House hunting is no easy feat, especially when you do not live locally. With an appreciation and love for old houses, homebuyers David and Karen traveled to Waco, Texas from San Diego, California 3 years ago in hopes of finding an older one-story home. When asking Karen why they were seeking out an older house she explained, “Old homes have character and style and just look good to us. We can drive past an old house that most people would think is a mess and can see what the house was and needs to be again.” While in Waco, they made several offers and unfortunately left town without any accepted. Their relator was optimistic she could still find them a place to call home in the area and through video tours she delivered.
Karen and David’s realtor came across a one story, mid-century ranch home built around 1950. The home sat on nearly one acre and full of gorgeous old Oak trees. With the style of home they were looking for and a property homebuyers dream of, the condition of the house was next on the list to evaluate.
Upon inspection it seemed as though the previous owners had good intentions with repair jobs, but those repairs fell short. David and Karen were feeling up to the challenge and felt even more confident making an offer when they discovered no expense was spared when the home’s pier and beam foundation was poured. “When she facetimed us our home, we knew. So, we put in an offer and it was accepted. All done from another state.” Karen shared.
David and Karen moved to Waco with the intent to live in their home while renovating it but was unable to, due to the projects at hand. Karen explains, “We tried to live in it, but due to updating all of the electrical and plumbing, HVAC as well as well as all duct work, we had to leave. Texas summers are brutal without air conditioning. Plus, we knocked down an 18’ double sided fireplace that divided the living areas into a series of 4 little rooms. To support the roof, we had to install two 32’ beams, a 24’ beam, and 12’ beam. It would have been impossible to live through all of that.”
Like most old homes, regardless of their age, they typically have a way of dictating which projects will go first while bringing them back to life and David and Karen have learned the most expensive and mandatory projects are usually first to be addressed and never to be seen. Old homes are always up for giving you surprises along the way too. Karen shares a time they found a couple interesting things within their walls. “We found one jar that was in the rafters and it was some sort of fast hardening agent for the drywall mud. I have it on the built-in in the living room. While remodeling our primary bath, we found an inspection certification tied to the cast iron breather pipe in the wall signed and dated by the inspector.” While some homebuyers could never imagine sinking money into unseen projects, Karen and David embrace the way an old home feels and wonder about the lives of those who also called it home. Little did they both know they would soon receive a history lesson of their home’s past.
Karen recalls the day when a local historian stopped in for a visit. “People weren’t shy about stopping by our house when we were deep into the remodel phase. One woman showed up who happened to be a historian in the area. She said she knew the son of the original owners. Apparently, the woman of the house loved the color pink. We certainly knew that EVERYTHING at one time had been pink! We found remnants of pink paint on the crown and baseboards; pink paint splashed onto the original hardwood floors that had been covered with carpet. The bathrooms had pink tile. As we were told, the woman would go to the hair salon and each visit would have her hair dyed a different shade of pink. She was also an avid Christmas decorator, and each year would win the town’s decorating contest. That would explain the extra exterior electric outlets. She also had plastic pink flamingos in the front yard. I have been on the hunt for them and as an ode to her, I was going to put one in the back yard.”
While David and Karen do not share the same love for pink as the original owners, they do in fact share something incredibly special, their heritage. “…We are the fourth owners, and the Italians are back!” Karen celebrated. She went on to share, “The original owners owned a small grocery store which was well known in our area. They sounded like really nice people. Customers had a “tab” and then were billed at the end of the month. We found out that at times, if people were unable to pay fully, the owners would help them.”
Stories like these are what old homes are made of and make every bit of time saving them worthwhile. After three years of investing their time and money into their home, David and Karen’s project list still exists. “We are currently completing a total renovation of the primary bathroom. After that there are a series of jobs lined up. I don’t think you’re truly ever done.” Karen shared.
With a connection and appreciation for the original owners, David and Karen continue their passion of caring for their home by making the necessary improvements so it will be around for another 70+ years. Both David and Karen’s love for old houses just so happened to rub off on their daughter Stephanie and their son-in law, JP as they purchased the house next door to David and Karen. “Together, the four of us share a love of older homes and want to save every old house we can find. IF we win the lottery!” Karen joked. Just like an old house, you never know what may happen. Maybe Karen will win the lottery, but then again owning an old home can sometimes feel like you already have.
If you would like to read about David and Karen’s daughter, Stephanie and son-in-law JP and their journey to saving not only their home but other homes in Waco, TX click here.