The Money Pit

We all remember that quirky 80’s movie with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long about a couple who buy a house that starts falling down around them, right? Right??

Well, about a year and a half ago, my husband and I bought our first home. It’s a beautiful Victorian built in 1869. It’s next to a very quiet Catholic college and it’s the last house in the historic district of the city. The previous owner was a very old man who had died about a year before we bought it. It was immediately apparent that neither he nor his children were big on updating/fixing the place up.

Despite all of that, we immediately fell in love with the house. It was the first one we looked at and, after seeing about a dozen more, we came back to it. It had everything on our list – personality, within easy walking distance to the center of town, a garage, a decent amount of land, and awesome neighbors. Even with the extra rehab loan we took out so that we could immediately put in new windows and a new roof, we got this grand dame of a house for an absolute steal.

Unfortunately, stealing things always comes with a price. As I mentioned before, the previous owner hadn’t updated/repaired anything in decades. The walls are the original lath and horsehair plaster walls, which, after 140 years are cracked and crumbling. They all need to be torn down and replaced with drywall after we put in insulation which it doesn’t have. The boiler in the furnace cracked the first time we turned it on forcing us to buy a new one. The vinyl flooring that covers all of the downstairs floors is most likely full of asbestos. Which we didn’t learn until after we’d already pulled several sheets of it up. The electrical wiring is also hopelessly outdated (there were several instances where the old knob and tube wiring was still in place). And the previous owner had used the downstairs as a dentist’s office, so there several rooms that still have extra sinks and pipes coming up through the floor where the chairs used to be.

With all of these very expensive issues that need to be taken care of, several of our friends and family members have equated our house with the house from The Money Pit. I, personally, just think they’re jealous that we have such an awesome house and they don’t. 😉

I see all of this work that needs to be done as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills and acquire some basic knowledge about how my house was built. My blood, sweat, tears, and energy will be so intertwined with the house that it will truly by MINE.

And that, honestly, will make it all worth it.


8 responses to “The Money Pit

  1. Welcome to the world of home ownership! So long as you plan to be there a while, all your financial investment and hard work will eventually pay off in spades. Congratulations, Ana. It’s a beautiful house.

  2. I’m so envious of you! (and so excited to see your house sometime!) I love watching shows about old houses and folks who fix them up. But I know (having lived in a house built in 1900s in AL) that I just don’t have the temperament for doing it myself. *laughs* I like the idea of it, but the practical reality would be too overwhelming for me.

    So I salute you ma’am! It might take a while and I’m sure there will be a lot of cursing and “what have we done?” along the way, but when it gets finished it’s going to be gorgeous!

    • *laughs* Hopefully it will be soon! 😀

      It can definitely be overwhelming, especially if I stop and think about EVERYTHING that needs to be done. But when you break it all down into smaller pieces, it’s not so bad.

  3. Been there. Done that, a couple of times. And I have had mixed results. I’m hoping, and wishing for you, the good and fun times of owning the home of your dreams.


    • Thanks, Wally. We’re giving ourselves at the very least ten years to get it to where we want it to be. Our neighbors across the street JUST finished remodeling their house to make it conform more to the Victorian esthetic and they’ve been there for almost 20 years. I’m hoping it doesn’t take us that long, but if it does, it does. 🙂

  4. Congratulations – all the sweat, tears and cursing will be worth it in the end!

  5. Ana,
    It isn’t just old Victorian homes that need a lot of work. We’ve totally remodeled our mid-century ranch, with just the bathroom to go inside and the rest of the new siding outside to be finished.
    And it’s only taken 30 years!
    Well, we’ve remodeled the kitchen and bathroom twice. So I guess we did get it almost finished. We also added two outside buildings, a garage and a cabin. But it takes a long time. And I have to paint the living room this year.
    I would love to move to a brand new house and do nothing for a few years. But your Victorian sounds so amazing.

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