• September 1, 2006

Stages With The House

And other unrealistic expectations

Restoration Diary

This month we will celebrate our 4th year in the house. What a journey this has been.

Buying The House – Are We Really Doing This?
Gee, I can’t believe we are actually going to do this. What if we want to move to another country someday, you know, like next year? Are we sure we really want to do this? 235K is a LOT of money. Oh my God, I can’t sleep.

I can’t believe we have to go through all this paperwork just to buy a house.

What happened to our house? Why does the house look so different now that we own it? It looked so much better at the open house. Why didn’t we notice that the floors are all black and the house is so dirty? Wow, just look at this place. It’s kind-of dumpy. Make that totally dumpy. I can’t breathe. I need to open a window. Oh crap, all the windows are painted shut.

First 6 months – Euphoria and Unrealistic Expectations
I can’t believe we finally have a house to call our own. I’m so happy. Oh, what a beauty it will be someday when we get it all fixed up…like in 6 months from now. Hmmmm, it does need a lot of work. Well, maybe in 8 months then. This place just needs some tender loving care.

Man, we are so busy all the time now. It is hard to stay in touch with friends and family. All this unpacking, looking at paint chips, trolling eBay for antique light fixtures, reading everything I can find on bungalows and home decorating really takes a lot of time.

How romantic that our second wedding anniversary is spent together in our own little home. I’m so lucky to have a husband who is as excited as I am about starting our very first restoration project. I love my husband. I love our house.

The Rest of the First Year – All That Glitters is not Gold
I can’t believe that David is acting so mean! Why did we even buy this house if he is going to get angry at me every time we work on it? How could I know that stripping paint would be so damn difficult? It’s not my fault that I caught the wainscoting on fire. The heat gun got super hot.

We should be able to restore the dining room in a month, six weeks tops.

2nd Year – Reality Creeps In
I can’t believe we are STILL working on the dining room. How could we have spent six months working on one room? I can’t believe I actually thought we could restore a room a month! I was so naive. We might need to get on a five year plan.

I had no idea it would be so expensive to fix up the house. How did I think we were going to be able to restore the whole house with 15K? I mean, our house needs EVERYTHING. Why does everything cost so much?

All the cashiers at Home Depot greet me by my first name. We gotta get out more. I mean to someplace fun. I can’t even remember the last time we went out to dinner or to a movie.

Wow, our house has really appreciated in value and we have only been here a year. Interest rates keep on dropping. Lets refinance and take out a Home Equity Line of Credit so we can afford to get our roof fixed and to hire some plasterers.

David started a web blog about the house for me. I’m not really sure why. I mean, what could I possibly have to say?

3rd Year – Restoration Full Steam Ahead
I can’t believe how awesome these plasterers are! They can do everything. They can strip paint, plaster, do carpentry work and so much more. I think I’m in love! With the money we got from the Home Equity Line of Credit we should be able to swing lots of work on the house. Everything is going so much better now.

All my free time is spent on the house. I’m trying to schedule the carpenter, plumbers, electricians, oversee all the work being done and balance the budget. It really upsets me when these people don’t show up or even bother to call to say they can’t make it. What other industry does business like that?

David is refusing to talk with me any more about what colors to paint the house. Just because I change my mind once or twice a day, and maybe I am being obsessive, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. I need to consider all the possibilities and all he wants to focus on is the end result.

Wow. The back porch needs to be completely ripped off and rebuilt. Our little back porch project has somehow spiraled into a full-on exterior restoration. This is crazy. I don’t think we can afford this.

Good thing interest rates are still low, but everyone says they are going to rise. Lets roll our Home Equity Line of Credit into a fixed second mortgage and take a little extra cash to finish up the work on the exterior.

It’s hard to remember how horrible our house used to be. I’m feeling really good about the house. It’s so exciting to see my vision for it coming to fruition.

4th Year – Maybe We Should Sell?
I can’t believe that we have spent all this time and money and are only half way done. I hate this house and all it’s problems. I am SO over working on the house and all things house related. I will never, ever take on a restoration project this extensive again. I must have been out of my mind!

Wow, the house across the street listed for over 600K and it needs lots of work – like our house needed lots of work when we bought it. Maybe we should sell? We could travel or move to Europe.

Hmmmm, I’m getting really bored. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to do some work on the house? It was really nice of David to clean out the back hallway so I can start restoration work upstairs.

5th yr – Who knows?

Update: 9th yr…oh, why didn’t we sell the house in year 4? :)

Comments { 8 }
  1. John

    Wow. It is just like you channelled us; you’ve got the timeline and everything perfect.

  2. Dave

    Please dont sell! Your house is YOU now. In 100 years when people start to restore the house again, they will pull up old papers an tidbits of info on the both of you, and they will try to incorporate YOU into their new house and the spirit in both of you will live on (unlesssss of coursssse you are really sssssick of the housssse) muhaahaha!

    No really guys… it looks great and Im sure you motivate many more of us out there than you can imagine. Why, im about ready to rip out my living room carpet and live with the ugly worn out hardwood until I can refinish it!

    We paid $500k for a TINY two bedroom, one bath probably within a 40 minutes of you. I can believe the SIZE of your house.. Its incredible! I would love to have an upstairs! Do you have an attic besides just the upstairs?

  3. Derek

    I guess those are typical phases one goes through. I’ve been trying to pace myself, I don’t know if I could handle some of the projects I did the first year. Our house was in livible condition when we moved in, and it’s still a lot of work, I can’t imagine starting at that level. Your blog was one of the first ones I read, I hope you continue on the house, it really is great all the work you’ve done.

  4. Jill

    I had to laugh readiing this. We bought a cape cod 10 years ago in which nothing had been updated since 1975. We had a 1-year plan, a 3-year plan, and a 5-year plan. My DH is not handy, so I handle all the handy work, hiring contractors, etc. Just FYI…a kitchen gut-and-remodel was in the 5 year plan. It is now over 10 years later and I am refacing the cabinets.

    When you start hating working on the house, take a break. You guys are young and you have time. Your house is a gem that will stand the test of time, and you’ve done so much already! You might as well enjoy what you’ve done.

  5. sandy

    I am laughing my *#$ off right now!! I haven’t read something that funny in a long time – and completely similar to my situation – down to the windows being painted shut!!! We just bought a house built in 1880 in Western NY.

    I’m just going to have to retire in mine after I rent it for several years to recoop the cost to fix up.

    Thanks for the great laught – I will have to forward that onto my husband.

  6. nicole

    That was absolutely a breath of fresh air. We are
    a young couple that in one week decided to sell our perfectly fine house and move into a 2 bed 1 bath bungalow to be restored that was way smaller and needed lots of TLC. Our seller is selling fsbo and gave us the keys while he is on his honeymoon until the closing. Tonight was the first night I had been in the house without his stuff in it. I have to say I got scared out of my mind looking around at what needed to be done. It was overwhelming. Who would of thought. I was thinking a refinish of the floors, some paint and maybe in a year or two a new kitchen. Little did I know! Thanks for helping me see the light and get a laugh. perfect timing.

  7. Dingbat

    Wow, so true. We’re still in the first six months. But we’ve definitely had a dose of “the rest of year one.”

  8. Ash

    Haha….I just found your blog, 10 years into our house in the hood and Im just about to start on the kitchen, Lucky Im pretty handy and do just about everything myself. I think the clue is in the word…CONtractors, over paid and full of bull….I should of sold in year 6 too…Good luck, its a beautiful building and keep your eyes out for the ghetto bird!

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