The house is done-ish and we (me and the BF) moved in about a week and a half ago. Basically I bought it with cash in January for $25k. It was falling apart. The furnace didn’t work. The plumbing had all been stolen by copper thieves. Several windows were missing and the ones that weren’t required circus-show-quality feats of strength to open. The siding was a mess. And in several places the siding and windows were installed improperly creating a bunch of wood rot from moisture pooling in a couple spots in the walls.

It’s in a small town, convenient walking/biking distance to grocery stores, about 15 places to eat (a diner, sub shops/pizza places, chinese food, a couple italian places and a few plain old American restaurants), the post office, a couple of pharmacies, a large rec center, some downtown shops (florist, small hardware store, etc.), about a 15 minute drive to many family members and about 90 minutes outside of Boston. It’s close to some small mountains for hiking/skiing, and there’s tons of lakes and ponds in the area for swimming/boating.

I remember about 3 or 4 years ago I was making good money, saving over 80% of my take-home pay, and wanting to buy a house. But every six months or so when I’d check the listings the prices just kept going up faster than I could save. I believed there was a crash coming. There had to be the way prices were moving relative to incomes. So I waited and waited and waited. And it paid off. But I never imagined it would work out this well. I thought prices might come down 15-25%. But this house was mortgaged for $140k just four years ago, and this year I was able to buy it for $25k. – Over an 80% drop in price.

So while I was finishing up the last semester of law school, holding down my part-time job at a non-profit, and studying for the bar, I fixed the place up in my spare time.

Below is a mix of some before and after photos! Click through for large versions.



There’s still some work to do. The garage needs new doors and a coat of paint, plus a good organization/clean out of all my tools and scrap materials. And I’d like to slowly replace the giant lawn with gardens and trees. And we need to get a wood stove for that nice big hearth in the sun room.

So I painted 90% of the walls, plastered, dry-walled and trimmed in several spots, re-trimmed several windows, replaced many lights, installed plumbing including a new hot water heater, fixed some small electrical issues, added insulation, got the oil furnace working, rehung the doors so they’d shut smoothly, re-framed parts of the house below some windows that had rotted, installed 8 replacement windows, put in new flooring throughout the house, added a bar and painted the kitchen counter tops, patched the roof, pressure washed the vinyl siding, and put in a mail box. And probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting. Everything came to around $8k in material costs.

The house is just under 1500 square feet, with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, a mud room, a laundry room, kitchen, living room, sun room, and the 2 car detached garage. It sits on 1 acre of level land that’s mostly lawn with trees/bushes on the borders. There’s a creek running along one of the lot borders. And it has a large paved driveway.

So far it’s been a nice home. I’m already looking forward to buying the next one.

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  1. Alejandro
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, that’s wonderful! I hope you keep enjoying your new home.

  2. Chenda
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Congratulations mike! looks like a beautiful place

  3. Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Wow nice work, I am amazed you can buy houses for that low a price in the US, and 90 minutes from Boston to boot, seems like a nice area too. Property has not crashed in the UK like it has in the US. If I could get passed immigration I would be buy one of those houses myself in a flash :)

  4. Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    WOW, that’s a lot of work. Thanks for the pics. Way to go and enjoy the place.

    I’m amazed you can buy a place for $25K anywhere. Yikes it just goes to show how badly housing bubbles can burst. I’m waiting for our bubble to burst in Canada…my house value is over double since I bought it in 2006.


  5. Matt
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Outstanding! This is truly inspirational! How much time (hours) would you say you put into all this work? Did you hire any help for any of it, or you just did it all yourself? What year was the house built?

  6. Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I had a licensed plumber connect the plumbing to the street connection. And I got some friends to help lazily paint a couple times in exchange for cold beer and all the food they could eat. And my father came over a few times to give me a hand with some of the re-framing work. He used to be a framer in his younger days. And I paid to have the carpets installed.

    As far as how much time I put into it, I’m not entirely sure since I didn’t keep close track. I’m not as big of a spreadsheet geek as some of you guys ;-)

    But I bought it at the end of January and probably spent about 5-20 hours a week on it since then. I’d say somewhere around 200 hours all together.

    It was built in 1900 by a guy who worked at a furniture factory down the road.

  7. jennypenny
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Congrats Mike. Hope you take some time to enjoy the home and BF before taking on your next project.

  8. et
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Seeing the potential where others would only see ruin and then having the guts and ability to finish it is impressive!

  9. jasoninmississippi
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Mike – Great Job !!! By the way, have you had to remove any of your customers “Tenants” from any of your rental homes. I have a slow payed tenant that I gave a 45 day notice that I am end the month to month rental agreement. They have been in the home for 13 months and have been late 5 to 8 days almost everymonth but always pays the late fee. I got to get better at screen “customers”. Jason

  10. Posted July 14, 2012 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jason. So far no problems. They mail the rent early every month and take care of the place.

  11. mike crosby
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Mike, I just got wind of you via your comments on MMM with FS. In fact FS recommended your blog.

    I’ve got to tell you Mike, I love your blog. I’ve spent the last few hours reading, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    I live in OC, CA but my parents are from NH, specifically Franklin and Laconia.

    Thanks for your blog Mike.

  12. mike crosby
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    BTW Mike, how I got started on the road to financial wealth was buying cheap properties like you, fixing them up and renting them out.

    My first property was $25K, paid cash. I went from paying $1150/month in rent to where all my utilities except phone was $360/year.

    After buying a few other cheap properties, with the crazy upswing in prices, it was a no brainer to sell. If I could still do that in SoCal again like you have the opportunity there, I’d still be doing it.

    I’ll never forget what a fellow renter told me as I was moving to my new cheap digs–”When the oven breaks, all I have to do is call the manager”.

  13. rjack
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Great job on the house!

    I followed some of your interaction Sam here and on MMM and found it both distressing and amusing. In general, I have an outlook on life that is similar to yours. Nobody ever says that they wished they had worked more on their deathbed.

  14. Posted July 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    that looks lovely! I’m thinking a rural move is in my future. :P

    • Posted July 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Sure! We have an extra room for you! ;-)

      I like your bike blog. I just dusted off my bike the other day and got it all tuned up. I’ll have to do a post on it.

  15. Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    thanks! will be looking forward to your bike update :)

  16. Posted August 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    posts like this continue to make me smile at the title of your blog.

    congrats on the finished house. any idea of the current market value?

    Oh, and have you bought another motorbike yet?