Saturday, February 20, 2010

house visit recap

So: the husband of the couple that went up with me to see the tan house is apparently, in addition to having flipped and remodeled some homes himself, an engineer. SCORE! I would ask idle questions and he would actually answer them. (Example: can I put a lot more weight on the second-story porch? I didn't mention that I was thinking specifically of a jacuzzi, because I felt silly, but I am. I'm not an exhibitionist, I would make sure that the neighbors had no occasion to be bothered. Anyway. He said he would look at the support beams...never occurred to me.)

He has said he is going to compile notes and then tell me what he thinks - about the drainage issues, the cost of remodeling it to have it up-to-date (I think that figure will be higher than I might actually need, because I am comfortable with things being a bit rustic, don't want modern finishes like granite, and want to do simple things, like lay tile and so forth, myself), structural concerns, the whole nine yards. His wife was making comments about what walls I could knock down to combine bedrooms - I was slightly alarmed. I don't really have ambitions to knock down any walls. They're OK with me where they are. But I realize there are people who think of things as investments and projects, which I am inclined to see as in need of maintenance and some minor upgrades.

Then we went to see the house his wife found on the Virginia side. It's about the same age and it has a nice porch, although I think the facade is kind of blah. It's in MUCH better shape on the inside. Instead of an addition to create a family room with a wood stove, they put on an addition with a large first-floor master, along with full bath, and to expand the kitchen. The kitchen is quite large, and though I kind of hate the finishes, I know they would not be offensive to others. So it doesn't need remodeling.

The dining room is huge. The living room is smallish, and there's no family room, but the kitchen is big enough to entertain in, in terms of hanging around and hanging out. All the bedrooms are large. The master isn't small and there are three that size (one on the first floor, two on the second), and a third on the second floor that's medium-sized and L-shaped. The second-floor bath is much larger than in the tan house and has a jacuzzi tub. Plus this house has an entire full bath that the tan house doesn't have, period. I think it must have more overall square feet, what with the difference in bedroom size. It has no attic (just a crawl space), and no basement (built on a concrete slab). I guess there's nothing to flood, but it really would be nice to have that space. It's in much better condition - everything is basically done, though it needs to be repainted from beige. Instead of carpeting with subfloor underneath, the second floor has some of the most magnificent old hardwood floors I have seen ever. I love them. (I can't imagine I could find similar ones to install in the tan house...)

They may ultimately sell for about the same price.

But. Though this latest house is on the Virginia side, it's nine miles further from my work than the tan house (which means the tan house has an even greater lead as far as distance to the city border). The Virginia house is nowhere near a metro station, and the tan house is less than 1.5 miles. The Virginia house is driving distance from the VRE; the tan house is walking distance to the MARC train. They're about the same distance from the nearest church, but the tan house is near a good parish (and then reasonably near to half a dozen others), and the Virginia house is near a lousy parish, and a decent drive from the next-nearest. The Virginia house is in a city, with a sort of so-so economic and crime profile. The tan house is in a tiny village with no crime to speak of. The city the Virginia house is in isn't near anything else of a decent size, though; the tan house is in a village immediately adjacent to populated areas with shops and stuff to do. And the Virginia house is driving distance from a historic downtown, whereas the tan house is in the historic downtown, which also happens to be the entire town. You can see where I'm coming out here. And this isn't just bias. You come visit, and you'll see - if you want historic, idyllic, quiet, and safe, there is absolutely no comparison on the location. Now, why can't the tan house be in good condition like the Virginia house?

Oh, another point. The floors - and the room size - in the Virginia house are winning by leagues. But I actually like the layout in the tan house better. For entertaining, it seems really welcoming and fun. The Virginia house is sort of weird and blocky and isolated. You're fine if you're in the kitchen, but if you leave, you might never find the living room - it's a mystery. I know that sounds so subjective it must be bias, but it's not. The tan house is laid out really well.

I'm nervously awaiting the verdict from my friend's husband - just how many lurking problems are there in the tan house? And how expensive will they be?

After an exhausting day of being lost and not getting enough food or sleep (until I got hungry and got way too much food - and, of course, being tired, I didn't run), however, I'm exhausted and depressed. I'm willing to give up all my houses if need be. I told myself I would call my family before 7PM (I haven't talked to them in too long and they are all hanging onto sanity by a thread) and I didn't, and now my dh will be back soon (finally!), so I can't call, and the living room is still a mess, and yes, he will notice, and even if he doesn't say anything, I will get upset. So I have to pry myself out of the couch, pick up the living room, do the dishes, and sweep the kitchen floor.

I would rather be sedated until tomorrow, honestly. Maybe tomorrow will be a less totally exhausting day.


  1. Sounds like the Tan house is a winner for you...even if the rooms are smaller...sounds like the location is totally ideal. Good luck with the house is tiring and a lot to think and contiplate about, huh?

    Have fun with your dh when he gets home. Give him a big welcome smooch! Maybe then he won't notice if you didn't pick up the living room. :)

  2. I love reading about house stuff. I'm on such a house kick lately; I just want to paint and redesign everything. Of course, I don't want our bank acct to take a hit, so I'm attempting to have some self restraint.

    If you don't mind me asking, what town is the Tan house in? We used to live in Gaithersburg MD and I worked at a parish in Rockville. My husband took the MARC train for a year. It just sounds like it might be near where we lived.

  3. I nominated you for a blogging award. I love the raw, open honesty in your blog. So here's the link to my blog with the award:

  4. Wow, the tan house does seem to have the lead. Big rooms are nice (and so are second bathrooms), but if you can make the spaces bigger or add a bathroom eventually, maybe the tan house wins overall? Hopefully your friend comes back with an estimate that won't break the bank :).

  5. Wow, it sounds like both houses have pros and cons, but I always go for location. Modifications can always be made on houses, things added or taken away, but where it is doesn't change. My current house is smaller than I would like and the bathrooms are tiny! My husband and I can't really be in the master bath at the same time, so he uses the hall bath. But, the attic runs the length of the house and has electricity and windows, so we'll probably remodel up there eventually. And I absolutely love WHERE our house is located. It's five minutes from everything we need from stores to shops to our church to friends to my job. I gave up the space to have a house where I wanted to live, cause our previous house was about 500 square feet bigger, but was in a cookie cutter neighborhood with no trees and nasty neighbors.

    Did you need to know all that? Probably not! LOL. But I always say location is really important.

  6. Stellar location with a great layout? Sounds like a clear winner. I hope you get good news. There is nothing wrong, however, in playing “there’s another house we’re interested in” card in negotiations when you’re trying to get the tan house.

    Good luck.

  7. IMHO I would choose the house with the better location. We bought a tiny townhouse in a really nice part of town rather than spend the same amount of money on a bigger home in a not as nice part of town. We've had the benefit of seeing our property values go out $100 000 in five years while the rest of the city we live in hasn't seen the same growth.

    I'm one of those "go with your gut instinct" kinda people. I knew as soon as we entered the foyer of our house that we were going to buy it. We've gone to quite a few open houses in the past few years and I've known that none of them were the house for us (except for one that was out of our price range, that house is the measuring stick for our forever house).

    I hope and pray that you find the perfect house for you!

  8. An engineer? Someone who really does know what he's talking about? Nice.