As it happens, the sale of that ‘hoarder house’ was finalized on Thursday this last week. This was the house several doors from mine, built pretty much to the same plan, which had not been lived in for nearly eight years, when the woman who lived there passed away suddenly. She was a hoarder, and gradually became somewhat unbalanced. The technical owner of the house was her estranged husband, who finally was prevailed on to sell it to an investor entity whom my daughter had done work for as a real estate agent. The investors originally wanted to take possession early this month, but the owner’s handyman nephew was still clearing out stuff … and more stuff … and even more stuff, most of it in a ruinous condition, since the place had been invaded by rodents and racoons. The roof had also leaked massively, and part of the ceiling drywall had fallen in places …the hot water heater, bathroom fixtures, and HVAC system were all original contractor-grade installations from when the house was built in 1985. As my daughter observed cheerfully, there wasn’t anything in the place that couldn’t be fixed by a gallon of gas and a book of matches.

But it’s a small, compact cottage in an attractive, affordable, nicely-located, and established neighborhood (but not top-drawer expensive) convenient to two military bases, nice stores and other attractions on the outskirts of San Antonio … so it was well worth it to the investing consortium to purchase the wreck of a house. Still, we were considerably astounded when three pickup trucks and a massive dumpster materialized the very first thing on Friday morning – the day after the sale closed! – and work of renovation commenced even before the sun was well up. Everything down to the studs and the concrete slab foundation will have to go, being ruined through weather, age, and animal incursion. This includes interior drywall, all fixtures, floor covering, exterior siding, roof … everything. My daughter tells me that the investors hope to have their work crew have it all done in time to put it on the market for the summer moving season. In a single day, all the cabinets, bathroom fixtures, remaining carpets and cabinets were removed, and piled in the dumpster, which was amazing, considering – and a darned good start for getting all reno work done in time. As for myself, I’m wondering on the sequence of renovation – will they do the inside first? Or fix the roof and exterior siding, in order to preserve the new interior? In any case, my personal bet is that they will fill up the dumpster at least three times.


  1. I won’t take that bet! Something similar happened in my neighborhood a couple of decades ago. House in very poor condition, lived in by a recluse who didn’t maintain it. She was forced to do some basic maintenance by her family after the 1994 Northridge quake, as the place wasn’t safe. When it finally went on the market, the realtor’s outreach to potential buyers said bluntly: “Bring your contractor with you.”

  2. My house is approximately the same size – redoing the siding filled a big dumpster about halfway. I figure the roof will fill up another half-dumpster, and the rest – drywall, interior bits and all will be two more. The investor going into it knew very well that it’s essentially a tear down. About the only sound elements are the foundation, the frame … and the location!