-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, July 11, 2005

the devastation we're starting with

We're about to embark on doing up the old house at Amherst. Our original plan had been to keep it as a shed initially so we could focus first on building the new house on the other side of the "cloister garden" ( our new name for the secret garden courtyard which both houses will back onto).

Now (for reasons explained here) the plan is to first repair the old house so that it is liveable as a small cottage. Depending on how long it takes, we'll then either move back and live in it ourselves while we work on building the dream house next door(!) - or we'll rent it out for a few years while we continue to save here.

It's going to take a long time. To give you an idea of the task ahead, here's some pictures of the state it was in when we bought it, about 18 months ago. It had been sitting empty for nearly 20 years! In the few months after we bought it we did some minor fixing up (eg: covering the windows) so it didn't deteriorate further, but it is pretty much still as it looks in these photos. We bought the property for the land; the old house was just the cherry on top.

Let me start with the worst first. This is the inside of the house, the view from the front door:

Basically it's a shell. See all the old lathes everywhere... we're unfortunately going to be replacing them with plasterboard, but I'm going to salvage all the parts and use them to make wooden venetian blinds and plant trellises - so they'll still be part of the house, just a different part! The wood flooring looks awful but according to my Dad it will polish up beautifully.

This is what it looks like from the outside. It has a lovely shiny "new" roof (ie: 20 years old but still in tip-top condition) and similarly "new" foundations. All is structurally sound and because it's so dry there is very little rot in the timbers, which I find amazing considering it's just been left to fend for itself.
We don't know a lot about the house's history, but the planning officer told us it had been moved from Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne by the sea, and it certainly fits the style of the old houses round there.

Now, just the fact that it has a solid roof and foundations isn't enough to justify doing it up... for me, the real reason is the detailing, which you can see a glimpse of in the next photos. It still has all its original outside trim! Including the wood cut to look like bricks on the front. We'll have to do a lot of repairs but after having seen the transformations done by other housebloggers, I'm confident it can be resurrected.
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aaron @ houseinprogress said...

Wow, those are neat details. While daunting, I have no doubt this "shell" can become a beautiful house again...and it will be fascinating to watch. Thanks for sharing!

Greg said...

I am so glad you are saving that old house. Why not just make that your dream house?