It was November 1998, I had just had Dylan two and a half months earlier, Austin was 3 and a half years old. We bought our very first home. The five year plan. We got this amazing deal we just couldn’t pass up from Rich’s old neighbor, the house directly next door to Rich’s mom and dad, right next door to where Rich grew up. The house was a steal, at the time homes were going for high 200,000.00 but we got this gem for 135,000.00 out the door. I will never forgot our final walk through and I had to plug my nose and breathe through my mouth, which wasn’t too much better, I had little tears roll down my cheeks as we signed all the paperwork and Rich and Renee held my hand and assured me a little paint and lots of cleaning would make a world of difference. Their vision made it a little easier. I trusted my husband, I trusted God. It seemed the right thing to do and how stupid would I be if I passed up such a deal. We thought we may never own a home and this was our chance. We agreed we would barely fix it up and turn it around in about five years. Well here we are 14 yeas later, and a little girl added to the mix and we are still here in this house we made a home. I wanted to share with anyone who is interested some of the before and after pictures. We had a few in-betweens but this is basically the quick version, beginning to now.
Below was the front of the house, the best part about this house was the new roof, they recently added a new roof. It was the only new thing on the house. Everything else, completely original or so it seemed. In fact the day we got the keys the residence were still living in the house, that truck was stalled in the driveway and Rich had to move them out and push the truck down the street for them. Once we got them moved out the carpet was ripped out, the walls were painted all one color and cleaning began, big time cleaning. (to get an up close more detailed look, click on the picture and it will enlarge)
The back of the house was not even painted the same color so we in time painted the house with the help of lots of family and after time Rich replaced every last broken window in the house. We ordered them custom to fit the existing openings so we wouldn’t have to mess with the stucco. Just one window at a time. We after time ended up having the entire house re-stuccoed and that made a world of difference. We finally after almost 14 years built a back patio over just this past summer. We used our tax return money for lots of the improvements. And the addition you see there off the left was a refinance and well let’s just say that awesome deal of a home is now in the very high 300,00.00 with the addition and improvements we have done over the years.
Every single window in the house was broke in some way, we had no screens at all and nice big breezes came through the cracks and broken spots, but again with patience each window was replaced in time. I’m so thankful Rich is a handy guy.
Oh boy, the kitchen. Holy smokes that was a big job. After the house was fumigated we found what seemed to be hundreds of dead roaches in the cupboards. I remember my mom helping me clean them out and saying,”I just can’t eat dinner here until you get this kitchen in tip top shape” yes, it was that gross. I kept thinking of the home cooked meals that would happen here and fill the house with that home, cozy feel. We needed a new stove because the one left behind didn’t even have knobs, they used a wrench to turn it off and on. We took every door off the cupboards, each handle and cleaned them as best as we could, then we painted everything white until we could afford to remodel our kitchen. My dad convinced me we could do our kitchen for cheap and in one weekend, I believed him and we did do this entire kitchen, new cupboards, including sink, dishwasher, microwave and simple white tile for just over 3,000.00. Both our dad’s pitched into help, Rich’s brother too. We always had plenty of family help along the way. Also a huge blessing.
The front room had horrible carpet, the entire house did. Even soggy in some areas, just really horrible and I think the big culprit for much of the bad smell. We ripped it out right away and underneath were hardwood floors! We eventually re-finished the living room and hallway, (now our dining room ) floors but all the rest of our floors still need to be re-finished. In time. When we did the kitchen remodel we knocked down the wall between the living room and kitchen, I didn’t like being closed into a kitchen all by my lonesome. It made a huge difference just opening that wall.
Abbie’s room (now) which used to be lovingly called the (pee room) lots of animal pee found in the carpet there, it has been an office, a guest room, an extra hang out room and now most recently Abbie’s room. It had a terrible patch job in the ceiling from the upstairs bathroom which had a bad leak and was out of commission for at least the first three or four years we lived here. Rich took bathes for all that time, he really is a sport. We have had almost every room in the house re-textured except Dylan’s room. In time.
The down stairs bathroom had a few remodels, we always did the temporary fix, PAINT, a nice an expensive improvement until we got more money to do what we really wanted. We also added wainscoting until we got the tax return to re-tile, buy a new deep tub, re-pipe and add a shower head so it could be a shower and a bath. The picture below doesn’t show the earliest view of the bathroom, actually it shows two remodels. It came with the green shallow tub. I’m a bath taker so a deep new tub was on my dream list. We always kept it fairly in the budget by picking white tile. I have visions of fancier tile but the white is just fine for now. In time.
We couldn’t have done it alone. It really does take a village to not just raise the kids but build a home. We had friends, siblings and parents, Aunts, Uncles, etc. helping with little projects here or there. Below is Rich’s brother Mark scraping the original kitchen floor out and my friend Shauna doing the same thing. Our neighbors Bob and Lynda were always thinking of us, bringing us window coverings, and little odds and ins to make our house presentable. Even now they still give us things for our home, very generous family they are! I’m so grateful for the help we always seem to have. It makes it more affordable that way too. They all seem happy with food as payment!
Since we bought this house 14 years ago we have:
Put in a new cement driveway
New garage door
Bricked the porch
Expanded the front flower bed
Added a walkway up to the front door
Tore out three gigantic palm trees
Cut down a few trees in the back
Built a back and side fence
Replaced ever single window
Replaced every single door
Replaced every single door knob
Replaced almost every single outlet
Replaced carpet, tore out carpet to having no carpet at all
Added on 600 Sq. Feet
Put in cork floors in the kitchen and Big Room
Added central A/C
Put in a few new closet doors with mirrors
Remodeled both bathrooms
Built a back patio cover
Poured concrete back patio
Re-textured almost every wall
Remodeled the kitchen
Added plantation shutters to most of the house
Repainted the front door three times, white, black and now red
Re-painted the interior several times
Added kick boards to (almost every room)
Have dreams of crown molding
Made it possible to have a washer and dryer in the same place
Added a door to the garage so I can do laundry from garage to house without dealing with weather
Had a few gardens
And I’m certain more I’m just not remembering.
And you know what? I’m glad Rich had a vision, I’m glad we decided to bite the bullet and sign those papers and mortgage our first home. It has been a pleasure living here, watching this house become a home, living directly next door to my awesome in-laws, living 15 minutes from work, having the schools all within walking distance, also all our neighbors on all sides have become more than just neighbors but lifetime friends, our kids have grown up together, we have had endless trips and outings, July 4th block parties and so much more.
Even when one thinks it’s beyond repair, nothing can make it better, it would be too much work. Just remember, it’s never too much work, things can be fixed and it will be better if you have a vision and you act upon that vision. It may not be an overnight sensation but that’s when patience comes in. Build on patience, never give up and keep believing. Just like God never gives up on us, He keeps believing in us and we are a work in progress. Some of us are like this fixer upper, improving with time, complete transformation one step at a time until that old broken house becomes a home, a home for Christ who forgives and forgets that past broken house, He just unconditionally loves the new home if we let Him.