The Enchanter’s Tower

The house, after renovations. It still needs a good power-washing…

I recently purchased a house near University City, in Philadelphia. The house was apparently built around 1888 or so; I’m working on putting together a proper history, but here is a quick “before-and-after” gallery of the renovations that were done over the past four months or so.

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

The “Before” pictures…

I first came across the listing for the house on Zillow. It was listed in “as-is” condition, but had a lot of the features I was looking for: detached, relatively large, detached, close to work, detached, and with available cable Internet. One evening after work, I walked past the house on my way home, and took a few pictures.

My first look at the house. I'd always wanted a haunted Wizard's Tower!

Oookay, so it needs some work. This is obvious. Hard to tell what it looks like on the inside, but I don’t mind a fixer-upper, as long as it’s livable and in solid mechanical condition. I scheduled a showing of the house a few days later — and also stopped by on my lunch break, to see the house in daylight.

The "before" picture of the house, in daylight.

Curious about what the inside looked like, I pointed my cell phone camera through the gap under the front door and took a picture.

A quick look through a large gap under the front door shows a cold-shell interior.

A few days later, I met with a Realtor and was able to see inside the house. As advertised, it was definitely a “work in progress.” My friend Mike and I took a very brief tour of the house…


A representative "before" picture of the interior.

The "before" picture of the electrical panel. Yikes.

The stairs down to the basement, including a VERY low clearance near the bottom!

The front part of the basement. This is pretty much the "before" and the "after" picture.

The old gas furnace in the basement. Maybe it can be restored...

The "before" picture of the second floor.

"Before" picture of the second floor side bedroom. It's the smallest one, but cozy rather than cramped.

"Before" picture of the third floor.

The sellers offered to complete the house to FHA standards — a requirement for an FHA mortgage — for about $15,000 more than the “as-is” asking price. I know a bargain when I see it, and although I would rather have been able to choose specifics of carpeting, fixtures, paint, etc., this was too good a deal to pass up.

The “After” pictures…

Eventually, about three months later, the work was complete. Once all the paperwork was in place, Tom and I did another walkthrough, and the difference was dramatic. It was hard to believe this was really the same house I had gone through before!

A representative "after" picture of the interior.

The first floor, looking north towards the kitchen.

The kitchen. It still needs a dishwasher, but they left room for one.


Leave a Reply