The OG House Hackers II

    The OG House Hackers II

    Aug 20, 2020

    OG House Hackers Part II

    Throughout the 1960s-90s, my other set of grandparents were making real estate work for them as well.

    In the early 1950s, Grandpa Van de Casteele and his father-in-law, Andrew Zobrak, constructed a house on Oakwood Drive. Each stacked stone was laid by hand, and crushed concrete was used for the foundation. My grandmother was pregnant, and using a ladder where stairs were yet to be built.

    In the late-60s, they built another home on Melville Drive in Monomonee Falls, this time a mod style two-story.

    In the late 70s, they built a Dutch Colonial style duplex on Pebble Valley Road in Waukesha. This is the house I remember the most. It was so grand with its classic white and black paint scheme, on a pretty wooded lot, and across from a playground! You'd never know from the inside that it was a multifamily. They lived in one side, rented the other. Again, house hacking! They also built one? two? other similar duplexes or fourplexes in the neighborhood. Passive income!

    In the early 90s they sold the duplex on Pebble Valley Road (I was sad with that loss and vowed things would never be the same again) and built an age-in-place duplex on Clover Drive in Sussex, with a main floor master bedroom and laundry. Still making that passive income, and it was such a good looking property! Grandpa had a 3D model of the design before it was built, which I thought was the neatest thing ever.

    He reworked the drawings for the Pebble Valley duplex into a single-family for one of his daughters to build on their land, and had input into other builds his children were constructing as well.

    Eventually, they sold Clover and moved to nice warm Texas full-time. Later, they returned to Menomonee Falls to simple one-level apartment living.

    Grandma has been gone for 16 years already. I miss her strong, yet calming presence and sharp sense of humor. Grandpa is 93 years young, and now resides in assisted living. He used to tell me stories of his building days, all done while working his way up from an apprentice at Allis Chalmers to a well-respected career at General Electric. He had made discoveries about our Belgian ancestry and shared photos of family castles. I didn't appreciate the stories, vast knowledge, and experience the way I do now, and that's unfortunate. Today, I would sit for hours and pay attention.

    Both of my grandfathers lost their fathers at a young age. They are a prime example of working hard and taking risks into the unknown to give more to their families. They set the go-getter bar high!