Albion Park couple Peter and Shirley Ellis think they deserve sainthood for undertaking a renovation on a Presbyterian manse that tested them to the limit.
The job of restoring this 19th century Edwardian colonial building in Macquarie Street took three years of hard labour.
"There were times when I threatened to go home to Mum in Newcastle but Peter said he would come too," says Shirley only half jokingly.
The manse was built in 1890 on land covering 2870 square metres but it became a leased residence in the 1920s when the Presbyterian Church moved its minister to Albion Park Rail.
Peter, a retired police officer, and Shirley, a retired teacher, bought it for $165,000 in 1998 when it was rundown and overgrown with weeds.
"It took us two years to get it to a liveable state and another year to get it to the way we wanted it," says Peter.
"It was Shirley who fell in love with it the day our agent showed us the place but neither of us could now imagine living anywhere else," he adds.
The house has three bedrooms, all with fires, and each of the six entry doors have been restored with stained glass.
The detached kitchen was linked to the house by the maid's quarters and pantry.
"We've turned the original kitchen into an office and relocated the kitchen to the maid's quarters which works well," says Peter.
The minister's office, off one of the bedrooms, has been converted to a games room for their teenage son, William.
"We used an old-school carpenter to do the main work and we just followed orders with the labouring jobs," says Peter.
"We had some interesting finds including markings behind a timber panel in one of the doors of the heights of all the children in one of the early families."
Shirley says she is most proud of the fact the house has been modernised without losing its original charm.
The couple worked in consultation with the Albion Park Historical Society which believes the best heritage homes are those occupied by families because they are loved and that is what gives a house its soul.