“We bought an abandoned house!” I remember telling my parents on the phone, a day after walking through it and spontaneously writing an offer. I could tell by their silence they were not convinced of its potential.
It wasn’t particularly reassuring when the low-ball offer we made was not countered by the seller, nor did they even show up at the closing. Shortly after closing, my parents drove up to see the property, and the consternation on father’s face was hard to ignore—magnified in his silence. With the exception of my better-half, it seemed that everyone—from our realtor to the very individuals who created me—thought we had made the mistake of a lifetime. I never considered embarrassment to be contagious, but somehow I felt that our perceived-faulty purchase decision seemed to bring shame to my dad. My parents hesitation to praise or compliment only fueled our sense of urgency to begin a restoration of the property and show them our vision. In it’s current state, the house simply would not do. It was one of the few times my parents did not linger. I began to doubt myself and wonder if my instincts—or my parents—were right.
Our work began immediately; several decades of accumulated junk had to be discarded before we could even consider tearing out the rotten plaster. One of the few pictures I regret not taking was of all the contents the owners left behind for us—but after four weeks of dragging out rolled carpets sprinkled with mouse feces, an old hot tub, stained mattresses, one-hundred pound window air conditioner units, leaky chemical cans and the skeletal remains of some poor creature—we simply weren’t in the mood for photography! After emptying the seller’s treasures, we started the real dirty work of gutting horse-hair plaster underneath two generous layers of drywall. If you’ve ever wondered what fifteen cubic yards of plaster and lathe look like, look no further: