To many, owning a Queen Anne style house is the dream of a lifetime. But getting the opportunity to live that dream doesn’t always come easy. Quite often, realizing the dream of owning one of these magnificent homes means renovating a fixer-upper. Sometimes, these diamonds in the rough are rougher than others.

“She Felt Her Foot Go Through the Floor”

Every now and then, some brave soul takes on an extreme Queen Ann fixer. Chris Hanson and his wife, Merle, were willing to do just that. To say that the home they bought needed some tender loving care would be a vast understatement.

“We knew it needed work,” Hanson wrote in This Old House magazine. “At some point, the house had been converted to a two-family, with bleak little kitchens upstairs and down. None of the fireplaces functioned, the plumbing and wiring were kaput, and holes in the roof invited in rain, destroying much of the third floor—where Merle, a filmmaker, envisioned her office. Shortly after closing, the former owner’s daughter dropped by for a farewell look. Walking around the kitchen, she suddenly felt her foot go right through the floor.”

“Did I mention that the house had been condemned? The kitchen floor was soggy because a blocked waste pipe had leaked, sending sewage down inside a wall,” Hanson continued. “Moldy carpet, peeling paint, and dangling ceiling tiles greeted us at every turn, and the water-damaged third floor was an unheated no-man’s zone.”

In the end, the Hanson’s ended up with the Queen Anne home of their dreams despite the rocky road they traveled to get there and their restored 1887 Queen Ann home is breathtakingly beautiful.

Tips for Financing Your Queen Anne Renovation

So, you’ve found the Victorian house of your dreams. Or, shall we say, you’ve found a house that you can envision being the house of your dreams after a whole lot of hard work. What now? How do you go about coming up with the money it will take to pay for the renovations on your Queen Anne fixer-upper? Assuming you don’t have that kind of money on-hand, you will have to find financing.


When it comes to financing your Queen Ann fixer, the most obvious place to start is with a bank. To get the loan you need to finance the renovation of an extreme Queen Ann fixer, you are going to have to convince the bank that the disaster they are looking at now will one day be a gorgeous home and that you can make it happen. The secret to doing this is to be prepared. Walk in with plans that show precisely what you intend to do, how you will do it, and how much it will cost to do.


Because of the age of Queen Ann style houses, you may be able to find grants that will help you cover the cost of renovations. Make sure you check with any historical societies and registries to see what they have available for the area where the house is located. Although they often have restrictions on how much you can modernize the home, it can be worth it, especially if you intend to remain as authentic as possible anyway.

Image CC 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ways to Save Money on Your Remodel

Now that you have found a way to finance the Queen Ann home of your dreams and renovate it, you have a budget. Staying within that budget can be a feat in its own right but it can most certainly be done. Here are a few tips that will help you keep the costs as low as possible.

Do the Work Yourself

The more of the work you can do yourself when renovating your Queen Anne home, the more money you will save. Anything you can do on your own, do it. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can find how-to guides for just about any home remodeling project. There is also a multitude of videos that will walk you through whatever task you are tackling step by step.

The secret here is to be realistic. Know what you can do yourself and what you can’t. In other words, know when to call in the professionals. Messing around with things like electricity can be deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, projects like this are best left to the pros. You should also be aware that if you have a bank loan, they may require you to have specific things like wiring and plumbing done by a licensed contractor.

Work in Stages

Taking on the renovation of an extreme Queen Anne fixer can be overwhelming. However, if you can work on one project at a time the process can be less stressful. Taking on just one individual task at a time rather than trying to do them all at once is easier on both your sanity and your budget.

Live-In Remodeling

If possible, choosing to live in the Queen Anne house you are renovating while the work is being done can save you money since you won’t have to cover two mortgages or the mortgage and rent. This option isn’t for everyone but if you can live in one room while you renovate the rest of the house, it will be easier on your budget. Living in your fixer-upper while you are doing the fixing also gives you more time to spend on your do-it-yourself projects since you are already there.

Donate and Sell Extra Supplies

Don’t throw away your extra supplies once you no longer have a need for them. There are better ways to get rid of your extras that can put money back in your pocket. You can utilize services such as Craigslist to sell your extra supplies online to others who are remodeling. If you can’t find a buyer for your left-overs, you can donate them. This won’t give you cash in hand today, but it will when it comes times to file your yearly taxes and you can write off your donations.

Taking on the renovation of an extreme Queen Ann fixer-upper isn’t for everyone. But if you are one of the few who can look at one of these dilapidated old homes and see its potential, then these tips will help you find a way to turn it into the home of your dreams.

Image CC by CC 0 Public Domain, by Mrwrite, via Wikimedia Commons

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