Bohemian Bungalow – House II

Revisiting the past briefly, this is an oldie but a goodie.


 The down and dirty:

  • 800 sq.ft. beach house, built in the late 60’s
  • basically destroyed from the inside out by termites
  • 5 contractors looked at this project with no takers
  • purchased the home at tax appraised value with cash

The renovation:

  • $10,000 in materials which included: wood, drywall, wiring, plumbing, concrete, discounted metal roof, new misordered windows from building supply, paint and a LOT of caulk
  • scavenged materials: solid mahogany doors from old restaurant, bricks and 5-panel wood doors from 1800’s house, oven and cabinets from street collection, misc. wood, insulation, appliances, plumbing fixtures from nearby house destroyed by tornado
  • labor supplied by a close friend, daughter and self.

Where we lived during renovation: backyard, in a 1969 AirStream

Timeframe: approx. 6 months

Appraisal before renovation: $15,000

Appraisal after renovation: $55,000


This story really begins with a charming red 1963 Dodge Dart convertible with rusted out floor boards and a fuel filter that needed continual cleaning.  I was working with a local architect and making about $12/ hr at the time, and my b.f. thought it imperitive that I buy this car, being that it was the ULTIMATE beach vehicle.  So, I did, for $1,500 that I really didn’t have.  Oh, we sure enjoyed that car though.  Several months after the car purchase, a tornado came barrelling down our street and took out about 10 houses, including a friends house, the Skrabalak’s.  Heh.

I decided it might be a smart idea to purchase one of the newly cleared tornado lots, build a new house then tear down our termite buffet.  The lot I wanted was $18,000 and I needed 10% down.  BTW, this was one of those lots within 1,000 ft. of the gulf.  I put the car up for sale, sold it for the same price as I purchased it, saved $300 and had my $1,800 to put down on the lot, which I promptly did.  After 3 months of trying to convince a bank (any bank) that I was a good risk for a construction loan to no avail, I gave up.  Realizing that I could no longer pay on the lot AND fix up my current abode, I opted to sell the lot and purchase an Air Stream.  I made a tidy profit of $5,000 (funny, right?) and promptly rolled 3 grand into the 24′ trailer, which I figured I would live in while I built a new house.  Still unable to get a construction loan with my salary, I decided I would do the next best thing when you have good credit…apply for every credit card on the planet and take out all cash advances possible.  This provided the $10,000 as noted above.

Oh, I almost forgot.  You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just get a home equity loan.  That’s because the house was in such disrepair it was uninsureable, hence unmortgageable.  Also, it was financially impossible to rent another home and simultaneously fix up my tear-down house.

Having the credit cards and cash in hand, we went about fixing up the house.  First it was jacked up (the roof was sagging about 6″), gutted and all the extraneous rotten additions were removed.  Then each exterior wall was rebuilt, one at a time.  New windows and doors, plumbing and wiring followed.  The floor was a peeling mess of poly-faux terrazo, which we recovered with 1.5″ of fresh concrete.  Then the new roof went on, followed by all the interior finishes, drywall, trim, paint, fixtures, etc.  It was a tremendous amount of labor that was being performed under a time crunch.  It was impairative to be complete before hurricane season due to the fact that insurance companies don’t write policies during that time.

It all came together about a week before June 1.  We completed the house renovation, the insurance company did an inspection and wrote me a policy.  With policy in hand,  I was able to go to my local credit union and apply for a home equity loan.  They gave me $20,000 to do home improvements (after the fact), which I in turn, used to pay off my credit cards used during renovation, as well as a few other debts.  I had about $2,000 remaining which I treated myself and family to a 3 month backpacking trip to Alaska.  This story continues but I’ll leave you here for now.  And that is just the beginning of how a 1963 Dodge Dart convertible transformed into a house.


Bohemian Bungalow


14 thoughts on “Bohemian Bungalow – House II

  1. That takes courage and a real “can do” attitude…but then I expect nothing less of you….I know you are a WOMAN OF IMMENSE TALENT!

  2. hey, mouthy… i knew her first so aren’t youreally copying me since i’ve said it all for years? plus, i don’t even know what ‘orginal’ means – it’s not in the dictionary.

  3. Chandra Faye!! I just had to leave a note to an old friend after reading this post. I’m excited to see that you finish the house. It looks Great! The Dart was a cool car. I actually saw it or one like it last summer in PCB. I looked around, but no Chandra Faye. I’ll join the bandwagon and copycat, “tucats”. You are a “WOMAN OF IMMENSE TALENT”. I can’t wait to read your other posts and see what you been up to.


  4. Bryan Gilbert??!!! Crazy!! I was thinking of you the other day and wondering what you and the fam. were up to. I see you’re still in AL. Yes, I’m still in FL, obviously. Wow!

  5. Yep, it’s me. We are, still in AL, woohoo (did you catch the sarcasm?). We are doing fine. Kids are growing up. My daughter (Kylie) is 6 years old now. How old is Jordan? 15, 16? Send me an email when you get a chance, I’d like to find out what all you’ve been up to.


  6. I forgot something, what’s Dr. Laura been up to lately? I haven’t been FORCED to listen to NPR or Dr. Laura in about 6 years now so I’ve kinda lost touch. 🙂


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