As alluded to in our opening post, our MCM was found on a whim while driving through another neighborhood following a disappointing visit of yet another poorly updated, overdone POS. We typically gravitate toward older fixer-uppers. We knew we wanted a 2-bed, 2-bath in a safe, desirable neighborhood. A garage and an attractive lot were pluses. Something that needed a bit of loving, but not too much.
Up to this point, we had become accustomed to performing the majority of home renovations and repairs ourselves. We flipped a house in SoCal a few years ago and made a nice little profit, and were looking for the same kind of commitment. We weren’t seeking a gut renovation on a dilapidated house while operating two businesses. We’re not quite that off our rockers.
We had been searching for several months, putting in offers on a handful of properties yet walking away empty handed. The Cincinnati market was blossoming and we were late to the party. We were on the verge of resigning to renting, unsure of whether we wanted to insist on getting in while the market was hot or whether we even wanted to settle down in Cincinnati for the long term.
I lept out of my seat when I saw her. A ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign flashed by as we were exiting a nice Cincinnati suburb. I glanced up through the trees just soon enough to catch her profile. “Chris! That house is for sale! It’s gorgeous! We probably can’t afford it though.” We were only in town for the day and were headed back to Lexington after our last showing. I couldn’t find a listing of the home online, so I assumed the worst: She was sold. Chris did some sleuthing to find the exact address, and as he was searching a listing came online. This story already sounds made-up, but I swear to you it’s not.
We immediately called our realtor and asked her to get in touch. She reached out to the owner and scheduled a showing for the following morning. We weren’t able to make the trip back up to see the home in person, so we arranged to have our realtor walk through the house via Skype. The home was clearly a flip, and for whatever reason the owner need to get out quick. We were concerned with the level of neglect the home had seen and curious about the sudden change of heart of the current owner, but we threw a low offer in for kicks. Apparently, everyone else was more nervous than we were because before we knew it we were under contract.
As the story goes, the home was designed in the ’50’s by locally famed architect Jim Alexander. It was evidently purchased by a MCM collector as part of a group of homes and held onto for a number of years. It went through a couple of updates, the first being the addition of the expansive living room and the master below it, and the second being a panel installation that broke the living and dining spaces into multiple separate rooms of sorts. The house hadn’t been lived in in decades when it was purchased by an investor and his partner who experienced a falling out, leaving the lone investor without the funds to finish the job. And here we are.
As is typical, we scheduled an inspection with a guy who just so happened to be a structural engineer as well. Everything was wrong with the house. As it sat on a hillside, it received terrible downward pressure from rain and soil which caused the entire slab to shift and uphill, concrete block walls to bulge downhill. The owner had half-assed the remediation, but we would need to make extensive repairs to reverse the damage. The home had been largely gutted with a few remaining intact details. Most of what had been done to this point would need to be scrapped and completed correctly. A tree had fallen on the house while it was abandoned. The garage was caving in from termites. All of the siding was garbage. The windows were ancient. There was truly no part of the house that wasn’t desperate for TLC and a lot of $$$.
But still, we wanted her. We negotiated back and forth for a while, and finally closed a few weeks later. She was ours. And we had NO idea where to begin.
Here is the entrance. As you walk through the front door, the kitchen is to the left, a full bath a little further back and to the right, and the dining/living/fireplace straight back.
A peak of the kitchen. I was tempted to preserve and refurbish these steel cabinets, but they were rotten.
From the living room facing the kitchen and entry.
Entry and stairway to lower level. Isn’t that coat closet perdy? You can see the bulging concrete block here.
Originally a four bedroom, the bedroom partitions were removed. Garage is through the blue insulation.
Previous master bath. There are two full baths on the lower level.
Master bedroom. Hall is to my left. Giant water heater in that closet on the left. Entrance to outside from the master. This entire portion was an addition.
Our renovation plans coming up!