The historic house down the street was falling apart, so...
It's a two-story, five-bedroom, built in 1899 in what's known as a Folk Victorian design. The property it sits on is not large - less than 4,000 square feet - but the location and structure are prominent, where westbound Pikes Peak comes up a hill to intersect with Eighth. “It's an iconic landmark, like your entrance to Old Colorado City,” Melody commented.
Problems on the site included water damage, a bad roof, loose siding and “weeds seven feet high,” she recalled.
Compounding the issues, the owner lived out of state, and the renters were doing few repairs of their own.
Finally, Larry and Melody, who have three children, reached a decision: They bought the house and fixed it up themselves. It was the first time they'd done anything like that.
It helped that Larry has worked for contractors for the past 20 years, upgrading older properties in the Broadmoor, the North End and at the Cheyenne Mountain Country Club.
He recently started his own company, The Home Masters, which focuses on remodels.
So in planning a major redo of 2 S. Eighth, Larry was looking for ways not just to fix what was broken but to restore - and even augment - its historic style, he explained.
“I love old houses, and I love this part of town,” he enthused. “We lived in Briargate for a while, but it was too cookie-cutter.”
His long list of upgrades includes a redesigned kitchen and dining room, light fixtures, bathrooms, appliances, trim boards, patio, sod, sprinkler system, landscaping, roof, stucco siding, gutters and fresh paint in and out. A few interior walls were taken out or moved, but mostly the idea was to enhance the house's historic look and feel.
The building itself turned out to be structurally sound, not needing foundation work. “Luckily, the bones had been taken care of,” Larry said, “including the the plumbing and electrical.”
The project took about half a year. Devoting time to it on top of his regular job, he did most of the work himself, plus a small amount of subcontracting and design assistance from Melody.
It worked out financially. The Masters bought 2 S. Eighth in January for $187,500, and they estimate
“There was a lot of sweat equity, but we feel it's worth it,” he said.
The project also brought the two an unanticipated benefit: As the couple fixing up the neglected old house, they became popular with their neighbors. “We had neighbors cheering for us,” Melody said. “An architect lives across the street. He told us, 'I'll design it for free.”
Also stepping forward was a nearby landscape architect, who provided his services at a steep discount. “It feels like a neighborhood effort,” Larry said.
Westside Pioneer article