Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pre-listing repair frustrations

While I've been waiting for the bidding period to end for the house I made the offer on, I've been looking at other houses. Today, I went with my agent to see a nice Tudor at the lower end of our budget.

The interior was very different from what I had expected - more Art Deco than Tudor. The kitchen was tiled in yellow and green, with many original cabinets, as was the breakfast room. The kitchen even included a massive, tiled exhaust hood for the stove. There were nice built ins and details in the dining room. The first floor bathroom was tiled in green and purple, and the second floor ones, in pink and green. The tile work was clearly original and mostly in good condition. The wood casement windows, also original, operated well, and even included all the original storms and screens. They even had a crank mechanism that was inserted through the screen, allowing the opening and closing of the windows without removal of the screen. There was plenty of ugly carpeting and wallpaper to remove as well as walls to repaint, but nothing major.

All in all, it seemed like a decent house with some potential. There were some issues, but all things that could be corrected with time. If we don't get the house we put in the offer on, this house seems worth considering.

Then, at home, I looked at the fact sheet, prepared by the seller, detailing the work that was done in the past year. Much of it was mechanical upgrades, which I completely support. Then, I realized that all of the things that had mucked up these perfect rooms had been done to prepare the house for sale! All of the bathrooms had new toilets and sinks, and one a new shower. The new cabinets in the kitchen!

Yes, they'd taken out what were probably jadeite green toilets (though perhaps in the upstairs, pink), and replaced them with basic, boring stuff. I'm sure they did it because they were told they had to to sell the house. Not an unreasonable idea - how many people are there out there who want a pink or green toilet? But when you have a bright pink tiled bathroom, does a white toilet really make that much of a difference?

I know that the amount that this bothers me is excessive. But it seems so wrong, that the sellers spent all this money to fix up their house for sale, and I'm just going to have to spend even more money and time to unfix it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random questions

In my house research, many restoration questions have come to mind, for which I've either been unable to locate answers or simply failed to take the time to do so. These are those questions. If you have any answers or insight, I'd love to hear it.

Does anyone make wood windows to fit in the existing openings, without the additional tracks and junk associated with sash replacement kits? Ideally, these would be exact duplicates of the original windows, although perhaps additional provisions for weatherstripping might be in order.

Is it really important to have the top half of a double-hung window be operational? I've been considering the spring loaded pulleys that eliminate sash weights, which would allow insulating the area where the sash weights used to be. The problem is, said pulleys are rather expensive, and if I could fix the top halves of the windows in place and just have the bottom halves be functional, it would provide for considerable savings.

Is it possible to cut off a chunk of a concrete or asphalt driveway? Some of the houses that we've looked at have three car carages, and the driveway often encompasses a large part of the back yard. If we got one of these houses, A. would get one of the three garage spots, while the remainder would be used for my workshop. If I could remove part of the driveway in front of the workshop portion of the garage, it would make for more garden and green space.

Are there any decent looking GFI outlets? I could handle a GFI outlet that came with a custom cover, if that meant that there wasn't the ugly rectangle around it that is common with most GFI outlets. Alternately, one that is significantly less ugly than usual would do, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Design ideas, from the Cleveland Public Library collections

While evaluating the resources available to me at the library this afternoon, I came across some interesting drawings and blueprints. The following are a selection, from the Schweinfurth house:
kitchen pantry;
window and door details;
more window and door details;

Also, a photograph of the library.

This residence was built in the 1890s. The blueprints and drawings (more are available) provide a detailed document of the construction of a high-end house of the period.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Or not

The seller countered our offer with one that is 98% of the present asking price - rather considerably outside our budget. This does not bode well. Our offer remains open for a couple weeks, so there's still a chance. I don't think there's a huge chance, with things as they are right now, that there will be a better offer, it's just a matter of whether they'll actually take the best offer when the bidding period ends.

We're still looking elsewhere, but not nearly so hard. The question in my mind is only as to whether I can convince my wife that we really want to take on the enormous project of doom.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


We've made an offer on a different house.

Last weekend, I noticed a listing that I hadn't seen before, and which caught my eye, so we decided to do a drive-by. Much to our surprise, there was an open house, so we checked it out.

We made an offer yesterday. The seller is taking offers until the 8th, at which point she will take the best offer. Our offer is quite a bit lower than asking price, but it's as much as we can afford. Given the state of the market here and the fact that the house has been on the market since the beginning of 2006, I think we have a decent chance.

If this doesn't work out, A. wants to look at other houses like this one - ones that don't need so much work. While I respect that, if this doesn't work out, my heart is still set on the one I've been talking about rehabbing.

Now, the waiting.