I have wanted to work on another old house ever since I finished my home. I put in offers on a few, but lost them all to higher bids. When 3067 Sidney Avenue, next street over from me, went on the market I jumped. From the sidewalk it look to be in decent shape, I have driven on street many times and never noticed it was vacant as the grass was always cut. The inside was a different story. I would learn the seller had purchased it in 2010, started his flipping work, but then stopped in 2014 and let his permits expire. He was asking $110,000, which was way too high for the visual condition. He had his electrical and plumbing roughed in, but his plan was flawed; seemingly based on maximizing the number of occupants (at closing he told me he wired 3rd to be two bedrooms, so potentially a 5 bedroom house). I offered $60,000, was rejected, but came back at $75,000 with no inspections. I really wanted this house…..I needed this house.
My $10,000 fixer was the Taj Mahal in comparison to true condition of my first flip. They have in common starting with no plumbing, electric, or HVAC, but even with the crumbling foundation at my home the bones were solid. I had a brand new roof. I knew there was a roof leak at Sidney before I purchased, but the extent of the leak didn’t manifest until after the close and I entered the house after a hard rain. The floor of the back bedroom was saturated and that leaked down to the first floor kitchen which leaked down to the basement. The rubber roof had about 15 holes in it. Laughably at closing the seller said I could fix that myself. Although not as severe, the asphalt roof over the third floor showed signs of leakage too. Depending on which roofer contractor you listen to the box gutters were shot too (spoiler alert: the box gutters were shot too). Oh yeah, I had snakes in the basement. The pics make them look bigger than they really were. I just hope I never run into their parents.
I’m a house restorer, not renovator, so the one thing I had decided to do from the first walk through, before purchasing, was to restore all the windows back to their original heights. All of the original wood windows, except for the two in the front, had been removed and the openings reduced in size. There was filler, approx 18″, above every window, but you can see where rosettes and moulding once resided. There were two windows on the back and the only window on the right side of house completely covered. This meant I would need to remove the hideous faded yellow siding (oh darn) from the entire house to make the proper corrections.
I had this naïve notion that under the vinyl siding would be perfectly preserved original wood siding that I’d clean up and then paint as I could see mint condition original siding inside the the toilet room the seller left as part of the full bathroom he was creating on the first floor. After the closing I started pulling the siding from around the front door just out of curiosity. Unfortunately it revealed that under the vinyl was fake brick look asphalt siding and under that the original wood siding not in mint condition. The margins on this project would not allow for the removel of all the asphalt siding, so I would need to re-side the house once the windows were reframed.
I stopped removing the asphalt siding, but continued pulling the vinyl when suddenly the right corner of house crumbled to the ground. I thought the entire porch was going to fall on me. Uncontrolled water has got to be one of the worst enemies of any home. For years the down spout from the roof gutter was left to dump water on the corner of the house and to make matters worst there was a hole in the metal roof of the porch right in that area too. The vinyl siding was the only thing keeping the house in tack. The rot had gone through the asphalt siding, the wood siding, all the way to the corner post of the house. My first project was connecting a corrugated extension to the down spout to channel the water away from the corner.
Believe it or not, as bad as it looked I wasn’t overly concerned because the plaster on the inside at that area was in tact; showing no signs of water damage. Now that was not the case in the upstairs bedroom where the floors were wet from roof leak. That plaster was peeling and flaking so I decided to start removing it. For the life of me I don’t know why the seller cut channels in the plaster to run his electrical and plumbing instead of taking the whole house down to the studs. What I uncovered was wood erosion and mold, so extensive that the first roof joist was floating. I knew then I’d need to go down to the studs in the entire house. It would be my only way of knowing the full extent of years of neglect the house had endured. Now I am starting to feel concerned and I most definitely over paid for the house.
Earlier I said I needed this house. This house needs me too. I can see the finish clearly in my minds eye and she’s going to be beautiful again. What isn’t as clear is if she’s going to yield profitability, but as my sign states….I’ll do it right or not at all.
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