Aaargh! What have I done?Most people who buy old houses want to work on them. You don't buy one of these handy-man fixer-upper opportunity dream homes without planning on working on it. And, while some can afford to move out and let contractors do the job (or convince This Old House to come out) the rest of us don't have that luxury. We have to put a lot of sweat equity into the house. You buy books, you buy tools, you buy... (wait, this is supposed to cost less!.)
Anyway, you learn to plaster, to do electrical work, to hang doors, fix plumbing, sand and make moldings.
You know who Steve and Norm are (extra points for Tom Silva, and a bonus for knowing why they're rebuilding his house!)
You live with tarps over everything, toilets that don't flush, you eat off a hot plate in the coat closet, you own fifteen extension cords.
You haunt antique shops, junk yards, flea markets. You hover like a vulture over any house slated for demolition (and on occasion have been known to sneak in the night before for that matching set of doorknobs).
You learn to recognize cut nails and William Morris wallpaper patterns.
It's a curse. And while Steve and Norm make it look easy, it's a lot of hard work, a true labor of love that really never ends. There's always that one more perfect piece that you're looking for, or the slightly wavy part of the floor that you really ought to just sand out....
Frankly, if you buy one of these houses thinking that you are going to spend a few weeks working on it, and that it won't be a money pit, you're deluding yourself. If you can't (or won't) spend the time, money, and sanity to renovate an old house, don't buy one.
But fear not. There is help available. (and probably therapy, too, but I haven't looked. Just when am I going to find the time?).
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Last updated 03/05/2009