63 Comments

  1. curt
    August 9, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    Victoria – I was holding my breath – I feel for you – I know that pull of emotion. Why I’m always looking for that perfect storm (the old home that could be brought back to spectacular glory – with lots of time and money) while my own home is today sitting up on bottle jacks. There will be another – when the stars align and your present home is ready for a new owner.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 9:38 am

      Thank you for the commiseration. It’s so nice to have someone really *get* it. Literally all our family and friends thought we were crazy. Or borderline crazy. But to us it was such an appealing crazy. (At least from the comfort of my now-clean living room.)

      The worst part was seeing Paul be disappointed. He’s so levelheaded and pragmatic. And he doesn’t get worked up about very much. Me on the other hand, I can get excited about pretty much anything. Crown molding, stuff on craigslist, MadMen … But this time he was the enthusiastic one… and watching that evaporate was sad.

      Reply

  2. Tonya
    August 9, 2012 @ 9:30 am

    Sorry:( I would be really bummed, too. Find a new owner for your current place and I am sure some new treasure will surface to invest your love into:)

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 9:41 am

      You’re right, I know… SIGH. You know how it is though, when you get an idea in your head about how the rest of your life is going to play out? And then you’re yanked back to reality… That yanking is always so unpleasant!!

      Reply

  3. Alex @ northofseven
    August 9, 2012 @ 9:39 am

    I completely understand. That house has character screaming out of its walls. We like our home and have done a lot to fix it, but its not our dream home. So I spend so much time on MLS looking for homes debating on whether or not to take the next step to a more character filled house. It’s such a draining process. The next one will come for you! I really believe homes find us.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

      Are you seriously thinking about moving? Or simply strolling through the options just to know what’s out there? The MLS is such a double-edged sword… on one hand, you might find your dream house… on the other, it can make you seriously dissatisfied with what you have.

      After we bought the house we’re in now, I was still getting automated emails from the MLS… and I was afraid to open them. Like I might see something better and regret our decision. At this point though, the idea of moving is TRULY abhorrent to me. I would have done it for the above house, but for anything less than spectacular? (Or already finished.) No way.

      Reply

      • Alex @ northofseven
        August 9, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

        No we want to move. I wish we didn’t but we knew going into this house, being that it is our first house, it was a matter of need vs want vs what we can afford in our absolutely insane real estate market prices right now. So. I look. Casually. And of course everything that we would want would also involve a serious lottery win.
        So we make do with the best of what we can. We don’t not like our home, it’s just not our forever home. But like you, we would only move if the house that came up was our forever home.

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          August 9, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

          When you find your forever home, you’ll appreciate it all the more for having waited for it. Plus? I think everyone should do one house that ISN’T their dream house, FIRST. So that you get all the stupid mistakes and choices out of the way.

          Reply

  4. Jessica
    August 9, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    Awww, that sucks. In a way it’s a huge load off your mind (and your back) but I totally understand loving a house that needs rescuing. I still think about the one we passed up and I still think we made the wrong decision even though it had serious issues. I would give up my house in a second for fourteen foot ceilings and a ballroom.

    Around here, at least, the 30% down is not a new thing, although I guess it just could have been our bank. I remember way back in…oh, 2002? 2003? I didn’t have any children, so 2003 at the latest. Anyway, we were looking at buying a duplex to convert back to a single family, but the bank told us that since we were buying it as a duplex it counted as an income property, and income properties required 25% down as the bare minimum. We decided to pass.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

      It IS a huge load off my mind. But at the same time, the relief from the anxiety and back-and-forth left space for regret. And for feeling—like you said—that it got away. And that it was foolish for me to have even had anxiety… because OBVIOUSLY I need a ballroom. Why would I even question that?

      In some ways, about trying to get this mortgage, the more people I talked to, the more it became clear that no two people would tell us the same thing… We’ve looked at other rental properties, and we made an offer on a short-sale sometime last year (the bank declined our offer, and we weren’t interested at a higher price). Had we gone through with it, we were quoted 20% down by one bank, and 25% by another. So maybe it really does have to do with the bank.

      Reply

  5. RenovestorMama
    August 9, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

    I feel for you… There have been a few places we fell for as project homes and it sucks when you have all your plans ready to go, but something silly like another buyer comes along to mess all that up. 🙁 Worse off, when the banks have guidelines that make you feel like you’re a dog chasing your own tail; seemingly the rules make it impossible to get ahead. We had that with this last place, but in the end a mortgage broker was able to help. We’re in Canada, so I’m not sure how the rules work for you, compared to us.
    Back when we were searching for our own home, we had looked at the house we now have, but it was a lot of work so we wanted to think about it. It was also right before Christmas, plus it was on the market for almost six months, so we felt no pressure – until the house went off the market. I went crazy! It took some additional work and time, but after a couple months, the house was ours.
    Whether its this house, or another; now or in the future, your dream home will find you.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

      The feeling of someone else buying “your” house… is not a good one. Especially in this case, since it’s abundantly clear that whoever’s getting it has way more money, or the ability to quickly get access to way more money, AND on top of that— the certainty that they have the skills or a crew to go to town on it. And?? They are SO certain of all of this, they are paying full price. All of that combines to make us feel kind of incompetent, since we were still fumbling around with mortgages and banks and also planning to offer less…

      That your house randomly disappeared while you were debating it? Was probably a good way to know for sure you wanted it. That feeling of shock is probably a good indicator of your true desire.

      Reply

      • RenovestorMama
        August 9, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

        Never feel lesser because you might not have the budget others do. I’ve seen what beautiful things you have done in your current home. So regardless, they might have access to quick cash, I guarantee they will pay someone to create that “homey” feel, where you are a natural. And who knows, wait a bit and maybe you can scoop it up at a steal when they get in over their heads!

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          August 9, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

          Sigh… you’re right. I know. Envy is an ugly thing. Whenever I see that quote about comparison doing nothing other than making your own life dull… I think, wow… yes, such good advice. But hard to apply to yourself in the actual moment—when you have your teeth sunk in… and someone is prying you away.

          Reply

  6. Cher Vick
    August 9, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

    Yeah, that was a lot of house. Maybe now you guys can think about things better for the next time you fall in love with an old house. Check out this blog that shows all kinds of old homes that would just make you cry. http://oldhousedreams.com

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

      Whoa… that Queen Anne in Iowa? For $47,000????? I have no desire to live in Iowa, but for THAT house? I do.

      I had never heard of or seen that site… so thank you.

      Reply

    • Tonya
      August 15, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

      What an amazing site. Thanks for sharing Cher. Just passed it on to a couple people.

      Reply

  7. Storypiece
    August 9, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

    Wow… I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Such an amazing place. So much work… but so amazing!! It’s a stunning home and whoever ends up with it, I hope they will give it the care and appreciation that it deserves. Glad you won’t be dealing with the craziness and stress, but it sounds like the outcome was bittersweet to say the least.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

      Yes… even though I’m sad WE won’t be the ones driven crazy over this project, I do really hope whoever’s taking it on does it with the love it needs to really restore it to it’s original beauty.

      At first we thought for sure it must have been bought by a developer… it’s located on what could be two lots, if it was demolished. And it’s literally right on the river, so the land is valuable. Plus, the quick purchase and ready cash made us think it must have been a corporation. But it turns out it really is an individual who’s going to keep it as apartments. Lucky them. But? Also, they have to deal with that bathroom, which I don’t envy!!

      Reply

      • Storypiece
        August 9, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

        My cousin is taking on a monster renovation right now and it is truly stressful and overwhelming. Even though the outcome will be grand, he keeps asking “What did we just do?”

        Looking forward to seeing what’s next instead for you and your man.

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          August 9, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

          That’s the thing with renovation. It starts with imagining your fantasy house… and then muddles you in dirt and mess. And you literally wonder WHY you chose this. Then it wraps up and you’re amazed. With yourself, with your house… and you forget why you were ever stressed out about it!!

          Reply

  8. Shirley T.
    August 9, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    Hey you! You didn’t loose anything. You just didn’t gain something, but that in itself isn’t even true. You dreamed, you tried, you let your imagination live large and you learned quite a bit in the process.

    I was sad for months on end, naming each the houses I didn’t get as the “one that got away.” Each one we lost was, at the time, the perfect answer. In reality none were perfect. Fast forward to our quaint craftsman bungalow, and guess what? We bid on it in February, and lost. Someone else went to contract on it.

    By chance I look up it’s old MLS number, so I could cry over it, and the house didn’t close and the listing was expired. We ended up buying the house on a Monday, for 10k less then we were ready to offer on the previous Friday.

    Never be afraid to go for it. And also know when everyone doubts you it’s only because they are projecting their own fears.

    p.s. Now I want a ballroom….. thanks for that.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

      Wow. You were totally meant to buy that house! And I know you can list a thousand things to spend the savings on!! (Assuming you can still find that extra $10,000… and the house didn’t eat it immediately when you weren’t looking.)

      I’m going to try your attitude adjustment of thinking about it in terms of not having actually lost anything… We really got caught up in the dream-house aspect of it… and watching it get away is painful.

      p.s.- I am so totally never getting over the ballroom. It’s like seeing a house with running water or electricity after living in the stone ages… who could do without it??!!

      Reply

  9. the home tome
    August 9, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    Look, ballrooms are over-rated. I think Rhett was, too. And just think about how much dust the bottom of your hoop skirt would kick up! Crop pants are really so much better 🙂

    Those people who said it wasn’t meant to be? They might have been right, annoyingly enough. But it sounds like you learned a lot from this process (about rentals, about mansions/houses of this age, about yourselves) and I’ll bet that knowledge will come in handy as you make your next step…?

    Onward charge! I’m still just impressed that you even considered this undertaking!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 9, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

      Since I was a very young girl, I have been willing to live with the sacrifices that come with a hoopskirt. And a parasol. And a tiara…

      And yes. The people cheerfully pronouncing it “not meant to be” are only annoying for the quickness they brought to pointing it out. Skipping the step where they offered cookies and other gestures of sympathy before getting right to the crux of the matter.

      Reply

  10. Karen
    August 9, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

    Victoria,
    Okay, now I feel terrible at being one of the negative naysayers to the house by the bay (sea)…but that said, I’m pretty sure you didn’t show us that final image at sunset! Like one of your other readers, I truly think you will get the perfect home to work hard on, maybe even that house by the bay (sea)? You could always add a ballroom to your current home and waltz with Paul Butler, Rhett’s much more talented brother.
    Just wait and see…some amazing home will be in your future.
    Karen

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 10, 2012 @ 7:36 am

      I really laughed at Paul Butler…
      I don’t count you as a naysayer. I was mostly thinking of our mothers. Both of whom were just a smidge too relieved at the news.

      I would really love to live on the water. Being able to sit on my front porch and watch boats go by would be so wonderful… hopefully whatever our next project is will involve something like that!!

      Reply

      • Karen B.
        August 10, 2012 @ 10:56 am

        I will enjoy reading of your search and discovery and the subsequent beauty you guys make of it. I’m with you, living on any body of water holds great appeal. I wouldn’t get much accomplished because I’d be mesmerized by the view!
        Have a great weekend.

        Reply

  11. our heritage home
    August 10, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    Ahhhhh, that was such a fun read for me, thank you! It brought back memories as we went through similar processes/paperwork/bank/etc. to obtain our house. It’s gut wrenching when your heart is attached. Sorry you did not get the house but a least you still have your sanity! Who knows what treasure will be around the next corner waiting for you to discover.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 10, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

      Funny, how you start to think sanity isn’t necessary… You know? How you start to think you can do without it.

      I guess YOU of all people know what it means to be attached to a house… not everyone is willing to move one!!!

      Reply

  12. Dana
    August 11, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    Under contract. Full asking price. I am so sorry.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 12, 2012 @ 8:14 am

      Thanks. We were planning to offer less… so the full price part made our efforts seem extra futile.

      Reply

  13. A city girl
    August 11, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

    Aww I am sad for you but at the same time I have to say 30% interest is ludicrous!! Besides the strain of fixing up the house and all paying the mortgage. It would take FOREVER to pay that house off. . On the flip side I am sad that you didn’t get it. I love that house and I know you would also. If the pther person financing falls through are you going to persue?

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 12, 2012 @ 8:29 am

      30% down payment. Not interest. Although the interest IS higher… it’s not THAT high!! Ha ha. Yes, if the buyer bails, we’ll pursue it. It seems unlikely. But? You never know… you probably see that all the time. People walking away from houses for any number of reasons??

      Reply

      • A city girl
        August 13, 2012 @ 9:54 am

        yes. The inspection reveals a lot of things so it is always good to put a back out option contingent upon the inspection. Of course now a days anyone can be an inspector and you can’t really rely on them that much to give you the real deal. If it is meant to be you will get it. Maybe there is something better for you out there that getting this house will prevent you from finding OR MAYBE there is a treasure chest of money hidden in your house waiting to be discovered that you will never find if you move. LOLOLOL that would be nice wouldn’t it? Whew on the 30% interest/downpayment. LOL

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          August 17, 2012 @ 8:05 am

          You know? I hadn’t considered the likelihood that the universe is keeping us in this house to discover gold. But? I am going to start looking for it RIGHT now!

          Reply

          • A city girl
            August 17, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

            It could be right under your nose. LOL

            Reply

  14. RedCandy
    August 12, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Bummer!! My hubby was reading your blog and almost choked when he saw the patio and the water views of that house. I should also mention that he continued to read (and read) your blog with much laughing out loud. He did eventually go quiet and when I asked him what was wrong he said, “do you wish I was handy?” You see, my husband has zero handyman skills…..he can be handsy, but not handy. LOL anyway, he added that he hoped Paul was really fat and ugly (I’m sure he’s not) because he is obviously very clever and my hubby feels completely threatened.
    Anyway, sorry to hear about your house. :(((

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 13, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

      You made me laugh and laugh and laugh.
      Probably like any other male trait, there are positives and negatives… Paul being handy is AWESOME. And sometimes infuriating. He is handy to the point of tunnel vision. Like I said above—about him morphing into my least favorite version of himself… NOT an exaggeration.

      Plus, he has righteousness on his side… after all, how can I expect him to stop holding up the house with his bare hands just so I feel like he’s really engaged in what I’m saying … Grrr.

      Reply

  15. RedCandy
    August 13, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

    Lol yes so true….re positives and negatives. My husband has plenty of tunnel vision, just about different things. Sorry I went off on a tangent. I really am sorry about the house.

    Reply

  16. Linn @ The Home Project
    August 15, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

    Ah, a ballroom! I see why you would be tempted! You would be the perfect Scarlett, just a lot less cranky! Too bad it didn’t work out. Or maybe good it didn’t work out. I definitely see your point here, AND your relief to finally have a set outcome. But it would be have been fun… Fun to read about too!

    Also, I laughed so hard when you wrote about your kitchen. A hole in the ceiling! And in the floor! And that island! Ha ha! Love that island, you should keep it just the way it is! Makes the whole space feel more unique, wouldn’t you say!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 17, 2012 @ 8:15 am

      Ugh. Our kitchen. Is a disaster. I mean, the rest of the house was too, but the kitchen is really bad. It’s next on the project list—which I’m both looking forward to AND simultaneously dreading beyond all belief. We’re not even close to a plan. And whatever we come up with will surely take seven times longer than expected…

      I would totally make a great Scarlett. I’ve already mastered the “think about it tomorrow” mindset. And I’m pretty sure I’m no less cranky.

      Reply

  17. Tracy
    October 7, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    Oh man that is a beautiful house with so much potential. I can see why you had your heart set on it, but I’m sure in a few months something will happen to reveal why not getting it was the best thing to happen. I was heartbroken when I couldn’t buy the co-op I wanted (http://thehesoproject.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/blessings-in-disguise/) but now I’m so happy that didn’t work out.
    P.S. I’m new to your blog and I love watching you Victorian home coming together. Great job!

    Reply

  18. Deb
    March 13, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

    I’m a lot older than you guys, but I’ve spent the last 15 years working on old broken down houses and am really tired of all the money and time going toward renovations instead of simple enjoyment of life. My son is almost grown, and I’ve been busy renovating the entire growing up process. I’ve decided these last two renovations I’m currently working on will be my last. There was a mansion in the neighboring town my hubby and I looked at, but we decided in light of current projects that it was something we could not afford to renovate properly. Someone purchased it and they have done a totally amazing, and I’m sure costly, renovation, turning it into a bed and breakfast. I’m so glad someone got it that did it proud. If we’d tried to take it on, we would have failed it and that would have broken my heart.

    Now I dream of sitting in a porch swing and walking to the mailbox a mile away instead of actually doing it. Once upon a time long long ago I actually was able to do that. And I camped, fished, gardened and had friends over for dinner and parties. My last party was about 18 years ago.

    Your Paul is obviously a Mad-Man for work; that is a dream house, and you are both amazingly talented. Some houses do speak to you, but remember having time to really live life–spending time with family and friends–is really what enriches your life. People are important–not houses. I want to sit and enjoy beauty instead of trying to make old beauty shine again. I understand both your mothers secretly sighing with relief that you didn’t get that particular dream. As you get older you start really understanding the price you pay for loving older homes. If I won the lottery and could hire contractors, I too would have grabbed up something like that one–you just can’t beat that view–but surely there will be another home somewhere that will be your forever home, and you’ll look back and thank your guardian angels that you didn’t get that one.

    Another thing to keep in mind in looking for your forever home–if you get a huge home it won’t even be just the fixing up, but the keeping up forever after that you’ll pay a price for in terms of time and money. If you want your resources devoted to keeping up a home rather than traveling around the world or spending romantic weekends at the newest surprise B&B you’ve discovered on the internet, that’s fine, but personally, I miss those romantic weekends.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 14, 2013 @ 11:18 am

      You should have this printed as a handout for anyone considering a huge house-remodel…

      Our rationale for considering it— was that theoretically, at some point it would have been self-sustaining. And even profitable. Something that seems like a way better investment of the crazy time and money we have put into this house… which frankly we may never get a good return on…

      Obviously, it was REALLY theoretical… the size of the project was almost certainly beyond the scope of our ability. I mean, Paul could have done the work, but not at the rate it would have been needed. Plus, obviously it would have killed us.

      Paul drove by it this week… but I haven’t been back. Too disappointing. He says they rebuilt the porch, possibly from scratch. And that they’re clearly doing the work that needs to be done.

      We have absolutely spent all our time/money/energy here. And in some ways I think it’s ridiculous to do it again. By the time we’re more-or-less done, we’ll have been at it for somewhere between four and five years.

      On the other hand, I have learned SO much. And it seems sort of necessary to do it all again, now that I know exactly what we’re getting into. I think my decision process would be better. And I guess it feels like it would be an opportunity to “redo” the bad parts. Although, in reality, I’m not sure if that’s true. It’s not like my base personality has changed…

      Also, I think looking at houses is some kind of sickness… one that I caught from Paul.

      Reply

  19. Deb
    March 14, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

    My hubby and I both love old houses and were always looking too. My perspective is from the last 17 years of experience. I was working on houses long before I met my husband. One of our current projects is 6000 sq. feet and basically purchased the same day we saw it (it was love at first sight). We purchased it in November 5 years ago, just the beginning of winter, and needed to get heat in so we could work on it. My husband was installing a pellet stove in the front living room and discovered much to his dismay that there was no insulation in the exterior walls. That was all good as long as we still had our other house to live in while we stripped the exterior walls and installed insulation, but we were off to a bad start because we were just going to paint and move in. Then a vagrant broke a basement window, took a locked door off the hinges to access the upper floor, and apparently slept by the pellet stove. Fortunately he didn’t steal any of the tools or damage anything else, but I was so irate I insisted on moving in to protect the property. My husband moved a stove and refrigerator in, and then promptly broke his leg in a motorcycle race. It was a very bad break requiring plates and multiple pins, and the docs weren’t sure if it would heal or if they might have to amputate. It healed, but took 9 long months. In the meantime, I was hauling and unloading 2 tons of pellets a month to heat the house, stopping at one house after work to load furniture and personal belongings, and then unloading those items once I got home. Right after hubby healed, he dropped his street bike a block from the house to avoid hitting a dog, and broke the knee on his other leg. (I 86’d him from motorcyles after that). So there went another year. The next two years I dealt with pinched nerve pain from a disc disintegrating in my back and surgery ensued. I attribute that problem to years of heavy lifting. Now we’re both mostly healed and all is fine, but geez…such huge blocks of wasted time! I won’t even speak of the medical bills.

    A 6000 sq. ft. house requires the same materials as a 1000 sq. ft. house, but 6 times more. That’s talking big money when you price roofing and flooring. The roof was going to be $14,000 and the flooring another $14,000 to have a contractor installation. That was just basic good quality materials–not expensive stuff. A heating system was priced at $12,000. None of those items are done because they aren’t necessary now, but it’s coming down the pike. I’ll probably rip up the existing flooring and refinish the original fir underneath myself just to save those flooring bucks. We’ll have to sell our other house in order to come up with the funding on the roof and kitchen. I have no kitchen, just old cabinets and countertops set in place, a sink, stove and refrigerator. I have no drywall on the exterior walls except for my master bedroom and my son’s room. And that’s how it’s been the last five years.

    The moral of the story is not to bite off more than one of you can comfortably do, or what you can comfortably pay others to do. I’ve decided big house projects are really for rich people and small houses are for people like us, but it’s a little late to learn this now since we have a big house.

    We’ve managed the past two years to do the insulation, replace 16 windows and a few doors, and fix up a nice master bedroom, but obviously there’s still a heck of a lot to do. My hubby and I still love the house (it is just awesome and well-built), but we are exhausted. I’m sure you can relate from what I’ve read in your other posts. Just imagine you and Paul being 30 years older and in that place. Just a thought.

    I thought you might enjoy a description of this big old house since you are such old house buffs. In case you’re wondering why there wasn’t insulation in the exterior walls–we discovered the house was built in 1926 as a hospital for a small mining town no longer extant, then moved a few miles to its present site in 1956 and placed on a foundation especially built for it by the LDS Church. The LDS Church used it for a meeting house and classes, and they heated with steam heat provided by the mine. I guess they weren’t concerned with heat loss since the heat was free and they weren’t living in it…LOL. It’s 3000 sq. ft. on the upper level with 17′ high ceilings and of post and beam construction. The beams are 8×12 and 6×12 and the rafters are 4×6 with solid wood tongue and groove planking. The big meeting room was divided into two huge living rooms by a prior owner and there are banks of windows on each side with some lovely views of the mountains. I often watch antelope and deer grazing in the mornings and evenings. The kitchen was apparently the original kitchen for the meeting house and very basic, and the bathroom is the size of a bedroom with tons of storage. There are 4 bedrooms and 1 bath on the upper floor, and 5 bedrooms (ie. classrooms), 1 bath in the basement. There is also a maintenance room with the hot water heaters and a toilet and sink; a furnace room that is solid concrete, including the ceiling; a tool room for grounds maintenance and a pantry in the basement. The basement walls are 12″ thick concrete. The basement and upstairs entry walls are lathe and plaster, but the rest of the walls were a board commonly used in the 50’s finished with a smooth texture.

    I always wanted to operate a bed and breakfast, and I thought I might fix the house and do so for the local miners, who are always looking for places to live around here. Perhaps if the health problems had not occurred, I’d be doing that right now, but since we haven’t finished the place, it’s a moot point. So that’s our story! Hope I haven’t bored you to tears…so sorry for the long post. I love your website, which I just discovered yesterday through links on Houzz. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself and I even had my husband laughing yesterday when I read him your comments on the current renovation you are working on.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 15, 2013 @ 11:17 am

      Sigh… I was feeling badly for you. What with the broken legs/knees/pinched nerves… and the no heat… but then? You said SEVENTEEN foot ceilings. And all my sympathy went away.

      I would happily live in an unheated old hospital with SEVENTEEN foot ceilings. You think that’s because I haven’t done it, but it’s not. Having done this house, and knowing what I know… given the opportunity to move into a massive, unusual home… far beyond our budget or skills, I would do it. I would disregard all rationale and reason. I wouldn’t even need to think about it.

      In fact, in the privacy of this comment… I would even say that if I knew then, what I knew now… I wouldn’t have bought this house. I would have waited for something else. Something that would have been THAT special.

      Not because I don’t love this house—I absolutely do. But the time/money we’ve spent here is crazy. Especially since the housing market has continued to tank… and it’s hard to know whether it will end up having been a good investment, or only a labor of love.

      I would have waited for something that I would have never wanted to leave. Something unique and amazing. A big part of that is just my personality. Not because I love hard work, but because I love anything odd/giant/fancy… even if it’s broken or useless.

      I am so glad you found me and took the time to talk to me. Reading other people’s stories reminds me that we’re not alone… and that to some people all of this is normal. Before I started blogging, it felt very much, that Paul and I were the only people who’d made SUCH a giant mess out of their house, and possibly even our lives… now it seems hard, but like something lots of other people survived. And that, there’s no “right” way to get through it.

      Reply

  20. Deb
    March 15, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    Oh you poor thing…you’ve got it bad! I so hope you find a spectacular project that will be your forever home. What you said is exactly what I was thinking when I looked at the house before buying it. It didn’t even make it to being listed. We were looking at something else the realtor had listed that was not viable, and he mentioned another property in a neighboring town that was being cleaned up and might be along the lines of what we were looking for. When we walked out after going through it, I told him we wanted it. That was it. We paid cash so it was a fast transaction.

    The quality of the wood and construction was better than anything I would ever be able to afford in my lifetime. It had a graceful simplicity, lots of windows, high ceilings, beautiful wood beams, three commercial hot water heaters (so obviously the electric worked) and a viable bathroom. And the kicker–it looked different than anything anywhere. It would never be like anyone else’s home. My hubby and I still both adore the home. It’s just a daunting task in light of $$$ and physical work. I wish we’d discovered it when we were your age. It would have been a piece of cake then.

    It took us two or three weeks to find all the breaker boxes to turn on all the lights. For a while we thought there was an electrical problem…smile.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      March 16, 2013 @ 10:01 am

      I tell myself this has been a “learning experience.” Which it has… for sure. But at the same time, it’s like when something bad happens and then later turns out all right, and people say—oh! “It was meant to be.” Rather than—phew, I’m glad that didn’t explode after all…

      Also? Our house may be the first time I didn’t think “big” enough. LOL. If I had ever even considered that house on the river might ever have been possible, I would have never seen ours in the same light… I guess everything is relative.

      This is a perfectly lovely house… but like you said—when you see something so unique and amazing, it’s an entirely different feeling. I THOUGHT I felt this way about this house… until I saw the river house and was like—oh. Crap.

      Laughed at your electrical boxes. Pretty rare that it seems you have discovered some giant unknown problem that turns out to be fine!!!

      Reply

  21. Grace
    June 26, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    I’m so sad that you didn’t get this house. It has so much potential.

    Reply

  22. DB
    July 22, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    They have not posted updated pictures. Have you seen the property since it was sold to this company? http://skyarchitects.com/home.html

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 22, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

      I haven’t been by, but Paul has… he said they are THROWING money at it. He says it has a new porch, and that it looks fantastic.

      p.s.- I think that site is the company who is doing the work, not the owners.

      Reply

  23. Stephenie
    July 30, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    Dear Victoria, I so feel your pain over this house. I have found so many houses in similar condition, though not nearly so large or in such prime locations, that have spoken to my soul and demanded that I come love them, take care of them and bring them back to their proper glory. None of mine have come to fruition either, which is probably for the best since I don’t have a Paul but rather bookworm. 🙂 Knowledge of these things does not stop my very being from yearning for their classic architecture and fine, moldy details none the less.

    Reply

  24. Heather
    October 6, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

    Where oh where do I find a man like Paul??!! You are so lucky to have a man that will fall in love with such a fantastic money-pit like that with you and actually pursue it! I would have done anything to get it also, not stopping to see the ginormous responsibility of it. Just the lovely crumbling, spooky, old romanticness of it!
    I too fell in love last year (as a single girl) with an old home from 1840 that had been vacant for years. I actually got a contract on it, but could not quite get enough of a loan for the renovation. I was devastated and cried for weeks, BUT the next year came upon the cutest home I now own built about 1910 that has already been redone (booo), BUT at this time in my life is what I need. I can now see the other house would have been a disaster.
    This post from you was over a year ago, have yall looked at anything else since as magnificent? I’m new to your blog but will keep reading!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      October 7, 2013 @ 8:23 am

      Please, are you kidding? Don’t be sad you bought a finished house… I envy you!

      No, we haven’t seen ANYTHING like the Biddle Mansion… and yes, we’re still sad.

      Reply

  25. Remember back when you didn’t understand what it meant to make a giant mess out of your house and then have to live in it? - Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
    January 7, 2014 @ 11:51 am

    […] Part Three – Where dreams go to die. […]

    Reply

  26. Elena
    July 27, 2015 @ 1:14 am

    Have you seen this? Maybe there will be another . . .

    A coloring program for adults, hosted by the woman restoring the Biddle Mansion. Color pictures of Victorian mansions!

    http://patch.com/new-jersey/cinnaminson/colorful-conversations-biddle-mansion-0

    Reply

  27. Elena
    July 27, 2015 @ 1:16 am

    Reply

  28. Beth
    May 16, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

    I’ve stumbled upon this many moons after the saddening loss of the house already being “under contract” but I wanted to commiserate with you just the same. Since travelling to Ireland from Canada in 2010, I’ve had this crazy dream that my DH and I would buy a ‘shanty’ overlooking the coast and spend our free time over there restoring it. Why there? b/c living childfree, we anticipate we’ll be able to do something stupid like that. Fastforward to January 2016…. and I found one. It was just out of our price range, but it was perfect, even if it had no doors, no windows, no roof on half of it, and was across the Atlantic ocean. We scrambled to learn about property buying in Ireland, contacted a solicitor, and two builders… we even happened to be renegotiating our mortgage so could add the extra we were short onto that. And then…. “someone has made a full offer”. Well, since we couldn’t beat it, and wanted to fly over to see it in person at least once before we sunk our futures into a dream in another land… we had to let it go. I still pine for our shanty, and I will make my DH drive us over to see it whenever we go over in the future. I hope I’ll read through more posts to see that you’ve found another dream shanty!

    Reply

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