Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday in Suburbia: The House that Never Was

House Hunting Tip of the Week:
A qualified home inspector can save your wallet.

After the first real estate agent did not work out, we went back to our mortgage broker for suggestions. A few days after meeting our new agent we went to see house number 2 and 3. Both were no's. I then decided we should see one a little more pricey, but appeared perfect in photos. We went, we saw, we fell in love. This place was perfection. The yard was a little smaller than we wanted, but everything else was simply ideal. While standing in the recently remodeled kitchen we called in an offer. It was there that the disappointment truly began. The house went under contract that morning. We left discouraged, but knew we were just beginning the process, and everything happens for a reason...but dang it, I am still dreaming about that kitchen.
Not our kitchen :(

Ten homes later we had found a couple we liked, but they were just too far out. Another two went under contract before we even could get in to see them, again. And several were just bombs (FYI - if you are trying to sell your home than bake cookies, not Indian food, before people come view it). With a recent $15K price drop that first house began to look more appealing, and we decided to give it a second look. Sure it has its faults but that yard is amazing, and with a recent financial gift from my in-laws we can do some of those cosmetic things right away. That two page evaluation form I completed the first time we viewed it (see previous post about the home search) was lost in the recesses of my mind; I wanted that yard in that neighborhood and we would make the house work.

We made an offer, and after a little back and forth we entered a binding contract. Now time for the inspection; we had enough sense not to open that special bottle of wine we bought on our 1 year anniversary trip to Sonoma (saving for a special moment), but I forgot my self-proclaimed rule of not mentally moving into a home until after the keys are in our hand. I started to draw the house plan in CAD (the computer software used by professionals to create construction documents); I used the online tool from Home Depot to estimate the cost of new granite counters in the kitchen - how I love thee Bianca Antico - and I created a 15 year renovation schedule including a line item budget and InDesign presentation for the first 2 years of, I'm not a type A personality at all. Everyone does this, right?
(Is this my dream design? No, but for the budget available it was a decent compromise.)

Perhaps it was doomed from the start The house is a foreclosure, and being late November the house had been winterized (no HVAC or plumbing was functional until a binding contract was made.) Pre offer I noticed a few concerns, but I was hoping they were rough looking AC unit, very small amount of mold under the kitchen sink and a discolored area of ceiling in the kitchen below the secondary bath. Well, if these were the only things wrong we would have been fine. However, the mold and the discolored ceiling are a result of the pressure being too high on the water heater. Once the house was dewinterized we saw exactly what kind of damage that will do. The pipes under EVERY sink leak, causing water damage in every cabinet . Also, the bank apparently replaced all the toilets before putting the house on the market, and it would seem that it was due to the water pressure issue. When peeling back the vinyl floor around the two upstairs toilets, the water damage to the subfloor was obvious. Why had I not noticed these things before!?! just goes downhill from there. Both furnaces and AC units need to be replaced and the whole mechanical system is a hot mess because the previous owners were not using filters (gross!). The running calculator in my head reached $25-30K and I had yet to add a single pendant or marble tile or anything else pretty...I put down my tape measure, sat on the bottom step of the staircase, and looked at my husband..."I don't think this is our home," I said despairingly. Luckily, we are only out the $375 for the inspection. 
We were disappointed at first, but in the past few weeks since we terminated the contract we have felt a good bit of relief. We considered going back to the bank with a drastically reduced offer, but I decided that I would rather regret terminating the contract than regret purchasing the house.  We are simply not interested in owning a money pit! We know that more houses will continue to be put on the market as spring approaches. Fortunately, we can renew our lease month-to-month if our search takes us beyond March 2012; unfortantely it adds another $538 per month. I am hopeful that we will find our house soon.
At least my paint colors and design concepts can be kept for whatever house we ultimately buy...if I don't change my mind first...but what to do with the floor plans?
First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan

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