STALLED REMODELING INSPIRES BLOGGER

teicia-gaupp-1Teicia Gaupp at Zebu Forno recently. Her house on Tower Hill Avenue, below, as it appeared for many months… (Click to enlarge)

gaupp-houseTeicia Gaupp of Red Bank has a wreck of a story to tell. And in the manner of confessional bloggers, she’s going to tell it.

For almost two years, Gaupp, her husband, Rob, and two young sons had to endure the indignity of walking away from a home-remodeling project gone sour, sticking their Tower Hill Avenue neighbors with the unsightly vision of an unfinished, plywood-sheathed hulk.

The Gaupps had bought the house, then a two-family, in 2001, a year before they were married. She worked in the Manhattan media swirl, he in environmental engineering. The effort to turn the place into their single-family dream home began in August, 2008.

But almost immediately, things started going wrong.

gaupp-house-110910…and as it appeared last week, with new siding going up. (Click to enlarge)

The brick foundation, which the couple thought simply needed painting, turned out to be in bad shape. So bad, in fact, that the whole thing had to be replaced.

“We had to basically prop up the house, because the foundation was just crumbling,” she says. “There was no integrity to it at all.”

Then, “lots of things happened at once,” Gaupp says. Elevating the century-old structure caused plaster walls to crack. Doors became jammed, window frames twisted. “There are closets that won’t open now,” she said, when she first spoke to redbankgreen over the summer.

Things got worse. At the end of 2009, Gaupp was downsized out of her job. Her husband’s business, which he’d started in 2004, took a hard hit from the economic downturn. He was able to sell it and stay on as an employee of the acquiring company. But by then, the Gaupps were tapped out.

“We did everything we could do,” she says. “We just ran out of money.”

At that point, the Gaupps moved into an investment property they owned across town, on Newman Springs Road. But Teicia made a point of going back to talk to her old neighbors — and at least one who’d moved in after the project stalled — to reassure them that the house wasn’t being abandoned.

“I told them, ‘We’re doing all we can,'” she says, and found people were uniformly understanding.

Still, frustrated by the experience, and needing something into which she could channel creative energy that used to go into her job, Gaupp started blogging. She created a blog called A Big Fat Renovation, which she kept largely to herself as a means of venting about the house. But that led to blogging in other forums, which in turn led to her role in helping found the Jersey Moms Blog with two other Red Bank women, Brenda Milouchev and Cristie Ritz-King. The trio hope to turn the blog into a moneymaking business.

In recent months, Gaupp has gone public with updates on the house remodeling, much to the chagrin of her husband, who she says is a far more private person than she is. But she says she’s found airing it out to be “like therapy and mind-share.”

“Not the contractors fault.  Or the husband’s.  Economy.  Old House.  Poor Timing. Not enough foresight on all that could happen,” she wrote in August, to commemorate the second anniversary of a project that was supposed to take eight months. “So here we are, hoping for something to give. We just want back in. We know it’ll happen.”

In recent weeks, Gaupp’s posts have taken on a more optimistic tone, now that she and her husband have sold their investment property. Despite getting far less from the sale than they’d hoped, the proceeds will be enough to fund the completion of their remodeling job, Teicia says.

Just last week, new siding went up on the house, covering over the rain-darkened plywood, a sign that the Gaupps’ “renovation odyssey” is nearing it’s end, she wrote in a recent post.

“The contractor says he wants to have us back in there by Christmas,” she tells redbankgreen. “But I know how things go.”