The Milwaukee House

the finished listing

Posted on September 21, 2020

I didn’t get a real job this summer. Instead, I helped by dad’s friend Chris fix up her son’s house in Milwaukee.

It started in late May, 2020. Chris notified my dad that her son was moving to Seattle for a job and wouldn’t be needing his house in Milwaukee any more. She said she wanted some help fixing up the house to sell it.

The house was a mess, to say the least. After clearing out the junk, surveying the situation, and falling through the rotting porch, my dad determined that he would need some help himself. This is where I come in. His initial timeline estimate was “a week or two”. This was a gross underestimate.

A really messy house
The front of the house in early June

We started by ripping out the carpets, which revealed the beautiful 100-year-old hardwood floors underneath. The first project within the house was refinishing the floors, which included sanding, scraping off paint, and eventually urethaning.

The floor finishing process

We then painted the walls and refinished the trim on the main floor.

After a few coats of urethane.

There were also three small bedrooms upstairs, which were similarly painted and finished. Although I enjoyed the disgusting shades of blue and green that they were painted, houses sell better when their walls are painted white.

I mentioned earlier that my dad fell through the rotting porch. That meant that we had to rebuild the porch. This process included demolishing the remaining structure of it, removing the two outdated brick pillars in the front, and then framing, building, and painting a new porch.

There was a lot of ancient concrete underneath the old porch that had to be removed
The porch in progress
Post-painting, railings in progress

Additional projects that I didn’t take photos of include rebuilding the “Bilco” basement entrance, repainting the basement, installing two toilets, installing new roof siding, reframing the garage, installing a garbage disposal in the sink, replacing a leaky pipe, and redoing the fence.

After five solid weeks of work (including weekends, because my dad is an extreme workaholic), the house was finally “finished”. Of course, a project house like this is never truly finished until it’s sold, and we made quite a few trips back to put on more finishing touches.

The listing of the finished house

All things considered, it was great to have such a physical project to do right after four years of schooling. I learned to love using my hands to build things. I also learned how to use a plethora of power tools. Most of all, though, it was great to be able to spend so much time with my dad.

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