A passion for the past and renovating older homes, has always been in my blood. Growing up in Emerywood and living in Charleston, SC, contributed to my affinity for older homes. Not only the house itself, but also the history behind them.
In 1997, I decided to take on a challenge and renovate my first old house, the Carter Dalton house, located at 1013 Johnson Street in the Historic District. It was condemned due to a fire when I purchased it, but I knew I could make it fabulous again. Most people thought I was crazy to take it on, but I knew I could do it. (I am not one to back down from a challenge just because it might be hard!) I was single at the time, so I had all my free time to myself.
While renovating the house, my mom and I joked that it was my “Real Estate 101” class. I received my Real Estate license the year before, but they don’t teach these things in school. I learned how a house is built, the structure, and the make-up of the mechanical/electrical/plumbing systems. I did a lot of work myself. I took out each window, removed every pane of glass, re-glazed and rehung the windows myself. I was hands on and acted as my own contractor keeping very busy between that and listing and selling homes for my clients. I got to know the City Inspectors well and the ins and outs of City building codes as I brought this house back to life.
There is something exciting about uncovering the past. From the different colors of paint you find while stripping woodwork, lost doorways that were plastered over, the outline of missing cabinetry behind wallpaper, and an old postcard from behind the baseboard. Renovating an older home is an archeological dig. You find what colors used to be in style, the changes owners make to their homes to better fit their family and way of life, and pieces of their personal history…it is so fascinating!
The quality of wood and craftsmanship they used to build older homes is a way of the past, you cannot find homes built this sturdy anymore. 2 x 4’s are roughhewn pieces of lumber that are truly 2” x 4”- try finding that these days…next time you go to Lowes measure a stick and see what size they really are. Floor joists that are beefy, to say the least, and plaster moldings that have now been replaced by wood or composite materials. Beautifully inlaid patterned floors of walnut and maple that would be a major upgrade in a new home today. These are some of the reasons that older homes outweigh the negative perception that some people have of them.
A few years back, Benjamin Briggs, Executive Director of Preservation Greensboro and a good friend of mine, said during this renovation I was the Nicole Curtis of the 90’s- undoubtedly, one of the BEST compliments I’ve ever received!
After the completion of 1013 Johnson Street, I worked as an onsite agent at new construction which taught me about the new build process. Both these experiences gave me a deeper working knowledge and understanding of the structure and mechanical make up of a house and it bolstered my confidence in real estate…you can’t sell something you don’t know about.
I love all homes, the stories they tell. From older homes to new builds, they all hold a special place in people’s hearts. My passion lies with old homes, but no matter what your preference is, your home is where memories are made. I love being a part of a client’s life during this period. Being able to make a transitional time less stressful and successful through my knowledge of a house and the selling/buying process makes all the hard work worth it!