Friday, 3 July 2015

What were we Thinking????

I don’t know what exactly prompted the desire to build a home or buy something different than where we were. We had already spent years modifying and adding to our existing home and with the exception of the size and location it is exactly what we wanted.  When your husband comes home and says
“want to go look at a house on a lake” after a few previous heated conversations regarding our future that certainly did not go in my favor, how do you refuse???

A few months prior to this, I can pinpoint the moment in September when my mom told me that she had stage 4 lung and bone cancer. We cried and both agreed that everything would be ok.  The one thing that stuck in my mind was her telling me that she had not completed her bucket list and that she hadn’t even written it yet.  In the next 4 months when she was lucid, we had time to talk about things she had done, and fears and wishes and not putting things off.  The cancer was quick. She was gone by the end of December.  
It was right after she passed away that I realized that I was creeping up on 50 and had not written my own “bucket list”, nor had I really even thought about it.  I spent a lot of time pondering what I had done with myself and what did I really want out of life?  It really is short and I realized that I need to seize opportunities and not be afraid of everything. 

Living on the water has always been a dream. This was added to my “bucket list”

We walked through the Suzanne house in April before the leaves had opened and the grass turned green.  Built in 1972 it looked like time had stood still style wise.  It sported orange and green shag carpet (worn through in spots), blue and green bathroom fixtures, z-brick(I had not seen that since I was 5 or 6 and watched my parents excitedly putting it up in my childhood home), drop ceilings, and windows that were built by the contractor that did not open.  The Deck out back had rotted off from repeated beatings with snow and rain, and the view to the lake was completely obstructed with trees and foliage that had overgrown over the last 40 years.  A road had been built down to the beach decades ago, that was covered with alder branches and shrubs that threatened to choke off access to the water.

I was enamored with the possibilities.  Regardless of the 2 x 4 construction, fallen down out buildings, worn out décor, it felt “right”.  The foundation was in great shape and the siding and roof, seemed mostly intact.  Since my husband and I survived a major remodel on our previous house we figured “why not”. We soon agreed on a price with the owner and started the process. 

I barely remember the last time I applied for a home loan. I do remember that it was cumbersome and took forever (at least if felt that way) this time however, we were in and out of the bank and approved in 20 minutes thanks to electronic underwriting. That was too easy.  OF course that did not include the appraisal and final “honey-do” list from the underwriters to give a final approval of the loan.  I already had the most stressful eight months of my life, so why not pile on some more? I was pretty sure I must be crazy.
First major stress item?  Will the house appraise for the amount we need it to? With the help of our real estate agent, and her suggestions to up the value as it stood, we ended up with a short list if fix-its for health and safety.

1.       Earthquake straps on the water heater
2.       Railing on the stairs to the basement
3.       Fix the bent over vent pipe on the roof
4.       Put the tile back on the wall that had fallen off in the shower (not sure of health and safety here, maybe mold? we did it anyway.)

To expedite the process we agreed to help the current owners with the fixes since finding a handyman in Alaska during peak construction season would be next to impossible.   We finished the items one weekend and let the bank know to send in the appraiser.  The day of the review it hit me that I had found the box for the earthquake strap at our house and that only one of the straps had been used.  I was afraid that the appraiser would reject the repairs and we would be back at square one.  I put in a panicked call to my husband, who left work, attached the other strap and was out of there 30 minutes before the inspection. Whew… turns out it was necessary.

The next few  weeks of wondering were awful. I like to think of myself as a “glass half full” type of gal but I think the reality of it is that my glass leaned toward empty more than not.  We fed the required documents to the bank, waited, waited, and waited.  Then came insuring the property.  The bank sent the appraisal over to our insurance company, who promptly refused to insure the home due to the roof on the well house looking poor and the decking that had no railing and was rotting off the house.  We scrambled to find insurance, we were totally afraid we would have to redo the deck to be insured.  We already had built a Juliette balcony to block any access to the dilapidated deck, so it was already completely unusable.  The bank came through with insurance from their insurance broker.  I don’t know anything about the insurance company we ended up with, but we can now move forward. 

Next hurdle was the well house roof.  The insurance company we ended up with was ok with it, but now the underwriter wasn’t. It was covered with moss and trim was tearing off of it.  It was suggested that we just pressure wash it and paint the trim area. We ended up replacing the roofing completely.  There was a yellow aluminum sheet roof that was not able to be cleaned with a pressure washer. I did not want to have the appraiser come back and inspect it and refuse the repair. Since it needed to be replaced anyway we figured we may as well do it now.
Side Roof Before
Side Roof After

And then you wait again……

The news finally came that the underwriters approved the house for the loan. Now we just had to close and start on the renovation. 

As of 6/30/2015 12:00 pm the house became ours.  Officially.  Let the games begin.


First task at hand is to make the basement livable for us to be down there for at least a year while we renovate the upstairs. An entire day was spent by myself pulling carpet off the concrete floor and scraping the remnants of rubber carpet pad off. The carpet had certainly seen its fair share of shoes, animals, and who knows what else. The unfortunate part is that the adhesive on the floor is leaving notch marks from the trowel that was used. I considered using an adhesive remover,but decided it was too toxic.  I will be spending all of tomorrow with a floor sander/grinder to get it off so I can prime and paint.  
Basement with remaining carpet. The carpet backing stuck to the floor and had to be scraped off.

Basement floor during grinding

Basement floor after grinding

I am hoping that I can get the basement to a livable state by the end of the 4th weekend.  I am overwhelmed, lol, at the moment, but it should get easier (I hope)  :) 

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