For years, I’ve been dreaming of starting my own business of buying houses in disrepair and fixing them up. The bigger the job, the better, as far as I’m concerned. So a couple of years ago, I took the plunge – right into the deepest end of the pool, as it turned out. I bought a place that was unanimously declared to be one of the worst any of the professionals involved had ever seen. The realtor, the appraiser, and the mortgage broker all called me brave, while the inspector said the only place he’d ever seen that was worse had been an actual crackhouse.
Of course, that’s what put it in my price range. As did the fact that it was an estate sale, and the family wanted rid of it quickly. But most importantly, I live with Ron, a carpenter who was willing to throw his knowledge, expertise, and hard work behind the project. At no charge. He was the one who found out the house was on the market, and just how bad it was. He mentioned it, thinking it might encourage me to start actively looking at places instead of just dreaming. Eight hours later, when I’d made an offer, he commented that he’d been hoping to light a fire, but hadn’t expected a conflagration.
And a conflagration was about what this poor house needed. While it wasn’t a full-on crackhouse, substance abuse played a major role in its current state. Sadly, both the previous owner and her tenant were alcoholics, which contributed to the place not having been cleaned in years. And they were both chain smokers, the stench of which saturated the tobacco-stained … the tobacco-stained everything, really.
The bathroom was an appalling mix of age, grime, and bad choices.
Like the rest of the house, it had to be completely gutted – which the closet very kindly decided to help out with. Working in another room, I heard a thunk that, upon further investigation, turned out to be the closet door falling off.
After everything was torn out, I cleaned the walls and ceilings – repeatedly. All it did was aggravate the smell. I’d leave every day with my eyes and sinuses burning from the smoke, and my stomach churning from the stench of grease that the cleaning added to the mix. It might have been January in Canada, but you’d better believe every window was wide open during this phase. But at least, for the first time, things started to look better.
The new tub improved the bathroom by leaps and bounds.
Although the bedroom next door took a bit of a hit when we had to cut a hole in the wall in order to fit the tub in place.
Eventually, after a whole lot of drywall installing and mudding and sanding – my favourite job, and one which everyone studiously stayed away from while in progress – it was time for primer. The stain and smell blocking kind, of course.
This was followed by paint – a stage which I apparently forgot to document – and tile, and a high-tech security system to make sure we didn’t walk on it until the mortar was set.
Fixture day was a big day. Not only did it mean the room was done. It also meant there was finally a usable toilet. No more running home to answer the call of nature!
And it’s a good thing, too. See, it wasn’t just the bathroom that needed this level of work. It was the entire house. And we were working full time at other jobs while we did it. So it’s no wonder we went through a fair bit of reno fuel over the months. Having a working toilet closer by would save us oodles of time.
Was it an insane amount of work? Yes.
Would I do it again? Also yes.
The before and after pics are all the answer I need to give.