Monday, November 28, 2016


If someone said, "Use one word to describe your home," I would use weird.

This house is so weird. Maybe not the house itself but what the former owners did to the house. We are the 4th owners of our circa 1993 home. It has seen many small children and has had many adult hands doing strange things to it.

Let's start on the third floor and make our way down.
The attic was converted to living space at some point by the first owner. The family home-schooled their children and she wanted a nice place to do so. So, they built a nice space up here. I'm just curious about the stage. Why? Is there something under there? Or did she just want to be able to see out of the window?

The second floor.
The second and third floors share a heating and air conditioning unit. It is split into zones so the third floor is a zone, the main bedroom area is a zone and the bonus room over the garage is a zone. We replaced the filters in the returns and found the main hallway's return doesn't have venting. It's just one big open hole in the ceiling. Very strange. We recently also found that if we turn on the heat on the main zone or on the third floor, the zone in the bonus room starts blowing out air. And when I say blowing, I mean it sounds like a jet engine in that room and the room heats up to 85 degrees in about 30 minutes. We had an HVAC expert come out and what we got was "needs a complete overhaul." We trust these guys and they have walked us through the whole process but that $2500 is not going to leave the bank account easily.

The main floor.
At the intersection of the hallway, kitchen, family room and sun room, there are 3 transition pieces. The floor to the kitchen is higher by about an inch from the sun room. The DIY work here was something else.

My favorite weird thing is the kitchen. This is what various places on the floor of the kitchen look like. Who would do this?

Straight edges instead of angles, bad caulk jobs, no molding in the fridge nook, strange kick plate, bad paint job, double kick plate?? Lots of open space in the floor to allow for dirt, grime and general nastiness to build up.

Finally, let's take a walk outside. This is an electrical outlet. It is in the middle of the yard. It sits in front of where these out of control bushes used to be. We have no idea why it is hanging out here by itself (it's that brown thing about a foot in front of the stake). Hello, safety hazard! There is also a low wattage electrical wire going through the front yard. So weird.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Finding The House Through the Trees

"I should have taken 2 weeks off of work just to unpack this house..." 

My thoughts every evening when I get home from work. We have a lot of stuff. We didn't realize just how much stuff we had until we couldn't find places for it in our new house. We ended up donating 9 bins of stuff to the Vietnam Vets who came to our house to pick up. That is so much better than me driving around town for 3 weeks with my donations in my car because I'm too lazy to drop them off.

While unpacking, organizing and yes, still cleaning (the former owners were so, so gross), we had a few main things we wanted to do: remove trees and replace siding.

While we were unloading our Pack-Rat, we had a team of tree guys show up at our house. We were in the middle of cutting down what we could, so they showed up at a very convenient time. We walked around the house and discussed the many, many trees that had to come out. The house had unfortunately been neglected for a long time and trees had grown into other trees, causing many to struggle for light and water. There are a ton of roots on top of the soil and a lot of dead branches where trees just couldn't get the nutrients they needed. We also couldn't see the house.

The tree guys removed a bunch of trees from the front and the sides, as well as two large trees from the back. They cleared out the out-of-control ground cover to the left of the driveway, as well. We chopped down the bushes in front of the windows. It's now November and because of our mild Fall, the bushes up there have already started growing again. By Summer 2017, the front should look pretty good if the grass in the front takes at all and once we get mulch down. One thing at a time.

As for the siding, we used the contractor that our real estate agent suggested and it turns out he was just a middle man. He found the guys to do the work and that's all he did. We had the wood guys working on our siding for 2 full days. The "few pieces of rotted siding" turned into replacing all of the siding around the far right window and finding out that window is cracked and needs to be replaced, along with the casing around it. We replaced the siding and rotted boards underneath and left the window for now. Windows will be replaced at some point but right now we are hemorrhaging money on the house and don't need one more thing added to it.

We had some rotted wood in the back of the house and didn't notice until a few months later that the contractor conveniently "missed" a few places in the back of the house that needed the siding fixed, as well. We were so done with him at that point that we have thrown in the towel and will just pay the wood guys, instead of going through the middle man again.

The hardest part about all of this is we hate paying other people to do jobs we can do. The problem is we have so many things on our to do list and some things are just best contracted out to save our sanity.

Once the boards had been replaced and the trim above the window had been replaced with PVC, we let the workers go and painted the siding ourselves. We are just happy we can finally see the house! While we have been out working, we have had 5 neighbors stop us and tell us how great it looks now. I guess this house had been hidden for about 10 years. Not anymore!

We left the big Sycamore tree out front, just cut back some of the lower branches to allow us to get under it when we eventually need to mow. The wood pile has been moved to the back of the house and we have enough wood for 3 years worth of fire pit fires.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Backyard Visitor

One night, about a month into living here, Dan looked out back and said, "there is a giant bird in the backyard!" Since then, this guy has shown up 4 times. We love watching for him and hope our backyard is a regular stop for this Great Blue Heron.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Inspection Report - What We Found And Didn't Find

We scheduled our inspection as soon as our inspector we had used on our previous two houses was available. We wanted it completed as quickly as possible so we could either retract our offer if we found something terrible. With all of the issues we could spot, we were really worried there was something lurking that we may miss.

The inspection took forever. First, the inspector was late. He had his schedule wrong and didn't have us down for that day. We arrived at the house at 3pm and he finally showed up 4:15. The inspection took over 4 hours. I know I should be glad it was thorough but we were tired and cranky and hungry by the end of it all.

The inspection report showed us mostly things we figured we would find: rotted siding boards, some leaky plumbing, doors that were difficult to open and various other things we consider cosmetic. There were a few odd things. The biggest one was that the hot water heater was outside in a big tin box. 

Heeeey overgrown backyard weeds!
We asked the inspector about it and he said it was weird but not something he hadn't seen before. The assumption is that the old owners didn't want it taking up space in the garage so they moved it out back into what we lovingly refer to as the coffin. There was some standing water in the bottom of the tank but the inspector wasn't sure if that was fluid from that or from rain water. There were so many other things to worry about during the inspection, we kind of forgot about this and never checked to see if the hot water worked.  

All in all, the inspection report was not terrible. There were a lot of problems on the report (78 items in total) but everything seemed manageable from our perspective. We knew we were moving into a house that needed a lot of work, inside and out. We were willing to take on that challenge. 

We decided that there were a few things that needed to be fixed before or shortly after we moved in - most importantly the rotted siding on the house and some pipe collars on the roof. We had a contractor go out and inspect the damage and got a quote from him. We sent that quote to the sellers and they ended up giving us that money in closing costs. Score one for the little guy. So, we moved forward with the purchase, got our financing in order and started the process to sell our house.


Remember when I mentioned the fact that we didn't check the hot water? After we closed, we planned on spending a half day cleaning the house. We got out some buckets to fill with hot water and soap to scrub the house down. We turned on the tap hot water. We checked the gas - it was on. We checked the water heater. We called a plumber. It was broken. 

Over the next 2 days, I had 6 different plumbers out to the house to give us quotes. The first plumber who came out took one look at our situation (movers and stuff everywhere, family everywhere) and quoted us $2400 to replace our 50 gallon water heater. The 5th plumber who came out quoted us $750. What a racket. We ended up using the 5th plumber, who has now become our go-to guy for all of our plumbing needs. He's honest, reasonably priced and has been in the business for 25 years. 

It is really, really stressful to have contractors coming to your house at the same time movers are asking where to put things, your 4 year old is complaining she is bored and your mother is asking where you want your silverware, bowls and cooking supplies to go. 

While we did move on the hottest days of the year, it was a blessing in disguise as we really didn't need hot water that badly (other than to clean). Our wonderful friends let us shower at their house to get all of the moving grime and sweat off. We finally got a new hot water heater on Wednesday. My shower that night was the best shower I have had in my entire life.

Note to all future home buyers - if you're not sure if the hot water heater is working, just turn on the tap and point it to hot. If we had done that, we would have saved ourselves a lot of stress and a lot of money.