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Where are we with Big Mama's House?

This month was all about seeing where we are so that we know where we are going. Due to legalities of the purchase, we bought the property AS IS. I’ll be honest this was an impulsive and emotional purchase. Under normal circumstances, we would have thought three or four times before purchasing the property. When I rode through the neighborhood reminiscing prior to the purchase, Daniel let me know it would take a lot of money and time to renovate the home.

Because, it was my great grandmother’s home and the cost was so unbelievably low, we were willing to put in the resources to rebuild. I was so optimistic that I would be able to build a dream home within the same walls my great grandmother once lived and made a home.

However, that won’t happen. I’ve had to deal with grieving those expectations. Where we are now is a total demo project. The only part of the use that is in decent condition is the roof and even that there is a bit of an issue.

As Daniel and Raul began removing sheetrock, we noticed two huge issues. One of them was terrible termite infestation and the second stud separation. Both of these challenges shattered all of my hopes and dreams of being able to build with the current home as is. The termites were so incredibly terrible that none of the wood could be salvaged throughout the home. The issue with the studs were also out of our control but could have been repaired if the wood was still in decent condition.

The home was built in the early 1930s. I am assuming that from then and now many code regulations have changed. Homes built today have stricter electric guidelines. The studs of any home built today must be 16 inches apart. Big Mama’s house has studs that are 24 inches apart. We would’ve had to install all new studs in order to pass electric inspection. So basically build a new home anyway. Daniel just made the decision to move forward with removing all of the sheetrock and layers of wood and walls.

As we peeled back all of those layers, we discovered a lovely reminder of the beauty in this house and our process. My great grandmother’s original wallpaper was the most gracious surprise. She gave me a glimpse of hope when I was for sure saddened and overwhelmed with our new plans. We had hoped to put a certain amount of money into the home and move into it. Now, we are trying to figure out which way to go from here. Do we just demo the house completely and just hold on to the land? Do we scale back and only invest a small amount into the property due to the value of homes in the neighborhood and just rent? Or do we go all in and invest a larger amount to build the home we love and just hold onto to this legacy home for us?

That is where we are today. We are trying to figure out what is best. What I do know is that— I have the land. I own a piece of all of my great grandmothers work while she was here. My feet can always touch the very same soil she walked on for decades. And my children’s children can do the same. Time is on our side because it is ours and no one can take this away from us.

“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming” is one of my favorite quotes by Alice Walker. I keep this in my back pocket when I become indecisive about how to move forward with Big Mama’s House. When I get overwhelmed and anxious about all of the unexpected money we will have to spend on this house, I think about sacrifices. Building generational wealth in the form of real estate and properties isn’t about what we will benefit in the now. It is more so how future generations will reap the benefits of our hard work and investments.

The ray of sunshine and hope just may be that we inherited this land from Big Mama yet restoration comes in a more bountiful form. Maybe just maybe the old house wasn’t meant to serve us. There may be a more charming brand new house that will be built and constructed for my great grandchildren to enjoy.



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