I’ve spent more time debating a shoe purchase than I did my first house.
Publish date:
August 13, 2012
home improvement, trash

We bought a house only to start tearing it down just as soon as our names crossed the dotted-ownership-line. Normal, no?

I’ve spent more time debating a shoe purchase than I did my first house. A few months later, it’s still not something that totally computes, buying a house in a weekend. As the pictures show, this wasn’t going to be a lipstick job. Oh no, this was a grab ‘em by the boots and shake upside down until all its little parts spilled out.

Speaking of little parts, the bathroom was so teensy, it didn’t even have a sink.

It was pretty exhilarating, walking out of the real estate office with all these v. important papers linking me to a property. The search was over. We could breathe easy. Our dreams were coming true. Just kidding, I never was actually that interested in being a homeowner! I don’t know why. Cue ominous music.

Well for what it’s worth, it’s sort of a nice mustard color.

When we bought the house, we bought the entire kit and kaboodle (man, remember Caboodles?!). There was a period of like, three days where we considered actually rifling through all the hot messness. I mean, a Philadelphia home from 1875 bursting at the seams, there had to be some hidden treasures. It couldn’t all be trash, could it? Perhaps we’d find some hidden sack of old gold coins, or some rare train set piece and the house would pay for itself!

True story concerning rare train set pieces: D’s parents’ neighbor is an antique toy buff and has dazzled me with stories of teeny train set parts selling for college tuition prices. Not even like, the actual train, but say, a railroad crossing sign. Can you imagine?

Alas, we’ll never know (unless we uproot the backyard, which was a hot topic of debate tonight. We are such. Thrilling. People.). We sat scratching our heads over exactly how we were going to tackle the house and quickly realized it was just too gross to dig through. Well, gross, unhygienic, unsafe, etc. Plus, this was December, with no heat, no electricity, no plumbing. Lots of no’s going on here.

We thought we’d just beg/bribe a group of super-trooper friends and BOOM, the house would be cleared. But I get it, even if you super loved me, you couldn’t walk into the place without holding your nose. So we did what any person-in-need-of-trash-clean-out would do: called 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

I tease; we aren’t that smart (I just picked that up from all you smartsy commenters)! Instead, we stopped a beat-up, old, red truck sagging to the ground with a small “Trash Removal” sign taped to its side, even as its bed overflowed with washers, bicycles and all other sorts of fixins.

In hindsight, it doesn’t make any sense. I mean, his truck resembled our house. It should have been a red flag (HELLORACHEL). Instead we were like, "Oh, look, we match."

One man’s trash, is now my trash.

Then he dishearteningly told tales of an ex-wife and a "long-gone" drug problem. He was a small man; thin and spewing like a steam engine. He raised his fist in passion telling us how he was “out there fighting for pennies, man, pennies.”

I don’t know. We needed a hand and it was close to Christmas. It seemed like a good time to go out on a limb for a weary soul. Or maybe it was just that we were delirious from month two of a no-yeast diet. Who knows.

I was a little uneasy when Larry showed up the first day to start unloading the house. He pulled up with his truck just as full as when we first had met him. I’m no math genius, but I just couldn’t fathom HOW he’d squeeze even one more piece of trash onto that truck. He promised there was still room for several more appliances.

He then turned to D, and rehashed how he’d been recently robbed by way of blowjob distraction in that same red truck. I pretended not to hear while taking tiny steps away as nonchalantly as possible.

He lasted about four hours, conveniently taking out any metal he could find before he declared the job was too much. First lesson learned? Scrappers are running ripe around the city, and for good reason. Metal is crazy valuable these days and a good penny can be had at scrap yards. We’ve scrapped a lot of things ourselves as we’ve emptied the house. Like the cast iron tub we got a whopping $17 for -- totally worth lugging its 300 glorious pounds.

But I’m getting off track. What I mean to say is, scrapping can be super awesome and a way to make quick cash. Offering trash clean out can be a super awesome disguise for a scrapper to loot through your trash though. So, um, watch that!

With Larry gone, taking $50 cash and about $100 in metal, we needed to rethink our strategy. So we turned to Craigslist. After a few random queries, we found someone who seemed legit enough. I mean, he had a business card.

He showed up with a couple employees and they began whizzing through the house unfazed, clearing out room by room.


That’s when we uncovered the depth of our newly bought disaster. You know, like, when we could actually walk into all the rooms and have a proper look. For starts, we realized we’d have to rip out the entire kitchen. Not just like, cupboards and the floor, but the actual kitchen.


We also realized half of the upstairs flooring was so water-beaten that it’d have to be taken out. And the plaster walls were crumbling. And the basement needed a new foundation.

And and and … it was dizzying just how complete of a disaster everything was. But we had no choice but to face the facts: This house was going to have to be reduced to nearly shreds, piece by old, stinky piece. And with that, the sledgehammers came out.