Thanks for taking a look at the old house before i got my sleeves rolled up and got to work. From these pictures, i guess you can tell there was a lot to do.

There were some good times doing this, and some tuff times as well, a few trips to the doctor for some cortisone shots, and at least one trip to the emergency room. The project has taken over 3 1/2 years so far and i still have a lot of landscaping work to do.

Several years ago a local Athens, Alabama hardware store named U.G. White's ran a billboard campaign in our little town. The bill boards showed saws and hammers and all sorts of tools, the caption read..."every man needs a good tool!" I liked that ad and put it to use. Tools do make the project. I purchased several thousand dollars worth to complete this project, but i also rented a bunch of tools from my friend Henry Grisham at H&G Rentals.

I had a lot to learn about everything. I knew from the "get go" that i was going to have to do most of the labor myself. Yea, i did hire a few laborers along the way but i did 90% of the work. I had to learn a lot about electrical, plumbing , framing, cyramic tile, bull dozing and don't forget city of Athens code.

Most folks around here hate Randy Goode's (the city building inspector) dirty, rotten, skinkin guts; but i have to say his advise and inspections helped me build a better home. As a matter of fact, my hat is off to the whole department for the help they gave me.

While i am thanking folks, I have to mention my favorite folks down at Collins Supply in Athens, and espically Mike in the shop, Flanagan Lumber Company, Home Depot, MEWS and Billy Adams Company and Bobby Redus who did my concrete work. They were wonderful to do business with, and made this project fun when it could have been the most horrible experience of my life.

The other 10% of the work was done by my great friend Jerry Coggins. He is a master at framing and trim, and he works faster than any human being on the face of the earth. He taught me so much about building in the short time we worked together and I will never be able to repay him for his effort and friendship.

And, last but not least, i want to thank the hundreds of folks who as a normal course of their lives, drive up and down West Washington Street regularly. Watching you, watching me working on this old house gave me more encouragement than you will ever know.

I don't know most of your names, and you most likely don't know mine, but y'all waved, honked your horns and slowed down to take a good hard look everytime i reached another milestone. You were helping me and you didn't even know it. Without your help, i would still be wondering when in the world i would ever be complete with this project.

Tom Dunnavant

Tool Time with Tom

Before A Total Renovation Project
1018 West Washington Street, Athens, Alabama 35611

My Grand Mother and Grand Father's old house was built in 1948, just after World War II. It was a very stylish story and a half Cape Cod design. One of their business ventures was owning a very crude saw mill near the Alabama - Tennessee state line near his boy hood with older brother. As a result all the original 2x4's and timbers were cut off the old family land in Pettusville, Alabama.

They had the house built for less than $900, furnishing the lumber saved him a few bucks. The trees growing in the old hollow were a mixture of poplar and oak, so as a result, the framing was made of oak as wasl flooring. Even the subfloors were 1" x 12" oak. The exterior siding was poplar with oak and poplar sheathing.

This was one of the first houses in Athens to be a total electric home. It had a fire place, but the house was wired to use the latest in electric heat, large 220 volt space heaters. The home was still be heated with space heaters when i began the restoration.

By the time I got a hold of it, it was in pretty sad condition. The roof had begun to leak somewhat, the electrical system was failing, the plumbing was a disaster and termites had begun to make a home under the front entrance way.

The original windows had aged over the years. Some of the panes were broken, all of them needed reglazing and some were dry rotted due to failure to keep paint on them for the last 20 years.

The concrete on the front porch was crumbling as were the front steps. The only redeeming quality was the beautiful trees on the lot. About a dozen 200+ year old trees surround the house and provide wonderful shade in the summer.

From the rear, you can still see where my grandfather had made an edition to the house. The addition had been an old bunglelow from a motel that was too close to the hiway when some work was being done on Hwy 31 in Athens. Pap, ever the penny pincher, purchased one of the small buldings and had it moved and attached to the rear of his home. That addition had been removed about 5 years earlier.

As a young lad, the addition provided two rooms and an extra bath. My grand mother used one as breakfast room just off her kitchen and a place to house her several freezers. The other room was used as her sewing room and the bath provided my grandfather a place to shower after working in the field.

The living room had a nice fire place and was the largest room in the house at 12 x 20. The brick fire place was never used.

The mantle was pondarosa pine, as was the wall behind the mantle. Over the years, it had been painted with all sorts of paints.

There were two windows in the living room. One to the side and a large picture window facing the street.

Houses in thouse days had to have hall ways. This one was no different. The doorway lead to the central hall way with access to the master, guest room and bath, then down the hall to the backdoor, the stairs to the second story and the kitchen.

The Kitchen had a swinging door that led to the dining room and a wide opening in the dining room lead back into the living room.

There was a small porch to the east of the living room thru a french door. My grand mother had it glassed in so she could keep here plants alive during the winters, but mostly it was our play room.

The Kitchen was ... sad. One counter that ran the length of one wall, and cabinets that had been built and installed in the cabin where my great-grand father, grand father and father had been born were hung on the wall. A very nice touch to the room was pondarosa pine on the walls and ceiling.

I used to thank that my grand mothers bedroom was huge. It was really only 13 x 15, small by today's standards. It had one tiny closet. We knew right away that we planed an addition, so the original closet was soon closed off and used as a channel for heating and air conditioning and two closets were added to the west side of the room. One of which would be used as an equipment closet for the new electrical, telephone and cable television hub.

I am sure that when my grand mother has this built it was very nice. But the years had taken its toll. The floor was rotten, the drains were slow and a family of gound squirls had taken up residence under the tub, and i am being nice.

We had rented the place out for a while, and if you have ever rented a house out, you know it is a crap shoot. Some of the folks we rented to were great, but one of the last crews living there was evicted owing several months of rent. They had papered the town with bad checks, been fired from their jobs and when they left the house, they poured cement down the drains. So as a result of course the drains were "slow."

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