Remarkably, Vic, who learned his DIY skills from his father, did almost all of the work himself, occasionally relying on books, manuals, and back issues of This Old House. From his oldest son, Darren, he got help drywalling the 12-foot-high walls, which took three months to complete.
He also got support from the neighbors—particularly Jerry and Hylda Strange, part of the LLC that saved the house. During the year it took Vic to finish the project, he lived with the Stranges, rent-free, while Cindy, who works for a real estate company, stayed behind in Colorado.
Shown: In the dining room, Vic built a faux fireplace to conceal some gas lines, which run behind it.