Not everyone is entering 2014 with life going along just hunky dory. And, for those who feel that their problems are overwhelming right now, I'm sharing the story of the renovation of my sister's little cottage. I asked her if she minded if I explained a little bit about how she came to buy the house and assured her I would use discretion and tell as little as possible; just enough have it all make sense. My goal was to show that any house can become a home, without spending a great deal of money. Even when it seems it never will, life can get better.
She said, "If you think it may help someone, tell it all". That was very courageous of her and I thank her for it.
This is the house when she bought it. It's not a beauty and a little overgrown. ~
For all that, it was still an answer to a prayer for her. A decade before, her husband had been injured at work. He was on sick leave for awhile and it ran out. He went on long term disability and that ran out. Their only income was what my sister brought in from her job as manager of a real estate office. His benefits were cancelled and his drug bill per month was more than she earned. While they fought their way through the system, debts began to mount. They were sinking fast.
With little left in the way of emotional or physical reserves, they had the ultimate nightmare happen. Their son was killed in a senseless shooting at a party. Life had literally collapsed around them.
They sold their home for just enough to pay their debts and moved in with my parents. It was intended to be a temporary situation. My sister stayed on in her job for a couple of years, until the stress became too much to handle. My brother in law lost his claim and was left with a small disability pension to live on. My dad died of cancer, Mom developed Alzheimer's and had to go into a nursing home. My parent's house had to be sold and my sister had to find a home where she could have her pets and that was affordable on a very small income.
A friend of my mother's, a widow, wanted to sell her rental property. A single man had been living in it for a dozen years and he was moving out. She named an amount that was insanely low. Knowing they couldn't qualify for a mortgage, my sister asked if she would hold one for her and sell without a down payment. She agreed. So, the house was sold without my sister ever seeing inside. The vendor hadn't been in it since the single man moved in.
On closing day, everyone was in for a big shock!
The kitchen taps have corroded so badly, they don't function. ~
Everyone expected the place to need a little cleaning, but have you ever seen dust an inch thick on a floor where someone was living? ~
Most of the windows and doors aren't functioning anymore and it looks like the roof has been leaking. Upstairs is pretty rough, too. ~
But, the killer was the bathroom! Not the toilet nor the sink nor the bathtub worked. In short, there was no water in the house.
Yes, that is what you think it is in the toilet. There's also a whole roll of toilet paper in there. ~
Keep in mind that there is no money to renovate this place. The only answer to getting the house in a livable state was to open a Home Depot account. They were able to combine that with a little bit of credit card money and some government energy grants to offset the cost of replacing the furnace, windows and doors. The total budget would be $10,000.
Demolition began. Out came the rotten kitchen floor. ~
My sister bailed that toilet out and I helped her carry it outside. Gross! This is our baby brother starting work on the bathroom. Normally, he's and computer guy. ~
In the next post, I'll show you the how the little house looks today.
Just so no one has nightmares from what you've seen, here's a much nicer bathroom. ~
Everything had to be budget friendly and the the only tradesmen that could be hired were for furnace and window and door installation. All the rest would be DIY.
I bet you are feeling better already. You don't have to face making this house livable!