Sep
06

ON THE RENO: Renovating & Restoring a House on the Goldfields

September 6, 2016 - 9:03 pm No Comments

This is a blog about renovating an old house. A very old house that was built on a goldfield. Not that I had a clue about what I was doing, at first, so I’ll call this section So Who’s a Silly Girl, Then?

Seriously, I did know that a right angle, or a corner, has 90 degrees and that a straight angle has twice that at 180. But practical knowledge about restoring an elegant old house? Not much, if any at all. Anyhow, I sold my house in Brisbane and suddenly found myself homeless, wanting to move closer to my family, that had migrated south. To this end, I had chosen an area to live in central Victoria.

On the several occasions I flew down to see what sort of real estate was available within my budget in the very pretty little town of my choice, there was nothing that really grabbed me. One house stood out, but it probably needed more work than all the others put together. Yet it was the one I kept going back to look at online.

Close friends (who are not so very close these days) and even family members cautioned me against buying this house, calling me at all hours of the day or night to warn me of the dangers to my pocket and peace of mind if I was stupid enough to purchase it.

Perhaps because I was something of a tomboy during my schooldays, and loved a bit of danger and risk-taking, I bought the house. Okay, you are saying, she is in her second childhood, now, going through all that kids’ stuff again. Well maybe, may be. The point is, I believe I made the right decision, even though I underestimated the cost of the renovations. You may have an entirely different opinion—which I would love to learn— but I ask you to hear me out first.

Anyway, while all the paperwork on the purchase was going through, I obtained permission to live in the house.

On my first perambulation through it as vendor, I noted the floors were uneven. There was a step down from the hall into the kitchen and a step up from the dining room to the sitting room and the bathroom floor seemed to be sloping off to somewhere else entirely. The creaking boards in the bedrooms were in no way muffled by the layers of ancient carpet and linoleum on top of them and one or two seemed to sink alarmingly under my weight. You may well ask why I hadn’t noticed this rather salient feature myself before purchasing the house. My only reply is that I was already succumbing to a bizarre condition that has afflicted the best and the worst of us, somewhat blinkered by something that has the ability to curse or to bless. Slowly and inexorably I was falling in love, and falling for something that probably couldn’t even return my affection. . .

On my second visit to the house, I conscientiously noted the step up from the kitchen into the hall, but somehow miscalculated in the gloom and slipped, viciously wrenching my ankle and banging my head on a built-in cupboard so hard I saw stars. I actually think I knocked myself out for a little while, because I was quite astounded to find myself in a prone position on the hallway floor with a cupboard door wedged against my shoulder and neck when I returned to consciousness. It occurred to me then that I needed to get the house re-stumped.

This caused a bigger headache than the fall. There was no re-stumper in the immediate area who could begin a new job in under five months. The costs ranged from quite expensive to astronomical! My daughter, however, solved the problem by discovering there were some re-stumpers at work three doors away from her flat in Melbourne. She asked them if they could work on our house and they said they could and would start in a matter of a few days.

For one who has never had a house re-stumped, nor even seen a house undergo this phenomenon, having it done to something you love is life-changing. Well it was for me, anyway. For starters, I had to go and find alternative accommodation . . .

Join me for the next thrilling installment of ON THE RENO (which has a working title of WTF!) and I’ll tell you what happened next.

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