five years of castle frostbite.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of our move to Upper Cryogenica and the purchase of Castle Frostbite. When we loaded up the moving truck in Knoxville in December of 2007, Quinn was not quite three and Lyra just seven months old.

In the beginning, I had a love-hate relationship with the new Castle. Robin had bought it after going up to NH by herself for a few days and looking at houses. The first time I got to see the place in person was when I unlocked the door on the evening of our arrival, a few hours after signing the paperwork at the real estate agent’s office, and immediately after getting the moving truck stuck at the bottom of the driveway in the first major snow of the winter. Then I moved the kids into what was to be their room, only to notice a water bubble forming under the ceiling paint. That started the lengthy “hate” portion of that love-hate relationship.

(We got taken a bit in the purchase. The same agency represented both the buyer and the seller, and once everyone had cashed their checks, we were left holding the bag, with no help forthcoming from anyone once we discovered that the ceiling was leaking, and that the house had other–naturally undisclosed–isssues.)

Five years hence, and we’ve fixed all the critical issues and most of the cosmetic/minor items, and the place really feels like we’ve made it our own. Since we moved in, we have done the following:

–Replaced the shitty sheet metal roof with a Sarnafil PVC roof
–Replaced one of the two wood stoves with a pellet stove
–Replaced all the kitchen appliances and both washer and dryer
–Had the entire entry and porch area completely rebuilt (because the structure underneath had rotted away)
–Rebuilt the patio
–Fenced in the backyard with 5′ chain link fencing
–Put up a playhouse/slide set for the kids in the backyard
–Had the garage rebuilt and reinforced from the inside
–Turned one large, difficult-to-heat room into two smaller ones, increasing the bedroom count of the Castle by one
–Repaired all the water damage from the leaking ceiling (thankfully covered by homeowners’ insurance)
–Removed half a dozen questionable trees in proximity of the house to prevent storm damage from falling trees
–Built a chicken house and run on the front acreage of the property
–Remodeled the living room wall into an in-wall media cabinet
–Removed one of the two propane furnaces from the house and remodeled the space into a combination pantry/laundry room
–Resurfaced the driveway with hardpack gravel
–Upgraded the Internet connection from dial-up to satellite to WLAN to DSL
–…and half a dozen smaller projects I’m probably forgetting right now.

It’s a really nice little compound now, sitting as it does on ten very private acres in a rural little New Hampshire town conveniently close to big town amenities if we have the need for them. We have lots of space in the house and on the property, there are no direct neighbors nearby, the wooded lot means privacy, and the town services are reliable. There are far worse spots to live and raise kids, that’s for sure. But man, did it take a lot of elbow grease to get to this spot. I only wish I could give the previous owners a tour of the place as it is now. I hope the house they bought in nearby Grantham has lots of undisclosed structural issues that cost them a lot of cash and work to fix…

8 thoughts on “five years of castle frostbite.

  1. Congratulations!

    As somebody coming to terms with my own remodel addiction, I can feel the emotional swings in that list. Glad you guys are at a high point now.

  2. My wife’s cousin is another who got pretty much the same treatment when they bought their house. Leaky roof, leaky basement, badly disintegrating foundation lots of rot around badly built windows, etc, etc. He is also a lawyer. He threatened a lawsuit, naming the seller, his real estate agent, the “Licensed” inspector who saw none of the problems. Cousin had all repair and modification expenses paid for, it took a couple of years, but he ended up “being made whole”.

    You might want to think about: Lawyer.

  3. Old house + character = money pit. 17 years later, our house did not look anything like it did when we bought it. Glad you are finally able to enjoy living where you are without having to fix something major (yet!)


  4. Seeing the place every couple years is like seeing the kids every couple years. The changes are really noticeable!

  5. Markova, I’ve been away for a while and it’s good to see you still writing and maintaining the castle. Just a few hills and hollers south of you we celebrated our 30th anniversary in our house two weeks ago. I like to say that I built two houses. On the same foundation. I’m still at it. Refinements, improvements, additions, armor plate. You seem to be doing things right. You may want to consider removing the comment about creating another bedroom, as the number of bedrooms can effect your tax assessment and if the town really wants to get sticky, it can be used to size your septic system. I guess you’ll have to remove this comment as well.