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Burien couple rush to remodel home before baby arrives



Melissa Topscher in her third trimester with her husband Rohit Eustace.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Last year when Melissa Topscher and Rohit Eustace were searching for their first house to buy as a married couple, they kept coming up short. The homes weren’t a good fit or weren’t in their price range. So they drew on Eustace’s knowledge as an architect and bought the house with the most promise.

“We looked for one we saw the most potential in to kind of redesign, and thought, ‘We can make it our own,’” says Topscher, a personal trainer.

They selected a three-bedroom house in Burien built in 1942, which Topscher likes to call “Frankenhouse” due to its wide variety of elements. They started renovating it, hoping to tackle the giant project over the next few years.

In May, that timeline was nearly cut in half when Topscher found out she was pregnant. They now had only eight months to make the house safe and inviting for their baby boy.

Since then, they’ve worked on the home every Saturday through Monday — altogether devoting some 400 hours to the renovation.

The pair has replaced the furnace, demolished the chimney, insulated the walls and hung drywall. They’ve also built a wall to create a mudroom by the back door, revamped the flooring and installed new cabinets and appliances. Outside the house, they’ve put in a new garden, with raised planter beds and a cedar fence.

It’s been challenging work, especially for Topscher, who is now in the third trimester of her pregnancy. She says she struggles with doing work on the ground, and sometimes finds she’s so tired in the middle of a job she has to lie down. She’s also had to take safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, gloves and long sleeves.

But she and her husband say they’re excited to breathe new life into a home that was clearly severely neglected. They say they like to imagine their first child calling a space they’ve devoted so much time and energy to "his" home.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Melissa and Rohit patched their home together with love.

Although the pair has had help from friends and family and occasionally hired professionals for technical work such as replacing the roof, they’ve done the majority of the renovation themselves. This has helped them save money, and given them a sense of ownership.

“I know that when the baby’s born, he’s coming home to a house that his parents have worked really hard to make it identify with who we are,” says Eustace.

The pair says all of the problem-solving and setbacks they’ve had to overcome (like when their electrician drove a grounding rod into their sewer pipe) have also brought them closer.

 There’s still a little more work left to do, including redoing the stairs and finishing the kitchen floor, but they’re getting close to the end.

“You know when it’s this hard and you hit so many struggles, it’s going to be very rewarding when you finish,” says Topscher.

 

Editor’s note: Melissa and Rohit brought home Sebastian Stephen Eustace shortly after his arrival on January 31. He thinks the house is all right, but loves the ceiling fan.

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