The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Clever Gambit or Playing With Fire?

I can't tell if things are going our way or if everything is going to blow up in our face.

We made some modest progress on the Queen this weekend. About 50% of the wallpaper has been stripped from the master bedroom. The master bedroom has also been completely wired. We didn't have our ceiling fan/light fixture handy so we put in a temporary light fixture, one of those ceramic, bare-bulb affairs. Not much to look at, but there is light when you flip the switch. The kitchen floor is nearly finished. We have 8-9 more runs of flooring to lay and that is it.

When we started on the Queen we did so with the idea that we'd do nearly all of the work ourselves. Now, with 2 1/2 years experience behind us, we've come to the grim realization that there is no way in hell the Queen will be finished unless we hire out. This is driving our projected (hopelessly optimistic) costs through the roof.

Yesterday we hired a very good contractor that we've worked with before. He is between jobs and was looking for something to keep him busy for 3 to 4 weeks until he can begin another project, building an 11,000 square foot house. I can't image what in the hell do you to with that much space.

Our contractor is going to start with the outside of the Queen. Siding, trim, et cetera. If he has time, he'll begin working on the inside of Queen. This would include patching the ceiling, floors, and walls, finishing the additions' interiors, and so on. This work is going to cost us $2,400 a week, so 3-4 weeks will cost us $7,200 to $9,600. Having seen his work, I think that it is worth every dollar. The problem is that we have no money.

So, today my wife and I are going to try to borrow even more money for the Queen. It's a lunch "meeting," and I hope that I'll be calm enough eat & not be sick at the table. If we don't get the money, we are screwed, and, if we do get it, we may be screwed.

If we don't get the money, we'll have to let our contractor go and the house will not be finished even if we get one more extension from the bank. I'm not sure what exactly will happen, but I have a feeling it would include things such as financial ruin and foreclosure.

If we get the money, the house will probably be completely finished. We'll still probably need one more extension, but a finished house will be the end product. The first problem is the appraisal we'll have to get to refinance the Queen. As I have mentioned before, the first one we had was a ridiculously low figure. If we get low-balled on the appraisal for the mortgage/refinancing end of things, we may have spent more than the house is worth.

And, then there is worry of making a mortgage payment that is much higher than what we originally planned.

In a perfect world:

1) We'll get enough money to pay our contractor.
2) We'll get a final, 6-month extension on our construction loan.
3) The Queen will be finished in March-April 2006.
4) We'll get a very good (high) appraisal that will leave us with enough equity (CASH) to payoff all our construction debts.
5) We'll be able to live in the Queen and have the luxury of keeping her or selling her as we wish.

I guess we'll see how it goes. Wish us luck. We need it.


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