A couple bought a 1940s house owned by a family of hoarders. They have 6 months to empty it and make it livable.

Katie and David Wolford are renovating a hoarder home.

Katie and David Wolford

Katie and David Wolford fell in love with a hoarder house in their neighborhood in 2020.
They finally bought the house in August, and they plan to refurbish the 1940s property.
Katie and David are documenting their renovation process on TikTok.

A yearslong and $640,000 adventure all started with a neighborhood walk.

Katie and David Wolford told Insider that they turned to neighborhood strolls in Portland, Oregon, to fill time during the pandemic. 

On one of their first walks, they instantly fell in love with a home at the end of a cul-de-sac.

The house that caught their eye stood out in a sea of clean, modern homes

From what they could see from the sidewalk, the home, which they later learned was built in the 1940s, had art-deco details and impressive brickwork.

“It was the worst home in the best neighborhood,” Katie said.

Through the windows, they could see mountains of furniture, belongings, and trash piled up inside. Mold crawled up the home’s garage, and the backyard was overgrown so much that “it looked like it was being pulled into the forest,” Katie said.

To most people, it was a nightmare.

They fell in love with the house from the street.

Katie and David Wolford

But to Katie, 33, and David, 34, it was their future. Katie said they immediately started picturing the rest of their lives in the space. 

Nearly three years later, they’re finally starting that journey. 

They purchased the home in August. Now, they’re clearing it out, recording the journey on their TikTok account DK Dreamhouse, and making it livable in just six months.

Buying the home was the couple’s first challenge

While Katie and David could visualize their lives in the home, they needed to buy it first.

In 2020, the home wasn’t for sale, so Katie said she called in a realtor friend, who helped the couple track down the owner. With that information, they sent him a letter.

“We drafted a letter in 2020 to the homeowners, but we had nothing to offer,” Katie said.

They didn’t get a response, and it became a waiting game for the couple — until one day this summer. Katie was on a walk when she spotted a dumpster outside the home. 

“It was go time,” Katie said. 

Luckily, the couple now had the finances from other home renovations and rentals to buy the house. Katie said she called her realtor friend again, and they delivered another letter. 

“There was just no world at this point, three years in the making, where we did not get that house,” Katie said.

They didn’t get a response, so they sent another letter to their front door. Then another. 

“She would go every day to try and catch somebody up there because clearly something was happening,” Katie said.

Finally, the friend ran into the owner and convinced him to give the couple a tour. After years of imagining the interior, the couple finally stepped inside.

The home’s structure is better than the Wolfords’ could have hoped for.

Katie and David Wolford

“The smell and the sight were really things that most people wouldn’t even consider,” Katie said. “But we walked in, and it was better than we could even imagine.”

The home had an open layout, curved walls, arched entryways, parquet floors, massive windows, and details they knew they’d never find in another house.

So they purchased it for $640,000.

Katie and David have to empty the home before they can start renovations

The couple has removed dumpsters-worth of belongings from the previous owners.

Katie and David Wolford

Katie said she and David initially thought they’d have to gut the entire home, reconfigure spaces, and completely redesign the interior. 

After seeing its details, and learning that the bones of the house were solid, they’re planning a renovation instead.

As Katie and David shared on TikTok, the house was first owned in 1942 by a man who owned a lighting fixture store, so it’s filled with one-of-a-kind, vintage lighting pieces, which the Wolfords hope to restore as they renovate the space.

Then in the 1970s, a neurologist purchased the home, and a few years later, she married an engineer, who moved into the space with his children. Over the years, the family developed a hoarding problem, slowly filling their home with the enormous collection of items Katie and David found in the house when they bought it.

The hoarding got so bad that the previous owners cut holes into the walls to create more space for storage, Katie told Insider. 

@wolford_dreamhouse Wow – so many have joined our journey with this 1942 hoarder home! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, appreciation for the ridiculous beauty this house holds, and compassion for the original owners. Hoarding is complicated, people are complicated. We don’t judge or make assumptions. Please be kind about the original owners in the comments – we now take it very personally and are trying to fill this home with as much beauty and love as possible – it doesn’t need judgement, it needs a lot of help! #hoarderhouse #homerenovation #beforerestoreation #vintagelighting #1940shouse #hoardercleanout ♬ original sound – DK Dreamhouse

“I think it’s just really important that every neighbor that we met loved them so much,” Katie said of the former owners of the home. “These were people that lived really full lives, and the state of their house, that’s really minor when you hold it up to someone’s whole life.”

Now that Katie and David own the house, their first task is getting all the belongings out

The previous owner’s son said he had already removed two homes’ worth of belongings before Katie and David purchased it, but Katie estimates that there are still two homes’ worth left. 

“We just keep finding more and more stuff,” Katie said. 

In the backyard, bushes of blackberries disguised sheds they didn’t know existed, which were also full of belongings.

Underneath more bushes were old refrigerators, tractors, a washer and dryer set, and playground sets — all items the Wolfords plan to get rid of.

The yard was overgrown as well.

Katie and David Wolford

“With all that stuff, you can’t really see what is actually built into the house,” Katie said. “So we keep finding little spaces that we didn’t know about.”

Katie said the task has been impossible for the couple to do by themselves, especially with the home’s smell.

The water has been shut off for the last few months, but workers continued to use the bathroom. Combine full toilets with a dog and grease smell from the previous owners and Katie said it’s impossible to spend long periods of time inside the house.

So they’ve hired people to sort the belongings into piles for donations and trash.

Each day, as more and more items are removed, Katie said the smell is more bearable. 

“I shudder even thinking about it,” Katie said. “Every day it’s a whole level less smelly, which is so encouraging.”

Katie and David are aiming to make the home livable in just 6 months

Although the house needs a lot of TLC, Katie and David are hoping to move into it in less than a year.

The couple said that because the house was in such disrepair, banks wouldn’t issue them a loan on the property, so they needed to purchase it with cash. They said they ended up taking out a fix-and-flip loan, which gave them enough money to buy and renovate the house.

Typically, these loans are repaid during a sale, but since Katie and David plan to make the house their home, their goal is to make it livable in just six months and refinance the house to pay off the loan.

“We’ll move in and start the real restoration work on the home,” Katie said.

Katie and David Wolford are going to move into the home before renovating it.

Katie and David Wolford

For now, the couple is working on getting it in livable shape, which means tackling tasks like moving it off of a septic tank and onto the city’s sewer lines. The exterior paint is from 1940 and tested for high levels of lead, so they’re stripping and repainting the entire house. And they have to get a whole new roof.

There are interior tasks that also need to be done in that time frame, Katie explained. The previous owners had built an upstairs sunroom, which caused major water damage. Now, the second-floor ceiling needs to be replaced, as does part of the flooring that’s water-damaged. 

Katie and David also won’t know the extent of the renovations required until the house has been fully emptied.

“Since it was so full of stuff, every layer you remove, we have to reassess what’s going on,” Katie said.

They don’t know, for example, what’s under the floorboards. So there are likely parts of the home they haven’t even spotted yet that will need fixing.  

The house needs a lot of work.

Katie and David Wolford

For many of these tasks, the couple has hired professionals. But once the structural things are completed, Katie and David can “get in there and get our hands dirty and start really doing our projects.”

“He has an engineering brain, and I have a very creative brain,” Katie said of David. “Together with YouTube and really talented friends, who have been really patient and teaching us things, we’ve learned that we can now feel super confident with any sort of home project.”

Ultimately, the couple can’t wait to spend their lives in the home they spent the last three years envisioning. 

“I cannot even express how good it feels. We feel so connected to this house,” Katie said. “Now we’re just trying to find time to sleep.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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