Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In which our heroes set out, foolish and full of optimism

Shortly before Christmas, MB and I decided that we were ready to start looking for a house. We went to the bank and got reasonably good news on our pre-approval paperwork. We already knew that we wanted rabidmonkey's mom to be our realtor, so that part was easy. She looked at our (supposed) budget and list of requirements (three bedrooms, not a crackerbox, decent yard, un-scary neighborhood, within one of the acceptable public school districts), and came up with a long list of houses for us to check out.

The next week, we struck out one afternoon after MB got done at work. I was already feeling a little bit attached to the first house on our short list for the day. Clearly, I had a lot to learn about the subtle arts of selective real estate photography.

Cute house, right? It was across the street from a little park with playground equipment, and there was a porch swing. The wood floors were nice, and I didn't mind the bright blue living room, or even the rust-colored dining room. The giant crack / bad paint spot in the living room wall wasn't exactly in the brochure, though, nor were the exposed pipes and insulation at the corners of the rooms, nor the fact that the "den / library" was a room only slightly larger than the average full bathroom, and sported what was very obviously a kitchen cabinet / counter set up without a sink hole cut in it.

The kitchen was fine, and the yard looked just like the photo...except the photo basically showed the entirety of the yard. Then, we went upstairs. Oh, my. The layout of the rooms upstairs was very non-linear and somewhat non-sensical. We began to suspect that the house had once been 2 - 3 apartments, which would explain the weird upstairs layout and the fact that the house had two full baths and a half bath. The carpets, they were scary. One bedroom had a huge chunk of glass missing from one of the windows, with the rest of the sharp-edged, scary pane just hanging around, all hazard-like. And the back bedroom had a big, huge old fashioned freestanding double sink in it. W.T.F.?

Next, please!

We went to the opposite side of town to see two promising houses on adjacent streets.

This one was great on the main floor, but upstairs...hello, clusterfuck. I'm not sure what they were going for up there, but the result was a total maze. There were turns and deadends and weird little nooks, all blocked out in drywall but unfinished. Some kid named Tiffany had written her name all over the door to a strange little crawlspace in one of the bedrooms, and in that room's closet we found an ancient, mummified pile of what looked like dog poo. Buy my house! Dog poo and 8th-grade graffiti included! For the hell of it, rabidmonkey and I went down in the basement, and found more middle-school-girl graffiti spraypainted on the walls. Not a lot, but still...I'm pretty sure even a little graffiti inside the house is too much graffiti.

We moved on to the house on the next street over:

This house, I loved. Great woodwork, great floors, reasonably-sized rooms...I was even okay with the weird pinkish dining room. The kitchen? Lo, it was awesome. The basement was nice and big, and had a mostly-finished room that would've been a great game room. Alas, one of the bedrooms was only accessible via three steps up from the side door landing or through the master bedroom, so if we put a kid in there in the future, that kid would have to either walk through our room to go to the bathroom, or walk down three stairs, up another three to the kitchen, through there, through the dining room and living room, and around down the hall. If we only wanted one kid, it would've made a great office, but we're pretty sure we want two. Wah!

This house was just sort of meh:

It had nice built-ins in the living room, though I wasn't crazy about the cutesy scallopy thing across the top. The basement had a really ugly red bar.

Overall, the place was nice enough, but not really interesting or especially memorable. The rooms were pretty small, but the real dealbreaker was the super busy street the house was on, and the thought of trying to back out of the driveway in the mornings.

We ended the night with a just-for-fun trip to a really gorgeous house that was out of our price range and only had two bedrooms.

Covered deck (with ceiling fan!), hot tub, above-ground pool, and firepit in the huge backyard. Sweet.

Fabulous green kitchen. The whole house was super funky and artsy. It was totally my style. There were Anne Taintor prints in the bathroom and everything.

When we went home that evening, I was feeling slightly bummed that we hadn't found anything that worked (the bibliophile had just bought a house after looking at only three), but hopeful that the next trip would yield better results. MB, who dislikes shopping of any kind, was ready to turn the hunt over to me, lest he have to look at any more graffiti-smudged, poo-closeted, tiny-roomed houses with complicated floor plans.

Next time:  why would someone pave over their entire backyard?

Reading:  The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Playing:  Pressure Chief by Cake (sound warning)


  1. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Maybe the apparently now-falling interest rates will help enlarge your list of possibilities?
    Good luck!

  2. Oh dear cod you went HOUSE HUNTING! I had no idea! I'm so painfully excited for you! Does this mean this long, drawn out, exciting tale ends with a PURCHASE?! Are you just taunting us? (And dude. I'm loving your taste in houses and totally feeling you on the negatives of houses. And the one with the bedroom issue pisses me off because I loooooove it otherwise!)

  3. My grandmother told me that her father would often threaten to 'pave the yard and paint it green' so he wouldn't have to mow it any more.

  4. I'm sorry, but I had to chuckle reading that you were disappointed at not finding a house so soon after starting. This is written in the past tense, though, so maybe you have already found The One? It took me three months and about 50 houses to find the perfect one. I never thought it would be so arduous and spiritbreaking at times!

  5. technically the bibliophile looked at 4 houses. she just ended up buying the first one she saw. there was a second trip that ended after one house because it was so disappointing she didn't want to look at any more.

  6. There are only a few colors allowed in the craftsman crayon box, and these previous owners have used other colors. No. It's just wrong to get a craftsman house with bright blue walls. Some of them picked an acceptable red. but as for the rest you need to look here:
    (And tear that scalloped business right off. Then buy some paint and paint over the graffiti - no doubt some urchin broke in while it was empty, and the dog got in after that.)