Update from the Money Pit – or how we spent our summer vacation savings :-(

big problem area
attack of the dry rot!

We’ve been having some work done on the money pit house for the past week or so. It all started because we decided it was time to repaint. Our house was looking increasingly like the shabbiest place on the block, with chipping paint, split boards, and (yikes!) dry rot – stuff like that. It was looking so sad that some painters actually came up and knocked on our door and asked if we’d given any thought to repainting the house. Ouch! But before we painted we decided to get all of the bad siding and rotted wood finally repaired.

After trying to get two different contractors come out to the house to give us an estimate only to have them not even bother to call us back, our friends Skip and Diane gave us a great recommendation for a contractor who had recently done some (excellent) work on their house. He not only came out when he said he would, he was early AND he gave us a very fair estimate. He also found a lot more dry rot than we thought we had. And as he and his son pulled away the bad siding, they discovered more unpleasant surprises – like that all of the siding and plywood on the chimney had to be completely replaced. By the time they were done, probably 10% of the siding on the back house, built in 1985,  had to be replaced. Happily the front house, built in 1912, was pretty much fine (except for a bit of the addition added on in – you guessed it! – 1985). Typical money pit drama. The really sucky thing we learned was that the folks who built the house in 1985 took lots of stupid short cuts that created almost all of the problems we’ve had to fix. Lesson: do the job right the first time and the future owners won’t have fork over the big bucks to clean up your mess (oh, did I mention the builder went out of business in 1989? I doubt he cares much about us).

We haven’t seen the final bill but we know it will be higher than the estimate. (Duh!) Just how much higher will help us decide what more work we can do. On the laundry list: our kitchen (do we, as Jim the contractor so kindly said, spruce it up – or go whole hog and tear everything out – or once again end up doing nothing?), the roof (it’s a 20-year roof that’s 7 years over its “use by” date – bits of shingle periodically fall to the ground, and there’s a coat of green something covering half of the shed’s roof), the downstairs bathroom (nothing really wrong with it except it looks out of date). Basically, we should just let Jim the contractor move in with us for a while.

So now that all of that work is done we are ready to move on to the painting. That starts July 11. I’m excited because we’ve decided to go with all new colors! Goodbye blue, hello green! (OKay, I guess we could have been bolder – but we’re going with three colors this time – none of that two-color wimpiness!).

Photos of the big mess are here.


  1. The Kitchen! definitely the Kitchen, I happen to know a GREAT designer that would be happy to help you!

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