351 Massachusetts Ave – Progress as of September 2013
We wanted to post some photos and explain the amazing progress that has happened since we purchased 351 Massachusetts Ave. 351 Massachusetts Ave. is a single family, three bedroom house located on the West Side. We purchased the house at the In Rem Auction in October 2012. We officially closed with the deed in hand from the City of Buffalo in March 2013. Here is the story from the purchase until today – Sept. 17th 2013. We hope you can learn a bit.. and enjoy our story!
First Walk Through: When we bought it, we thought the house was vacant so Jason, Joel, Mike and Derek decided to go in Nov. 2012. Jason crawled through the back crank out window, climbed on top of the refrigerator inside the apartment and tried to let us in… only he couldn’t because the door had a double lock on both sides! Jason was immediately worried because he jumped down from the refrigerator – he saw open mail! For a second, we thought he was a goner… until he ran to the front door and let us in… Phew!! The house was unoccupied however we learned later that someone was squatting in it…Thankfully they were not there at the time! We took a look around, locked it up to secure it from vandals and waited patiently for the deed to come in the mail.
Official Ownership: Because the deeds didn’t come until March, we were unable to legally be in there or do work on the property. When the deeds finally came in – we officially opened the door to begin work. Unfortunately, the pipes burst and when we got in there again – we found a cascading formation of ice from the second floor to the first. The foundation was crumbling everywhere. There was garbage throughout. It was an absolute mess. It was discouraging. It was SCARY.
Summer 2013: This summer we decided that the best thing we can do is to gut the house – from top to bottom. The goal was to get it cleaned, buttoned up and ready for a full rehab by Fall 2013. Here is what has been completed so far.
Foundation Repair: We worked with Buffalo Reuse Action to fix the foundation – three areas needed to be rebuilt along with replacing the entire top plate piece around the basement perimeter. The house was raised up 6 inches slowly to bring it back up to where it was before the foundation began to crumble. Crazy! We reused the original stone where we could but had to use concrete block in the back… Honestly, I have never been so happy to see concrete block in my life – we were just happy to see that the house was no longer imploding on itself!!!
Roof Replacement: The house was leaking in two major areas – so a new roof was a TOP priority. In August 2013, we finalized the roofing contract with Zee’s Property Services. We felt we should support Chris Z. and his company because of how much support he gives the preservation community… and we are very happy with his work. We went for a GAF architectural shingle – a quality shingle with curb appeal. Not a metal roof (sorry Chris!) but it’s not the cheap option either. Immediately the roofs stopped leaking – no more mold and weird mushrooms! We also had new gutters installed and the clapboard repaired. (No vinyl ever!)
Interior Demo: The next stop was to get all the moldy/mushroomy drywall & insulation out of there. Zee’s spent a week gutting the entire place – right down to the studs. Houses are really beautiful in their “naked” state…
Windows & Exterior Paint: The next steps happening within the next week or so includes window replacement and exterior painting. We have to get new windows in before the winter – the existing vinyl windows are garbage and don’t even fit in the windows. The house is also in need of a paint job… so paint is on the list. Once these two are done – the whole house will be weather proof and ready for Winter!!!
Couple important thoughts: Having great friends that help is AWESOME and priceless. Grass grows A LOT during the Spring but slows in the Summer. Thank you to David Weitzel for the free staircase for the front entrance. Make sure you keep water away from your foundations. Oh! Foundation repair is NOT as expensive as you would imagine. Don’t be scared of it – it can be fixed on a budget!!
That is all for now. Thank you to all of our friends, contractors and family who have helped get us up to this point – we are very thankful!
Bernice & Jason