ren·o·ven·tion \ˈre-nə-ven(t)-shən\
To restore to life, vigor, or a former better state using ingenuity and imagination.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meet the Money Pit - Part 2

In part one of Meet the Money Pit, you got to see the first floor of our house at the time we purchased it. Complete with termites, asbestos, mold, rot, and water leaks the place was begging for either a full scale renovation or for a developer to come in and knock it down. In part two we will look at the second floor and the basement.

This is the floor plan for the second level apartment. Very similar to the flat below, but with a larger kitchen area and (although it doesn't seem possible) three even smaller bedrooms.

Here is the stair and entry to the second floor apartment. The skylight in this area did let in a lot of light, unfortunately it also let in a lot of water.

The front room on the second floor. During one of our walkthroughs, I found out that this fireplace was built by the previous owner and tenant when they first moved in. Unfortunately, during the inspection it became clear that it was not a particularly safe fireplace. The flue lining was pulled away from the chimney, there was no chimney cap to keep rain and or animals out, and the way it was constructed could lead to serious carbon monoxide issues. Really it's amazing that these two gentlemen managed so well in this place for so long considering all the hazards.

The living/dining room area.

Although the electrical was not to code, the floor was wildly uneven, and the mirror gone, this bathroom is still a huge upgrade from the first floor.

The second floor kitchen area. Another upgrade from the first floor, but still not exactly a dream kitchen. I wonder how long the drawers had been missing? Nice of them to leave us some spices.

But before you fall in love with this kitchen too quickly, here was a lovely little note in our inspection report.

The back of the second floor kitchen looking out onto the back porch. The man living on the second floor had a number of cats, and the back porch was the litter area. There seemed to be more litter on the floor of the porch than in the actual litter boxes so I guess it's not surprising that even after move out the whole porch smelled like cat urine.
The porch did have a nice view of the backyard.  You can see the two car garage, which was relatively new and in great condition. For anyone who isn't familiar with Chicago, almost every house has an alley in back of it that the garage is built adjacent to. It makes the traffic on the residential city streets more manageable and since all of the garbage pickup is done in the alleys, it keeps the streets ad sidewalks clean.

By traveling down the stairs of the back porch you could either exit the into the back yard or you could continue down into the basement.

The back of the house from the yard. Not too bad. But on closer inspection...

Holy hell in a handbasket. This was one of the most disturbing things found during the whole inspection. The deteriorated wire in the photo above is the main electrical line into the house. In some places the protective housing was completely worn out. Talk about a fire and electrocution hazard. The back door was in bad shape too but comparatively that's small potatoes. 

Let's finish our tour in the basement.

The entrance into the basement. I wonder if one of the guys that lived here was a plumber? Again there is the makeshift pipe railing. Also notice in the larger photo that there was a sewer drain in the basement, which actually proved to be quite a help later on. The uncoiled tubing in the upper left is the (broken) vent pipe for the dryer.
The door you see connects to the room in the previous photo. Your basic unfinished basement. The ceilings in here were about 8ft which was plenty tall for me, but a little tight for my husband.
In this photo you can see the support structure for the whole house. Along the middle of the basement ceiling ran a huge beam. This was supported by five pillar type beams with a concrete footer on top of a huge limestone block (buried under the concrete). This beam system and the outer walls carried the weight of the entire house.
Another great shot of the structural supports. The large cuts on the horizontal beam are actually not problematic. It's a natural phenomenon called "checking" that occurs as the beam dries out. I also love the fact that the previous owners left us a green paper parasol (leaning against the beam) and their awesome 70's style exercise bike. It's a sears exclusive!

The front of the basement. You can see the plumbing pipe hanging from the ceiling. That nice white covering? You guessed it - asbestos. Actually, the ceiling itself had asbestos insulation as well. You can also see the gas meters for both units and the accumulated rust on the pipes.
The furnace and hot water heater for the house. The furnace vent was an obvious problem. Doesn't look like they have too much life left in them.

One last little surprise from the basement, we call it the Harry Potter room. This is the space under our front steps.

So now you've seen it all. What do you think? Do you see the potential or do you think (like some of our friends and relatives) that we were crazy to buy this place? Either way, leave us some love in the comments section.

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