The only thing more fun than renovating an old house is renovating an old house with an audience, don't you think? And since the house renovation project will, no doubt, be fodder for a LOT of blog posts in the coming months, I thought I'd get a good early start by introducing you to what a $13,000 house in Cairo, Illinois looks like. That way you'll be able to really appreciate the story as it unfolds.
Right off the bat we know we have to rent a big dumpster and fill it up so we can see what we haven't been able to see under all the junk. Everything in the kitchen and basement goes in the dumpster, down to the walls. Then we get the home inspector to come and give us a thorough checklist of what we already know it needs and what we don't know about yet.
What we know already is that it has no heating or cooling, so we're going to have to buy a furnace. The chimney attached to the fireplace needs a flue and the old chimney that used to be attached to the original heating system has collapsed and will have to be removed. Then we need an electrician and a plumber to a) determine what works and what doesn't and b) fix what doesn't.
This is not Ev's first renovation and it's in far better shape than her first one. Her first renovation was a 100 year old farmhouse with big woe. The electric had to be 100% replaced, starting at the power pole. The bathtub had fallen through the floor into the basement, the roof had to be replaced from the rafters out, large areas of the wood floor had to be repaired, there was no kitchen to speak of, the septic system had to be replaced ... and then the whole front porch fell off one night while she was sleeping. When she tackled that project, on her own with the help of library books, she was a single mother with three little kids and two jobs, and her strategy was to get one room livable and then they all lived in that room while she worked on another one. The kids remember gathering around the kerosene heater holding umbrellas while it rained in the dining room.
In this house it won't be hard to have livable rooms to retreat to when we need a sanity break. There are many rooms that don't need anything but paint and cleaning. There are others that are more daunting, and unfortunately those are the ones that allow you to pee indoors and eat food. But there's a damn fine library in Cairo for the stuff Ev's forgotten, and now we have the Internet! I've already registered with an old house renovation discussion forum where we can pick up advice and encouragement as needed. I anticipate that our biggest hurdle is going to be the fact that we ain't as young as we used to be. On the other hand, we ain't as poor as we used to be, so we can pay people to do stuff this time. Hey, it's good for us AND good for the Cairo economy.
I'm going to call my friend who works in the Assessor's office in Cairo and find out about the house next door. It's a big, beautiful old thing on the corner lot that looks like it's had a fire upstairs. We want to find out if it's on the demolition list, and if it is we want to find out whether we can find the owner and pay them to let us salvage the good stuff before it's gone ... and then we want to buy the lot it's sitting on.
And so, without further adieu ... blogosphere? Meet the house. House? Meet the blogosphere.