Kevin and I looked passively for a property to purchase for over 2 years. We even put offers in on 2 properties (1 was accepted and we ended up backing out due to legal issues with the HOA, the other was rejected). There were only 2 requirements when it came to what was a “must have” for us to purchase our future home. The property had to be 10+ acres and there had to be potential to make the house our own. We were open to either building a brand new house or renovating an existing one. Being that renovating and flipping houses is one of our businesses we weren’t too worried about the condition of any home we were looking at. However, NEVER in my mind did I envision that the project we were about to take on would be a combination of the two. Literally building a new house within an almost 200 year old shell.
We first visited the farm in Spring 2017 after a conversation with our Realtor, Stephen Gross. While talking to him and expressing my doubt that we would ever find a property to buy I mentioned that I just wanted something that I can make my own. Stephen, knowing me and that I am pretty particular despite having a list of only 2 must haves, replied I think I have a property for you and sent me the listing. When you pulled up the listing on Zillow it wasn’t completely terrible. Knowing that we can renovate any property and make it amazing we weren’t completely deterred from the dilapidated exterior. On the flip side when you pull up to house and are surrounded by the barns that are falling down and house looks like it is right out of a horror film you want to get right back in your car and keep driving. My first impression of the property was “NO WAY”. I might have told Stephen he was crazy for thinking we could handle this. BUT and this is a big but…when you decoded the pad lock and pulled open the make shift plywood door what was behind it was amazing. The original Oak floors are still in place throughout the main house. The stone foundation is completely sound. The floor joists are straight and there is no sagging. The ceilings on the first floor in the main house are 9ft high, there are 3 fireplaces between the living room and dining room and the character is incredible. They simply don’t build houses like this anymore. Although most of the house had been looted and there were holes everywhere from vandals trying to steal the copper pipes the bones were good. We knew that as long as the bones were good we could work with everything else.
Below are some pics of the original condition when we purchased the house
If you are not familiar with the property than you will be surprised to know that our property Springdale has an older twin called Oakdale. Our Realtor is friendly with the owners of Oakdale and they graciously agreed to allow us to tour their home and property to get an idea of what the house and accessory buildings could look like fixed up. After walking Oakdale and seeing what Springdale once was and what we could do to bring it back to life we were definitely more intrigued about how we could make Springdale ours. It took 3 months and many days sitting on the beach discussing the what-ifs..but we finally made our decision and eventually settled on the farm in December 2017.
Clearly the decision to buy Springdale Farm was not an easy one. As you can see from the photos, the main house and all of the accessory buildings were in very poor condition. Demolition by neglect is the term the township used when we applied for our permits to remove the bank barn, the wagon barn and accessory sheds. Below are some pictures of the farm house and barns when we purchased the property. The barns and sheds are officially demolished as of today and the front porch has been removed so the front of the house is more visible.
It is always comical to talk to friends and family about some of my ideas. If you know me you know I am always busy and always doing something so when I made the announcement that we were going to sell our gorgeous home in Landenberg to renovate a rundown farmhouse they thought I had lost my mind. Some people were supportive and told us we were the right people for the renovation. But most people told us we should do everything we could to get out of owning this property. We were called crazy and even told that there is no way they would move into the farmhouse even if someone else paid for the renovation..LOL. Although we were laughing on the outside deep down we definitely knew this wasn’t an ordinary project. Kevin and I actually have had moments (well, me more than Kevin) when walking on the property before the work started that we thought what in the world did we get ourselves into. This fall as we moved into our tiny home on the property and still hadn’t had the approvals for the project I thought I might lose my mind. Yes, you read that right, we moved our family of 5, 4 dogs and cat into a tiny home of 400 sq ft right on the property so we can be on site for the renovation. The milk house has been turned into my laundry room. We are truly homesteading it! If you thought I was crazy for buying the property you must really think I have lost it…no worries, somedays I think I have too!
I think I could write a blog on the Chronicles of Living in a tiny home..like about the time when our pipes froze because despite my numerous reminders to Kevin that the temp was going to dip below 32 degrees in the night he did not believe me that the pipes would freeze that easily. Nothing like having your son wake up to take a shower in the morning and having no water…luckily Kevin had an extra hose near by and just swapped it out but really the stories go on and on and are quite comical. Despite moving from almost 8,000 Sq Ft to 400 Sq Ft we have been making the best of it and are enjoying the time being on top of each other. I actually enjoy the kids having to figure out what it is like having only 1 bathroom to share and not each having their own. I wouldn’t mind having my own bathroom but this is a temporary solution to a more permanent and amazing home to live in.
OK back to the farm project… After months of waiting for architectural plans and then going through historical approvals we finally received the OK to move forward with construction in October. OCTOBER…10 months after we purchased the property, about 5 months after I was hoping we would have started working on the property and the 1st month of cold season here in the North East. Talk about timing! As you read in my previous post work has started on the exterior and interior stone, stucco and fireplaces. This old farmhouse is starting to slowly come back to life. Stay tuned for future blogs where I will talk about the construction plans, the demolition work, the fireplaces and what we found when pulling down walls in the attic.