|After a year of hard labour, a second property my sister Diane and her husband John bought when they retired to Winlaw in the Kootenay area of B.C. is beginning to shine.|
|The double-wide mobile home, just down the road from their own house, has been gutted and redone.|
Some people relax in the sunshine when they retire; my sister Diane and her husband John moved to Winlaw and took on a house renovation.
Not the house they bought to live in, fortunately, which was in good shape. But down the road was a beautiful treed acreage with a double-wide mobile that drew their eye. For a couple who had raised their Surrey house to add a bottom floor, installed a floor milled from their very own lumber and shingled the entire exterior themselves, how hard could it be to whip a mobile home into shape?
A year later, they know. The home's previous owner was a bit of a hoarder, they discovered. Over the years, pets had made their presence known deep down into the flooring. Seed for the birds kept in a glassed-in area of the house had attracted mice. And knotweed -- dreaded by householders everywhere because it's so hard to kill -- was poking up in the back yard.
And so they cleaned and cleared, they ripped out smelly flooring, they tore apart the interior, and had the furnace and plumbing and electrical systems replaced. In the summer, they used the backhoe to dig up the knotweed. They sifted the soil through fine mesh to remove every vestige of suspicious plant material (no Roundup for Diane and John!) But when they put back the soil, thoroughly dried after a summer's baking in the sun, it looked so dead that it seemed unlikely it would ever grow anything again. So they covered it with a big load of horse manure, threw down handfuls of grass seed and started watering.
As of this fall, their retirement project is nearing completion. The exterior of the house is newly repainted; the drywalling is done, the stage is set for cabinet-building and interior finishing this winter. Diane is happy about how the house is shaping up, but to her, the biggest miracle is the back yard. Out of that hopeless dry soil sprang a field of lush green. "It is," she says, "like a golf course."
|A look at the interior, with the drywaller at work. Diane has done lots of "mudding" drywall herself, but this time, there was help.|
|Another view of the interior.|
|This winter's project will be to finish up the interior.|
|A view of the glassed-in area where birds were once kept.|
|The back area of the house.|
|And, that beautiful green lawn. Knotweed free!|