Miracles do happen! #729

#729 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Oh, we do see miracles!

Once we had a wonderful listing, an old shingle house in Berkeley, and upon close examination we learned that when built 3 doorbells had been installed, but none was working anymore.

We could easily see 1 doorbell transformer but not 3, and so a genius and patient handyman crawled around under the house and found, in utterly illogical locations, he said, the other 2. He tested the internal wiring which, amazingly, after 100 years, was still good, installed new transformers and all 3 systems worked great – front, side and back doors.

Long years ago we wanted to install a clothes washer and dryer in a basement, the entrance to which consisted of a short doorway and 10 narrow, winding steps. No way would washer and dryer fit down those stairs and around the corner. Genius handyman (same as for doorbells) cut in half the metal cases of the appliances, moved the halves down the stairs and reassembled them. I know this sounds unreal; it was astonishing to us, but it happened, and we saw it.

At one old house with an old high-tank toilet, we needed a creative repair. The toilet worked fine but the flushing mechanism was missing a handle. What existed was a skinny rod hanging from the tank, lightweight enough that it hung askew. There was a hook at the bottom of the rod where a handle of some sort must have been at one time. So the question was what could be attached as a finishing handle and how to attach it?

We took photos of the rod and tank and visited salvage and hardware stores. We tried restoration sites online. We talked to a lot of people. I think we’d pretty well given up when we showed the difficulty to a (different) genius handyman who took on the problem as his own. Using an old porcelain tear-drop shaped handle (probably from another old toilet), he capped it with a metal collar and nut, then welded it all together on the rod. We could not believe it: super solution!

At another house, the front outside stairwell built around 1950 had deteriorated so completely that it was unusable. After a lot of discussion we decided to remove the stair and reverse the entrance to the back of the house where no stairs would be needed. We described our plan to a genius carpenter and asked if he could very carefully salvage and relocate the existing side wall of the stairs to fill in the gap that would occur.

He did it! He did it perfectly so that everything matched exactly as if the entrance had always been just that way, a miracle of careful and considerate work.

One house that was built about 1905 and had been in the same family for most of those years had recorded the heights and dates of children and grandchildren on a kitchen-pantry doorway. This keepsake was slated to be painted over. Our genius window man was at the house one day measuring windows he would be rebuilding.

He noticed the marks on the doorway and offered to remove and replace the piece. It would be difficult as a cupboard butted against the side. Also, the lumber used so long before had different dimension than standard now. But he did it, removed and replaced exactly, making the family very happy.

Floor people have performed various miracles on our listings including replacing in one house an elaborate corner floor square made of different woods, quite attractive, but something heavy had caved it in, the middle pieces were bent and broken. All was replaced, just like the original.

One old Berkeley house held a number of leaded glass windows in wood frames. Some of the leading was bent and missing and the wooden sash around them severely damaged. Our window genius, along with a leaded glass expert, repaired and replaced these windows.

First, the damaged glass was supported with boards on both sides. Then the window man transported the “sandwiches” to the leaded glass man’s studio in Alameda. Leaded glass man replaced the leading, and in most cases was able to reuse the original glass. The window man picked up the panels and inserted them in new wooden casings. He reused the original hardware where he could and he reinstalled them in the house. Amazing and miraculous, we and everyone who saw them agreed.

There are so many other stories. No wonder we are never bored. We love this job.

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