"This Old Mold House" #3: Lets make a deal....on this "old Mold House", was her wish

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Blog entry by Dusty posted 11-07-2007 04:16 AM 1676 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: MIA UPDATE... Let the project begin.............. Part 3 of "This Old Mold House" series Part 4: Confession: I am the Idiot for which your village is looking! »

Someone once said, ‘If you do what you love and is your passion you will never have to work a day in your life’.

They lied.

I knew this new project with “This Old Mold House” was not only going to be hard work, time-wise it would be a grueling challenge with my schedule.

I also had no idea how bad the mold was going to be or to what extent would be the abatement process.

As I was loading my wagon with my tools I couldn’t help but review how I had arrived at this point of beginning a project like this. In my mind, it was like it was just yesterday, but in reality it had begun almost 14 months.

Time flies.

I had been out walking the basset hounds, stopping frequently to visit with all the neighbors as I always did. Four doors down from “This Old Crack House” and across the street, was a large beautiful corner lot. This lot was home to a very big two-story stucco house, which for the most part, had been empty for over two years.

I had always admired this house. I even had commented several times how much I would like to own it and how much I would like to see inside. I saw a lot of potential in remodeling this house.

I knew this house was owned by an elderly widow in her eighties. But during the ten years I had lived on this block, I had only seen someone twice at the house.

I know everyone by name for several blocks around “This Old Crack House”; I make it my business to know everyone. My basset hounds are like ambassadors and have carved out a lucrative treat-trail during their walks, but this house had eluded us as far as meeting or knowing the owner.

I knew Pam, who lived for over twenty years across the street from this corner property. She knew the owner and her daughter and son-in-law quite well. When visiting Pam, the daughter had mentioned that the owner, Betty, now 81 years old, would like to see the house completely remodeled. She knew about the other nine houses we had purchased and refurbished over the last few years and was aware of our influence in rebuilding the entire neighborhood, rescuing it from urban decay.

Pam asked if we might be interested in this house and gave me the telephone number of the owner who was living in assisted living near her daughter some 150 miles away.

I told her I was interested in the house and took the number. When I got home I called the number and introduced myself to the son-in-law of the owner.

He knew me by reputation and was aware my work and its influence in renewing the neighborhood. He was very interested in selling the house and commented that his mother-in-law’s wish was for us to buy the home. By sheer coincidence, he would be in town and staying at the house that week, so we set up an appointment to tour the house.

I was excited.

He called me when he got to his mother-in-law’s house. I invited him to walk down the four doors and tour “This Old Crack House”. He said he would love to do this as he had heard so much about the house and was curious why everyone had always told him that if he got the chance, he should tour the house.

After the tour he said, “I now understand why everyone says what they have about your home.” He was almost speechless.

He gave me a brief background as to what was going on with Betty, his mother-in-law, the owner of the house. The only owners, Betty and her husband had built the house, living in the basement for thirteen years while they slowly finished it. It had been their dream. He made it clear that she wanted to sell it and preferred that we bought it. Her age and health made it impossible to return to the house.

When I toured the house, I was shocked. Words can’t really describe how much disrepair and hard times the house had suffered. Although from the outside the house looked like a castle, once inside, the disappointment was overwhelming. I tried not to show my reaction. Besides being badly dated in terms of its decorating, it was in dire straits. In short, 40 years of non-maintenance had come home to roost.

I knew she had been widowed early in life; this fact now very evident.

However, the lack of maintenance would be a secondary issue compared to what I discovered. Mold, more mold than I had ever seen in a basement of any house. On a seasonal basis for the city, I work as a State Building Inspector and had never come across this much mold. Besides being a non-conforming and illegal suite, the two bedroom, one bath layout in the basement was full of mold.

Although it occurred infrequently, the son-in-law had set up one of these bedrooms for those occasions when he came to town to work.

Thank God this happened rarely.

I counseled him gently about the dangers and health hazards of living in this basement. The mold was present on the concrete, various surfaces and in the walls of the bathroom and wherever wood partitions were built.

I could see the major cause of the mold. I pointed out that water had been allowed to seep in through the rotted-out windows caused by a reverse grade and rusted through or missing gutters and down pipes.

He worked in construction as a black top foreman for a large company and understood the reverse grade issue and seemed to understand the other causes, but he didn’t know about the possible health hazards of the mold and would move up stairs as soon as he could.

I suggested at this point he at least do the minimum necessary to stop the water flow into the basement when it rained. I also suggested he dry the basement out and gave him some other ideas how he could halt the spread of the mold. I explained that this would not be an easy task and he needed to take precautions when working in the basement.

He then said, “I suppose you’re not interested in the house then.”

“Not necessarily,” I told him. “But I do need to do a comprehensive study to determine what needs to be done. Certainly, if I do put in an offer the price will reflect these facts. I need the weekend to study the house.”

He handed me the keys and said, “Take them”.

I told him I would call him Monday when he returned.

We shook hands and I left.

Shaking my head all the way back home, I couldn’t help but think about all the work that would need to be done with the house just to make it habitable.

I was even wondering why any sane person would want to tackle a project like that. I never answered this self question. My mind switched to what needed to be done.

It was overwhelming.

-- Dusty

9 comments so far

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4092 days

#1 posted 11-07-2007 05:30 AM

Thanks. Can’t wait for the rest of the story.


View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4369 days

#2 posted 11-07-2007 05:57 AM

Lets see. What do I have to do. Would dynamite help or hinder the reconstruction.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3931 days

#3 posted 11-07-2007 06:35 AM

Lordy, lordy, what a mess. Dusty, you are braver than I am and I’m pretty brave.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View gizmodyne's profile


1777 posts in 4059 days

#4 posted 11-07-2007 07:50 AM


Keep it coming.

As I near the home stretch here. I don’t know if I would do it again.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4129 days

#5 posted 11-07-2007 01:30 PM

I love that last part—- the thoughts about “why” quickly changing to a plan of action.
Yah, that about sums you up—don’t think about it, just do it :)

And as for the “why”, I’m thinking that you have a lot in common with Don. He loves small wooden boxes and you love big ones – the ones that come in the shape of an old wooden house.

With lots of walls down and ceilings close to falling down, the demolition part looks to be easier that some projects.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4283 days

#6 posted 11-07-2007 05:15 PM

Wow…better you than me! Glad to see you back blogging!

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4125 days

#7 posted 11-08-2007 03:08 AM

Dennis Mitchell

Thanks it sure feels good to be back blogging after being absent between finishing “This Old Crack House” and starting a new project “This Old Mold House”.

Like ever else I just have been very busy. Some times the things we enjoy and need to do the most become casualty’s.

I realize no one has anymore time than I. We all have the same amount of time granted to us In a day. It ll boils
down to how and what we fill our days.

Trust me I prefer hands down something that allows me to practice my craft.

Wood Working.

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4125 days

#8 posted 11-08-2007 03:17 AM

Thors Angle.

Or just a lot dumber.

As I said , I should know better by now.

What ever posses us to do some of the things we do?

Jockmike2 claims its is a calling.

He is lot wiser than me. There for I will believe him, and take his word on this.

I then wonder why I feel compelled to answer all those calls ? Will the “calls” stop coming?

Perhaps I should get “call blocker” ?


-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4125 days

#9 posted 11-08-2007 03:26 AM


Debbie you said …

”With lots of walls down and ceilings close to falling down, the demolition part looks to be easier that some projects. ”

I think that one of the most over looked and difficult jobs in any remodeling job is the demo portion.

I see it often as being done incorrectly, sloppy ( causing a lot of unnecessary work later not to mention expense) . I often find that even though homeowners see to like this part of the job ( easy to see progress) it is underestimated in terms of time and cost. With out giving to much away I plan on blogging more about this portion of the project in “This Old Crack House”.

One other timely comment was yours about comparing Don building small boxes me building big boxes.

First off Don has way more talent than I could ever hope to have. I can’t build what he makes with ease.

Second with out his superior editing skills and generous help with editing my blogs this would only be mindless dribble.

My hats off to Don. I have deep respect and admiration for all of his work.

Both, in and out of the shop.

Thanks for commenting on this.

-- Dusty

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