Our Old House

Reusing DebrisWe bought this 1938 Minimal Traditional house located in Seattles Maple Leaf neighborhood. The house was a fair price, the neighborhood quiet and safe for a major city, and the schools in the area were some of the best around.

The 1 1/2 story house with a full basement and 1 and 1/2 bath was plenty of room, with a detached two car garage to boot. The house sits about 6 or 7 feet above the street on the front street and the detached garage and fence hides the rest of the houses.

Most of the neighbors are outstanding here, I almost never hear nor see them. When I do they are friendly, as are the majority of people in the neighborhood.

The house was a short sale/foreclosure. We came along when the bank had agreed on a previous shortsale but they had gotten divorced and backed out of the offer. We looked at the house and made an offer. As it would happen our offer was about what the shortsale agreement had been. The bank told us that if we wanted we could pick up the shortsale offer within a day or two as it was expiring. We did and here we are.

The good and bad side is that not much remodeling has been done since the 1940s. The old tongue and groove covering on the walls had been stained and varnished giving the upstairs half story a cabin feeling. The half bath up there was ailing from dated fixtures, carpeted floor (yes carpet in the bathroom) and general grunge. The basement had been cobbled to make a family room divider and a bedroom with a weird closet. The ‘storage room’ still had the cement floor and drains. Good in case the washer ever flooded.

We started doing the yardwork first and a stack of City of Seattle notes to cut the grass and clean up the place were taped on top of each other. The notes were accrued from a year or two of being empty while on the market.

Some of the first things that were done was to cut down the cherry trees that had been murderlated from a buffoon with a pole saw at some time. They had been topped, retopped, and topped some more at some point. The wyes in the trees were splitting and the main part of the trunk was ready to split apart on both trees. The cherries were very tasty and we hated to see them go, and so did the rats and raccoons. They were taken out.

The pool was filled in with loam from a friends project where we now plant a small garden. The ivy and bamboo that chocked out the grass were removed and a few planter boxes were added along the edges of the yard. Jonathan, a friend of ours doing his yard with sod had ordered too much. We picked it up and instantly had grass.

The front porch was in a state of decay, since the pictures of the 1940s tax assessor shows the porch I assume that it was built sometime around there. We found a window in the basement that had been drywalled from inside, hidden for who knows how long.

The carpet throughout the main level of the house was pulled out in favor of the top nailed oak strip hardwood floors that were likely original. Some repairs are needed, like sanding and refinishing, with a few places here and there that need repair, but overall in good shape. Its much easier and faster to sweep and mop than it is to vacuum and wet vac the whole level.

A couple improvements here and there like a built in vanity cabinet in the bathroom and a few coats of paint here and there made a huge difference. Its too bad that it wouldnt work for the 1940s galley kitchen though. Thats the project slated for nearly last. We did however replace the ginourmous double oven in avocado green and the stationwagon sized fridge with more modern and appropriately sized appliances.

From here on out Ill try to add pages about the specific improvements we are doing. Currently we are in the process of adding a full bath with a stepdown shower, a full bath upstairs with a tub, and redoing the mid level bathroom. Not an easy feat but the structural engineer pointed us in the right direction. The Department of Planning and Development issued us our permits and we are on the way.

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DIY Seattle located at PO Box 75434 , Seattle, Wa . Reviewed by 64 customers rated: 3.7 / 5