I don’t know what it is that makes me stand in the center hall of an turn-of-the-century house, knowing the back third of the foundation is currently being held up by jacks, that the back porch is quite literally in danger of falling off, and that the entire second floor joist system needs reinforced, and think… I can fix this.
Sure, the place has 16 foot ceilings on both floors, bedrooms that have more square footage than my apartment, and a room downstairs that screams to have floor-to-ceiling book shelves installed, but it also has a bathroom in what should be the butler’s pantry, walls where doors should be, and a kitchen upstairs in what, apparently was once an apartment…. And then there is the location… on the old maple-lined main street, in a neighborhood that has been placed on the National Register, a block from the town square and it’s hundred and fifty year old courthouse.
The asking price is low, in part because of the work that needs done… not quite a gut-job, but close (kitchen, bathrooms, several walls, etc. need go, second floor needs to be reinforced)… but also because the old lady who now owns the place wants to sell to someone who will bring her childhood home back in line with the rest of the neighborhood. The price is low enough, actually, to probably do $100,000 restoration and still be safely inside the margin if I had to resell within a few years.
I know I can bring the fiduciary resources to bear, but can I bring the time and patience to live in a construction zone, with a microwave, hotplate, and “hand shower,” while the contactor guts the electrical, bathrooms, and kitchen, does the structural work, and gets everything to a point where I can do the finish work?
It’s a hell of a project… and could be a hell of a house. Of course I could buy one of the smaller places in the same neighborhood that have already had the heavy lifting done. They wouldn’t quite be in the same “prominent” place in town, but still in the historic district… and more or less ready to move in.
The handwriting is pretty much on the wall that I will be moving here in the next six months and I think I have settled in on an area that could easily be home. Now I just need to stop looking at home improvement pornography and figure out what I can realistically accomplish.