The Budding Miss Vila: A Novice Story

Posted in Monthly at 10:57 am by Pasha

I really thought it would be like the shows on HGTV and DIY Network. I thought it was simple. I figured who needs to follow directions to the letter. How hard could fixing this old house really be?

OK, so I was wrong. Totally and absolutely wrong. I was wrong about nearly everything these past couple of months. So what is one more mistake, one more eff up, one more worry?

It started a few months back during one of the last days in August. We went to look at houses in our price range. Most were disgusting, many were even tear downs; our options were minimal to say the least. When we walked into a breezy three-bedroom house that was for sale by owner something felt right. There were hardwoods throughout, crown molding that was worth a fortune and just enough space for a little family. If we were going to plant here in Chicago, this would be it. The house was by no means a castle and was barely livable. But behind the cracking paint, the peeling counters and stench of old-man urine, I saw a sweet house on a corner lot with a big backyard and a sturdy banister. After our offer was accepted by the owners we thought we would close on the house in weeks. We made plans for rehab before we had to move in. Our decision to stay with friends for a week or so seemed logical.

However, like everything else in this house, our plans did not pan out. It took more than three weeks to finally close and even then we spent far more time than anticipated at the closing table. If it was not for friends, who have quickly morphed into family, we would never have gotten through. During the month of October we stayed in beautiful homes with loving, warm, caring people. Looking back, it was no where near as stressful or painful as the following months will be.

When we finally did close we busted into the living room with a gusto. We were going to finish the floors until they looked brand spanking new and shined up a storm. I printed directions, I read a few websites, I cracked my new Time Life book. They were all straight forward. Nobody would guess what happens when two novice home-owners/construction workers move into a fixer-upper.

*** For the next few months (who am I kidding, years!) this blog will be a novice point of view on rehabbing an old house. What to do when you royally eff it up, how to find cheap materials, and when to throw the paint brush at your husband. The first post will be about how to salvage hardwoods, first from 100 years of use and then from three hours of sanding like a moron hopped up on coffee. Stay tuned each week. Or however long these projects take!