How to inhabit a church in just three easy steps

Our story so far: We’re filling our time waiting to close on the church we plan to convert into our home by creating budgets and making plans.

# # #

As the prospect of freezing temperatures became ever more real in our camper, we debated how long it would take for us to acquire a habitation permit from the village.

The building inspector told Tyler he required an operational bathroom, kitchen and bedroom before he would allow us to occupy the church. So simple! Just three rooms!

Check out that sweet bathroom. Just kidding. It’s hard to see but that’s not one, not two, but three room deodorizers on the window ledge.
Well, we had a toilet in the basement.

Kitchen Before
The church kitchen in the basement in all its “before” glory.
At this point, we didn’t even have running water. The congregation had turned it off sixteen months before when they vacated the church building to merge with another congregation in a nearby city. They took all the pews, the pulpit, the altar and both the bathroom and kitchen sinks. The basement kitchen countertops existed but were unmoored from the walls.

On the third showing at the church when we found Stan the squirrel, we discovered puddles of water in the basement. The caretaker, who noticed us at the church as he drove by, came inside to tell us the basement always got water when it rained. Shouldn’t a caretaker do something about that? I wondered silently.

A basement prone to flooding was probably not a great place for a bed.

Tyler spent a month scheming about plumbing in order to construct a bathroom shower and install new (or newish) sinks. He consulted with an electrician. He called an HVAC guy to schedule a furnace check. And he pondered how we might keep our sleeping area free of construction dust. We could take our time once we were living inside the church, but speed was of the essence in getting it livable.

Every day the church failed to conjure up the necessary documents for closing the deal put us more on edge. Tyler would lay awake at 2 a.m. thinking about 100-year-old lead pipes and drain vents. For me, the sleeplessness came at the beginning of the night. I would watch HGTV for hours before retiring for the evening, and then I’d lay awake re-arranging the location of the main floor laundry and dining room table. Or I’d scroll through pages on Pinterest looking at rustic accent walls, vaulted bedroom ceilings and DIY entryways only to dream about them later.

# # #

Tomorrow: Chapter 4 continues with a description of the wonders of architectural salvage. Read it here.

3 thoughts on “How to inhabit a church in just three easy steps

  1. You are lucky, there were some parishioners who wanted the transom windows in the sanctuary, and still do, if you are replacing them.


    • No denying it, we are lucky. Those transom windows are keepers. One of them is cracked, and we think we’ve found an artisan who can duplicate it so we can replace it. I also hope to install more windows with similar etching above the entry and on the back wall where the altar used to be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s