Our Schoolhouse Reno: A Miracle in the Making

Do you believe in miracles?

Would you believe that this ugly house with the missing siding and the crooked lean-to is a miraculous answer to prayer?

It’s not our first miraculous house purchase — I’ll share that story another day — but I’m still amazed every time I think of how we came to own this little gem.

You see, we were living in temporary housing and determined to find a home in a specific school district. The housing market there was super tight, and every house we looked at had major structural issues and was way out of our budget.

We would soon have a chunk of cash from our house sale, but were unemployed at the time (we had just moved) and so getting a mortgage was out of the question… even getting a rental would be tricky. Friends had offered a tiny one-bedroom apartment if we really needed it, but we wouldn’t be able to keep our cat there.

The campground we were staying at was fantastic, except for the tiny detail that there was ZERO wifi or cell reception, and we had to drive almost an hour into the local version of Stars Hollow to hang out at a coffee shop any time we wanted to search for houses, or jobs, or check email.

It was a super stressful time and the school year was starting in just a few weeks.

We found out about a house that was about to go on the market and drove down to look at it (even though it was too small and far beyond what we could afford).

On the way home, I realized that we were a mile or so away from a house I used to live in, and we decided to drive by and show the girls where I lived while I was in high school.

And we drove past this:

I quickly snapped the picture above, and we called the number right away.

A few days later, the owner called us back and that weekend we were able to look at the rustic little place.

It was rough.

The little 24’x36′ building was a former one-room-schoolhouse and town hall that had been (poorly) converted into a home.

The upsides:

  • The location was perfect, in the country but just a quarter-mile off the main road.
  • It was a fixer-upper that we could afford.
  • I loved the history of the place.
  • We would have great neighbors.
  • There was room to add a second floor, which would increase the space and value.
  • There was a functional well and septic on the property.
  • It was vacant, so we could possibly move in right away.
  • We could pay cash.

The downsides:

  • School was starting in 3 weeks.
  • We were waiting on our house close, so we literally had less than $1,000 in cash.
  • There were some major heaves in the flooring that indicated possible structural issues with the foundation.
  • The person who had lived there last had anger issues and there were fist marks and knife holes in the doors and walls, and the place was filthy.
  • It needed a lot of work.

Despite the downsides, I fell in love.

I really did love the place. And we saw so much potential.

So we made an offer.

Cash, but with one crazy condition.

We needed to be able to move in right away. With a land contract so we could establish residency.

With only $500 down until the sale of our house closed.

And they accepted.

That, my friends, is a miracle.

And the start of another crazy adventure.

Thanks so much for following along with our Schoolhouse Reno!

Want to see the transformation? Here’s the rest of the series:

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