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Doing over their first house.

Many first-time buyers must invest imagination and elbow grease to turn an affordable fixer-upper into a workable house.

This 1,000-squar-foot cottage was built in West Seattle in 1908. Architect Jeff Saboda and his wife, Pat, appreciated its location in a quiet neighborhood, high enough on a hill to catch a glimpse of Puget Sound.

Most of the house was structurally sound, but there were problems. The front steps were decaying. There was no insulation, and windows were single-glazed. Walls bulged under layers of wallpaper. Wiring was outdated, and an inefficient octopus of a furnace devoured most of the basement. Bathroom fixtures were in poor condition, and all plumbing was failing.

The room arrangement also presented problems. The only access from one bedroom to the bath was through the kitchen. (Since a new bathroom was in order, it was relocated between the two bedrooms.)

There were some bonuses: the house had paneled doors, handsome moldings and decorative trim around doors and windows, and the gas hot-water heater was just two years old. The living-dining room and bedrooms also had fine hardwood floors.

The major addition was a large gabled porch that replaced the sagging front steps. At the back, a tiny porch was removed and the kitchen was expanded to incorporate former utility space. New sliding glass doors open the enlarged kitchen to a simple but attractive new deck.

Except for the new front porch, designed by the architect-owner and contracted out, the Sabodas did much of the work themselves, including carpentry, plumbing, wiring, and lots of stripping and painting. They had paint-grade cabinets made for the kitchen but finished them themselves.

The project took more than five years to complete. In all, it cost about $45,000.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1991
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