We're all about a good project, but our favorite DIY activities are nothing compared to the project that this guy took on. After purchasing an abandoned home in Detroit for $500 in October 2009, Drew Philp is stepping away from the power tools and answering all of our questions. Drew is a journalist and screenwriter, and he even wrote a book about his experience with the home titled A $500 House in Detroit. After fixing up the home with his own hands (except for one part — the roof), Drew has revealed tons of details about his work in a Reddit AMA, and we're blown away. During the "ask me anything" conversation, Drew explained what you never realized about water, taxes, and trees. Read on for some of Drew's most interesting facts about purchasing a home for $500 in a city where the rent has soared since he made the purchase in 2009.
He paid no taxes on the home when he first purchased it.
When a Reddit user asked Drew about how much he's paid in taxes since purchasing the home, he had one of the most surprising responses. "I pay relatively little in taxes compared to some of my neighbors, but the mayor is working on trying to get them lowered, as they're artificially high throughout the city," Drew shared. "I also pay income tax, twice, both because I live and work in the city."
But when purchasing the house, Drew didn't have to pay any back taxes, which typically racks up the total price for cheap real estate in Detroit. "Because it had been abandoned for more than a decade before I bought it, I was able to purchase the house at the base price they sell them for in the county auction — $500, so I didn't have to pay any of the taxes," he said.
The water bills are shockingly expensive.
With Detroit being so close to a fresh water resource, Drew explained how shocked he was by the expensive water bills, explaining that it's not the income tax that is so bad, but the water bill. "It's the water bills are the killer," he said. "They're about twice the national average, which is ironic AF considering we literally live directly on the planet's largest source of freshwater. Those are going up drastically."
The neighbors do a lot of the tree trimming.
The same user asked about the types of services the City of Detroit offered, such as trash collection and snow plowing. "They've started plowing the roads this year (they didn't before and it was a nightmare — 4WD was a must) and now I have streetlights which is good. Obviously, these are basic city services and it's great we have them now, but I guess it's good only in comparison to what came before. But part of the allure to the neighborhood for me, is that we — and by we I mean the neighbors and community — do a lot of the work ourselves, like tree trimming. I feel like it gives me more agency in my neighborhood and life, and makes it easier to have a say and stake in where I live. I find it unconscionable though, that they would shut off water to that many people."
Check out Drew's photos from before his renovations below.