Oh, the Joys and Sorrows of Owning an Old House

Back in the spring, we had a nasty storm.  There was large hail that left most of the town with damaged property, us included.

So for the last several months now, the whole town has been getting a face lift.  There are bunches of houses with new roofs and new siding.  About a month after that storm, we decided (finally we made a decision!) that we wanted to stay here in this house.  We needed a 3rd bedroom and for the longest time we couldn’t decide whether to deal with the headache of renovating and adding on to the house or deal with the headache of trying to sell.  And I’m still not sure which one is worse.

We started calling contractors to have estimates done on what was the best way to add a 3rd bedroom and do the other renovations needed for us to stay here.  We contacted the bank and got approved for the financing.  We had an architect draw up the plans and we were just getting to the stage where we needed to pick out carpet and counter tops and cabinets, etc.

We had an appraiser come in and consult with us on how much value we would be adding to the home with all of these improvements (adding a 3rd bedroom, another full bathroom and moving the laundry from the basement to the upstairs where all the bedrooms would be, a wraparound porch, new roof and a large deck on the back of the house).

And that’s where we got stopped dead in our tracks.

You see, we were going to spend almost $50K doing all of these renovations.  However, the appraiser informed us that all those improvements were only going to raise the value of our home about $20K in this economy.


Well that changed everything.  Especially in this economy, we don’t want to be upside down in our house.  If the time ever came that we had to sell the house, we’d never get what we needed to out of it.  We nixed those plans and decided to just fix the roof from the hail damage, do some more updating and put it up for sale sometime in the not too distant future.

We had an estimate done on just the roof and picked a contractor and were excited that at the very least we would be getting a much needed new roof.  However, once the guys starting tearing the roof off our nightmare started.

You see, most houses have a layer of decking under the shingles, right?  Well ours didn’t.  In fact, the only thing under the shingles was an old shake roof with wooden shingles and under that were a bunch of 1 x 6 slats.  Major fire hazard, not to mention that they also found evidence that there had been a fire in the attic at some point.


But that’s not all, friends.  Once they got to tearing all that shake off, they found that all of our rafters were rotted out!  They told us they were really surprised that the whole thing hadn’t collapsed by now.

Not only are we getting new shingles and decking, but all of our rafters are now being replaced!

I thought that was the end of it.  I really did.  I thought, surely nothing else can go wrong now, there’s nothing left to take off!

And I was wrong.

Yesterday I went upstairs to the girls’ room to hang some clothes up and when I looked in their closet, I found this.

Yes, that would be daylight that you are seeing through their closet.  Here’s another look in case you can’t quite believe it, as was the case with me…

Upon closer inspection, you can see the nasty mess of drywall dust and insulation all over their shoes & clothes.

And this is what their room looked like after we removed everything from their closet.  Ugh.

So now, after they finish the roof, they are going to have to come in and replace the drywall in the ceiling of their closet.

Here’s what we see right now if we open our little attic door at the top of the stairs.

Here’s a look at the back of the house.  You can see the difference really well in the new rafters vs. the old that haven’t been replaced yet.

On the brighter side, I found this box in the attic today.

It’s full of receipts and invoices from the 1950’s.  One of the previous owners, a Mr. Howard Robertson, owned an auto parts store on Main Street. I thought that was pretty neat and plan to thoroughly investigate the box later to see if there are any treasures buried down deep.  🙂

Robertson's Auto Supply invoice from 1955

Canceled checks from Robertson's Auto Supply Store

8 thoughts on “Oh, the Joys and Sorrows of Owning an Old House

  1. Christy August 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm Reply

    Oh my goodness!!! You poor dear!! On the bright side of things…I bet your house will be much warmer this winter!!

    • klutzymama August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am Reply

      We thought that same thing, Christy. We’re hoping to see some savings this winter.

  2. Jen August 25, 2011 at 9:17 am Reply

    Oh, what a nightmare. At least that found box can entertain you for a bit.

  3. Lillian August 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm Reply

    I know what you mean about old houses. Our is old too and when you go to fix something it always leads to more work than you intended. You will be so happy when it is all done though for sure.

    • klutzymama August 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm Reply

      Ain’t that the truth! I shudder to think what’s going to happen when we start doing other projects around here!

  4. Donna August 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm Reply

    Boy I thought I was reading about my house. We just replaced the roof, next we should put new siding on the house(original is looking bad), but we also have to put in a new sliding door, because the old roof/gutters leaked and somehow rotted the wood that the patio door is on(???) long story shortened alot of money will have to be spent and it wont improve the resale value of the house if we were to sell! Good luck with your home repairs!

    • klutzymama August 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm Reply

      Glad to hear we’re not alone, Donna. It’s very frustrating, isn’t it?

  5. Becky August 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm Reply

    Sounds like one of our nightmares around here. I sure hope it helps out with the winter draftiness you suffer with every year. And a plus would be that your heating bill will drop, too.

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Klutzy Mama

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