The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


August 4, 2012

Change of plans

Songers build what they want while avoiding bare minimum

ANDERSON, Ind. — As experienced real estate professionals, Floyd and Janice Songer have often given sage advice to home buyers about not over-investing in their property. They simply didn’t follow their own advice.

Experiencing the ease of getting carried away with improving their home, the Songers finally got all the features they ever wanted.

Not even intending to move into this 1962 Geeting Show Home in the first place, the couple had other plans for their retirement. Having built a new home on Lake Clearwater, they were perfectly pleased with their surroundings. Then Alzheimer’s disease affected Floyd’s mother, Billie Wisner, and suddenly their plans changed.

“She lived alone and we were taking care of her, but we couldn’t move her in with us because she couldn’t swim,” said Janice, a retired police lieutenant. “We bought this home on an estate sale because we knew we could build on here without changing the flow of the house.”

Kitchen has new cabinets

Having seen no renovations since its construction, the one-owner home was seriously dated. With an eye on changing only what was needed, they began creating a space for Billie to enjoy while remaining safely near family.

As walls were altered and moved, unseen problems reared their heads. Since the Songers felt they were in for the long haul, they built exactly what they wanted instead of sticking to the bare minimum.

“We started peeling things back to add on and one thing led to another,” said Janice, a real estate agent with Carpenter. “We had been regluing the tiles as they fell off the bathroom, but the contractor said once he jacked up the ceiling for the addition, they were all going to fall.”

That’s how Floyd, a retired SWAT team leader, ended up with the beautiful, handicap-accessible walk-in tile shower he always wanted.

Janice attempted to replace the kitchen countertops and live with the aged cabinetry. But once they learned all the cabinets were going to have to come down for other work, the couple decided not to reinsert them.

That’s how Janice ended up with her ideal kitchen. New cabinets are separated by a lovely tile backsplash and sparkling countertops.

“Once things started to snowball, we realized we would never get our money back out of the house, so we might as well plan on staying,” she said.

Counting on change

Working for an entire year before moving in, the Songers completed much of the demolition and painting themselves. Every wall and ceiling was redone — many of them moved or removed.

“The dining room had really small doorways and pocket doors and no natural light,” said Janice. “I knew that this was the time to fix anything I didn’t like.”

Unfortunately, less than a year after moving Billie into the house, she had a stroke. Her medical condition suddenly required 24-hour care and the Songers were forced to place her in a facility near her daughter.

“We always try to do the right thing,” said Janice. “We thought we were doing the right thing here. But the only thing you can count on is change. If we stay in Indiana, we want to stay in this house. We designed it the way we want it and it feels like home.”

But they aren’t sure they want to stay in Indiana. With medical concerns of their own, they are considering a move to a warmer climate. Torn between the home of their dreams and the promise of milder winters, the couple placed their home on the market to allow fate to decide.

“Everything I ever wanted is in this house,” said Janice. “That’s what makes it tough. But we don’t need this big of a house for just the two of us.”

Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to

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