Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sweat equity.



From the NY Times. Read the article HERE.

In these times of mortgage crisis and credit card debt, of people living over their heads and losing their homes, it may be instructive to visit David and Gina Giffels, proud owners of an exquisitely renovated 1913 Tudor house, with six fireplaces, a solarium and a billiards room, which is well within their means, in part because they paid $65,000.

It is true, this was 12 years ago here in Akron, as the city was struggling to come out of its Rust Belt doldrums, and at the time the house was not so exquisite. It was, in fact, as the couple learned only at the closing, about to be condemned. There were large holes in the roof, various furry woodland animals in residence, a barely functional heating and plumbing system. The roof over the master bedroom leaked so badly that the previous owner had placed 55 aluminum baking pans on the floor to catch the rain. Passers-by, glimpsing the house through trees and brush, assumed it was deserted.

Saving this house has taken David Giffels, a columnist at The Akron Beacon Journal and sometime rock musician, and his wife, Gina, a special education teacher, 12 years. And the renovation, most of which Mr. Giffels has done on his own, is not finished. The strain on their marriage, as Mr. Giffels admits in his sweet and funny book, “All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House,” which will be published next month by HarperCollins, has not been inconsiderable. Weekends, vacations, time Mr. Giffels might have spent with his two children, have been given over to such projects as removing, cleaning, and re-caulking the 733 windowpanes in the house. (He counted.)

On the other hand, except for the mortgage on this house, the Giffelses have no debt. This is not only because they have done so much of the renovation themselves, but because they do not have and never have had credit cards. Their feeling, anachronistic as the servants’ call button in their dining room, is that if you don’t have the money for something, you don’t buy it

See the slideshow HERE.

Read the article HERE.


Many boots were sacrificed in the restoration of his home.

13 comments:

Mary T. said...

Of course, the downside is (whispers): "You have to live in Akron!"

Don't flame me; we just moved to Seattle from Cincinnati a year ago. Our current house would fit in the first floor of our Ohio house, which my husband purchased in the late 1990s for $80,000, and our new house cost more than four times as much.

But now we have eagles, seal pups, mountains, and whales (not in that order).

I do miss the steamy midwest at times, though. : )

Meg said...

It was a really cool article, wasn't it? I was amazed. It's great he got a book deal out of it, to boot.

Pigtown-Design said...

I love THursdays in the NY Times and Washington Post... it's design day!

Anonymous said...

It's design day most everyday on Decorno, even though, in your words, "she likes to be controversial."

Anonymous said...

The Decorno is so controversial.

Anonymous said...

Aye! The controvery and The Decorno are like The Spaghetti and The Meatballs.

Suzy said...

That is amazing...I thought 6 months of renovations were gruelling..but 12 years?!

Joanna Goddard said...

wow, your post and those comments about "what do you make" was FASCINATING.

T8 said...

Something is going on out here, a dawning awareness that all this consumption and stuff is not doing us any good, is taking something important away from us. I find myself toiling away at a job, at a career, that I don't enjoy, in order to make the money I need in order to get by, pay the mortgage, etc.

BTW, I prefer big cities (currently live in Chicago), and I don't know if I could live in Akron but even in big cities, there are often inexpensive neighborhoods, smaller places, etc.

Jane E. said...

Dave Ramsey would be proud.

pve design said...

An inspiring couple. A beautiful story.
A wonderful life, full of blood, sweat and tears.
Glorious post. Now let me get to work....

Anonymous said...

Still very possible, in downtrodden cities across America. There are places going for 20K in Utica, for example. And living in these places has upsides and downsides, as Mary t. pointed out. Its less consumtive, rehabing is way greener than building. You will only see the latest art film via Netflix. People will not always know what you're talking about, but generally they're people everywhere. AND things are still cheap in coolish places, like Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. You just have to import your non-highspeed internet dependent job with you.

Mary T. said...

To be fair, they did show art films in Cincinnati! : )