Sometimes Plan B offers A+ luxuries

Our story so far: We decide to convert a 126-year-old Methodist church into a house. The first closing date—October 31—came and went as the seller struggles to track down the detailed closing documents.

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After six weeks of scheming and waiting, on November first, the day after we agreed to an extension of our closing date, Tyler began shopping for an apartment. He’d toyed with, then rejected the idea a couple of times based on the trouble of the moving and demands for long-term leases and long commuting distances to the work site of the church, but now, after purchasing propane in three-figure volumes, he was serious.

After he lowered his standards enough to entertain all options however unsavory, he found something we thought could work: A one-bedroom house that allowed pets (to accommodate our aging miniature schnauzer), and it was situated only two blocks from our church. We completed the application and scheduled a time to look at the place in person. And not a moment too soon. The morning of our walk-through, the garden hose supplying water to our camper (which was necessary not only for drinking and showering but for flushing the toilet, too) froze. Campers don’t plan trips to northern Illinois in November for a very good reason.

The rental house was tiny but functional. There was room enough for our king-sized bed, lots of natural light and, unbelievably, a wine refrigerator and jetted tub. In this case, “cozy” was a mansion compared to the meager 358 square feet in our RV. Judging by the dirt in the corners, it was clearly a rental property, but who needed pretty? We were going to build pretty into the church. And as with all things related to real estate, it had the three things we most wanted: Location, location, location. We agreed to the terms on the spot and scheduled a day to move in: November eleventh, four days before we planned—hoped?—to close on the church.

While we were town, we accomplished our first maintenance task, an act the church granted us permission to do even though we weren’t officially owners: Tyler extended the downspouts on the church to coax water away from the foundation and the basement.

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Tomorrow: Chapter 5 opens with a look at the lot survey.

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Did you used to worship at this church? If you have memories you’d like to share, I’d like to include some of them in our story about renovating the church into our house so others can appreciate its history. Simply click on “Contact” above and send me your story. Read it here.

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