what I did this week
take that, Susan

little stone house update

Life with roommates only lasted about two or three weeks before Kate told the couple to leave, then another 5 weeks or so until they were gone.  They were supposed to move in with three cats, all spayed, but moved in with four cats and four kittens, and only the old man cat was neutered.  That wasn't too bad, Kate loves cats, and all but one was a pleasant animal, but the roommates didn't clean the four litterboxes they spread out over three floors in a 900 square foot house so the cats were forced, after a time, to go to the bathroom on the floor.  Nor did the couple make veterinary appointments to get the cats spayed, and the females were constantly in heat; one started to spray and had to be locked in the basement.  Kate had no choice but to buy litter, clean the litterboxes, and litter train the kittens herself, in order to save her house.  The whole process was a stressful drama with much lying and resentment, a lost friendship, and a break-up.   Thankfully the cats didn't go to the bathroom on the hardwood floor on the main level, there would have been no saving it.  A thorough scrubbing of tile and an airing out of the whole house got rid of most of the stink.

Ordinarily I wouldn't tell you all that, it's Kate's personal life, but you have to know a broad overview of the background for the next batch of house renovations to make sense.

The only good that came out of their brief stay was that Kate kept two of the kittens, Gomez and Belle (though Kate calls her Belly, because she loves belly rubs).  They, of course, have received their vaccinations, were spayed and neutered, have been leash trained, wear tags, are cleaned up after, and cared for.  They are cuddly, friendly little munchkins who deserved a responsible owner, and they keep Kate from being lonely.  She didn't intend to incur the expense of pets until she was settled in and more financially stable, but it's a good thing it happened now, I think, Kate needs the cuddles.


The cat-pee soaked carpet and plywood subfloor had to be removed from the upstairs attic area that was ready to move into, that is to be Kate's bedroom.  When that was removed fire damage was found on the floor underneath in quite a large area.  Thankfully, the char only went halfway down through the floorboards and did not damage the support underneath.  The floorboards, then, had to be removed as well, then she and a friend gutted the entire attic, to make sure there was no fire damage on the walls and ceiling that had been covered up with drywall.  There was no further damage....nor was there much insulation, which explains the ice dams on the roof in the winter which cause leaks.  A company is scheduled to come next week to spray foam insulation in the attic and around the new headers in the basement.  She and her friend should have the new plywood subfloor installed by then.  The subfloor is taking longer than expected, because the original support beams are made from reclaimed beams, probably from a barn, and don't provide a level surface.  They are adding additional support where needed to ensure the new subfloor is level and, hopefully, quieter than the old one, which creaked.


When they gutted the attic they removed the walls that divided the space into sections and are planning built in storage, etc, to customize the space for Kate's needs.  She intends to make the absolute most of the space she has.  Right now she is using the two small bedrooms downstairs, that she intended to rent out at least one of, so has no rental income coming in, while the repair costs keep piling up.  She can meet all her financial obligations without a renter, but not with as much money left over as she feels comfortable about socking away for when an emergency pops up.

One of the girls returned her house key when they moved out, but the other did not, so Husband bought and installed two electronic keypad locks on her front and back doors last weekend.  It is far easier to add and remove codes for renters than have locks re-keyed.  Plus, they are more convenient, we have them on our house and love them.

I'm sure the cats will be disappointed when the attic is finished, as right now it makes a wonderful playground.


The previous owners hadn't done any work in the attic, but they had in the basement, covering the walls with pink board insulation, and painting it.  The pink board had to be taken down because of cat spray damage.  Plus, after the broken sump pump/flooded basement issue last spring Kate was concerned there could be mold growing behind it.  She didn't find any mold, but did find that the main support beams holding the house up were rotting away.  She had her contractors put in new beams and headers where needed.


Still on the to-do list, hopefully before winter, are to remove the asphalt driveway and regrade the property away from the house, and to tuck-point the stone walls.  Kate bought scaffolding from Craig's list, and has done much research on tuck-pointing.  It's maintenance that has to be done yearly, which she is learning to do herself.  "It's all part of owning a stone house", she tells me.

Still on the to-do list, but put off until next year, due to lack of funds, is re-shingling the roof, and installing a new, more energy efficient and reliable hot water heater.  She also wants to tear the mudroom addition down to its studs to see why the ceiling has started to sag and the tiles are popping off the floor.  I suspect she'll find the heavy looking tongue and groove board on the ceiling wasn't adequately attached, and the tiles were put on a floor that hadn't been leveled first.

Also on the to-do list, dated 'eventually', is more work in the basement.  She wants to paint the walls and floors, which need some cosmetic repair work first.

All in all, Kate is full of regret, and wishes she had bought a small piece of land and a new mobile home to live in until she saved enough money to build a house.  When she bought this house she knew it needed a bathroom remodel and new doors and windows.  She didn't anticipate having to have all the plumbing and electrical redone, etc.  She still loves the cute little stone cottage, but has twice as much money into the house, so far, than what it is worth.  Fortunately, the small house is on a large double lot so she has room to add on when the need arises and the time is right.  I keep reminding her that she did all the right things when she made the purchase, she was there to witness the thorough inspection, and that no one can see through walls.   I tell her she can't go back, she can only push forward, and this experience is certainly teaching her much.  Besides, eventually she'll have repaired everything, so she will have a new house, but inside old stone walls.







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Oh my word. Poor Kate.

My home was built in the 1960s. While solid, there are many "gifts" of renovations past we have uncovered. None of them quality and all of them expensive to repair. We were also diligent on our purchase, but to say it bluntly, s*#$ sucks sometimes. And it feels like you're in an endless pit of fixing.

That said, 5 years later it's slightly less of a money pit!! And I have picked up so many new skills! Like drywall, electrical, over all building and plumbing. Even tuck point work! Nothing you tube and a bottle of wine can't fix. Also, I've had the best help asking the "grandpas" working at Home Depot usually during the week (as they get those shifts the most). They're often the retired plumber working in plumbing, etc and love to teach and talk your ear off.

Tell her to keep strong. It's a beautiful house and it will be perfect when she's done


Oh poor dear. Our house was also built in the sixties, went through a fire that gutted it and then a lot of 'home owner repairs'. Which means they weren't done quite right. Everything is livable but it does feel like the Money Pit.

It's a beautiful little house and when she's done with all the major work she'll love it. She could do an income suite in the basement when she's got some more funds built up. If that's allowed in your area. I know different states (sometimes counties and cities) have different rules about emergency egress.

The attic looks huge though and the insulation will be a huge money saver when it gets colder. That spray in stuff actually helps to strengthen the roof.


Poor Kate. She must feel like she's at the bottom of a mountain facing down an avalanche right now. It's so easy to say, with the experience of age, that things aren't as bleak as they seem but I'm sure this will be of no consolation to her now. It is, however, a wonderful thing to have supportive parents (and fluffies to cuddle). Shit comes at you from all angles through your life but be assured kate, you learn, you get wise and you'll get past this.
Sending a huge hug from across the pond X


Gah, poor Kate! I can completely sympathise. Although we do not have an old house and we built new, it still requires a lot of work. Everything reaches a point (some after only a couple of years) when repairs or replacement are needed. We've repainted the windows twice in ten years (yes, twice after the initial paint when they were new) and they need painting again now. Even if she'd purchased new, she'd still be up for maintenance and repairs, so I hope she's not too disheartened. She has a gorgeous character property to show for all her hard work, and it's HERS!


I'm sorry she's having so many house problems. Hopefully things will soon work themselves out and she'll actually be able to enjoy her home.


So sorry to read this; what a dreadful setback for Kate after all the hard work of making the house habitable. Nobody could have forseen the problems that would come out of hiding (or the roommates from hell - ugh!). This is sheer bad luck, Kate has no need to regret her decisions. The stone cottage is beautiful and, as long as Kate still loves it, the extra work and expense will be worthwhile.


Poor Kate!! She's learning all the worst lessons of being a home owner, but hopefully the money she's pouring into it will pay off and she'll spend a long time in a house she loves.
And as annoying as the housemate/cat issues were, maybe it's serendipitous since it unveiled problems that only would have gotten worse over time.

And she got Gomez and Belly out of it, and they are absolutely adorable!!
Love them!

Barbara W.

So sorry to read of Kate's troubles. What a credit she is to you as a responsible daughter/homeowner/pet owner. I have bought several homes (repos) and count myself lucky that they worked out. My co-worker, on the other hand, just bought a new build (her "dream home") and it has been nothing but trouble ($$) and the builder has mysteriously disappeared.

Best of luck to Kate - I love the little stone house and just know that it will be wonderful. (I keep hoping you will one day make a miniature of it!)

elizabeth s

HOUSES ARE MONEY PITS, especially old houses. Best thing is to get as much done now rather than wait because one repair is usually linked to another, and when everything is open and exposed Kate can see it and deal with it rather than think all is well and have perhaps MORE of her home and possessions ruined after she is well settled in.
Of course any investments she makes to her Old Stone house now will only add to its value if she ever decides to re-sell later on; but tell Kate she is not alone, I've thought about moving into a trailer too,- MANY TIMES! ;P


I read all your comments to Kate this morning. They made her feel not so alone. Thanks.

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