Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Hurricane House

Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast on September 21, 1989.  The storm slammed into Isle of Palms northeast of Charleston before progressing northwest into the inland counties of the Carolinas.  The home shown below was in Berkeley County.  The owners covered the roof with a tarp, but the damage was never repaired and it was condemned in the Fall of 2005 by local building officials.

The Hurricane House - Before
The Hurricane House - After

The tree that had done the most damage was still in the yard when I bought The Hurricane House in 2006.  The oak had been cut into segments with a chain saw, but had never been hauled away.  This exemplified what I started with.  It wasn't as if the property had been frozen in time for 16 years, but it was obvious that everything had changed with Hugo before Mother Nature and time tag-teamed the brick ranch to a deteriorated condition that many believed was beyond repair.  

The building official who had condemned the property told me emphatically that it could not be saved.  I had contemplated taking the house down and replacing it with a new home, but when I heard this negative prediction one thought instantly sprang to life in my mind; Now it's on.  His arrogant pessimism really stirred me up and I was determined to save The Hurricane House and prove that guy wrong.  Although the property had a long list of issues, I knew there were options to deal with them other than complete demolition.  The town rep. had not been on the roof and hadn't crawled under the home to examine the structural integrity of the framing.  Perhaps he'd never renovated a condemned home before.  I had and I was confident I could resurrect this Pig's Ear.     

When I bought The Hurricane House, it was the worst property in the neighborhood.  When I finished it in 2008, it was certainly worthy of being called a Silk Purse.      

Living Room looking into Kitchen - During
Living Room looking into Kitchen - After


  1. Just a suggestion: you need a menu bar with links to your different houses. So for instance, if you had a link in the sidebar to all the posts tagged "Hurricane House" - would be easier for people to link to, etc.

    Anyway, were there termite issues on this one? Say that the framing is not only rotten but eaten up by termites - what makes it cross over into "I can save this" territory? And the other question is could you build something nicer for the same amount of money? probably not if you're doing the work yourself...but I wonder about these things!

  2. It looks fantastic of course -- forgot to mention that! ha

  3. Menu bar? Great suggestion! I don't know how to do it, but I love that idea & want to figure it out.

    Hurricane House. Termites, bugs, and a opossum. Mold was a bigger issue until we put on the new roof & let it air out for a few months.

    In order for me to save a house I need something to work with. You can have a lot of rot and some serious bug activity (& mold, etc.), but that doesn't mean the whole house has to come down. I think of it in terms of the value of what's salvageable and try to put a dollar value on that..for example, how much would it cost if I was to pay to rebuild the salvageable parts back? On the Hurr. Hse., we had some things to work with; half the house, the brick veneer, and the foundation were solid. If I had to pay someone to tear it down, haul it all away (that would have been a lot of tonnage/$$), and then rebuild it with new conc., brick and framing...it would have cost more & taken longer than for me to work with what I had.

    When the Hurr.Hse., was done, it felt like a new house inside. However, for most it was better (& maybe nicer) than new because it had some character and history that a new home wouldn't have had. People that didn't even know me were proud of me for saving it...so that was part of it and for us, that did make it nicer.

    So, the big question would be: Do you have something to work with?...something that's not rotten and ate up with bugs, water damage, etc.