The Shelter Saga: Part 1

I stopped blogging about our home-buying experiences because I felt like I’d jinx our progress if I told too many people about each step. I found the entire vexing, labyrinthine process too emotionally upsetting to process effectively, anyway. Thus, radio silence. The last time I was brave enough to mention the house hunt on my blog, we were Pregnant With A House. Shortly after I posted that (not inaccurate) observation, our ‘pregnancy’ took some unexpected turns.

We scheduled a home inspection and Radon test with Bob of Inspector House Calls, LLC. He managed to fit in the inspection the very same day, a highly unlikely stroke of good luck. He said the inspection would take about 3 hours, and asked me to meet him when he was almost finished with the inspection, so he could show me what he found.

Bob points out the nice draping effect of the roof line.

I showed up with my camera in hand, and he proceeded to give me a tour of the property, showing off all of its ‘flaws’. He saw me take a couple of pictures and mentioned that he had photographed everything, and it would “all be in the report”, along with the answers to many of the questions I asked (which was quite a few). He was friendly, very quick, extremely knowledgeable, and his report appeared in my e-mail inbox that same evening.

He was even more thorough than I had imagined. The report was 56 pages long, and formatted very nicely. There were at least 50 color photos included throughout, each one labeled and captioned with an explanation of what it was showing us, and even little arrows pointing to items of particular interest. I felt like I got my $350’s worth out of it, in any case.

The mud room and back porch were held up on “barrels and blocks.” What?!

The problem with the inspection report was: it brought up some major problems that needed to be fixed ASAP. The radon testing revealed a higher-than-safe number, water was leaking around the sewer vent pipe and needed to be stopped immediately, it would need a new roof in the next 2 years or so, the main water pipe in the basement looked like it would disintegrate at any point, and a number of other issues needed to be addressed.

Tim and I had already come up with a laundry list of things we wanted to do to the place, such as finishing the attic, adding a bathroom to the second story, relocating the back door, and adding a garage. We decided that the changes we wanted to make and the ones that needed to be done right away would easily exceed $30,000. At that rate, it made more sense to spend that much more on a house that didn’t need any of those changes. We’d have higher payments initially, but we wouldn’t have to do the work or live through the hassle of continual repairs and remodels.

So, we used failing the inspection as a good reason to walk away from that house, and kept looking. It was a real letdown. I was discouraged, but the kids were totally disappointed and confused. Wasn’t that going to be our new house? If it wasn’t, where were we going to live?

Yes, I made the mistake of showing the house to the kids after the offer was accepted. I thought we were most of the way through the process, and the house was nearly ours! HAH. Fool that I was.

The thing about Waukon’s real estate market (if you can call it that) is…. It’s tiny. And most of the houses that were for sale started at $50,000 beyond our price range. There were one or two crack shack-type places swirling at around the $70,000 mark, but they were all too small for our family. There did just happen to be one place, though…. ONE. It had opened up that week and was priced right at the teetering edge of the tippy-top of our price range. Our real estate agent made an appointment to take a look, while I stalked the listing on her website, and fantasized about the kitchen.

The quest continues in The Shelter Saga: Part 2.

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