Posts tagged ‘depressed city area rehab’

July 14, 2014

The TROUBLE with Hallie.

It started back at the end of March when we were finishing up Dresden. We stopped in to check on Hallie and drop off supplies. While we had been away 2 things happened. The first one was that the house that sat directly behind Hallie, covered in graffiti, peeling paint and a sagging porch had finally been demolished. The 2nd was that Hallie’s basement was now flooded.


We had been notified by our contact at the Columbus Landbank, that if we didn’t purchase the other property, that this was the fate that would befall it. Earlier on though, we had decided that we’d stick with sturdier structures like brick, plus we weren’t in the financial position to take on another rehab. We even entertained the idea of purchasing the land that would connect right to Hallie’s backyard after the demolition. Then we came to our senses and realized we’d just pay more on taxes, have more grass to mow each week and in reality it would only benefit our potential renters. Which after considering putting up a fence in the backyard to prevent miscreants from walking through and dumping trash, it wasn’t an additional expense that we relished.

Hallie flooded basement copy (Shown here the water covering the bottom step.)

Obviously, this was NOT something that we wanted. We knew the drains on our end were all cleaned out. Joel had just snaked everything while working on the plumbing prior to the misadventures of Dresden. The correlation of the situation being tied to the other properties demolition seemed pretty clear. But Easter was upon us and as was our trip, so we took this time to clear our heads, hoping the situation would magically resolve itself.

It didn’t.

It took a months worth of calls to finally get a response back. The Head of Demo seemed concerned, took the info from Joel and said he’d call back. Instead, though, the Head of the Columbus Landback (the organization we purchased Hallie from) contacted us, denying any wrong-doing. He told Joel that our property/pipes were old, that we should contact our insurance company and that IF we could prove that it WAS INDEED THEIR FAULT, that maybe they could just give us the land as payment. Sounds a little shady doesn’t it? Why would that last bit even be offered up?

It was on us to prove that it was the City’s wrongdoing. Over the course of the last 4 1/2 months, we’ve pumped the basement of 1 1/2 feet of water 5 TIMES. It’s a large basement. It takes half a day EACH TIME. We were hoping the first time, that we could just pump it and be done. By the 3rd round, leaks were springing up all over the basement from the intense pressure. (I have a video, it’s disheartening and won’t load.) Even with the water gone, it was still being forced to find it’s way in. After the water has emptied, Joel has attempted to snake the drains an additional 2 more times hoping that there was just debris in the pipes. He reworked the the downspouts and drainage around the duplex in hopes it would help. When nothing worked, we finally had a company come out to verify the problem and provide a quote. $8,000 to rip it all up and repair the damage. When Joel presented the findings to the Landbank, at first the guy seemed forthright. He stated this incident had happened one other time. It was a process, it would have to go through City Council to get approved, but it would be taken care of.

Then he totally back-pedaled.

The Head of the Landbank called back. Now one quote wasn’t good enough, they wanted at least 2. In addition, he said we’d have to cover the expense upfront AND THEN get reimbursed by the City. Then there was also something about an easement and how the demolished property would be useless to them if they repaired our pipes and they couldn’t have that. (Which is really random since those pipes were connected to ours all along and worked fine previously.) It became astoundingly clear why more people didn’t purchase these properties. Instead of being our allies, the very folks that we thought we were all working together with to make Columbus better, in reality were more than willing to shut us down and not take any sort of responsibility for their ignorance.

Aside from dealing with the basement and mowing/weeding, we stopped working on improving the property. There’s no point unless this situation can be remedied. A considerable amount of new hardwood flooring was purchased previously and just sits, waiting to be laid. If nothing changes, we are faced with the decision of possibly handing back the property that we already sunk thousands into. All the nights after work, weeks, months we poured ourselves into, would be a complete waste.

So thoughts? Suggestions? At this point, I’m very disenchanted. I’m tired, we both are. The last thing I want to be doing is dragging a newborn to a rehab site because people cannot be responsible to do their jobs correctly. By now, it was suppose to be completed, rented and providing us with an additional source of income and the neighborhood with one more residence that didn’t look like an abandoned dump.

January 9, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 14 : Mimi comes to visit!

When Arden was small, she began calling Amy, my long-time friend of 20 years, ‘Mimi’ when she could first talk.
We go way back and have been friends since we were teens, working together at McDonald’s.
This week was very exciting because Amy drove up from Alabama, stopping off to visit us before heading to parent’s house near Cleveland.
Having once lived in Columbus too, (we both moved here in ’99, within a couple weeks of each other for completely unrelated reasons!) Joel and I are always petitioning her to move back. But you know there is that pesky business of having to get a new job and sell a house among other things.
I am forever optimistic though!

As a Hallie first, Amy awesomely went to work with us, ripping up floorboards in the upstairs bedroom.

Pile of wood copy

Pulling out nails is a tedious job, especially having to work by flashlight!

Amy pulling nails copy

Here’s the other bedroom I had already ripped up the boards in and then worked on pulling out nails.

Bedroom floor I ripped up and pulled nails out of copy

Under the painted thin hardwood of the upstairs, lies beautiful, golden brown original hardwood. Yes, it is scuffed and scratched, but none of the upstairs suffered water damage from the burst pipes. So fortunately, instead of having to completely replace everything like the first floor, we can instead just sand, stain and poly. It will save so much money and I can’t wait to see how amazing it will turn out.

The wood underneath copy

Meanwhile, Joel was laying cement board in the bathroom, so the tiling can begin.

Joel laying cement board copy

On Sunday, we waved goodbye to Amy and headed off to do more work at Hallie. It wasn’t all bad, since we enjoyed gloriously warm weather. It is always so much easier to work with the sun shining and not having to be bundled up to our noses. I worked on tiling while Joel was up on the roof doing some much needed repairs.

tile in shower upstairs copy

The day before, Arden was told by Amy that she shouldn’t help (because she was dropped off by her dad from a family holiday get together. She was still all dressed up and I forgot to bring her a change of clothing.) So the next day, Arden took it as a personal challenge that she too, could pull out nails.
And by golly, that’s what she did.

Arden bent over pulling nails copy

At first I would hear her in the bedroom grunting and groaning, followed by the sound of nails straining as they were ripped from the floor. It sounds super funny when you hear it , knowing it is such a little kid. After working awhile by herself, she came in the bathroom to show off her pile of nails. Honestly, I was impressed. I would have never guessed that she would have the arm strength to pull them out. Clearly, I had forgotten that she is indeed my girl, because stubbornness wins out.

Arden holds nail copy

I told her she could have 2 pieces of candy for her efforts, thinking she would be pleased and be done. After we came back from dropping off a load of trash and getting lunch, she went right back at it though. Seeing that I found her work valuable, we negotiated that she could earn 1 piece of candy for every 33 nails she pulled. That spunky kid went on to pull out an additional 139 more nails. When she declared that her back hurt and she was going to stop and go play, I couldn’t have been prouder.

arden standing sassy copy

January 8, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 13

Well folks, this is no baby-is-on-the-way post, but I’m a bit behind on Hallie updates and have to play a little catch-up. This particular bit of work took place about the 3rd week of December. Previously, the old tub had been moved out and top layer of flooring got ripped up.

After that, Joel took up a bunch of the hardwood so that all new water pipes and electrical could be installed.

torn up bathroom pipes in floor copy

Here, all the pipes go up the wall for the shower. It’s crazy all the ground work that has to be laid before just putting in a new tub.

wall torn up, pipes put in copy

Once that was all taken care of, the boards went back over and the new tub was put in and we built a wall.

upstairs tub in and wall built copy

I am normally not of fan of making a small space even tinier or blocking out natural light. However, Joel in his infinite wisdom, pointed out that if we don’t frame off the shower, then residents will get water all over the wall, window and floor. You know it’s true. People do some crazy things when it’s not their property. So in an attempt to avoid that sort of damage, up went the wall. It is actually rather easy to built one. A bunch of 2 x 4’s, some drywall and nails and baby, you got yourself a stew! (Sorry, I was feeling a little Carl Weathers from Arrested Development there!)

Anyway, it is not a complete loss of light. It may darken this room a bit, but as you can see by the photo below, the upstairs gets plenty of glorious light. We’ve driven up before and the afternoon sun was casting it’s brilliant rays so dazzlingly inside, it appeared to have all the lights on upstairs. (Which is impossible, because there is no electricity yet.)

bright hall view of hallie copy

To finish up this week, drywall was put up over the holes and the walls were patched.
Not very exciting stuff, but it needs done.

drywall over tub faucet copy

Next post: Mimi comes to visit!!

December 13, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 12

This week has been a slow one, Friends. I was sick, now Joel’s sick. (This has not been a good year for sickness in our household with Arden starting Kindergarten!) So needless to say not a whole lot has been worked on over at Hallie. Our spirits rose briefly when Joel’s family from Michigan was planning to pay us a visit AND volunteer services for this weekend. Remaining floor removal full steam ahead! (Yay!) But unfortunately are now unable to make it. (Boo!) Hopefully, we (mainly me) are able to rally some energy to get A LOT work done to show you for next week.

About 3/4 of the flooring is torn up on the first floor. I have to say it does nothing to add warmth to the place. While my awesomely-scored-for-free kerosene heater kicked butt while we were sectioned off in the bathroom & bedroom, working in the main areas is another story. Cold seeps up through the sub-floor from the basement and with four open rooms it is way too much to try to heat, which sort of makes it unpleasant to work. You can work up a good sweat if you partake in tearing up the floor, which not only gets a person really dirty, but also makes you feel pain in places you didn’t know existed previously. Not immediately. At first I just felt awesomely strong for doing this task, but later there was a definite possibility I might die and not be able to get off the couch.

close up of floor copy

I had mistakenly tricked myself into thinking that after the boards were all ripped up that the new floor could go down. (Which actually won’t happen until all the walls are repaired and painted.) Instead a million nails still have to be removed. You may feel that I am exaggerating, but one look at this photo (of just the living room) and they do seem to go on forever. So that’s fun.

large floor copy

Let’s take a gander of the upstairs bathroom. Smaller than the first one, but equally as ugly.
The original wooden flooring here is actually in rather nice condition (probably because it was covered up.) Much to my heavy heart’s dismay, we cannot keep it because as Joel pointed out, someone will inevitably overflow the toilet (probably more than once) and it will get ruined. So tiling it is.

upstirs bath copy

The one hidden gem of this bathroom is it’s clawfoot tub. It’s original to the house and is dated 1917. It’s also extremely heavy and it sounded like an elephant playing a tuba when Joel moved it into the hallway. I have ALWAYS wanted a clawfoot tube (they are ridiculously expensive!) So we will be keeping this one to refinish for our future (larger) house. (Yay!) A much cheaper tub will be going in it’s place. So I’m extremely thrilled about this part, even though it will take a bit of work to make it lovely again.

tub upstairs copy

Until next week!

November 15, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 8

Our first project since moving to the inside, is to get a functioning bathroom. It would just make us feel a little more human and make the whole experience working there just a bit easier. So here we are with the first floor apartment bath. It’s a bit dirty and disheveled to say the least. The shower pipes and faucet were previous taken. The shower especially is a wreck, since they ripped a large hole in the wall (where you can see into the kitchen).

IMAG1144 copy

There’s a lot of mold and mildew in here, so most of the drywall has to go.
All the electrical is extremely old (as in not up to code) and has to be rewired.
We use this as an opportunity to put lights where we want them (like in the ceiling) as opposed to just the little sconces that were previously by the sink.

Hallie the Duplex, Week Joel putting up board copy

Over by the doorway on one strip of wall, there’s a random bit of metal, painted covered tile that has to be removed. We will probably end up mudding over the old, dry adhesive instead of attempting to sand it down.

Hallie the Duplex, Week 8 010 removing tile copy

Here’s the new moisture-resistant dry wall that went up. We will be tiling over it.

Hallie the Duplex, Week 8 0 green wall up copy

Here’s a view of the cement board that went on the floor before it also will get tiled.
There is hardwood through out the entire duplex. After previous owners bought it, they covered it all with cheap Pergo which looked terrible.
Unfortunately, both floorings were destroyed in the downstairs when the pipes burst wracking much of the havoc that you’ll see over the next few weeks. This info was provided by the water company and we are left to assume that the previous owners called it quits after that.

Finally, here’s the new tile that will go in for the bathroom floor. I super love it and it has a great subtle texture. Sort of looks like grey tweed. Getting to pick out the materials is the fun part for me! Seeing it come together is what makes it all so great!

Come back next week to see how it looks in the bathroom. 🙂

Bathroom grey floor tile copy

November 12, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 7

Since I missed a blog post last Thursday, due to:

1.) being really busy
2.) being exhausted
3.) the time change
4.) all of the above

I’m posting about what we were able to get accomplished today (for last week) then will post new updates on Thursday.
By the time Joel gets off work, it’s dark. We still don’t have electric. This endeavor is getting a bit challenging, we are feeling the pinch and just want to hibernate. Oh and did I mention that our renter at Joel’s old house hasn’t paid rent in 2 months? (YAY!) Did you know you can’t just kick non-payers out? Instead a long, drawn-out course of action must be followed, including filing with the city that is a several hundred dollar fee. So now you are beginning to understand our stress. Paying a mortgage on not just one, but two houses and trying to rehab a third is a bit much.

Sigh. Life! Right?

Anyway! Here’s what’s new.

Joel works on the railing of the backdoor by flashlight.

IMAG1259 copy

and the final product in daylight.

Back railing in daylight copy

There are lots of railings being put in, as it’s part of the rental housing requirement.

The last side of the duplex has finally been de-vined. It was the home of many birds, who unfortunately had to relocate. Their nests, mostly made of trash and debris, along with much dirt, came raining down upon us. Mostly Joel, because he’s braver than me and gets up quite high on the ladder. It was a grimy day.
Here’s an awesome before & after.

before and after side copy

Finally, here’s a little project. We only had one mailbox, so I scored an additional one (since we have 2 units) for $5 at our local Habitat for Humanity Resale store.

IMAG0559 copy

Add a little bronze metallic spray paint and TA-DA!
Even though they aren’t exactly the same in dimensions and style, the paint pulls them together and adds a lot of interest.
I just love how it looks!

painted mail boxes copy

Tune in on Thurs. for more updates. 🙂

October 24, 2013

Hallie the Duplex : Week 5

We’ve been working feverishly around here to get things painted before the weather became chilled. Not exactly expecting winter winds to roll in already, but as I worked on more landscaping last night it started hailing. Always a good time to be had in Ohio!

Here’s what’s new:

Joel removing boarded window

First glimpse inside Hallie. (Audible gasp!) I know, it’s atrocious, but you haven’t seen anything yet! LOL Here, Joel is removing the board off of the kitchen window of the first floor.

Open window

kitchen window removed

Installing glass block.
It’s tedious, messy and oh-so-time consuming! However, it’s much sturdier that regular panes (aka less likely to get broken) and much less expensive, so YAY for that!

Block window in place

It’s absolutely wonderful finally having some light in this place! (Because we still do not have electric (YAY! for the slow moving wheels of ‘the process’.)

Here’s all the windows Joel has installed. (The one things are for dryer vents.)

Hallie week 5 007 side block window view copy

Moving around front, let’s take a gander at the newly painted upper portion of the house. Looking sharp with no boards and some snazzy new white trim.

Hallie week 5 front of house painted upper copy

(Joel used to do slate roofing, so he’s all pulling a giant ladder up by himself to paint the blue. Ohhh, I have a photo here! ->

Joel painting upper front copy

Meanwhile, I’m clinging onto the window with one hand (for dear life!) and painting with the other, because heights MAJORLY freak me out.

Here’s a closer look at the front porch. If you recall from earlier posts, it was pretty nasty. All new wood siding was put in. Joel did a rocking’ job on the trim. And I painted and painted and painted some more. Aside from the random light we need to replace that’s hanging, it’s really coming together.

Hallie week 5 front doors and porch copy

Hallie week 5 005 porch ceiling copy

And last but not least, around back, this lonely door here, got a coat of fresh paint!

Hallie week 5 blue back door copy

There are still SO MANY odds and ends to get done. The entire other side of Hallie is still covered in vines. Wood siding and glass block windows also need put in there. We need new railings out front and in the back, the brick needs filled with mortar in it’s bare spots. And the back upper portion of the house still needs painted blue. We are supposed to have weather in the 60’s next week (so it will dry well) so fingers crossed!

The very best part is that we have gotten SO MANY compliments from the folks in the neighborhood. One older guy that had previously shook his head in disgust when we told him we were going to paint it blue (a few weeks ago) strode by and just smiled and said “I see what you mean, it looks great! The white really pulls it together!’ Then I had another guy inquiring about renting there. He said to his friend “They are out here working every day. Every day! Can you imagine? It’s going to look amazing when they are done. I want to live there. It will be so nice!”

I can’t even tell you how rewarding it is to hear that. 🙂

September 25, 2013

The Not-So-Fun-Facts about Hallie-the-Duplex

Joel and I were eager to start working as soon as we closed. Not because we think it’s fun, but because in our-little-plan-in-our-heads, we anticipated obtaining Hallie much more rapidly. In reality, due to all the technicalities of the process, it wasn’t possible. So now to put it bluntly, we basically need to haul-ass to get the outside up to code. We have 60 days from the date of sale. (We are given 6 months for the interior.) Since we are doing this as a side project, and there is only so much daylight after work, it really doesn’t leave us much time before it starts getting too cold for these kinds of shenanigans. 

NS FUN FACT #1: Climbing ivy is a enormous pain (in your entire body) to remove from brick. It is so well adhered to the sides of the house we both could swing on it. Seriously.

NS FUN FACT #2: When we originally toured Hallie, it was pretty obvious she was hard up for some good old-fashioned back-breaking work. Once vacated, scrappers wasted no time stripping her of a every last bit of dignity. Taking every appliance, the furnace and any copper wiring. This translates to = we have no electricity. Turns out a lovely $400 will have to be sadly parted with in order to obtain a permit from the City just to be able to rewire Hallie. *Gulp.*

NS FUN FACT #3: Hallie is haunted. Or so say the locals, who are endlessly entertained by us, as they stand in their yards or on the sidewalk to watch our labor. Stories vary from 1 to 4 men being executed in a drug-deal-gone-bad (Is there such a thing as a positive drug deal experience?) The lost souls are apparently trapped in the building, unable to find closure. When I point out that there had been a raccoon who had taken up residence in the 2nd floor (thus making noise and shuffling around) no one seems to make the correlation that it (or another animals in search of shelter) was the source of the ‘haunting’. Today, I calmly explained to a chatty fellow (who has lived in the neighborhood his entire life) that Hallie hasn’t given me any creepy feelings of doom when I’m working there, so I assume that the structure is at peace and happy now. (Who wouldn’t be excited at the very prospect of getting a make-over?!)

When Joel researched it, he did find that a previous occupant had died and the death was unsolved. It doesn’t say that it was in the house. (Insert spooooky music and WOO-ooo! That’s my ghost noise.)


Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Photo #1: Ivy ripped down from the front of the house.

Photo #2: New door installed and painted (still needs trim.) The vinyl to the left will also be removed and a 2nd door for the upstairs entry will be placed there.

Photo #3: Terrible shingle-type siding in the process of getting removed to expose the well-preserved wood underneath. This will be power-washed and painted the same blue as the door. Also, awesomely large brush pile we’ve acquired. Oh and a new door was put in back here by Joel.

Photo #4: Our new trailer! To haul away our awesomely large brush pile, bring us more doors, drywall, tubs, vanities and the lawnmower. An incredible time saver and a welcome relief to the Outlander, who is usually abused beyond belief.







Back view removing siding and brush 3 copy