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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Real estate angst

I finally had the opportunity to see inside the house I want. There's a good reason it's at least $20,000 cheaper than anything else in the area: the interior is a dump.

Mind you, I sort of wanted a dump, because I would like to be able to fix a house and build equity. This house is going to need a lot of work, though, and I can't do all of it myself. Here's my list of things to do, should I end up purchasing this house.

  1. Hire a skip.

  2. Put useless detritus in skip. This includes a mattress, and a bunch of rotting wood and house parts under the porch at the front of the house.

  3. Strip the horrific wallpaper from all the walls ... and the goddamn ceilings. This will also take care of the fact that the walls and ceilings appear to be covered in 40 years of cigarette tar. I thought at first that the wallpapers were all brown, but after looking more closely, it seems more likely that they were other colors originally.

  4. Paint the walls. Nice, flat, solid, light shades, such as white. God fucking damn, I hate wallpaper.

  5. Pull up the carpet. This won't be difficult, since the carpet isn't actually properly laid, but just lying on the floorboards. That's a good thing, though - the carpets are as cancerous as the walls and ceilings.

  6. Carpet the living room, dining room, and two bedrooms properly with some decent durable carpet in a light color which isn't too expensive. Carpet the stairs, which are currently bare.

  7. Rearrange the kitchen. At some point, someone thought it would be a good idea to install the stove in the worst possible position to waste the maximum amount of space. Thus, rearranging the kitchen may entail doing something to the gasline.

  8. Replace the linoleum in the kitchen and the bathroom. Maybe I could even tile the bathroom.

  9. Reattach the rainwater gutters, which are loose at the back and make it difficult to open the back door.

  10. The electricity might be a bit old and dodgy, though I'm not sure. In any case, it would be good to get new light fixtures, since some of current ones are really pointless.

  11. Install laundry hookups in the basement, or in the outside storage room.

  12. Landscape the front and back garden. There's a nice picnic table out there, but the garden is a shithole. Maybe put up a picket fence in back to separate it from the neighbor's garden, also a shithole.

  13. Fix the lattice that skirts the house.

  14. Repaint the exterior, especially at the rear.

  15. Here's one that I really can't do without help: create new windows. The house is an end rowhome, so one wall is completely blank with no windows, making it darker than my liking inside. However, there's a driveway between the house and the next one, so it would be possible to benefit from some windows on that side. I have no idea what the costs and provisions are for punching two (or even four) new windows through a brick wall.

There's also the matter of the roof - I have no idea how good it is. At some point, it has leaked, but that may be fixed (or not). Oh, and also ... there are these exposed pipes in the dining room, and I have no idea what they are for. They run floor to ceiling; there's a sewer pipe and two copper pipes (water? gas?). I am most confused by them, since there isn't a bathroom, or any kind of gas fixture upstairs. Why the hell are they there?

So, yes, there is a buttload of things to fix. Part of me is asking if it's worth it, and part of me is arguing that if I have to travel any further to college, I'm going to kick myself in a year's time. This is the only house we can afford for miles that isn't a mobile home.

We're making them an offer $8,000 below their asking price, or perhaps more. We'll see what comes of it.

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