Before: Exterior

But in costly Fairfield, "We were seeing houses priced over $500,000 where you'd still get a 50-year-old kitchen and a bad water heater," Jeff recalls of their eight-month search. So to buy themselves more 
time to look—and maintain some order in their lives during the expected re-model—they sold their house and rented another one for $1,000 a month.

Almost immediately after selling their old house, they spotted their perfect wreck: a 1,400-square-foot 1953 Cape Cod, brimming with potential and boasting a "For Sale By Owner" sign out front. With its gloomy pine kitchen, one bedroom, and a bath downstairs and two attic bedrooms with a bath upstairs, the house would require significant work. "It needed everything except walls and a foundation," Jeff says, meaning all new systems, siding, insulation, and a raised roof. In other words, it was ideal.

Jeff, who worked as a carpenter in college and now runs his own custom concrete-counter business, started with altering the traditional Cape roof.
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