After talking with neighbors and snooping around the house (there were prescriptions in the medicine cabinet from the 80's), it was determined that no one had lived there (legally) for about 30 years! Um...that's a l o n g time and a lot of neglect. The house had suffered floods in the basement, leaks in the roof and through several broken windows, squatting animals and people (literally, actually, one of the closets wreaks of human waste), and had been stripped of all utility systems--no electricity, no plumbing, no heating. There weren't even utility meters remaining.
First order of business was to create a secure and easy way for me to get in and out of the house. That would be a DOOR. One that opens with a KEY, not a requiring a drill and a climb through the window. My house resides in a historic neighborhood, so I plan to keep the exterior as historically accurate as possible. So the front door will either be restored or replaced with something appropriate, and I hope to put french doors with a transom window in the back where the addition was once attached. The side door, on the other hand, was completely gone and there was a slab interior-type door screwed into the opening that remained. What this situation called for was a secure (I chose steel) and cheap (off the shelf from Home Depot) door that would serve as the main entry point for all future work that will be done. I know from the remodeling that was done at my Royal Oak house, that this door will fall victim to a lot of bumps and bruises. So cheap and strong was the way to go; when all's said and done I'll either replace it or paint it, depending on how well it's held up. I promise (maybe) not to go on and on about every little detail like I have about this door, but it was kind of a big deal for me, one, being able to walk in with a couple key turns, and two, it being the first improvement that I was able to complete for this long suffering house.
The next thing on my to do list was to get the utilities back in business. Electricity would be critical for the majority of work that needs to be done; water and gas would be nice features as well. Since the electric meter and line from the pole to the house were missing, there were more required steps than a simple call to DTE Energy. I hired an electrician to install a new meter box, the wire run on the outside of the house that goes to the attachment point for DTE, and my service panel in the basement. Then DTE came and installed the new meter inside the box and ran a line to the house. Woohoo! Power!
Wow, I think I made that getting-electricity task seem quick and painless. The steps actually occurred over a few weeks and 2 or 3 visits from DTE, plus there was some addition-demo sprinkled in (didn't want to drop what was left of the addition onto a new power line). While I was at work during my first few weeks of new home-ownership, my dad, neighbor, and son were hard at work removing the rotten addition and what was left of the garage roof (it was burned and there was a tree on it, not sure which happened first).
Here are some exterior progress photos that I took during those weeks, as well as my documentation of acquiring electricity. If you click on the photos, you can see them full size, along with my commentary.
The removal of the addition left a gaping hole in the roof, and the garage walls were found to be salvageable, with a little masonry help. More on these issues to come....
Just to keep you in the loop, the events I wrote about here took place between October 28, 2011 and November 18, 2011. There was also some interior work going on during this time period, I'll get to that next time. Thanks so much for following along!