"When people who visit us periodically ask me, they're nearly wincing, but hardly mincing," she says. " 'Vernyce, when will he be done?' " expecting my response to register a measure of malcontent on my part."
Though Dannells sometimes worries about other "delayed gratifications and life necessities," she does not begrudge her mate one single moment spent refurbishing the magnificent property placed into their care.
"Yes, we bought it," she says. "But it's had nearly 100 prior years of ownership in the hands of those who at turns neglected and gently improved it."
Just these last two statements make Vernyce and Kip rare among today's buyers, who want perfect houses for which they are eager to pay well below what they are worth.
Ask any real estate agent and you get the same story. That's not saying I don't find younger buyers willing to put in considerable sweat equity to get the house they want, but the days of urban (or suburban) pioneering are past.
Before any couple (and this transcends race, gender, and any other categorization you can name) buys an older house, they must be aware of what they are getting into.
A real estate agent once told me I had the ability to see past a house's problems to what it could be. I'm not sure she was right, but from what Vernyce Dannells says, she and Kip certainly do.
During the months it has taken to transform Stony Girl, Dannells says, "we have both lived in chaos, combed Habitat ReStores, Craigslist, yard and estate sales, and thrift stores."
"We assembled many of the elements that have contributed to a magically restored glazed porch we can enjoy at least eight months of the year, a mudroom that sports thick rubber mats to welcome one in from the sloping backyard, a kitchen that meets the most demanding foodie's visions, and an attic that has been insulated and is useful for the first time in Stony's life."
Dannells says her spouse has brought "devoted awareness" to each task, even though - as I can attest - sometimes the work we do can be flawed, or we can be careless in our efforts, and we and the house have to live with it.
Yet if the work had been done by others, Dannells and Stony Girl would have been denied the company of "a visionary, tireless, capable restorer."
On the House: Town by Town
In the Sunday Business section, Alan J. Heavens takes a look at real estate and life throughout the region. This week's focus: Haddon Heights.
Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @alheavens at Twitter.