Wentworth Street: What we bought

In the summer of 2006, just as the real estate boom in southern Maine was reaching its pinnacle, Sue found a rehab project for us in a tough Biddeford neighborhood. It was a duplex, owned by an older man looking to sell and move into assisted living. The house was advertised “as is” for $115,000. Our plan: 6 months labor, $25,000 in rehab costs and we could turn this into two single-family homes worth $110,000 each.
After some research, it turned out the house wasn’t exactly a duplex — it actually had an illegal (and uninhabitable) apartment in the basement and was recognized by the city as a single family. We renegotiated a lower price and bought the place, figuring we could still make some money. As the ink on the mortgage documents was drying, the housing market had begun a downward trajectory that continues to this day (2011).

This is what we bought, in October of 2006. Can you see why we couldn't resist it?

I mean, look at these architectural details!

It came with a garage, which was filled with all kinds of valuable stuff, like cat poo.

A lovely side porch

This was the kitchen in the second apartment. The fridge worked.

Lots of storage space in the back "shed"... of course it came pre-filled.

More stuff. Sue was really excited about going through all of this.

An upstairs bedroom which came to be known as the "cat pee room"

Another upstairs bedroom. They said the roof was fixed.


The basement. People once lived down here. You can't see the 8" of standing water under the floorboards.

More basement living. The windows were several inches below grade, so whever it rained, water would pour in through them.

The basement toilet. Sue declined to use it -- and this was before we discoved marks on the seat made by rats trying to chew their way out.

The "old man's bathroom" a tiny closet off the kitchen.

The old man's kitchen.

Cracking chimneys -- these were going to have to come down.

The electric organ. We found a home for this.

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