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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let the Building Begin!

By Stephanie Bearce

For over two years we have been juggling two houses.  One the home we lived in, and the other the home we WANT to live in.  Crazy you say.  Definitely.  Especially considering that the two houses are in the same town.  It’s not like we are moving to the beach or a mountain cabin.  No, our little dream house is in Frenchtown, St. Charles.  And it is a wreck. 

An adorable wreck, but still a wreck.

Darrell and I have both lived in old town St. Charles.  As a matter of fact, the first house that Alan and I owned is only a block and a half from my third street house.  So Darrell and I both know the neighborhood, and we love it.  That is our primary reason for moving.  We want the charm of an old neighborhood.  We love the history of the buildings, the architecture of the past, and the fun of walking to restaurants and events.

BUT it has taken a herculean effort to get here.  We found our Charming little house in the middle of the housing market crash.  By the time we got it, the house had become property of a bank.  The exterior was in decent shape, but the inside was something seen only in horror movies.  Really bad horror movies.  Our daughter, Nichole, is still convinced the old coal bin was used to hide bodies.  She could be right.

Darrell spent much of the past two years gutting the house.  He donned a face mask and safety glasses and with the help of his trusty crowbar pulled down 25 TONS of lath and plaster and hauled it out of the house to giant dumpsters.  He’s on a first name basis with the dumpster delivery men.  I’m not making that up.

While we gutted the house, we watched the housing market s-l-o-w-l-y improve until this winter we knew it was time.  We started fixing up the house we live in to sell.  If you haven’t sold a house in a few years you have no idea of how hard this is.  I love HGTV, but I swear all those “fix it to sell it” shows have left the buying public with some unrealistic expectations.  I won’t go into all the painful details.  Let’s just say that I know the Lowes employees by first name and what shifts they work.

We were rewarded for our hard work by selling our house in three weeks. Yippee!  Oh wait – that’s when the work really began.  Packing boxes, trips to Goodwill, selling on Craig’s list, more trips to Goodwill, more boxes and finally a POD.  We stuffed that POD full of furniture and boxes and moved the rest to our temporary residence; a tiny little duplex just two blocks from our project house.

It feels like we are back in college.  Our pantry is the bookshelf I had in my office.  My clothes are stored in the buffet.  (It has drawers therefore it is now my dresser.)  I have lost the cereal bowls and most of my books.  Probably in that POD, unless they accidentally went to Goodwill.  I won’t know until we move – Again.

But now we are ready for the fun part.  The reconstruction of the interior of our house.  Currently we are getting the building permits, which is not easy in a historic district.  We have promised and signed in blood that we will not change the exterior of the house.  That seemed like a silly request to us, since the whole reason we bought the house was for the EXTERIOR! Our contractor is getting all the final signatures and soon, very soon the old house will hear the sound of hammers and saws. 

Meanwhile I am training Lucy that her yard is at 1001 North Third Street.  She loves terrorizing the neighborhood dogs on her morning walks and bonus – she has already found and killed a snake.  Four pound Yorkie – 1.  Snake – 0.  The adventure has begun!