Mulling Over Houses


 Home is wherever you leave everything and never question that it will be there when you return
- Leo Christopher


Our current house has bad vibes, mostly because of familial problems stemming from before Mum's death. Jeff cites this as a good reason to move. I agree, but everywhere I look in our price range has tattletale flaws covered up by shiny bling. 

The defects are there: a recently laid laminate floor that takes a dip where the fridge is supposed to be; freshly painted basements where the mold dots the corners; cabinets under sinks left slightly open to vent the nasty smell of wet wood; bedrooms so damn small that my desk would fill the entire room; a fenced yard that isn't actually fenced; a garage slowly sliding off its cracked foundation. It's endless.

How can I detect these things from listing photographs? I suffer from OCD. Look at the property history: if it recently sold for under $50k and is now listed at $100k+, there is extensive cosmetic work. Pull up the listing on a map: check out the street view to see what it looked like before the cute walkways were put in, and look at the lot size and slope. Pro tip: some listings give a clear view of the roof, so look for soft spots if it hasn't been recently redone, and then inspect the upper floor/attic in person to look for leaks there. The effort goes beyond this, but nobody wants to read all that.

I was cautious when looking for a home in 2005. I had a checklist that needed to be met. I found the perfect home on the perfect lot, with perfect views from a massive back deck, and old world charm running rampant within. 

Applying this same meticulous mindset now... well, you get our current house with decent monthly mortgage payment. The bank is happy to refinance to move us to a VA loan... and all we need to do to pass inspection is fix the fucking bathroom upstairs, put GFCI outlets in the kitchen, and repaint the basement from hell on acid. Tossing new carpet on the stairs and landing is a bonus. Boom! The house, valued at $60k is now worth $140k. Want to increase the property value even more? Add a bathroom on the main floor, with washer and dryer hookup. Want to put it above $195k? Add a fucking bedroom to the main floor. A house with a $60k mortgage would be $210k - because of the house, the fenced yard, the newer roof, the new AC, proximity to the highway, etc.

I don't hate this house too much. It needs work, sure. But I wonder if making it our own would dispel those bad vibes... well, dispel them while we have the work done. And I won't have my mimosa tree again, or anything worthwhile beyond the dogwood out back.


I've spent a few eternities mulling over the house's color scheme. I now have the paint - except for the two cans of a "not dromedary" color, and the  above tan color the one I actually want for the downstairs. Ffffff----. (The wallpaper was a foyer sort of afterthought.)

So do we strip out the bad vibes to settle the chi, or do we sell for $60k (no bathroom fix) and look for something with similar flaws? I've thought about it for two days. I really want to cleanse the bad vibes. And I want to get the foundation for the bathroom up; further construction can take place during the fall and winter.

Let's go back to that OCD checklist:

  • Location needs to offer quick access to the things we enjoy or need. This house meets that.
  • Good-sized bedrooms that can be used for an office and hobby room. This house meets that.
  • A nice downstairs floor plan. Oh hell yea. This house meets that.
  • Handicap accessible. It has a ramp. The ramp is ugly. The addition will put a nicer ramp in the back yard. Either way, This house meets that.
  • Place for flower beds and a fire pit. This house meets that.
  • Vinyl fencing. This house meets that.
  • Ample parking. This house meets that.
  • A/C. This house meets that.
  • Full basement? This house meets that.
  • Old world charm inside? This house meets that.
  • Work bench in basement or garage. This house meets that.
  • Large living room that can actually be a spot to live in? This house meets that.
  • Garage. This house meets that.
  • Can an existing room on the main floor be converted into a bedroom for later-life ease. This house meets that.
  • A large kitchen with ample room. No. But the addition will solve that.
  • Concrete front porch. No.
  • A large tree, like a maple or oak or mimosa. No.

The list goes on. You get the gist of it. I can live without a tree. I can live with enclosing the front porch to use as an outdoor room. It's cheap to do, actually. And the kitchen issue would be solved by the addition.

How much would that addition cost? Roughly $30k, and that covers the walls foundation, the insulation, the plumbing, the roof. I could add a new washer and dryer and gas stove once construction is done.

The house itself has come a long way from the condition my parents bought in in. Ew is ew.


My greatest fear is that we'll blow through the $50k before getting the work done or purchase another home. We've already made purchases that dropped it by almost $4. I want to go with a VA loan refinance or buy new, meaning we need to contribute $8k towards that goal. We need to not spend anything beyond paying for Mum's cremation. Not until we know what direction we need to go.