Aug. 29, 2017

We love our fixer upper!!

When it rains, we get out the buckets…

We bought an old fixer upper, knowing it was going to need a lot of work and TLC to bring it around to an inhabitable, comfortable place we could call home. Funny thing is, last fall, we had been scoping out the area, looking for property to possibly purchase in the future. We stumbled across this old run down house and barn that had been empty and abandoned for about 20 years. The property was overgrown and the buildings were in a state of disrepair.

We were told the owner would never sell and he was too attached to the place. He had operated a fox farm there in the 80’s and had left the area with his family in the 90’s never to return, except for an occasional summer when he would return by himself for a couple weeks in the summer to “fix things up.” 

Well, when we got a phone call from him, he said he was the owner of the property and might be interested in selling it. He wanted to meet us in Wasilla to talk about his place. So we met. We’d never been inside the house or the barn. We had only briefly looked around the outside and saw how overgrown it was. We decided to meet. The owner brought pictures of what it had been in its original glory in the 70’s and 80’s. He said he would only sell to someone he thought had an adventurous enough soul and the drive to bring the place back to life. I guess his meeting with us convinced him and his wife that we were those souls, and a week later, we were the proud new owners of a run down fixer upper. 

Now, to set the record straight, we asked if there were any major repairs to be done. He said there was a little bit of foundation work that needed to be done, but with a few bottle jacks, easy enough to fix. He said there was a soft spot in one section of the roof that he had stepped thru several years before, but he had repaired it and it was good now. We took him at his word and signed the papers, pretty much sight unseen. Fast forward four months later, when we arrived to begin repairs, our hearts sank. There was A LOT of problems that needed addressed fast.

Sitting in the living room area, listening to the rain on the roof (a roof made from old printing press tin plates which had been hammered to the plywood with a million nails) we heard water drops splattering inside. The water was coming thru the upstairs floor into the living room, puddling onto the floor. Raindrops were also falling thru the open hole on the roof around the stovepipe, hissing as they hit the hot barrel stove we were using to heat the house. In a frenzy of chaos, we found buckets and pans, trying to catch as much water as we could.  We now understood, we had a major problem of a leaky roof that un-benownst to us had been leaking for 30 plus years…

As money is an issue, we were not financially set to be able to purchase a new roof. So, we figured we’d hope for the best and cover it with a large tarp. We anchored a large blue tarp over the ridge of the roof and ran it down both sides. It was an eyesore to be sure, but the leaking roof was now manageable. It worked for what we needed it for.  With summer approaching and warmer weather afoot, we pulled out the stovepipe and took the barrel stove to the barn. We patched the stovepipe hole in the roof with plywood and lots of waterproof sealant. It stayed warm enough, we didn’t need a fire.

As we could afford, we bought furring strips of 1x4 wood slats and affixed them across the roof. Later, we added 10 foot sections of sheet metal, each piece 36” wide. Sheet by sheet, we got drier and drier inside. We cheered and high fived each other when the worst part of the leaky roof got covered with sheet metal. Now, a year later, we are only one sheet away from having the upper section of the roof completed.  The buckets have been put away and the nightmare of what we had endured slowly fades. Now we can lie in bed and listen to the rain on our sheet metal roof, peace and serenity filling our minds. No longer do we strain our ears for water dripping somewhere in the house. We can drift off to sleep peacefully, until suddenly, the thought of winter enters and then the question of “will this rotten old roof withstand an arctic snowload??” Our minds races with concerns and we talk into the night about what if’s.  Sleep is once again disturbed…