We call it the Fire House, because it was condemned by local building officials years after a dryer fire in the laundry room pushed the home into the category of uninhabitable. It was the only run-down, vacant house on the street and I saw its potential immediately. There was a towering Oak tree in the back yard, a pair of giant Pines in front, and a couple of beautiful Magnolia’s that needed pruning, but were still busting with southern charm. The garage in the house had been converted into a large den, but there was a detached carport in the back yard that contained much needed storage space for materials, tools, and equipment that would be required for the renovation work.
|It's clear to see that I'm covered with soot. This was how it was for months until the drywall was hung.|
I made a lot of new friends as I renovated the Fire House. The families nearby and around the neighborhood were excited to learn that someone had bought the place with the intention of fixing it up. The brick had been painted light gray, the shingles on the roof were a darker shade of gray, and the trim was a very, very dark blue that looked more like black. It was an extremely ugly, dreary house and it’s no wonder someone called it a Pig’s Ear.
For the entire year, I spent all my spare time working on the Fire House. Nearly every evening after work and any spare time I had on the weekends. However, to be accurate, it hardly felt like work for me because I wholeheartedly loved every minute of the time that I worked on that house. I did all the initial cleanup and demolition by myself as well as the carpentry (framing and fine), roofing, and landscaping. I won’t say that these were all simple tasks, but they were accomplishable as I knocked them out in progressive, steady steps before I went on to the next activity on the project.
|The converted garage included a fire place.|
When I started the Fire House I was in no way an experienced home renovator. I knew where I wanted to go and by that I mean I could picture how I wanted the home to look and feel when I was finished, but I certainly didn’t know exactly how I was going to get there. It was an adventure (as I’ve written before) and my plan took shape in specific ways day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month. I failed more than one inspection and once had to frantically figure out how to shut off the water to the house after I started doing plumbing work I was unqualified for and had water shooting out of one the shower valves. I didn’t let any of those missteps or screw-ups discourage me. I was willing to admit that I had a lot to learn, I made the required corrections when needed, and I pushed on. I hired tradesmen for the plumbing, HVAC, electrical, insulation, drywall, masonry, cabinetry, painting, and flooring. I won’t say that these crews shared my vision or optimism for how the house would be resurrected, but as long as my checks cleared at the bank, they were happy to be a part of the team.
|This is a view from the spot of the fire. What had once been the laundry room had become the future breakfast area next to the kitchen & the space that had been the living area would soon be the dining room.|