did all that work to the house. I feel a little sick when I read through it. I did so much of it by myself and I did it with three kids under 6. When we sold it the buyer had an issue about the air conditioner being old. I was so mad about that as I felt lucky that it even had central air. . No wonder we felt so poor all those years. No wonder I felt so overwhelmed and stressed out. I had absolutely no idea how much work that house was going to take. When we walked through it, it was the only one that was move in ready that we saw in our budget. Now that I look back it was not in our budget. I can't believe my credit came out better than when we started. No wonder I felt in over my head every single day of my life for the past 5 years. Its a miracle I am even still alive after all that stress.
Here is a list of the things we always wanted to do but didn't get to accomplish: refinish the wood floors, do some work to the chimney and bricks on exterior, re-wire the entire house as most of it is still knob and tube, finish the basement to include and egress window, bathroom, updated laundry, storage, and living area. Tile the floors in the kitchen, bath and enclosed porch. And finish the attic to be a master bedroom with a bathroom. I would look at all these blogs for inspiration and pin all this stuff on Pinterest that I was going to do to make it beautiful. I remember many nights lying in bed so excited about my dreams that I couldn't fall a sleep.
That list of stuff we wanted to do is much, much, shorter than what we did do. The lucky buyers get to do all the fun stuff of my dreams. Next time I vow to buy a house that needs less work. I am only buying something that needs aesthetic updates not an entire overhaul. I am happy I got to own an old house as I have always loved them but am not sure I will ever do it again. Now you can see why we are taking a break and renting. When we sold, everyone kept asking us if we were going to buy. We both almost yelled back NO every time. At least not right away.