“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been’ ” John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
American Poet and Abolitionist
I received my plans for the turret yesterday! YIPPEE! My house currently does not have the turret. It met its demise approximately 50+ years ago during a rain storm. Since it was a nonfunctioning room, the previous homeowners did not know that it was mostly rotted. During a wind storm, a pecan tree fell on the turret and its 40+ year reign came to a halt.
The architect who made the plan, peered over his glasses at me and said the rebuilding of the turret is going to be “expensive”. I always find it humorous when someone assumes that we don’t know what we are getting into. I guess because of our age, both of us are under 30, people think we are a little crazy and we have a hard time convincing contractors, architects, etc. that we are serious. My husband and I both have excellent, good paying jobs, but…I guess we look broke 🙂
I think it “throws” people when they arrive at our house to give us an estimate. They look at the present condition of our house and think “these people are too poor to live in a nice new house” and write us off…we usually never hear back from over half of ’em. It has taken almost a year to find a good contractor who is willing to help us out on the heavy lifting. We are doing/have done a lot of the work ourselves, but we are just not equipped to move a wall and rebuild a turret…we had to throw in the towel and call in the big guys for that work.
Well, now that I have the plans, it doesn’t look too hard. I just might rebuild the turret myself 😀 HA!
You know, sometimes I have questioned my sanity in buying an old house. I wonder if fixing it up and all is really worth it. Not, only have I questioned myself, but from the beginning, we received strange looks and endured intense questioning from the: realtor, loan officer, friends, appraiser……..who all questioned our sanity as well.
I have come to the conclusion: Life is what you make of it, not what you get out of it. Sure, I could have built a brand new cookie cutter home in the ‘burbs. It would have been full of plastic doors, laminate counters, carpet and eight foot ceilings, as opposed to my house: wood doors, all hardwood floors, thirteen foot ceilings, six fireplaces, decorative molding, original wainscoting and beautiful lead glass windows. Price tag of 1800 sq foot house in a Louisiana suburb: $250,000.00-$350,000.00. Price tag of my house: 3200 sq foot………well, I am not going to tell you that. You will have to ask.
I love my house. I wish that the skeptics would stop by and take a look around. They would change their mind about old houses. My house may not look like much on the outside right now, but give us a couple more years. Things don’t change overnight. Besides, if we don’t do something about these beautiful old houses sitting here vacant, who is? Why do we, as a society, always sit around pointing fingers at what needs to be done, but fail to stand up and point that same finger at ourself and say: “It is my responsibility to do something”. That is what my response is to every skeptic who talks trash about my house and my neighborhood. If it is so bad, why have YOU not done something about it and why are YOU criticizing me for DOING something about it?
I have also bought the house next door to me, I might post pics on it. It looks better than my house. It is a little white bungalow. I just trimmed it in black and painted the door red. After eight months of intense DIY renovation, it is looking “purty good”. I am also not going to stop there, I will buy the next house over and the next…if I have to to do my part in preserving Alexandria, Louisiana’s history. There are beautiful examples of early 20th century houses here right under our noses that just need a little TLC.
I have definitely found out who my “true” friends are. They are the ones who have not questioned, but offered to pick up a paint brush and help. You have to have a vision in life and know where you are going. What is yours?
I am starting a blog for two reasons: 1) to retain my sanity during this whole house rehabilitation process; 2) to show all of the people who said it could not be done, that it IS being done. I keep a journal of all persons who have told me that the rehabilitating of my house and/or neighborhood cannot be accomplished. Once I am finished, I am going to issue them invitations to the grand reopening of my house. I have a special seat saved for them — on the porch, in the middle of one of our scorching Louisiana summers…with no fan.
Speaking of Louisiana, I live in Alexandria. It is quite different from New Orleans. Even though we (I say “we” because I live here now and will defend it until the day I leave) are a moderate sized city and are about ten years behind in preservation, economics and good old fashioned common sense. People around here just don’t “get it” when you decide to buy an old house over a brand new house built right smack in an old corn field. These houses are not built to last, have no trees, no porches (shudder), and absolutely NO charm. Just to give you an idea of how backwards it is here in Central Louisiana, in a recent city council meeting, I was there as a concerned citizen regarding some things that were going to take place in my neighborhood. Later, a reporter questioned me and asked me why preservation was so important. I asked her “Why should be keep building when we have so many beautiful old homes here in need of homeowners.” I said “Besides, my husband and I like to live green. The ultimate way of living green is to rescue an old home.” She looked at me and said “Green?” “What do you mean?” I said “Green, you know, recycling, earth friendly, the green movement?” She had NO CLUE what I was talking about. She was a reporter!!! I was sincerely wondering if she lived under a rock. So, Green is a concept most people here have not yet to “get”. How did I get off on this subject? Well, while I am here I might as well finish complaining! We also wanted to put up solar panels. The kind that during the day wind your meter backwards. It feeds into your system, thereby saving you electricity costs. I won’t even recant that conversation with the utility department. They don’t “get it” either.
I received my new Cottage Living magazine today and I do believe the editor summed up my feelings, she said: “Recycling a cottage (house, home, whatever) is the ultimate green thought.”
Thanks for welcoming me to the blog.