Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Buy-Day, This D*mn House!

I don't know the exact date in 1940 it was built, but I do know that it was 22 years ago today that I was busily signing my name to a whole bunch of documents as we closed on the purchase of This D*mn House.

My hair was much longer. My waist was thinner. I was still several weeks shy of being old enough to drink -- legally. And I was juggling a full load of college courses, 35 to 40 hours of work (between three part-time jobs), and a full social life. How did I ever manage all that? Ahhhh, youth.

I didn't even own a car and had to borrow my college roommate's Chevette to meet mom at the bank. As I scrawled my signature across those countless sheets, I could not have known just what I was getting myself into. If I'd seen the endless litany of projects, upheaval, and all around general chaos that lay ahead, I'd have turned that little orange car right back around and gunned toward campus. Instead, the journey of a lifelong DIY-er began.

We spent that whole summer getting ready for the move. I didn't have a whole lot to do with some of the earliest work like interior painting and floor treatments. I did help rip the god-awful shag carpeting out of what is now my room, roll it up and cart it out to the alley. When work wasn't going on there, the old house was being packed up. Now that was fun. My mother's parents had had that home for more than 40 years. And while a major redo of it around 1980 had gotten rid of some of the junk, plenty still remained. (Guess where my packrat gene came from …) But that's a topic for another entry.

This D*mn House was white back then, with black shutters. It had black squared wrought iron railing where the columns are today. I know we had some Polaroids from when we first looked at it. Not sure if there's an exterior shot in there or not. I need to find those. It would be fun to put them up against current photos. In the first five years that we were here, this is just a few things that occurred:

  • The furnace died (1988), but the AC lasted until 1994. (We put in new central air/furnace in 1996.)
  • The hot water heater died. (1988)
  • The garage burned. (1987) A carport with columns that match the front porch was built, all done in 1988.
  • A storage shed was put up on the vacant concrete pad. (1990.)
  • The main water line from the house to the alley had to be replaced (1988). I rented a trencher and my cousin helped me dig across the entire back yard in a cold, fall rain to replace the line. I patched the wall in the basement myself and my cousin, a good union man, told me then that I needed to go get a union job. Maybe I should have listened.
  • The house was painted (by someone else) for the first time. (1989) It was Dutch Boy's Dover Gray. Oddly enough, the color the house is today, after last year's repainting job (done by me), is almost exactly that same shade. This time though we used Behr paint that already has the primer in it, brand spanking new to the market in 2007. When mom and I painted the house in 1996, we used Sears Weather Beater and went an extremely light shade of gray. The paint went on very easy, but didn't last. In a word, that paint sucked. Within a year or two, it was fading fast. (So much so, that people kept saying the house was white. They don't say that now. But of course you can't tell because I need to update the picture. It's from last May -- before the paint job.)
  • I put up white exterior shutters after the first paint job. (1989)
  • I put up wood interior shutters on almost every window in the house as well as along the plywood/laminate, built-in bar in the basement (1988). I ripped the bar out in 1992 or '93 before starting a major overhaul of the downstairs family room.

All this is just some of the work during those first few years … As you can see, it's been an almost constant work in progress. And it doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon.


Ann said...

You just NEVER cease to amaze me in this category - the way you KICK a$$ with this house. As in, there will be NO defeat here, period. You're like a Ninja warrior, but with cute shoes and at home depot with a credit card. :)

NV said...

Ann - Thanks! The defeats are many, believe me. I've just learned to pick my battles. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, you were dedicated even in college. That's rare.

NV said...

Vicki -- I wasn't dedicated- just indentured!

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