WHEELING, W.Va. — Imagine being able to buy your dream home for less than $20,000, and no, not in 1950. That’s exactly what 30-year-old Betsy Sweeny tells CNBC Make It she was able to do.
Sweeny is the Director of Heritage Programming at the Wheeling National Heritage Area (WNHA) and holds degrees in art history, anthropology, and historic preservation, which means she’s no stranger to old homes and a lot of work.
Sweeny tells CNBC that she was renting in Wheeling, West Virginia, while working WNHA and was immediately welcomed by the Friendly City’s tight-knit community, but still renting doesn’t feel like home.
It was when she was walking through the East Wheeling Historic District that she fell in love with the McLain House, a 3,075 square-foot, 131-year-old home with a massive lot. The house still contained a lot of original detail and beautiful architecture, but years of water damage had left the home uninhabitable.
According to CNBC, Sweeney knew this was the home of her dreams, so she took out a personal loan for the cost of the house, which was $16,500, and was able to secure a $100,00 construction loan to dive right into making the old house her dream home.
Sweeny tells CNBC that the house was under construction for over a year, from the summer of 2020 to the fall of 2021, and in that time, everything needed to be replaced: new windows, floors, and walls, but she preserved as much as she could.
The home’s beautiful brickwork is what drew Sweeny to the home, but it was what needed the most work. She was able to hire a masonry crew to repair the fine brickwork on the facade, but she spent four months in a bucket, night and day to repair the rest of the brick herself.
Like many other Americans, Sweeny used the downtime of the Pandemic to her advantage, working night and day, saving her budget from renting costs.
Sweeny tells CNBC that after she completed the initial repairs of the home, she was able to get a reappraisal, which was a whopping $202,000. She was able to refinance to get an additional loan to renovate her kitchen.
After 18 grueling months of renovations, Sweeny tells CNBC that she was finally able to move into her three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath house around Thanksgiving of 2021.
Walking into the home, you are greeted with a grand stairway and fireplace and a stained glass transom above the front door, which was made by her friend.
The kitchen is a mix of original and modern, with new built-in cabinets that resemble what was originally there. The second floor with the master bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room is still under renovation in different states of completion, with the guest bedroom being used as Sweeny’s workshop.
Her next big project? The third floor, which Sweeny tells CNBC she plans to create a bedroom, office, and utility space.
Sweeny tells the news outlet that there is so much that she loves about her home, but what she loves most is what it represents. She says that in a small community like East Wheeling, it takes only a few houses to bring the value of the neighborhood up or down, and she is proud to bring a once dilapidated eye sore back to life.
(Video in the story shows the top stories for Wednesday, October 11, 2023)