Friday, September 11, 2009

The big purchase

For a good couple of weeks after returning home, we debated endlessly. I wanted it. He didn't. Just when I was about to give up, he'd light the fire again by suggesting that maybe he was into it. I'd get all revved up again, and we'd go back and forth, back and forth.

Eventually we decided to put in a really lowball offer, just to see what happened. The asking price was $39,500. We figured that if we could get it for way less, it might just be worth it. We contacted agent Mike and let him know we were coming through with an offer after all, but that it would be a lowball. I drafted an email for him to show the vendor, detailing all the things the house needed immediately and wild guesses about what it would all cost. We figured the highest we'd be willing to go was $28,000. So we put in an offer at...wait for it...$19,500. I felt ballsy and daring, and thought we might just get flat-out rejected. The optimist in me thought that we might get lucky though (or would that be unlucky??!).

The counter offer came back (a good sign). The vendor came down a lot, to $24,500. I was ready to just sign the dotted line right then and there, but Chris, ever the cheapskate, thought we should try and get it lower. We countered at $22,000 and then finally settled at $23,000. I couldn't believe it. We'd just bought a house (albeit a total dump) for $23,000. In PEI, like we'd always wanted.

Fast forward two months to mid-July, and we had another $500 knocked off the final price for the plumbing not being hooked up in the bathroom. The water test had checked out fine, and we were driving down to the Island again with an appointment with a lawyer for the Monday after we arrived. We'd be picking up the key to our new house. Lots of plans in our heads and a line of credit burning a hole in our pockets!

Heading home (disappointed...maybe)

When Chris got back to the house after the inspection, he was raring to hit the road as soon as possible, a day earlier than planned and only a day after we'd arrived. Apparently the news all over the radio was that a major winter storm was coming and that if we didn't get out ASAP, we'd be stuck here, possibly for days. We raced back to the cottage, packed up and hit the road without looking back. We stopped near Fredericton for dinner and made it to Woodstock for the night. During all the driving, we didn't say much about the house. I do remember Chris saying at one point, "You'd have to pay ME to take that house!" It was pretty much over. We were both disappointed, but kind of relieved. However, I still couldn't stop thinking about it, and now that I'd seen the inside, thinking about how great it could be. But I kept my thoughts to myself.

That night in the hotel I could hardly sleep. I just couldn't make myself stop going over each room, even the yard, thinking what could be done, how the house could be saved. The next day, driving through Quebec, I admitted to Chris that I still thought, just maybe, I know it's crazy, you're going to kill me, but I kind of still wanted the house. Thankfully he didn't divorce me on the spot.

The Inspection

The house inspection at this point seemed like a waste of money, but we were prepared to accept that. We had to have our first and only look at the house, and the inspection, all at once. We were planning on heading back home the next day so this was our only chance to do it all.

Once we met the inspector, we decided that the kids had had enough running around a dangerous, cold house and snowy, cold yard. Chris loaded them into the car and took off for Summerside for McDonalds and Wal-mart - two places guaranteed to keep them entertained for a while. Agent Mike also had to go to another showing, so I was left on my own to face the inspection. I zipped my coat higher and started the exterior walk-around with the inspector.

There were no surprises here. The roof shingles were badly curled on one side and needed replacing. This was visible to even the most untrained eye, aside from the fact that we now knew the roof had leaked in the bathroom. The old shingled siding badly needed painting, and some areas probably needed replacing too. The front door sill was rotted entirely away at one end. Windowsills were spongy in some spots and needed replacing or at least a good coat of paint. The old oil tank was rusty and would definitely need replacing. (Oil companies in PEI now can't even fill an oil tank unless it's been inspected and tagged.) The foundation, however, seemed fine.

Inside, the inspector didn't point out much that wasn't already glaringly obvious. The house needed to be rewired with a new upgraded panel. The two furnaces in the basement were now good for scrap metal only. The plumbing needed repair but was actually a bit of a mystery since it hadn't been connected in time for the showing. We could see that the toilet was actually not even connected to the water supply. There was some water damage on the window interior frames. Perhaps the only good news was that the stove and fridge were relatively new (like, say, 10 years old) and seemed to work fine.

He offered some suggestions for fixing the leaky basement, none of which sounded cheap. He warned against doing simple patch-job cosmetic fixes to the house, rather than tearing it up and fixing it properly. I didn't even think it was possible to just cosmetically fix the place. It was bad. He did a lot of head-shaking. I wrote him the cheque and he was just packing up when Chris returned with the boys.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Showing, part 3

As we ascended the stairs, we could see the floors in the upstairs hallway had been covered over by newer plywood subfloor some years ago. Nothing else shocking in the upstairs hallway. It had a charming little window at floor level that allowed some natural light into the space. It was also a fairly decent-sized hallway:

The bedrooms were a mixed bag. Two of them were pretty bad, having had their walls partially torn out and not yet fixed. One room had had the original plaster removed, but the lath was still in place and covered over partially with ugly 1970s faux wood panelling. Yucky stuff. Again, layers of stained and rather hideous wallpaper covered any intact walls. Flooring was also a mix. In the two bad bedrooms, layers of old linoleum were laid on top of the original wide-plank pine subfloors. And one of the worst parts is that these two rooms were missing all of their original trim. Only the battered old original doors were there, but without doorknobs. Here are those two rooms:

The other two bedrooms were better, but hardly charming. The largest room was sort of L-shaped, and would likely be considered the "master" bedroom. It had old pink wallpaper on most walls, and a wall or two of badly peeling paint. Aside from that though, the original wood floors were intact and in decent shape, and all the trim was in place:

The fourth and final bedroom was also in fairly good shape. It was a long, narrow room with a closet in one corner. The wallpaper was circa-1980s pink with rainbows (exactly the kind of wallpaper I would have coveted when I was a girl). Again, the floors and trim in this room were largely fine:

The bathroom was next. After the kitchen, we were somewhat prepared. And we've seen some bad bathrooms in our lifetime. It turned out that the roof had leaked, and was still leaking, in the bathroom area. The room was bright and had a dormer window. It was very small but workable, and everything fit in a logical layout. But the ceiling was partially coming down, with mouldy bits of insulation and drywall falling all over the place. The plastic tub/shower surround was coming away from the wall and it looked like nobody had dared take a shower there for years. The sink sat on chrome legs and the toilet wasn't even connected. But still, it could be worse. All the fixtures were white, after all, rather than sky blue or pink. But it was definitely a gut job no matter what. Brace yourself:

OUCH. This is about when Chris was ready to throw in the towel. It became a bit obvious that we were going to be walking away.

But still, the house inspector was due to arrive at any minute, so at the very least we were going to be out about $300 to have the place checked out. We quickly dashed down to the basement, only to find that the entire lower level was flooded with about four to six inches of water. Two ancient furnaces (one oil, one wood) sat partially submerged in the flood, clearly unusable and possibly even a fire and safety hazard. We went back up to the main level and that's when agent Mike asked us, " it what you expected?"

I answered simply, "It's worse than I thought it would be."

That's about when the house inspector arrived.