…sharing the same cup of water

House Visiting Day


Greetings, intrepid readers!  It is once again time for the Dippybirds to consider a new nest, and this time we’re looking at home ownership.  We’ve finally managed to put enough of a polish on our finances to clear a loan, and have, through a friend, managed to land an excellent Realtor.  After doing some looking around we decided on three potentials for our first visit.  Here they are, in competition order as noted by Herself:

The Ugly :


So, the house on Forest, a late entry into the search, and the last that we visited, is less than a block from multiple frat houses.  It’s kinda half-heartedly split into a duplex-ish… which is to say, you come in the front door, and the stairwell to the second floor at one time had a door which swung out (right into the front door) and had a lock, and the doorway into the living room still has a door with a deadbolt.


There is an overgrown hallway, which is remarkably gloomy, and sits with the living room on one side, a tiny bedroom on another, and the kitchen across from the bedroom, with shelves and hooks for, what, coats? across from the living room.  I’d want to tear out the wall between the hall++ and the tiny bedroom and turn the resulting space into a proper dining room.


Behind the tiny bedroom, with a door off the kitchen, is another small bedroom.  They did some nifty camera magic to make it look as big as it does in the photos.  Because WOW, it’s wee in person.  And so very, very red.  Like, catsup red.  O.O


The downstairs kitchen.. needs help.  Desperately.


That photo of the side garden appears to have been taken from inside in order to make it look larger.  It’s tiny, and completely shaded — just moss and ivy growing in it.


Upstairs?  Oh my stars and garters.  So, there’s a spot on the stairs where the Reverend can brain himself if he’s not careful.  The upstairs kitchen is remarkably awful.  The shower in the upstairs bath is unusable by anyone taller than, I think, about two inches shorter than me, because of the way the ceiling slopes (yay, dormers?).  And the “fireplace” upstairs?  In person, it becomes pretty clear that what happened is someone chipped into the brick of the chimney for the downstairs fireplace to make an opening that looks vaguely like a fireplace, then nailed a make-shift “mantel” up.  Oh, it’s bad, folks.  So very, very bad.


There’s no back garden, just a single parking space and a dumpster that’s shared with the other houses along the alley.


If we were in that house for even 20 minutes, I’d be surprised.  Yikes!


The Bad :


A gorgeous-looking Queen Anne on Cross Street, this was the first house on our list to see.  It’s currently being rented out as two units, one upstairs, one down.  We only had permission to see the lower floor.


The paint job, which looks very nice in photos, is not so nice in person.  It was a pretty slap-dash job, in fact, and it’s easy to see that they didn’t even scrape loose paint away before they painted over it.


There are a tremendous number of issues with the ceiling in the living room – not a flat spot to be seen, just sloping, rolling, and badly plastered patches that have been deeply texturised to attempt to camouflage the issues.


I’d spent a remarkably long time pouring over the photographs to try to work out how they split this poor, defenseless house into a duplex, including rough sketches to try to figure out the floor plan based on the pictures… and I was right: they walled off the stair to the second floor and made a closet between it and the dining room — there’s just bare drywall nailed up, not even taped, much less mudded! — and then cut a door hole on the outside, put in a door that looks ridiculously out of place, and put in a wee overhang with a passing nod to the architecture.  It makes me want to cry, or do violence upon whomever did it.  That poor house!!


The kitchen is okay, I guess, though there’s no venting at all for the cooker, and the floor is just about everything but flat.


The “bedrooms” on that floor are ludicrous.  A wee one is clearly just a mud room / passage to the back door.  The slightly larger one clearly also had a door to the back at one point, but they walled over it — and DIDN’T EVEN REMOVE THE DOOR FRAME.  I don’t have enough face to palm, folks.


This house clearly needs tens of thousands of dollars worth of work, which is way more than I’m willing to do for a house at that price point.


We might have been there for half an hour?  Maybe?  Before we fled.


The Good


So, this was the middle house in our visiting spree today.  I think we spent about an hour and a half going through it, room by room, all around the outside, and so on.


Holy cats, 10 foot ceilings are a thing of beauty.


This house needs paint something awful.


The kitchen?  AMAZEBALLS.  It’s not cavernous, but it’s easily large enough for us to cook together.  There’s room for a baker’s rack on each of the walls that don’t have counters, and probably still room to put a small unfitted island in the middle.  It has no dishwasher, but there is a double-door cupboard next to the sink, which is the perfect place to put one.  There’s a hall off the kitchen with the back door on one end and a stair down to the cellar on the other, then there’s also what was clearly originally a servants’ stair that leads up to the room with a “door” (more on that in a minute) to the roof terrace.


Said upstairs room is open to another room that has windows on two sides, with slightly sloping walls from the mansard roof.  The rear part of that space (the part where the stair opens into) doesn’t get a ton of light, but would make a fantastic reading room, I think.  Meanwhile, the front part of that room would be absolutely brilliant for a combined office and art studio.  The windows are on the west and north walls, and the room is easily large enough for two desks, all my art storage, some workspace, and even a standing easel.


The door to the roof terrace is an interesting beastie… the terrace, apparently, was something added relatively recently (last two decades, some time, I’d wager.)  In order to do it, they converted a window into a door.   It is a remarkably narrow door.  Like, I’m surprised it passed an inspection.  I know this can be remedied, but I have no clue what it would cost.


Another upstairs bedroom overlooks the roof terrace, and I think would make a lovely master bedroom.  The carpet needs replaced, and two of the three windows were painted shut, but these are things that can pretty easily be corrected.


The upstairs bath is between the last two mentioned rooms.  It is wee, and seems to have very low water pressure, but our agent thinks that may have been a thing that was purposefully done whilst the house is standing vacant.  (I’m not exactly sure how that’s accomplished, but I’ll take our agent’s word for it.)  It has a skylight, which is identified on the disclosures as leaky, and below, there’s definitely water damage that will need fixed.


Lastly upstairs is a room that is painted a startlingly dark grey.  It has a lower ceiling than the others, three steps down into it, and looks out over the front porch.  Whomever thought of painting it that colour really needs a stern talking to.  I think it could make a very nice guest bedroom, once it has been painted something a little more cheery.  Its windows face north and east, and I think it could be made quite a bit more welcoming than it currently appears.


Off the landing between the three (plus) bedrooms and the upstairs bath is the front stair, which goes along the west wall of that very dark bedroom then wraps along the front wall of the house and lets out into the vestibule.


Back downstairs, the front door lets into a wee vestibule, which has a further door that lets into a foyer.  There’s a generous coat closet with no doors off to the right of the foyer (standing with one’s back to the door), and the room is L-shaped, with a space that leads down to a window and is large enough to accommodate a decently-sized chair.  Over all, that room is, basically, large enough for a couple of chairs and a bench along the eastern wall, maybe a nice console-type table.


The eastern windows in the living room are enormous.  8′ at least, I think.  Also, afternoon sunlight off the neighbour’s white siding is… pretty remarkable.  ~rubs eyes even now~   The room is easily large enough to fit two sofas along the southern wall with room to spare before the kitchen doorway.  The wall with the windows is easily large enough for a sofa, though I’d only put a loveseat or a chaise there, I think.  The northwest corner of that room is easily large enough for a nice wingback chair and ottoman, with a wee side table.


Off the living room is a weirdly green/slate/putty/whatever coloured room listed as a downstairs master bedroom, but I think that’s silly.  It would make a lovely dining room, and the Reverend is pretty certain it’ll hold a table large enough for the holiday family meals.  I have visions of turning the closet on the north wall into a built-in china hutch.


The downstairs bath is perfectly decent, has good water pressure, and looks out over the back garden / parking area / Maude-awful garage.  Long term, I think I’d want to replace the tub, possibly with a jetted soaking tub.  I’m reasonably certain the space will accommodate.


The utility room is off the kitchen, and has that downstairs bath off of it, which is a bit odd, to me.   It’s a very generously sized room, though.  There is a space across from the dryer that goes the entire depth of the bathroom, all the way to the back wall, and is about the width of a hallway, I’d say ~ 3′.  There is space in the corner between the doorway from the kitchen and the door to the bath to put in an unfitted pantry cupboard, quite easily.  If we do as I’d prefer and replace the washer and dryer with a combination washer/dryer, we would easily have room in there for a freezer chest, as well.  All in all, a really quite ample pantry and laundry room.


The garage  is even worse than I thought.  It’s a monstrosity.  2+ car, stick-built with vinyl siding, on a badly-poured slab that has trees growing under/through it.  The garage door is long gone, and Mother Nature is working hard to try to reclaim the structure.  And I was right, it blocks the view of about that much more area again behind it, which is perfect for raised bed gardening.  The trees surrounding the wee garden area are mostly dead and in need of removal, so I needn’t feel terrible about doing just that.  The ground there is just a touch marshy and covered in a lovely sort of moss, rather than grass, but it’s nice to walk on, and I think it could make a lovely garden.  Especially with the garage removed and the garden area thereby doubled!


The driveway, sadly, is shared with a great brick building to the west of the house, which is clearly either apartments, a rooming house, or some sort of efficiency-conversion affair.  There is room between the house and the garage for two cars to park (between the driveway and a round-ish planting bed ringed with rocks.)  The exterior basement access has been blocked off in favour of the interior stair at the opposite end of the hall from the back door.


Now, the house does have some issues.  There are numerous places where the wood floors downstairs need fixed.  There are some less than awesome patch jobs in some of the walls.  There are a couple of soft spots in the roof terrace.  The floor in front of the stair to the basement is scarily soft.  A lot of the exterior trim along the eaves needs replaced.  Many of the windows are painted shut.  None of the smaller windows have decorative trim on the outside.  The garage.  Oh, the garage.  There’s some framing in the basement which our agent is concerned about, but the Reverend doesn’t think it’s load bearing… it’ll be specifically drawn to the inspector’s attention, though.  The room I’ve identified to be the office / studio / reading room has a dreadful floor — wide plank wood that has been painted, has not aged awesomely, has knot-holes that knots have fallen out of… it is uneven, and full of wee nooks and gaps.  The exterior entrance to the basement needs to be more securely blocked off — probably bricked over.  The whole place needs painted, inside and out.


But, providing it passes inspection and we can knock the price down a touch to reflect the work it needs, I think it just might be home.


Our agent has made notes regarding things she thinks FHA would flag as issues, and will be sending us that and a list of contractors she recommends sometime tonight or tomorrow.  Next, we’ll get a contractor or three out there to give estimates for the work we’d want done immediately, have an FHA consultant out to inspect and assess, then decide, based on the results of all that, if we’ll make an offer.

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