By Trish Holder
Would you buy a house off of Craigslist? Not as an investment, but as an actual family home?
Adrian Ledbetter and his wife Becky did.
Two years ago the couple bought a 2-story, 1930s Craftsman style home in Villa Grove, Illinois for the bargain price of $14,000.00. They’ve been lovingly restoring it ever since.
“If you’ve ever wanted to own a period house with sidewalks, alley ways, etcetera…well this was it,” said Adrian, a Project Manager for a large commercial construction company in central Illinois.
Within minutes of finding the house on Craigslist, Adrian and Becky made a phone call and went to see the home. The next day, they bought it for what amounted to the price of a used Volkswagen.
The house isn’t “quite” move-in ready yet, but Adrian says it’s getting there. The couple has been financing the renovation (more or less a total gut and partial rebuild) as they go, doing most of the work themselves on nights and on weekends. Adrian estimates that they will be in a 33% equity position based on the taxable value at occupancy, which Adrian estimates to be at $80,000.00. With upgrades made primarily through sweat equity he expects to have about 26,600.00 paid for by the time they move in.
“We are currently on track,” said Adrian. “The purchase price of $14,000.00 allowed for a $39,334.00 Cost of Construction budget or $35.76 a Sq ft.”
Reclaimed Home, Reclaimed Lifestyle
The house had problems. Let’s be clear about that. But the self-described “beatniks” were up for the challenge, and perhaps more importantly, were also up for lifestyle change.
“The Spruce Street purchase appealed to our ‘back-to-basics‘ desire to break from the wasteful excess of the past decade. The house has become our do-it-yourself proving ground for just that,” said Adrian.
With a diminutive footprint of 1,100 Sq ft, the home has certainly put the couple and their two children on the path to greener lifestyle.
To date, they have dealt with a number of structural and exterior renovations, or perhaps more aptly put, rescues. The house was under stress due to the fact that the internal load points were four inches below level elevation, necessitating a full demolition of the first floor flooring system and 50 percent of the second floor flooring system. The original framing also had to be torn out so that new windows and doors could be framed in along with new roofing shingles. Various mechanical and plumbing upgrades still lie ahead.
In terms of “being green” the next big challenge (one we look forward to sharing!) is the Ledbetter’s desire to use mostly reclaimed materials to return the home’s interior to livable conditions. This includes incorporating salvaged cabinetry – an aesthetically tricky “mix and match” of separately sourced wall and base cabinets. Adrian also got his hands on some salvaged trim and casement materials, which he plans to use around doors and windows and in other areas for trim. The materials quite possibly contain lead paint and reusing them will entail bringing them up to current EPA/health standards. With two children, including a son with severe allergies, making sure this old home is as healthy as a new one is a high priority for the Ledbetters.
“One unexpected benefit to the extended construction cycle is that it takes time to find recycled items. Since they are not readily available, the duration of the project has allowed us to conduct our diligence for items we acquire along the way, well in advance of when they are needed. That has helped us stay on budget,” said Adrian.
Would YOU Buy a Home off of Craigslist?
Clearly, this isn’t a project for the feint of heart—or even the bravest souls if they can’t find enjoyment in the work itself. After all, this has become the Ledbetter’s “downtime” activity. No matter how green you or I would like to be, this is a recipe for disaster for many of us. The fact that Adrian has quite a bit of construction experience, including being a licensed contractor and former member of a framing crew is certainly in his favor. And I do get the feeling he’s having fun.
Stay tuned for more updates about the integration of reclaimed materials in the Ledbetter’s Craigslist Cutie. In the meantime, I’d like to know how many of you would dare buy a home off of Craigslist. I found one online posting that asked people to respond to the same question. Over 850 people responded, with 55% saying NO and 45% saying YES.
What about Greenspiration Home readers? Please comment below!