Before Fireplace

I bought the house in March 2000 "as is" because as battered as it was cosmetically, the 4,500-square-foot house was structurally solid and in a good neighborhood close to the university. I didn't want to lose out to other prospective buyers. "As is," though, meant inheriting a walk-in closet full of illicit term papers, three refrigerators full of leftovers, 16 empty beer kegs, a 20-foot bar, and far too many unflushed and clogged toilets. And oh, did I mention the room full of garbage? To-the-ceiling garbage.

It took a month just to clean out the house, filling 79 large garbage bags and three 30-yard Dumpsters. Since it was a historic home, I was able to get a tax credit from the city to help me bring it back. I thought that would be enough to hire all the contractors we would need, but after getting people in to refinish the floors, put in new windows, and update the plumbing and utility lines, I quickly started running out of money and, with a six-month deadline to get the place up to code, time. Of course, I wouldn't find out until much later that you can get extensions for those kinds of loan requirements, so Jill and I ran ourselves into the ground during the first few months trying to get everything to pass inspection.
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