Tuesday, January 17, 2012

13: And then what happened?

There aren't any pictures of the next phase because this stopped being an "adventure" and became a struggle to stay afloat.  Foremost in our minds: We had borrowed a large amount of money from my relatives and weren't sure how we were going to pay it back. The only way out that I saw was to put my head down and go. That meant more hours working on the house, less time doing things that other “normal” couples did. In turn we were becoming less of a couple.

The last pictures I have from this time period are from the fall of 1991 and showed the siding going up. Here's what happened after the camera stopped:

I hung and put casing on all the interior doors.  Put in the bathroom floor tile.  Sanded and finished the oak floors...

With an hourly helper, I poured the 1000 sq. ft. concrete slab in the basement apartment. Then, in the apartment, repeated almost all the same steps I had done on the top two floors.
  • Built partition walls
  • Ran plumbing, electrical, and heating ducts
  • Insulated
  • Hung, taped, sanded, and painted drywall
  • Built and installed kitchen and bath cabinets
  • Hung doors, installed baseboard and door casing
  • Put tile on floor
(Click on any image for a larger view.)

I have a handful of images of the apartment, all taken in the past few years.
Apartment kitchen.  Notice the concrete countertops, they turned out ok for a first effort.

Apartment bathroom

Apartment living room

Apartment dining/kitchen

During the spring and summer of 1992, my friend Andy and I built a three car garage behind the house. This time I didn't excavate for the foundation by hand, but hired someone with a small backhoe. Andy and his helper laid the block. We then put up the roof joists, followed by plywood decking and rubber torch down roofing. Then we poured a concrete slab inside the garage.

I began using the finished garage as my workshop, building the kitchen and bathroom cabinets for both units out there. I milled all the baseboard and stair treads as well.  After the garage was built I was able to build a deck between the house and the garage. Time to tear out those flimsy back stairs.

By September of 1992, the apartment was rented. We finally had some income coming in. When I recently looked at our joint tax return for 1992 to confirm the date we rented out the apartment, I found a telling number: Our gross income for that year was $11,000.

It had been obvious for some time that my career as a carpenter/contractor wasn't taking off. I could never find enough time to go look for more work, or even who to approach for work. I found the whole thing incredibly stressful.

To sum up: By October of 1992 I had worked, uncompensated, for roughly 5000 hours on the property. Virginia had worked about 1000 (?) hours. We had borrowed, from my family, more money than the house was “worth”, and our marriage was crumbling under the strain.

I needed a change, and when the husband of one of Virginia's friends offered me a job I took it.

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