My lovely friend Amanda just bought a house for her and her daughters in our neighborhood. We joked that the house must be the little sister of our Babushka house: same narrow Chicago lot, same bay windows and faux brick asphalt siding, same recently deceased old lady owner; but slightly smaller and 7 years younger. And let’s face it, a hell of a lot cuter:
And like our home, the Dollhouse “has potential.” That’s top-secret real estate code for “needs work.” But in my mind (here I commence rationalizing a major life decision), lovingly restoring an old city house is an expression of civic pride and a noble act of sustainability. And most importantly for us, it was way cheaper than buying a newer house with, say, post-war electricity.*
Fixer-uppers certainly aren’t for everyone, and they may not be for you. But do us fixer-upper types a favor: The next time you visit our house, try not to say any of these things:
- You should tear down this wall.
- I saw some human poop behind your garage.
- I got a couple of buddies that could tear that garage/porch/dead tree down for you. Just give ‘em a case of beer and some chainsaws.
- I’m sure the land is probably worth something.
- Have you had your kids tested for lead poisoning yet?
- You could always put an addition on the back.
- Hmmm, it’s so very …. European!
- I’m sure that smell will go away in the spring time… once you figure out how to open the windows.
- At least you guys are handy [Bonus points for: “I’m sure your husband is handy”]
- People were certainly a lot smaller when they built this house.
- You have good health insurance, right?
- I wonder how many people died in this house?
- At least you don’t have to worry about thieves wanting to break into your house.
- You know, asbestos is only dangerous if you actually breathe it in.
- It’s so much more charming than a plain old rehab.
- I’m sure the rats will scare away the homeless people. Or vice-versa.
- It’s definitely not THE MOST ugly house on the block.
- It’s so interesting to see how they did things before indoor plumbing was invented.
- Your kids are probably old enough that the lead won’t do THAT much brain damage.
- I saw this one TV show about house flippers where they …[insert anything here].
- You’re gonna tear this whole place down, right?
* I’ll let you decide which war I’m talking about. Because technically, the Korean War still hasn’t ended.