Friday, April 29, 2011

14 days til closing.

In honor of that little bitty number, 14 things I am looking forward to, in no particular order.

1. A garage to park in. No more dashing to the car in the rain, scraping ice or snow, or trolling for a place to park.

2. A water softener. The house came with one, but it didn't work when we had the inspection. The sellers replaced it, so we have a new softener waiting for us. I am super excited! The water here is really hard.

3. A huge closet to fill with clothes and shoes.

4. Glass front cabinets. I can not wait to unpack all the Fiesta that has been in storage for the past year.

5. A patio! It was one of those things we never got around to adding to the old house, and I'm excited to have one waiting for use to use. First things first... Roundup and a power wash.

6. A yard where Adam can play. Little boys need space to run free.

7. Adam will be able to walk to school eventually. There's a little access trail one street over that leads to the elementary and high school buildings.

8. A wood burning fireplace. There's something about the crackling of logs on a cold winter night that just feels cozy.

9. Huge windows. Lots of natural light.

10. A soaking tub. We may not use it often, but at least it's there when I'm ready for it.

11. Space. Lots and lots of space to spread out.

12. We didn't have a lazy susan in the last place. Silly thing to be excited over! I'm looking forward to the pullouts in the lower cabinets. It was something I really liked about our old home.

13. Quiet... as quiet as it can be with a three year old, that is. No neighbors above to deal with at 3 am.

14. Having a place that is OURS. We picked it together, and we'll make it beautiful together. It doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The tour continues

Onto the second floor!
Master Bedroom
I liked the double doors leading into the master bedroom. It was a nice touch.
I am not really a fan of the color and wallpaper boarder. It's an easy fix, but I really hate painting. I'm not very good at it. Overall, the bedroom is the smallest of the three houses we looked at. It's an okay size and we shouldn't have much trouble arranging the furniture.

I wasn't expecting to find a pocket door leading to the master bathroom. It's a little noisy, so I'm hoping a bit of WD-40 will take care of it.

And speaking of the master bathroom... I am in love.

 It has a soaking tub! We didn't have one in our old house. Just a boring old shower stall.
 There's one sink with extra counter space..
And and identical one next to it! I really like this set up so much better than a double vanity. There's more than enough counter space for each of us.
 The closet doors inbetween the two vanities. Aren't they cute? I want to fling them open every morning and pretend to be fancy.

The new closet puts our old one to shame. I'm looking forward to eventually putting in organizers and making the most of this space. I think I may need to go shopping to fill it up.

Bedroom #2
I've affectionately dubbed it the Frosted Mini Wheat room. Yes, that is a mirror on the wall. This will be my husband's home office.

Bedroom #3
This will be Adam's room. It's the largest of the secondary bedrooms and has a walk-in closet. It looks small in photographs because I'm a terrible photographer.

Bedroom #4
The smallest bedroom and at the furthest end of the hall. This will be the guest room. It'll still comfortably hold a double or queen size bed.

Guest Bath
Once I got over the inital shock the decor gave me, I liked this bathroom. It's a very nice size with lots of counterspace and storage. It'll be getting a makeover ASAP though. My husband calls it a stripper's dream  bathroom.

The second floor also has a large linen closet and a laundry room. I'm excited to have the laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms. It just makes sense!

I saved the best part for last.

Bonus Room

This is the bonus room over the garage. It's a bit of an awkward shape, but I have big plans for it to become my dream sewing room.

And that sums up the grand tour!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A little peek inside

We're waiting to close. I am not a patient person. While we wait, I look over photos and daydream about all the changes I want to make.

Here's a little mini tour of the place. It needs a lot of TLC, but I think we can handle it!

The Foyer

I love the foyer. It was something on my wish list. Our last home didn't really have a dedicated foyer. The front door opened directly into the great room. I really liked the impression this two story foyer gave me when I first walked in the door. It's just something small, but I still love it. Isn't that outdated light fixture super sexy? Eventually the tile will be replaced as well. 

Formal Living Room

Excuse the over exposed photograph. Admittedly, this room was one that I felt a little hesitant about, We're not formal people. We don't have many people over very often, and even if we did, they're not formal people, either. This room felt like a waste of square footage to me. I'm not entirely sure how often we'll use it, but we do already have furniture for it. The plan is to use it as a quiet reading nook of sorts. You know, because quiet happens so often with a three year old hanging around. I like the transom windows in this room, and I wish the rest of the house had them. Something else I didn't like about our last home was the lack of natural light. This house gets a ton of it!

Formal Dining Room

I had grand plans for this room. Our last house didn't have a dining room, and I've always wanted one. I picked out a table and chairs, but we decided the pricetag was a little steep right now. Eventually we'll furnish it, but for now it's going to be toy central. It'll be a nice place to corral all the little guy's toys until he's old enough to play quietly in his room. They do do that eventually, right?

I was attracted to the transom windows in this space again. The rest of the room is a blank slate, and eventually we'd like to add chair rail and crown moulding. And a new light fixture, of course. 

Family Room
This room is a mess! Forest green carpet, cracked fireplace tiles, a billion outlets on the fireplace wall, and a really ugly ceiling fan. Still, the space is good and has potential. There's lots of natural light thanks to four large windows.The fireplace is wood burning and has a blower. We're hoping to replace the carpet with hardwood flooring, re-tile the fireplace, and add bookcases to each side of the fireplace.


The kitchen also needs a fair amount of work, but it's in mostly good shape. White cabinets and trim were at the top of my wishlist, and I wanted a place to display all of our Fiestaware. This kitchen fits the bill! We'll change our the knobs and add trim to the top of the cabinetry for a more polished look, but overall, there isn't much to do here.

The eat-in area is large enough to accomodate a large table, and the space gets tons of natural light. The tiles are all cracked and will need to be replaced within the next few years. The previous owners also painted over the wallpaper border. Gee, thanks!
The pantry is a fantastic size, too!

Stay tuned for the second level :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More waiting.

We were on day eight with no word from the sellers about the repairs we had requested. We made arrangements with our agent to go back and see the other house we had looked at earlier in the week. Just as I was heading out the door to meet her for the showing, I received a phone call- the sellers accepted our requests! It wasn't in writing yet, but it was still good news. We still decided to go and see the other house, but to make sure that we had made the right choice.

The house was still lovely and well cared for, but we knew it wasn't for us. We realized that larger closets and bathrooms were pretty high on our wish list. They had been things we disliked about our first home, and we weren't ready to compromise. Seeing the house again made us even more sure that we were doing the right thing by moving forward with the home we were already under contract on.

We were still nervous about the repairs, but our nerves were calmed when we finally recieverd the seller's response in writing a few days later. They had agreed to fix the roof and siding, service the furnace, repair and replace the drywall damaged by the water heater leak, raise the front stoop a few inches, and repair the GFCI in the garage. The water softener was replaced with a new unit as well. They had agreed to remedy everything we had asked for!

One step closer to closing!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Waiting Game

We submitted our repair requests on Tuesday, then sat and nervously waited for word on whether or not the sellers would agree to our requests. Our agent told us they had ten days to respond, but we thought surely we would know by the weekend.

Wednesday passed. Then Thursday and Friday. By Saturday I was nervous and looking for other houses to see, just in case. I spotted one that had just come on the market that piqued my interest. It was 600 sq feet smaller and $20K more, but it was move in ready and within our current school district. There was going to be an open house the next day, so we went. I wasn't very impressed with the online photos and I figured I'd hate it, but it beat sitting around waiting to hear from our agent.

Surprise! It was much better in person than the pictures reflected, and we both really liked what we saw. Despite being 30 years old, it was in fantastic shape and very well cared for. The sellers had downsized into a condo, but they had put a good amount of work into putting the home on the market. Fresh paint, new carpet, updated light fixtures, and meticulous home maintenance logs. The neighborhood was a small one filled with custom homes, and it backed up to a park.

The house was only 3 bedrooms, but it had a formal living room tucked away from the rest of the home that would have made a great workspace for me. There was also a den with built in shelving located right off of the family room that would be ideal for an office, so only having three bedrooms would have worked nicely. The backyard was large, and it backed up to a private access road used by the county only a few times a year. It felt very private and quiet.

There were some downsides to the home though. While the master bedroom felt huge at 23x13, the master bathroom wasn't any larger than our last home's- something that I really hated. There were two closets, a reach in and a walk in, but they were both smaller than we would have liked. The secondary bedrooms were an okay size, but their closets were tiny. The hallway bathroom was just as small. And there was wood- a LOT of wood- that would need to be painted.

Still, it was move in ready and didn't need much work, and it was a rare find in the school district we were most interested in. Most homes were either gigantic pricey new builds, or older brick ranches with tiny windows. We mulled it over and decided to call our agent for a showing- just in case.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Too good to be true?

Since we signed the contract on the house, I've been feeling little bursts of excitement. "Oh my goodness, we're going to live in a house we picked together! SPACE!!!" It appeared that the house was just in need of some cosmetic love, and a good scrub down. I felt pretty confident that the inspection would go off without a hitch. Mostly, I was just excited to get back inside the house and imagine all the things I could do to gussy it up and make it beautiful.

Inspection day did not go exactly how I anticipated. Within a few minutes our inspector, Mike, had already identified something a bit troublesome. The new roof had an issue. The sellers had disclosed that there had been damage and leaking as a result of a big windstorm, and the new roof had remedied those problems. But the roofers had not replaced the flashing in critical areas, and there was the potential for water to seep in. It was troublesome to hear, and not at all what I had expected.

Mike continued checking out the exterior of the home, and pointed out more problems. The siding had rotted in a few spots and would need to be replaced. We would also need to touch up paint in several places to prevent further deterioration.

The front stoop had settled several inches and sloped toward the foundation. It would need to be raised to prevent water from running down toward the foundation.

We moved inside to the garage to check out things there. It's a garage, so how much trouble could there be? Turns out, there were problems here, too. The GFCI receptacle tripped and would not reset, indicating that it was either faulty or there was an issue with the circuit. Mike checked out the attic above the garage and informed us that there was "a fungus among us." There was mold as a result of a previous leak, most likely in the same spot where the flashing was identified as a problem. The area was dry, so this wasn't believed to be a current problem. Then he told us that someone had placed extra shingles and tile directly on the drywall in the attic. It was causing the ceiling to bow, and it would only be a matter of time before the drywall gave way and the tiles and shingles crashed through. Who does that?!

We moved into the house to check out the mechanicals so my husband could return to work. More trouble was lurking, and it wasn't pretty. At some point the hot water heater had failed and leaked. There was mold. The drywall would need to be cut out and replaced. The water softener was unplugged and completely clogged with salt, and the drain appeared to have a leak. The baseboard near the drain was water logged and stained, and mostly just gross.  The furnace was working- barely. It would only run for a few minutes before shutting off, far sooner than it should have. The air filter hadn't been changed in what appeared to be a very, very long time. The furnace was at the end of it's life span and would need to be serviced at the very least, and most likely replaced.  We were 0 for 3 on the mechanicals.

Fortunately, the rest of the inspection wasn't nearly as traumatic. Two windows had broken seals, and water had condensed between the panes. It was just a cosmetic issue, but several other windows would need to have seals replaced to prevent this problem in the future. The valves for the washer's hookup were corroded and would need to be replaced. There was water damage in several places upstairs that indicated that the roof had leaked in more places than the sellers had disclosed. Both sink faucets in the master bathroom would need to be replaced. The tile flooring in the kitchen and powder room were cracked because the slab underneath had not been leveled before it was laid. These were all smaller things that we could fix.

We were worried about the roof and mechanicals especially though. I felt deflated and kept thinking "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." We decided we would ask the sellers to repair the critical items on the
list. We prepared ourselves for the possibility that they might say no. It would mean walking away from the house and starting the search again. This house had everything on our list, and I wasn't ure we'd find anything nearly as good.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We picked a house!

We called our agent an d scheduled a showing for Tuesday. I was really having a hard time picturing it as my home. It was dirty and needed work, and the layout wasn't as nice as the model home. I had studied the model home floorplan and photos online for weeks, but I had only walked through this house once. I needed to see it again. We walked through and planned how we'd use each space. Our agent commented that she felt like we could get a good deal and it looked like it was just cosmetic stuff. By the time we left, I was sure. THIS was the house. The kitchen was perfect for our Fiestaware.

And it could be a really beautiful home. It just needed someone like us to take care of it again. I was starting to picture how things could fit into each room, and what changes we could make to make it our house.

There were things I didn't like about our old house. The master bedroom was small. This one was bigger! And white trim throughout instead of faux wood. Yay!
I hated our old master bathroom. It was tiny, just a small sink, shower, and toilet. I wanted a soaking tub and double vanity. This house had a huge bathroom, and something even better than a double vanity- his and hers sinks with counter space.
I wanted a big closet. Our old closet was small and cramped. This one was twice the size. The cute little double doors may have made me swoon a little.
But most of all, it had the space we were looking for. There was room for my husband to have a home office, and room for my sewing room, and we wouldn't have to compromise having a room for guests. Despite not having a basement (bummer!) there was room for storage. The only item on my list this house didn't fulfill was a mudroom. It was a pretty long list of wants and needs, so this house was indeed a great find. Most importantly, it had a lot of space for Adam to grow. It was a house we wouldn't outgrow, in a great school district. I was sure.

After we left, my husband sent me a text. "Let's go for it. I'll regret it if we don't."

We met with our agent that evening to make an offer. We went in slightly low to give us room to negotiate, and we asked for the sellers to pay our closing costs. Then we went home to wait. Within a few hours they had countered back midway, but were only willing to pay 1% toward closing costs vs the 3.5% we had asked for.

Now we had some more thinking to do. Do we accept? We really wanted them to pay closing costs so we would have the cash available for moving expenses and updating the house. We decided to counter back. We accepted their price, but asked for the 3.5% toward closing. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. I started to get nervous.

They countered our offer the next evening. The price was just $1800 below their asking price, but they agreed to pay our closing costs. We agreed and signed the paperwork. We were under contract and one step closer to being back into a home.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crunching Numbers

After the open house, we headed back to the new build to sit down and go over the pricing. The builder was going to "give" us the upgraded kitchen, morning room, and finished basement, but there were still other upgrades that we'd want.

Upgrading the elevation: $2000
Upgrading the kitchen cabinets to maple: $1,150
Upgrading to 42" cabinets: $700
Gas hookup for range: $250
Appliance upgrade: $600
Fireplace: $3,300
Master Bath Upgrade: $2,990
Wood banister on stairs instead of halfwall: $350
Recessed kitchen lighting: $600
Rough-ins for overhead lights: $700
Premium lot: $3000

All the upgrades brought the price for the new build to around $30,000 more than the list price of the other house. Sure, we could afford it, but we still wouldn't get the perfect, finished home. We'd still want to upgrade the floors and countertops down the line. Then there would be the costs for landscaping, a deck, light fixtures, and blinds. I was a bit bummed that I couldn't get white cabinets in the kitchen. I really, really wanted white!

We took the price sheet home with us to mull things over, and then we decided to do things the super scientific way... we made a list of pros and cons.

When we were done, it was pretty clear that the pre-built home was the winner. The layout wasn't totally ideal, but the price was right. It needed updated, but they were updates we'd still have to do in the new build- floors, light fixtures, and such. The neighborhood was established and it had a better feel to us. We called our agent to set up another showing to take another look at the house before deciding whether or not to make an offer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Open House

We're pretty modest people, I think. Our last house was barely 1400 square feet, with three bedrooms and an open floorplan. We wanted just a little more space, so we were hoping to find a house with 2000ish square feet in a modest neighborhood. We're not fancy people. I'm a bargain hunter, we don't really have parties or entertain in our home, and we just wanted a comfy place to live. The new build was larger than what we thought we'd need, but the layout was just right. The neighorhood seemed to fit the bill...modest, average, affordable. Still, the new build was really a little more than we hoped to spend once the upgrades were added in.

Our selling agent recommended a buyer's agent, and she had sent me weekly emails with listings she thought we might be interested in. The homes were gorgeous, but most were well out of our budget. I'd browse through them for fun (or torture, I can't decide which. It's pretty sadistic to look at gorgeous homes while being cooped up in a tiny apartment with three feet of snow on the ground and six more months in the lease.) One of the homes on her list caught my eye. It was in a great school district and in an area known for being a bit on the expensive side. I had dismissed the house twice before because it had been out of our budget, but a recent price drop brought it right into our range. It was priced well under the base price of the new build, and admittedly my first thought was "What is wrong with this house?"
We drove by the house the day before the open house to scope out the neighborhood. Our first thought was "Oh my goodness, we do not belong here." The houses were gorgeous and huge. This was the kind of neighborhood we both lusted after but never imagined we'd ever be able to afford. Instantly, we were excited and a little awestruck.

The excitement we felt was squashed pretty quickly when we saw the lot the house was on. It was a corner lot, wider than it was deep. There was a new build going up behind the house that seemed to dwarf the backyard.  Still, it was an amazing neighborhood and the house was a bargain price. We decided to go back for the open house, but at that point we were really considering the new build we had looked at before.

Open house day. I should have been excited, but the size of the yard was a big bummer. "Let's see the house so we can decide that we hate it and move on," I said. "Then we'll know that the new build is right for us."

We walked inside and I was hit with a "wow" feeling. The first "wow" was "Wow. This is big!" It was big. The house was 2806 square feet. It had four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and white cabinetry in the kitchen. Swoon. The first floor featured a two story foyer with a formal living room to the left and a formal dining room to the right. Both rooms had transom windows, a tiny little detail I always loved seeing in other homes. A family room with wood burning fireplace and large eat in kitchen were just down the hall. Upstairs, there was a large master suite, three additional bedrooms, a laundry room, bathroom, and bonus room.

The second "wow" that hit me was "Wow, this house needs work." It was empty and had been rented out for a bit. The previous owners had relocated  8 months before. The house had good bones, but it needed love. It was really dirty and smelled a bit like cigarette smoke. The tiles in the foyer, powder room, and kitchen were cracked.
And some of the decor was a bit questionable...but changeable.

But the space was good. It had potential. 
 I could picture our Fiestaware in the kitchen. Still, I wasn't totally sold. I was still enamored with the new build, and while the school district was great, it wasn't the district we were currently in. It wasn't close to my husband's workplace, and it needed a lot of updating. There also was not a basement...a big drawback.

We mulled it over and decided to go back to the mode home to further discuss pricing out the new build. We wanted to go over every option and see exactly how much the new house would cost us.