As part of the first phase of work, Lee resolved some issues that impacted the safety and structural integrity of the house. He renovated the whole roof system, restored and reinforced the original structure, added another layer to the roof deck, installed insulations above and under the original lath/batten, and provided the roof ventilation. Next, Lee worked on the damaged foundation, and the problems caused by the water came down from the higher ground. He installed a French drain system around the House with tiered stone retaining walls above them.
Then he discovered a complex problem created by an extraordinary decision made in 1927. There is a 150-years-old white oak stand less than 10 feet from the south-western corner of the House; the root is 10 feet below the House grade; the stone well built in 1927 to protect the tree had been filled up by the tree trunk. The well was part of the retaining wall structure with the stone steps on the other side of the wall, leading to the garage/basement ground. Structurally the whole retaining wall and the wall of the basement were part of the house foundation. The tree had outgrown the well and pushed the stone foundation wall outward for a very long time, and it impacted the structure of the House. Lee also discovered a one-thousand-gallons oil tank buried underground into a corner between the tree well and the two sides of the foundation walls. Lee first had the tree well excavated, the oil tank removed, then built a much larger tree well, rebuilt the foundation walls and the stone steps.
He waited a year to let the House regain its integrity; then, he started to repair all foundation walls. To enhance the structure and unify the look, Lee veneered the brick and concrete walls with stone. Then he replaced the rotted rims, joists, and sill plates. After that, Lee restored all the 1820 windows, leaded oval windows, transoms, and sidelights in the next two years. He removed the old paints from all the woodworks in the same period, including window frames, doors, sidings, trims, moldings, and shutters. He identified the damaged parts and had them replaced by skilled carpenters. Along the way, Lee updated the whole electrical system, replaced all rotted drainage pipes, and restored the five bathrooms to their 1927 conditions. He redesigned and renovated the two bathrooms in the attic and the basement. He updated the steam heat system by put in a new oil furnace and kept the converted 1920 coal burning furnace in place. Before the final painting work started, Lee hired a plaster wall expert to restore the ceilings, walls, wainscoting, and moldings. Over four years, he joined skilled workers in painstakingly restoring the House and the grounds.