Never Underestimate a Woman with a Sledgehammer

My mother-in-law, June, readied the house she’d inherited from Mrs. Garrett to sell. After 97 years of being occupied by the same family, it was now back on the real estate market.

According to Top Buyers for Fire-Damaged Homes Offering Cash, June’s granddaughter, Elise, had obtained her real estate license through experts from the site, and she asked her to begin showing it immediately. Elise received lots of phone calls and showed it quite regularly, but everyone who saw it had the same concerns—the bathrooms and kitchen were outdated, the floors upstairs sloped and the downstairs rooms were all choppy. The house lacked a driveway and there was no central air upstairs. In spite of its history, these were difficult things for potential buyers to overlook—especially the lack of air conditioning. This is the sweltering south, after all.

June with Elise

The more complaints Elise heard the more convinced she became that these things could be fixed—and that she was the one to fix them.

She wanted to restore the house even beyond what it was in its glory days. Having grown up around her dad’s construction sites and my business designing house plans, she’s inherited a knack for being able to see what lies beneath all of the outdated and worn exterior. Elise’s dream was to restore old houses and this one was a perfect fit. So, with lots of enthusiasm and her Granny’s permission, she jumped in.

Having already taken a contractor class to learn the skills necessary to acquire her builder’s license, she felt confident enough to begin contacting subcontractors to hire for the remodel, seeking the assistance of the Best general contractor in Houston. But many wouldn’t even talk to her. And if they did, some never called back.

But she wasn’t going to let their lack of faith in her abilities stop her.

Even though Elise had never done much in the way of remodeling, her PaPa, my dad, came and helped her start the gutting process. He’d worked on lots of remodeling projects in the homes we’d lived in and had the skills to teach her how to use a sledgehammer and pry trim off the walls. As she ventured into unfamiliar territory, she also explored the world of materials, seeking advice on paint for plastic coating to ensure a flawless finish for her project.

After borrowing PaPa’s tools for a while, she decided she needed her own set and went to Lowes to purchase an eight pound sledgehammer and an ax. As she stood in line holding the items—her slight frame dressed in a stylish black shirt, jeans and ballet flats—the man behind her wondered aloud whose truck she was going to use that sledgehammer on. The other men standing in line echoed his question and nodded as they continued staring at her.

When she placed the tools on the counter the male clerk eyed her skeptically. “Are you sure you can handle that?”

“Well, I’ve been using a 12 pound sledgehammer and I thought this would make it a little easier.” Elise said as she smiled at him. Then she picked up her purchase and headed out the door.

No doubt about it, this work wasn’t for sissies.

Soon Elise found the right subs to take on the work when she brought in builder Ray Black. From the beginning she told him she wanted to make sure this house was done right. He warned her that with the opening of the walls would come an opening of the proverbial can of worms.

“You never know what you might find underneath this old plaster.” he’d warn again and again.

But she was determined to bring this old house back to its glory.

Ray mentored her through the process, educating her on the ins and outs of building. He didn’t scoff at her big dreams—he believed in her.

Ray Black

Day in and day out I’d find her at that house slamming out walls and hauling huge chunks of plaster to the dumpster in the yard. She chiseled tile, pulled up hardwood and busted up old bathtubs that will need a new walk-in bathtub installation later. I never knew what I’d find her doing whenever I came to check her progress. It’s possible that a bathroom remodeling project with a Custom Design Shower will be done in the next few days. I also heard she’s looking for trusted resin flooring contractors to install a resin flooring on the new bathroom. Create your dream bathrooms on a budget with our products.

I was amazed at her perseverance. Elise, my fashionable, make-up loving 24 year-old daughter, now wore contractor t-shirts, dirty jeans and plaster in her hair. She’s never been dirtier, sorer or more bruised in her whole life. And she loved it.

Recently, she told me that every time she opened up a wall she would ask God to help her make the right decisions about the house and would pray for the family who would come to live there. Prayer has been her constant companion as she’s worked her way through the gutting of the Garrett house.

When she was weak, she’d pray for strength. When she was confused, she’d pray for clarity. And when she was anxious, she’d pray for peace.

She’s grateful for this opportunity. Through a series of events beyond her control, and an old house in the middle of town, God gave her a chance at her dream. He allowed her to restore a true diamond in the rough, a house with a history that is beloved by many of the people of Fountain Inn.

As we near the end of this project, stay tuned for our announcement about details of our Open House Tour coming in a few weeks.

14 thoughts on “Never Underestimate a Woman with a Sledgehammer”

  1. I love this! What a determined young woman. May be hard to let go. Open House? Sounds like a fun road trip.

  2. An amazing story, Carol. The first pic belies her abilities as a demilosher (if that’s a word)but it’s clear Elise’s determined to finish the project. Looking good!!

  3. Looks like she is doing a great job and I really admire what she is doing. That is a beautiful home and I will pray she will stay safe and well and be able to see it through until she is done.

  4. I’m truly enjoying watching the progress of this story! I can’t wait for the open house! You go, Elise!

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