Restoration Complete

The house is sold; it never went on the market. Mounting pressures and growing negative energy from too many sources pushed me to accept an unsolicited offer from an opportunistic real estate agent that has had a front row seat to witness the physical work and high quality I put into the house. What started as “I have friends that would like to see your house” followed soon after with an offer that was insulting in its amount and delivery. It was presented as a “first and only” and a veiled attempt to explain why I should accept. Paraphrasing: Venus, a few months ago I would have told you to turn this offer down, but given what is happening in the economy, with interest rates, you should take this. It’s the best offer you’re going to get. I turned it down with no counter-offer stating I would not show it to anyone else until it was completely finished. I was fully aware that the Feds decision to increase interest rates to fight inflation was diminishing my buyer pool, but I still had belief that the quality of my work stood above the limited “flip” product inventory in the market and could yield a higher price.

A few days later the agent returned with another offer, $20,000 higher than the “first and only” and a whisper just between the agent and me that I could counter $5,000 higher. After talking with some friends, one in the real estate industry, I countered that offer $38,150 higher than their “first and only” and they accepted a selling price of $288,150, which may be the highest priced single-family home sold in Camp Washington. This project was doomed to loose money almost from the start. Overpaying for a house that was riddled with unseen and unexpected rot, insect infestation, mold, not to code electrical rough-in and a layout in the original roughed-in plumbing and HVAC that yielded all that work useless was the first hit. Supply chain issues; soaring cost for building material (2x4s doubled in cost from the first one I purchased to the last), impact of Covid-19, poor contractor selections, and my unwillingness to deter from the path of “restoration” vs “renovation” elevated my budget thousands above my original projections. I knew I had spent more than what the house would appraise for given its location in Camp Washington. I’m still tallying receipts, but the early results support my first flip was a financial flop with 100% of my labor donated.

The contract was written with these terms: “Inspection period of 5 days shall commence at complete of construction. Intent to proceed and ordering of appraisal shall commence 7 days post completion of inspection. Closing shall be 25 days post completion of construction.” That was not what I was given. Prior to signing I was told the buyer needed to be under contract in order to lock in their interest rate. After signing I was presented with information the buyer only had 30-days to close to maintain their interest rate. They wanted to close on November 4. I was still laying tile to allow my plumbers to return for my scheduled appointment in the last week of October to set fixtures and get final inspection. My electric final inspection hadn’t been scheduled at all. I physically could not meet that date, nor the subsequent date request of November 18. The pressure placed on me was insane and I was on the verge of backing out. I was finally in my “wheelhouse” of finish carpentry and tile work and I couldn’t enjoy the process of getting them complete due to the whip lashes being struck against my back. A late revision in the contract that increased my take-home and a new date of November 28 was given, so I stayed under contract.

The buyers were closing on the sell of their house on November 23 and wanted to complete my purchase on the same day. I thought what a wonderful Thanksgiving Day gift to myself, so I set sights on that date too. Tim Miller, a general contractor that I will talk about more in a future post, reworked his clients to provide me 11 days of his service and thanks to him I held an Open House on Sunday, November 20. I felt I earned the right to show family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors what I had accomplished after a year of hard labor. I was still hanging molding and my painters were still painting the Friday prior, so I didn’t post the announcement it was happening until the day before. The house was not 100% complete, but Ms. Inez was still absolutely stunning. About 30 people, including the future owners and their friends, stopped by. They seemed genuinely pleased and repeatedly said its beautiful, you do beautiful work, which I appreciated hearing. Judith from the Cincinnati Preservation Association took these pics for me.

I had a fairly heavy punch list to complete and needed to clean out my tools from the basement by the 23rd. Three weeks of 4-hours or less of sleep per night and further eroding any chance to be profitable by hiring help to be ready for the close and 2 hours before I was texted it would not happen due to issues with the buyer’s lender. The appraisal came in at $249,000 and it was being questioned. I had no wind under my sails to tackle the punch list after receiving the news. I finished installing the three third floor windows, so the house would be secure and I left the remaining list undone. I went home, collapsed into bed and got 6+ hours of sleep for the first time in months. I had already rented a U-Haul truck to move out my equipment and it sat in the backyard until the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I did little work at the house on Thanksgiving Day, trying to make the most of a day I thought would be a celebration of a job well done.

Friday I started tackling the punch list. One major item I had not done was installing the shelves in the kitchen pantry. I planned to use the same melamine drilled boards I used in my pantry. This pantry is deeper than mine, so I decided to spend a little extra and get the 15.75 wide boards. Tom Milfeld installed my units, but I watched and learned. I knew only one side of a panel would hit a stud, so I purchased Hillman pop toggles, which is what Tom used. Only finished photos, but I screwed a 2×4, leveled, into studs of the back wall. This ensured both sides would be even and provided me a third hand. Next step was checking my wall for squareness. I remember this being a problem at my house, if the front and back of a panel aren’t close to alignment your shelf cuts will be off. The left side was very close, I would just need to shim the outer edge before adding the screws that would go into the stud. The right side was way off, so before I hung that panel I glued a 3/8″ strip of wood (that was the gap I measured) to the outer edge.

I rested a panel on the 2×4, pushing it tight to the rear corner and put my level on the edge to make sure it was close or on the mark to be straight. Once confirmed I drilled through 3 of the peg holes (top, middle, bottom) until I hit the drywall. That provided me the mark to anchor the pop toggle. The screws that came with the pack were not long enough, so I went to Ace Hardware in Clifton and bought six, 2.5″ screws. I put the panel back on the 2×4 and drove the screws through the drilled holes and into the pop toggle. Worked like a charm. I marked where the stud would hit on the outer edge and drilled pilot holes at the top, middle and bottom; then drove in Hillman, white headed, wood screws. All the shelves measured close to 31 1/4″ in the front and back, which means my checking the squareness was spot on. I taped my cut line before running the boards in my miter saw. I ran 3/4″ moulding on the sides to hide the shims and buildout. Less than an hour this project was done.

I needed to grout the gap between the tile and the transition moulding I had installed. It meant mixing three different batches as there was a different color of grout in each area impacted. I absolutely loved how those strips turned out. I had them custom made by Arts Woodworking & Manufacturing. The original plan was to use some of the pine flooring I had harvested from the house, but I had to ensure I had removed all the nails and I didn’t trust I had. They made them out of yellow pine, that I stained with Old World Masters Wiping Stain, color Early American (same stain I used on the handrail and pony wall top cap) that I bought from Oakley Paint and Glass. I then covered with two coats of polyurethane. They blend seamlessly into the original pine floors.

I put the knobs on my salvage doors. I, unfortuntely , splattered some of my cleaning solution from the doors on the walls in a few areas, so that added touch up painting to the punch list. Those were the most time consuming projects, so with them complete I started cleaning up the basement. My trash pile was larger than what I had told my trash hauler it would be. I knew he’d need to make two runs or bring a second trailer. I’ve had piles that big before and knew he’d charge more than what taking it to Rumpke myself would be. Since I had the U-Haul I made the decision to haul it myself. Doing that also gave me an opportunity to clean out my basement. It was 3am by the time I got everything loaded and unloaded into my basement and my trash loaded into the truck.

Rumpke is only open 8-11:30a on Saturday, so I hit the ground early as I had a lot of trash to load in that truck. I actually filled it completely. This project started with me making trash runs with my cousin Greg to Rumpke. It seemed a fitting end that I made the final Rumpke run by myself given I had done so much of the restoration work by myself. It would not be an exaggeration to say I did 80% or more of the construction related work as a solo act. I still shake my head in awe of what I accomplished.

Sunday I did my touch up painting and final clean, so that I can take the after pictures that matched the before pictures I had from the real estate listing when I bought the house. Roughly 15 months from my purchase date, Ms. Inez was complete. If asked what are my favorite parts of the restoration? Easy, restoring the original fascia (putting the corbels and rosettes back on the front), installing exact replicas of the original porch post, and the last minute decision to obtain skeleton keys for the front and bedroom doors, so the deadbolt portion of the mortise lock would work. All of those doors were in their original jambs with original strike plates. I asked the owner of Camp Washington Hardware if it were possible to find skeleton keys. He told me the only place that would have them is Hartke Hardware. I’ve been told about this place many times and have always wanted to stop in. Another jewel in the queen city. The front door lock has slots for two skeleton keys. He explained to me that the top slot was for the servant’s key. The functionality of that area could not be fixed, but the main deadbolt he was able to get working along with the two bedroom doors. Again in awe I even thought to make this happen.

I’ve already been asked if I would do another house. In the midst of the battle my answer was an emphatic NO. However meeting Tim Miller and having the opportunity to work with him changes that answer. He was the missing contractor link for this project. If I had met him at the start of this project the added stress of rising interest rates would never have come into play. My radar antenna is up for sure, but the economy needs to settle first.

So here is the moment you’ve been waiting for, before and after photos.

The Exterior

The front was a manual color match of vinyl siding used on the sides and back. The accent colors are the companion colors to Sherwin Williams’ closet match to the manual. Main trim is Modern White and accent trim is Aged White (corbels and window rosettes) and Subdued Sienna.

Living/Dining Room

I played around with all the companion colors from the exterior colors and landed on Aesthetic White as my primary interior color. All the ceilings throughout the house and the walls in the living/dining rooms, hall , laundry, and closets are painted with this color. The trim is Pure White. Powder room is the exception where I pulled in the exterior colors as they matched the cool, clearance wallpaper I found.

Kitchen

I have kitchen envy and mine is pretty cool. The previous owner had roughed in a full bathroom with the toilet on the outside of the house in what is now all kitchen. The walls are Accessible Beige, trim Aesthetic White. The cabinetry manufacturer is Merillat and is made of maple. Dovetrail drawers and soft close. The wall units are finished in Chiffon and the island is Pecan. I’m adding designer to my resume. A trained professional could not have done this design better.

Upstairs Hallway

What was a middle bedroom I converted to a 2nd floor laundry room and master bath.

Master Bedroom with Ensuite

People that are familiar with my master know I like a nook project. I converted dead space into a linen closet and recessed an old dresser into a wall. I was able to do a similar project in this master. Both bedrooms are painted with Chelsea Gray on walls. Both bathroom walls are painted in Fleur de Sel. Aesthetic White for trim. The lights, shower and vanity fixtures are Miseno. I do not like the shower heads, spray is weak in my opinion. One light fixture arrived defective, I was sent wrong light as the replacement. The screws for mounting were soft and stripped easily. I would not use this brand again, so not going to bother adding the link.

Second Bedroom

The closet system in this room and master I got from Easyclosets.com. Very affordable and very easy to install. I would not hesitate to use this product again.

Second Bathroom

The vanities in the master and second bath are from the Wyndham Collection. The tub and sink fixtures are Moen. AllI bought on Build.com

Third Floor Bedroom/Flex Space

Blue is my favorite color, so any project I do will have it placed somewhere. This is Aqua Verde, trim Aesthetic White.

Basement

Finally the basement. Nothing to scream home about, but it’s a dry basement for the most part. Will be great for storage with easy access thanks to the Bilco cellar door I installed. The owners should paint the walls with a water sealer paint. Now is the time to do that before the spring rains come again. The walls need to be completely dry to take that type of paint.

That’s it. Ms. Inez returned to her former glory. The closing happened on November 30 with a reduced appraisal value of $220,000. I’m going to look forward to writing the posts that led me to this ending. It will be nice to reflect upon all that I was able to accomplish. Restoring old houses is not what I’ve been trained to do, but I’m good at it. I’ve found purpose for existing in the two houses I’ve restored. They speak to me, guide me and give me a since of appreciation I don’t find in other aspects of my life. Plus, I need something to fill my evenings and weekends with, LOL.

A Jewel in the Queen City

20210909_165121When I discovered the original porch post under layers of old siding I was ecstatic.  I’ve watched enough HGTV shows to know it could be replicated, but I didn’t have a clue on how to make that happen in Cincinnati, so I turned first to Gene Wiggs, a person I met that is a fabulous woodworker and member of the Cincinnati Woodworking Club.  He said I needed to find a wood turner, but he didn’t know any that could turn such a long piece.  Armed with the correct terminology I turned to Google where I found several options in the United States and Canada, but none in Cincinnati.  One company in Canada actually offered my exact post.  Shipping cost made them not an option, so I turned to Huber Hardware that stocks porch post.  They only offered two styles and many of the houses on the street and even Henshaw where I live had them.  

They would cost about $325/post, but I wanted my unique original design, so I kept looking. I found Art Woodworking and Manufacturing located in the Northside, so I gave them a call. They didn’t do that type of work, but they suggested I call Custom Woodturning located in Saylor Park and the search was over. I spoke with owner Dan Hogan, shared measurements and pictures and within a few days I received a quote to duplicate my exact post. Well not exact. The bottom, squared, section will be extended to accommodate modern code for railings, if I elect to add them. Due to height of porch, they are not required. The cost only $90 more per post, well worth it in my opinion.

I strapped the one, damaged post I had to the top of my Ford Escape (like I was towing my kayak) and found my way to his unassuming shop. If I would have been allowed and had the time to do it I would have gone to his shop everyday he worked on them just to watch his artistry live. Instead Ben was kind enough to share pictures through the various stages.

I actually have not seen the post in person and I can’t wait. Ben has been kind enough to store them for me as I continue to deal with mounting setbacks of unexpected discoveries at the house. This aspect of the project has exceeded my expectations.

Additional comment:  The owner of the house next to mine is elevating its exterior, which should bode well for my resell value.  Like with the front of mine there was extensive rot, so he will be tearing off the porch and rebuilding.  His contractor brought his porch post to the site today, purchased from Huber Lumber and I captured this picture of the ends of them……hollow.  Validation I made the right decision shelling out a few $100s more extra money well spent.

The Whole Porch and Former Outhouse Gotta Go

$1000 is what two contractors wanted to demo what remained of the porch off the front of the house. I felt I had done the hard part already, the front and side rails. I decided to save that money and tear down the ceiling myself. One of the contractors offered advice, go purchase some sheets of plywood, cover the windows, and take a sledge hammer to the two post and let gravity have its way. Such a manly way of handling things. I took two weekday evenings and a more systematic approach. I had a gaping hole on the front of the house that needed sheathing and I knew I’d have another hole on the rear of the house to close up once the bump out on the back was taken off, so I looked at the porch as building material, IF, the rot didn’t go much further. The decking for the roof ceiling was the same material as the house sheathing, old pine 8″ tongue and groove. If I could keep the pieces long enough I could use them to patch.

When I’m working alone on a project that could cause injuries taking photos is low on my priority list, so again my apologies you can’t see the true progression. The guys that bailed out my demo day were able to get all the bead board ceiling boards out. I could have saved some of the boards for a woodworking project, but they were so filled with paint that I pitched all of it in the dumpster. It left me with just true 2×4 rafter studs, the tongue and groove sheathing, and the metal roof. The metal roof was attach to a ledger board that had clear signs of rot across about a third its length. I installed a temporary 2×4 post in the center and selected a spot on the house where I thought I’d hit sound wood.

Using my reciprocating saw I cut through all the layers starting at the house and working my way through the box gutter. I then freed each 2×4 rafter in that area, which freed the sheathing. Any nails that held the metal roof to the sheathing had rusted and weakened rendering them useless. It really didn’t take much effort. With all the wood and weight gone I hit the left post with a sledge hammer and the metal roof folded down. I used a a crow bar to free it from the house. The next evening I returned and followed the same steps on the remaining section. $1,000 saved, no injuries. It was clear to me that from the porch ledger board down I would need to take the house down to the sheathing and I was contemplating doing the entire front. It was starting to feel like a Good Bones TV show house.

Before I could start tearing off the back I needed to close the hole in the foundation that was made, I’m guessing, when the house was plumbed for indoor plumbing. What was once an outhouse became a plumbed toilet. That was a fine idea for the early 1900s, but why someone would think it was fine to keep it and add a shower pan and vanity to make it a 3pc bathroom in 2010 is beyond comprehension. I knew I was going to need new sidewalks and a porch top (with the center post removed all the weight transferred to the outer post causing the porch to crack on each end), so I called a friend who a few years earlier had her driveway and porch done. I am not going to mention the company by name as ultimately I did not use him and I would not recommend him, but he came through in closing up the hole. Actually he even helped me out by hauling away another load of bagged debris.

The window, wood, is the structure that was the toilet, located outside of house.

Criminal is the word I’ll use for the decision to leave what was once an outhouse as one part of a three piece bathroom that sacrificed half of a kitchen. I so wish I had taken pictures, but I was focused on tearing it out in a timely manner as I needed to make sure I had time to close the hole.  I found one that I took to capture original wallpaper, but the wood you see in the background was the toilet room.  The wood structure wasn’t crafted to any modern code and yet newer insulation had been stuffed in the gaps. It was a hot mess that was fortified because the poorly constructed frame had been covered in asphalt siding, a thin layer of foam insulation and then vinyl siding attached by what seemed like 1000s nails. I thought it funny that the owners who installed the asphalt siding wanted a toilet with a view (see glow on left), but the owners who installed the vinyl siding covered, but did not insulate or close the opening on the inside. Can you imagine how cold it must have been using that toilet in the winter. At any rate, it took me the better part of a Saturday to rip the structure off. My footing was precarious as I was working over an open pit that was once a latrine.

I used the true 2x4s I salvaged from the front porch to stud out the opening. I used the porch roof sheathing to close the hole. Two layers of the sheathing brought the opening even with the original wood siding of the house, which was in pristine condition. That would have made a nice feature wall in the toilet room, but not nice enough to keep it. Another layer of sheathing will be needed to make that section even with asphalt siding. The vinyl will be replaced as underneath it are two windows that had been covered. WHY??????? Based on bids I had gotten I’ll claimed that I saved myself about $6,000 doing this work myself.

Demo Days

The pee pot has been resurrected.

The rot on the front porch and wall of 2nd bedroom left no doubt as to my need take the house down to the studs, despite the previous owner passing his plumbing and electrical rough-in by cutting channels in the plaster.  Most of what he installed I’m not using, so my first task after closing was removing the framing and HVAC ducts he had placed on the first floor.  Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, but not a full 3pc bathroom located off a kitchen you cut in half to accommodate said bathroom.  Tearing all the framing out took the better part of a weekend, but I was able to do it by myself and man what a difference it made to the space.  This is going to be one gorgeous kitchen.

After exposing brick in my house I was curious to find out what was behind the plaster of the living room fireplace. Gorgeous condition and unlike at my house the plaster gave way with ease. I had the entire fireplace freed in about an hour. My guess is this house had a pot belly stove for heat when originally built as the square hole you see held a round pipe that had been filled with concrete. The inside of the fireplace has been bricked shut, so it will not be functioning, at least not with my money. I’ve got plans to close the opening that will leave my mark. I’ll also need to complete the row at the top as the ceiling drywall won’t completely cover the gap.

A neighbor who purchased and restored the house at the corner of Sidney and Stock, referred me to two brothers that he used for demo projects he had. I gave them a shot and they cleared the drywall, insulation, and nails from the 3rd floor in less than 3 hours. Everything was bagged and on the first floor when I returned. Unfortunately their quality of work ended with that project. I gave them two more shots and now have deleted them from my phone.

My cousin Greg and his wife Roneisha

Thankfully my cousin Greg and his wife Roneisha made themselves available. They demoed over half of the second floor by themselves giving me a few hours several weekday mornings. We made three trips to Rumpke with a rental 15′ U-Haul truck. At that point it was time to get a large dumpster. Based on my house I felt a 30-yard would get everything left, but I could only find a 20-yard. I had Greg and the brothers from the 3rd floor project lined up to work on a Saturday and the brothers didn’t show up (that was the final straw). In a panic I called Greg’s brother, Cameron, hoping he either had his schedule free or would be willing to change it and more importantly could round up some of his friends at the last minute. Anyone that followed my house restoration posts knows Cameron. He was highly instrumental in working with me and my father during the first year of that project.

Cameron came through BIG TIME. I wish I had pictures, but these men had every room, but the living room down to the studs and the dumpster filled in 6 hours. I was right about the size dumpster. A 30-yard would have taken it all, but it worked out for the best because as they worked inside, I worked to see how far the rot on the porch went. It went far. I was able to get the front and side railings off and what I uncovered made my flesh crawl; carpenter ants and termites. The ants scurried like roaches in light with each piece of vinyl and asphalt siding I removed. I pulled a section of wood about a foot long that had hundreds of termites. I’ve actually never seen live termites before. Thankfully all of the insect infested material went in the dumpster. If you look to the far right corner of house in this picture what you see next to the window is the plaster and lathe from the living room, not house sheathing. If they had removed that area you could enter the house from that corner.

Now if you’re thinking, oh man she must be so disappointed and upset finding all that rot. That reality sunk in later, but on that day I was ecstatic over finding the original porch post. Once again, channeling one of my favorite DIY show host, @NicoleCurtis, “Why in the world would anyone cover that up!” The post on the left was destroyed with insect and water rot. So much so I had to attach a 2×4 to it to make sure it continued to support the porch roof. The one on the right would have been in pristine condition if not for the section someone cut out of it to create a flat surface to attach the asphalt and subsequent vinyl siding. Inez (remember that’s what I’ve named the house) revealed to me some of the beauty that had once been. I know where brackets on the porch once were. I know half post were once attached to the house. I know three post use to go across the front and that she had picket railings. All these things will be returned, so officially this is no longer a first flip, it’s my second restoration, that I hope I’ll be able to turn a profit on.

Grandchildren Abuse Correction

For months, after reading how I restored the doors in my house, my aunt has asked me if I could restore her living coffee and end tables. She’s had them over 40 years. They have weathered her youngest daughter (who just turned 40) and 3 grandchildren (ages 23, 10, and 4). The furniture is solidly made; real wood, not MDF or particle. The top is a wood veneer finish. This holiday season she treated herself to a new sofa, so now was the time to see if I could bring life back to these tables and I went back to my tried and true product Howard’s Restore a Finish. The color of her furniture is close to the moulding in my master and the kitchen built-in, so I had the product on hand.

I used the same process I used in restoring all the moulding and doors of my house. Step one I washed the surface with water and Murphy Oil soap just to remove grim and sticky stuff and then followed with denatured alcohol applied with 000 steal wool.

I used a new piece of 000 steal wool to apply Restor-A-Finish, Maple-Pine color. It’s amazing how well that product evens out the discolored areas. In that light spot I did apply a bit of Dark Ebony color, Restor-A-Finish that I used on my doors. I let it sit overnight because the furniture was very dry, especially on the edges where the protective finish had worn off.. That product has an oil consistency, so I didn’t think it would hurt.

After applying Restor-A-Finish

The next day the more worn areas definitely looked more dry than other areas, so with a soft cloth I applied a generous amount of Howard Feed-N-Wax, which I also let sit overnight. Before returning to my aunt I wiped off the excess.

The end tables turned out equally as well. These are pics of the one in worst shape.

Warning Restor-A-Finish does not rebuild layers of polyurethane or another top coat that may be applied to your furniture. Up close you will see the raised differences. I believe the only way that can be fixed is complete sanding. I opted to not do that because there were several raised areas in the veneer, most likely due to water damage, and I did not know what sanding would do to those areas.

My aunt was please, not a bad outcome for 40+ year old furniture.

Phase One – House Restoration 100% Complete

In September 2017 I purchased a 1924 Cape Cod styled home from the Community Board of Camp Washington. I searched almost a year with my agent Steve Petersen before this opportunity presented itself. I toured the house with Joe Gorman, former Camp Washington Board Executive Director, when another couple was going to purchase it. The vision for its restoration came to me during that tour. Almost everything I envisioned that day has materialized. It took three years, but my restoration journey is 100% complete.

I watch a TON of HGTV and DIY shows and I fancy myself an “advanced DIYer”.  I knew I wanted my first house to be a fixer upper, so that I could put my mark on it. I was empowered and emboldened by their shows to think I could handle a renovation project. Yes, this house was a bit more of a project than I set out to find. Interior design I did not consider one of my strengths. I spent the first 53 years of my life living in what my parents created. I didn’t know my decor style, so their network shows helped me find it. I enter their home giveaways all the time, but it was the 2017 Urban Oasis Giveaway that I fell in love with and it inspired almost all of my exterior and 1st floor interior color schemes. The pink door was my fastest departure, couldn’t do it. These are pictures of the areas I copied most:

I’ve already been asked if there is anything I’d do differently. I was able to quickly respond with one item, but there are three. I would have added a small can light above my stain glass window, similar to the one I put over the kitchen sink, so that window could stay illuminated at night. It’s one of my favorite original features of the house saved thanks to Architectural Art Glass Studio. I would have returned lights to the 1st floor bedroom closets. All three of the closets were reduced in size for duct work or a pocket door addition, so I didn’t think a light would be needed. I was wrong. The final item is I would have found the money and allowed Tiburon Energy to do foam insulation. I believe my master bedroom would have much better temperature regulation and I’d have less air seepage around my outlets if I had gone that route. It would have been an $8,000 investment that would have paid off long-term with energy savings.

Any regrets, many, but would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! I shed a lot of tears and weight; not everything went according to plan, but it was a miraculous journey that I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to take. My life had purpose for the last three years. I learned and grew in so many areas. I’ve written this before, but what I’ve discovered is that at age 53 I truly enjoy working with my hands. I have a connection with the craftmanship that goes into old homes. I want to honor it and enjoy bringing it back to life. Call me weird, but my house spoke to me throughout this journey; she (her name is Janet, after my beloved mother) gave me a supreme sense of appreciation for saving her. I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from my neighbors, which is also humbling and appreciated. This house was an eyesore on the street for a very long time. I learned that the last owner actually used the backyard as a junk yard, which now explains why I dig up so many random car parts whenever I do yard work.

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