Renovation, Phase 1: The First Two Days

The day we closed on our house in June of 2006, we held a party at our new house. Cinderella’s House, we’d named it, after the former owner, who went by the first name of Cinderella. And Jason’s wonderfully thoughtful parents sent balloons.

First day of home ownership

The first few hours of home ownership. Ah, the excitement, the blind optimism.

Not your normal housewarming. Oh no, not us. This was a bring-your-own-crowbar party. I remember having many, many people in and out of the house that evening. I remember the next day how our legs and rear ends were incredibly sore from repeatedly climbing the three flights of ladder-like stairs on the 53 tours we gave to our guests. And most of all, I remember the crowbars:

Taking a crowbar to the ceiling

Jason in his short-lived, curly-haired glory, taking a crowbar to the drop ceiling. With champagne, of course.

This house was incredibly affordable, and cost less, on paper than any decent rental could come close to. So we bought it. We were able to put 20% down, meaning no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), and the taxes were, and still are, ridiculously, embarrassingly low.

And we like a project. My husband and I work very well together and enjoy spending as much time together as possible, especially when we have a project to focus our energy on. We have fun working on houses.

Tearing down paneling

Tearing down paneling in the future dining room. Way, way into the future, as it turns out.

We thought a little electrical, a little drywall, some flooring and new bathroom and kitchen, good as new!

Wrong!

Broken Outlet

This photo of an outlet in the basement that we thought was just hilarious would become our name for the house. As in, EVERYTHING in this house is Out of Order.

On our second day of homeownership, I noticed that the basement door to the outside wouldn’t completely open. Then I noticed what looked like handles built into the concrete and a patch the size of a briefcase. I called to my love, who arrived with a trusty crowbar in hand and pried up said concrete patch, or hatch, as it turned out to be.

Inside: water. A brick box. About a foot down there were three pipes that ended in the box on various sides. And below those pipes was water.

“What’s that?” I asked of my husband’s back. “Stay there, and tell me what you see,” he said. I heard a toilet flush, and then watched as water ran out of one pipe and into the “pond.” Once the water from that pipe stopped, the water level had raised enough that the “pond” overflowed into another pipe. I started crying. Jason had returned, and looked sick.

We were the proud owners of an indoor cistern. 

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