Eric D. Wagoner
Class of 1984
Major: Social Science
A house is but a house, but to make a house a home requires the love of those who reside under its shelter. - Anonymous
After five years of residing in Seattle, Wash., my wife and I moved more than 2,000 miles back to the East Coast in order to be closer to family and landed in rural North Carolina.
My wife grew up in the state and at the time still had distant relatives who lived there. We were able, thanks to their generosity, to live temporarily in the home of a stepmother who had just recently passed away.
The process of looking for a new home took about six months before we found what was and still remains our perfect living situation.
Our house, 5,000 square feet, 1,000 of which is comprised of a wraparound porch, is located on 10 acres of land with a pond, and is a wood-framed house built in 1857. It has provided both living and working space for the two of us during the 15 years it took us to pay off the mortgage and has provided endless hours of work and toil in restoration and renovations.
While living in Seattle working as a laborer, I learned some basics of construction (specifically carpentry) and with all the confidence that comes with knowing too little about many different things related to building, I believed that with my wife’s support and assistance we could restore this home to its original splendor.
Over the next 15 years, my wife and I worked tirelessly. We made what was once an inhabitable home habitable. Our home, which for the past 40 years had been shaped by neglect and five years of standing empty, began to show signs of promise.
Working together we have done, or redone, every square foot of the entire house, including the porch. We have created the vision we both saw, in our mind’s eye, from the first time we saw our home. We both graduated from knowing a little about a lot of things related to home building to knowing a little more about a lot of things related to home building and outside of a few mechanical items we have done all the work ourselves.
Although we are proud of the work we have been able to do, none of it has been easy. In addition to the actual work, where physically nothing is easy when it pertains to construction, we maintained our own business and when times got slow I worked other jobs to help make the ends meet.
I’m not sure if I would take on another such project, but as a result of this one, our passion and commitment, and our sweat equity we now live and work in a home we could not otherwise afford here in rural North Carolina or anywhere else.