November 16, 2012

This Old House

"It's beautiful!"
"What a wonderful house!"
"You must love living here!"

This house certainly looks beautiful, the location is perfect for us, the flow and ability to entertain are amazing.

"Ma'am, I have to tell you that what's happening with the wires in that crawl space is dangerous. We need a whole day down there to fix it."
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to say, I can't tell what they were thinking in how they did the plumbing for that bathtub. I've seen home owners do a better job themselves. This is terrible."
"We can't tell if we should build the deck to match the house, which doesn't have a straight line, or just do it right."
"Ma'am, we cayn't put gutters on thayat porch. Looka the line thare, your whole roof is droopin'. Lewks like thay removed a support post to get a betta view out of the livin' room windas. Ya'll need to add a steel beam up thare to reinforce thayat roof first."
From what we've gathered from neighbor gossip, here's the recent history of this 100-year old house:
  1. Mother / daughter lived here with the house in the Mother's name. Mother gets Alzheimer's. Daughter comes home from work to see the house on fire and mother sitting on the porch roof. Mom set the fire. No insurance coverage since the home is in her name.
  2. They sell to a Flipper. Flipper runs out of money to even get the house back in sellable condition.
  3. DIY Cabinet Maker buys it. His Mom lives a block away and she and her daughter stopped by and told me that when he bought it, there were holes in the front porch, the front door fell off when they tried to open it. He lovingly rebuilt it from chaos. What he knows well, he did well: the redone hardwood floors are gorgeous, we have an amazing coffered ceiling in the foyer and the oak cabinets all over the kitchen are bomb-proof. What he didn't know and shouldn't have touched? Electric, plumbing and roofing. One neighbor said, "Oh you bought one of DIY's houses. He put them together with duct tape and bubble gum!"
  4. He sells to a gay couple. B&M completely redo all the non-wood interior surfaces. They get rid of an upstairs bedroom and put in a RIDICULOUS Master Closet. We don't know who updated the Master Bath, but assume it was B&M. All finishes and fixtures are gorgeous.
  5. We buy an old house that feels totally updated and move-in ready. Based on the home inspection we knew we had to do some foundation work and get the roof replaced. We also wanted to tear off the porch and put on a deck.

We're slowly having to replace and repair essential yet hidden parts of the house. Doing things right that will add NOTHING to the resale value of the house (rebuilding the front porch, redoing the electrical system in the crawl space, etc). We don't know if B (M left him) knew all this and didn't declare it (and is therefore open for a lawsuit) or if he really just left because his heart was broken. Jrex is opting for the conspiracy theory as the evidence mounts. We're not into suing people, but it's a nice mental valve to think we could.

The latest drama is that we found a huge water bubble coming down the back wall. Long story short, the plumber just left. He found the leak in the spa tub in the master bath (how pretentious that sounds!!!) and was able to shut off the valve. He got to that via a small access port in the side of the tub wall. However, some bright person put structural beams right in the middle of the opening. Our home warranty covers the plumbing repair, but not the cost to create access. Our home insurance has a $3000 deductible. We doubt that the cost to repair the downstairs ceiling and wall and repainting will add up to that much so it becomes an out of pocket expense. For this month that's in addition to the out of cost expenses for my second round of hernia repair and body work on the car (which are also out of pocket).

My sister was wondering why we feel poor given our total salary as a couple. Well, every month has involved a few whammies like this since we moved here. We keep having to dip into savings rather than add-to savings. It's very stressful.

Talk about first world problems, right? Yet all this means that we can't afford the vacations to the mountains that we promised ourselves as part of surviving a move to Dallas instead of Portland.

Am I overspiritualizing if I'm hoping that the big picture story of this house and our time in it will be one of redemption? I was hoping that would come in the form of us doing foster care, or at least being a safe place for Brex's future neighborhood friends. Before we can get to all that, it looks like the house itself is in need of redemption and healing! We keep hoping and praying that the money pit will stop growing and that we'll be able to dwell here and enjoy the house without always feeling like we're on shifting sand.

So far, not so much... Try to ignore our grimaces when you come to visit and say, "What a lovely home, you must love living here!"


NGS said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. My husband and I are currently debating our next housing move and I'm currently VERY anti-home ownership because I've read so many stories like this.

But your house really IS lovely.

OTR sister said...

I agree that this has been a horrible process. I just believe you have options, including selling if need be. If you consider the house a soul that you want to save you'll never give up on it. As you once said about another inanimate object that was lost, "It's all gonna burn eventually."

I'm not saying you should sell, I'm just cautioning you to not give this house more power over your life than it deserves.

Rachel said...

Wow! That's a lot of money. I hope there are no more nasty surprises in store for you.