“Dirty Jobs”

Jenn and I have always been “hands-on” when it comes to our flips and we don’t mind getting a little dirty in the process. But we’ve found ourselves grossed out on more than one occasion.

While there is so much about the Colclough House that we love, we are finding a whole lot of nastiness in the demo!

We were removing everything from the upstairs hall bath and needed to move the toilet downstairs and to the dumpster out back. We hoped we could move it easily and without leakage. WE WERE WRONG! Let’s just say that Jenn’s sneakers were christened and there was a whole lot of gagging going on!

After the toilet fiasco we moved on to our next bathroom project. We are converting an upstairs bedroom into the master ensuite and needed to remove the bead board ceiling in the room directly below it so the plumber would have full access to the floor joists to run the plumbing.

It was painstaking work since we were trying to salvage the bead board for future use. As we pried the boards out a whole lot of dust, debris and rodent poop fell on our heads! Thank goodness for hats, glasses, respirators and hot showers!

Mike Rowe would be proud!

Heavy Metal

Our contractor let us borrow their magnet roller, a rectangle on wheels with a high-intensity magnet inside.


We spent a couple of hours rolling the property to capture all the nails and screws that could flatten our tires.  Look what we found!



Jennifer and I have made a ton of progress over the last several weeks with great appreciation to our building team at Trinity Design/Build. With the expertise of Lee, Steven, Trent, and Jody, we have complete architectural plans, an engineer review of the home’s structure, the building permit, numerous sub-contractors scheduled, and, finally, our windows ordered.

The previous owner replaced many of the home’s old windows with cheap, vinyl windows. And, because these windows were much smaller than the original, the previous owner filled in the gaps with wood trim.


Notice the large wood trim around the smaller windows.

As you know, we’re working with the Historic Preservation Office to restore this home. And, the HPO is extremely particular about windows. We set out to find 13 standard windows (custom is cost prohibitive) to match the style of the original windows of the house.


The windows above are just a few of the original windows that we’re saving and trying to match.

Our challenge…find a standard-sized window that comes close to the original opening (no wood fill) with nine lights on top and one on the bottom. (See the nine squares on top and the single on the bottom above.) The windows should be wood at least on the inside, and, even though the top nine lights won’t be individual pieces of glass, it should appear so with what’s called “shadow bars.”  This is called “SDL” or simulated divided lights.

Thanks to Builders First Source and Windsor Windows, we found them! After weeks and weeks of HPO discussions, they’re approved and ordered!

Up next, foundation repairs and more demo.

Dames Who Demo

Our asbestos team at AB Control spent three days removing asbestos from the crawl space, some interior pipes, and the linoleum floors in two rooms. We finished with a third-party air test that confirmed the air in the home is clean.

Now that the asbestos is gone, it’s time to demo! Throughout the last two weeks, Jennifer and I have been opening the three small rooms in the back of the house. This will soon be the large, eat-in kitchen. We’ve removed the walls, ceiling, and layers of flooring on top of the hardwoods. Behind the plaster and sheetrock, we uncovered beautiful wood panels and bead-board that we’ll use elsewhere in the house.

Jennifer and I wore respirators and protective glasses. What a messy, dusty job!


Jennifer got plenty of sledgehammer time with these cabinets.


Our daughters Logan and Caroline earned some summer money by pulling down sheetrock. They grew up together but went to different high schools. It was fun listening to their old stories while they worked.


The photo above shows the wall where Logan and Caroline were standing (on the left). You can see the kitchen take shape now that the walls are down.



We removed the wood panels from the walls and ceiling. And, each plank of wood had numerous nails to be pried out.


This is just a portion of the wood and bead-board we salvaged for later.

Up next, we’ll demo the bathroom downstairs along with the kitchen and bath upstairs. These demo days are the definition of sweat equity!

Look What We Found!

You never know what you’ll find when you start cleaning out an old home. With the Colclough House, Jennifer and I began this reno with getting all the trash off the property.
The back porch seemed to be a cozy place for a passerby to take a nap. Unfortunately, we can no longer allow naps for strangers, so we kindly asked our visitor to find a new place. We moved the mattress to the trash pile. Later, he moved the mattress and some old clothes, so hopefully he has a new home.

The house came with an old carport with attached storage space. Our plan is to restore this carport including keeping the sliding barn door. We’ll add new support columns, electricity, a roof, and a clean workspace in the back.

First things first, the piles and piles of trash and treasures had to be removed.



We created a trash pile.


And a salvage pile.


Best of all, behind piles of vinyl windows, plastic shutters, and press-board cabinets, we found the original front door to the home! Isn’t she beautiful?!


And, lastly, this past week Jennifer and I began the demo to the downstairs kitchen. We had to remove the cabinets before our asbestos experts come on May 9. I was working upstairs when I heard Jennifer scream. I ran down to find Jennifer unharmed but startled. This passerby unfortunately didn’t wake up from his nap.


Thank You Times Two

If you know us, you know that we rely on others’ expertise to do things right. Sometimes, those experts come to us first. Almost like divine intervention. This happened on two occasions recently, and we must say Thank You!90111

When our dear friend and realtor learned about Magnolia Properties, she began actively searching for those beautiful homes that needed some TLC. Every time she found a potential property, she’d call and ask if we’d like to jump in the car to see it. Ultimately we landed on the Colclough House.

Not only did she negotiate the contract on our behalf, she navigated several unusual issues with city zoning, an oil tank, and a driveway easement. Check out her web site. Thank you Cristine!

Our second Thank You goes out to Brooks Adams with Minerva Design and Renovation. During one of our numerous visits to the Colclough House before closing, we ran into Brooks who was restoring the home that borders our backyard. We immediately bonded with Brooks. He gave us a tour of his project and explained his background in home restoration. He started out like us…renovating one house at a time.

What we love most about Brooks (other than his dog) is his eagerness to help and share his expertise. We learned so much about the Historic Rehabilitation Standards and the obstacles we’ll overcome in restoring an old house. Check out Brooks’ story on the Minerva web site. Thank you Brooks!




The Next BIG Thing

It’s been a long wait for our next house. After over a dozen auctions and several months of searching, we finally found our next adventure…and it’s a BIG ONE.

Jennifer and I recently closed on a beautiful 1910 historic home in Downtown Durham. We’ll refer to it as the Colclough House since William Colclough was the original owner.


Since closing a few weeks ago, we selected our General Contractor, a native of Durham who specializes in historic restoration. We also submitted the first part of the application to qualify this project for a national historic tax credit.  Stay tuned for a dedicated blog on that process.

We’ve got so much to share…so many fun details. For now, we’ll share a few photos of the Colclough House. We’ll post often with lots of pictures. Let us know what you think!

View from the back yard.
View from the front door. Check out the original hardwoods!
This home has six fireplaces!
Fireplace in the downstairs bedroom. This is original tile!
Downstairs bathroom. The tub will be refinished.
Main hallway downstairs. Water damage above from a burst pipe.