The Next House

Okay, I told Kathy I’d go home and mull this over and yet I’m having trouble, so I’m going to work it out here.

Things I Love About The House

(In no particular order)

The yard is amazing and yet not so large that I feel like I couldn’t handle it.

The front porch is solid.

The paint job, though a color that makes me cringe, is really, really well done.

It has hardwood floors everywhere.

It has a huge built-in china cabinet.

The laundry room is enormous and we could easily just leave our clothes piled up in there and shut the door and ignore it.

It has a huge garage and a little storage barn.

And a porch swing.

And a patio.

And an enclosed back porch.

And no immediately obvious settling issues.

And a fenced in back yard.

And a wonderful place for a garden.

They will leave the rocker on the front porch.

And the price is great.  I’d be paying less in a house payment than I am in rent.

Things I’m Not Thrilled About

The color of the house.  I think the problem is just the lime green trim.  But it needs outside painting, which I’ve never done before.

The kitchen is not great.  We’d need a fridge and a dishwasher and we’d have to think about taking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and either moving the wall about a foot into the dining room so that we could install a dishwasher and some extra cabinets OR just taking out the wall all together and reworking that whole space into a giant eat-in kitchen.

There’s only one bathroom.  Though the laundry room is huge enough it’d be nothing to carve a powder room out of that space.

It’s north of Briley (though, south of Old Hickory).  I didn’t want to be that far north, but sweet Jesus, we’ve looked at pushing 50 houses.  We have a good idea of what there is closer in in our price range and it’s not pretty (or, if it’s pretty, the neighborhood’s not.  Yesterday, we looked at a house next door to a house covered in gang signs and, when we looked closely at the house we were looking at, there was evidence that that house had also been tagged, but just covered up).  Or it’s in Antioch.  And, no offense to any of you living in Antioch, but moving to Antioch would, to me, feel like admitting defeat.  And it’d mean coming in I-24 to work, which, again, just shoot me now.

The air conditioner is old.  It’s probably on its last legs.

The bricks that form a decorative ledge under the windows rub right off on your hands if you touch them.  It’s kind of weird and gross.

Things I’d like to know and need to look into today

What are their utility bills like?

What kinds of pipes are under the house?  When, if ever, was their plumbing updated?

How old is that roof?

Things that go in the woo-woo catagory

They buried St. Joseph in their yard.  That pleases me.

Sitting on the porch, I heard crows.

My Thoughts

I’m not thrilled by the kitchen, but it is definitely something I could live with.  I’m a little bummed about not having a fireplace, but whatever.  I just don’t want to make an offer without knowing about the plumbing, because, to my way of thinking, everything else, even if it isn’t ideal, I can work with or work around.

Am I just jumping at this house because I’m anxious to get in a house, bummed about what happened to the last one, and in complete depression over the state of the housing stock in my price range and happy that this seems like the best option I have?

In other words, is this just a rebound house?  Like a rebound relationship that tends to be fraught with problems you will yourself not to see just to make up for the heartbreak of losing the last one?

But, on the other hand, isn’t wanting a house, knowing that most of the houses in my price range are for shit, and finding one that seems like the best option actually exactly the process of buying a house?  Isn’t this how it should go?

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13 thoughts on “The Next House

  1. Just a note, depending on how things come out, the Mathlete loves to paint, indoors and out, and has done a lot of it. I know you have lots of local consults available, but if you ever want to talk paint with him feel free.

  2. You need to think seriously about the commute involved. Are you going to want to do that every day? If not, are you going to be able to arrange to work from home one or two days a week? I’m guessing that the answers to those questions are no and yes, which works out just fine (and lets you garden while taking a break, which is cool). But if they’re no and no, then it IS just a rebound house.

  3. Window unit air conditioners are surprisingly affordable. We got two for $180. Buying a fridge is probably smart anyhow — we took the one that was in the house and it’s been nothing but hinky since we got it. The dishwasher idea that Lee had was so good that I’m going to look into it for my own home. (I had no idea that they made such things and I really really really need prep space, since I’m getting tired of kneading my bread on the dining room table.)

    Even if it didn’t need painting now, it would need painting in the future. That’s just how home ownership goes…says the person who learned this week how to replace the heating element in her dryer. Things break or need redone and you figure out how to do them. It’s not rocket science; it’s just work and nobody dies if you have to take a couple of stabs at it before you get it exactly right. Part of the satisfaction of owning a house is in learning to meet these challenges and growing to believe in your own life competence. Luckily, you know some people who know some people in the contractor/construction trades who can help you.

    The big concern, as nm observes, is the location. The house isn’t going to pick up and move and with gas going up, that’s a concern to be balanced against your satisfaction and your perception of safety. Personally, I live about a five minute walk from work and I have sometimes regretted not having more distance between me and my employer…I don’t have time to settle down from that acrimonious meeting before I’m walking in my door and so I sometimes bring home worries that I might otherwise leave in the car with a longer commute.

  4. There’s this thing in the marketing biz that we call post-purchase dissonance. The amount of money you spend on an item is directly proportionate to your dissatisfaction level after the purchase. The more money you spend, the more anxiety you will have that you made the wrong decision. So all those “little” things will become big ones. Even when a house seems perfect, you move in and you find a hundred things wrong that you hate yourself for missing (how did I not notice that Metro Water pump at the edge of my property??). So if you have any anxiety now, I wouldn’t make the plunge. There will be other houses. Because the WORST thing that could happen is that once you’re committed, you find out about a perfect house (a seemingly perfect house). And you will hate your house and want to drown it in the bathtub.

    ps–for my house, a new AC unit would cost more than the new roof I put on.

    pps–did you get my note about Charlotte Park? I think it would be a great location for you.

  5. North of Briley but south of Old Hickory isn’t actually a long commute. Ellington Parkway works great to get you downtown quickly when I-65 if full. You’d have to go through/around downtown to get to your employer, but I’d call that a pretty good commute. You’re just used to having a really good one.

    Some buyers on our house asked us to give money back at closing. That may be a way to get some cash for a refridgerator and appliances. Talk to Kathy about it.

    Having only one bathroom is a problem. We lived with that at our house for a year. It’s annoying and probably a little more so if your roomate is your brother instead of your spouse. It was an unusual feeling of freedom to move into a place with three bathrooms. My wife was ready to kill to get a place with a double sink.

  6. Oh, and about those bricks. Do you mean that they’re painted and the color comes off? Or that the bricks themselves are crumbling? If the bricks are crumbling and they have any structural function, you must have them replaced. If they really are just facing, then they might need to be replaced, but you might be able to get away with cleaning and treating them. How old is the house? What sort of weather has it been exposed to? Good brick should not crumble, not for centuries.

    /St. Louis girl brick geek

  7. It sounds like it has a lot going for it.

    How much time do you and the Butcher have between you for home improvement projects? It’s surprising how much you can do yourself for not a lot of money if you want to put the time in and do your reading thoroughly first. So, being ignorant of his time commitments, my first thought was “tell the Butcher to carve his own bathroom out of the laundry room — it doesn’t have to be exquisitely decorative, but it does have to work”.

    I’d say ponder the distance issue carefully. I prefer renting with minimal commute to owning with a greater one, but clearly that’s not where you’re at.

  8. NM, I have thought about the commute, but like W. says, it’s not that bad a commute and it’s just about three to five minutes more than my commute would have been at the place on Hillside. I just don’t think I’ll be able to get a house the size I want at a price I can afford close in and, if I have to spend my days out, I want to spend my days out looking across great big lawns with great big trees and hills and stuff. This lets me do that.

    I’m just not sure what the deal with the bricks is. The bricks that make up the house are fine. And these bricks don’t seem crumbly, but you do get a handful (or a butt-full) of red if you touch or lean on them. It’s strange. The house is built in 1958, I think, so it’s another 50s ranch.

    I do think the moveable dishwasher may be on my wish list!

  9. It sounds like the decorative bricks are softer than the structural bricks (which would not be unusual, especially if they are in an unusual color). And they probably just need a good cleaning. You could befriend your local firefighters and ask them to blast away with a hose. Or you could hire a professional service. Bricks can be cleaned by sandblasting, too, but if these are soft bricks that’s probably not a great idea. Or you could tell people never, ever to sit on the bricks. The last method is the simplest and cheapest, until you forget about it while wearing white lace.

  10. RE the outside painting – I suspect that’s something Don Coyote and possibly a few more N’ville bloggers could be sweet talked into.

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