Monday, May 21, 2012

For the love of a money pit

I'm ready to proclaim my love for a house to the world.  Here it is.  This is the house we want, desperately and unhealthily --

 Banister?  We don't need no stinkin' banister. 
We're just going to fall off our stairs like normal people.

We're calling the house Banister Abbey because it's big and old and all we do is discuss how to refurbish the circa-1903 banister of the staircase properly.  I should have taken those wood turning classes and purchased that secondhand lathe all those years ago.  That's not even a joke, my interests are truly that bizarre.


The moment I walked into the Open House at Banister Abbey, I began salivating like a dog with a t-bone and my heart started beating twice its normal speed.  I knew I was either in love with the house or in need of serious medical attention. 

Alex and I kept saying two things as we toured the house -- "My God, this house is incredible" and "My God, this house is a mess."  For all the work needed, the list price wasn't cheap.  Alex and I always said we could do anything from an expensive house that didn't need any work to a cheap house that needed a ton of work.  But you'd really have to be an idiot to buy an expensive house that needed a ton of work.  HA HA,  I MEAN WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLE WOULD DO THAT?

But as we loaded the kids back into the car after the Open House, I turned to Alex and said, "I'm not done. I have to go back inside" and Al said "Me too" and then we ran back to the house in slow motion holding hands with sappy music playing in the background.  At that point, we both knew it was a done deal.  We were the assholes.


The inspection Friday morning was as depressing as we thought it would be.  A 110-year-old house, even with the large amounts of work already completed by the current owner, is bound to need some help.  Here's how the inspection went:

MJ:  How's the roof?
Inspector:  Pretty good except it's slowly sliding off the house.  It's really more of a sunroof.
MJ:  Lovely. That will really brighten the place.

MJ:  I'm impressed with the work the seller has already done on the house.
Inspector:  Me too.  And even better -- he did it all incorrectly.
Me:  God bless him.

MJ:  How about that top-of-the-line washer and dryer?  Pretty great, right?
Inspector:  The very impressive washer is leaking into the wall.  The dryer is a gas dryer and is being vented into the house.  It is going to kill the entire family because there are no carbon monoxide detectors. 
MJ:  Mmmm.... fumey. 
Inspector:  The good news is the carbon monoxide can only kill you if the improperly terminated wiring doesn't get you first.
MJ:  It'll be like a fun little race. 

MJ:  I really love all that additional storage space in the basement.
Inspector:  Do you love all the raccoons and possums playing cards down there right now, too?
MJ:  Fine with me as long as they brought the beer. 

MJ:  How's the garage?  My husband is looking forward to turning the garage into a home gym.
Inspector:  What a great idea!  It will be awesome until it collapses on him because the whole thing is rotten.
MJ:  Well until then, it's really going to be something. 

MJ:  So how much do I owe you for the inspection?
Inspector:  How much you got?  Then double it and write the check for that amount.
MJ:  OK, great, a win-win!

And this is the conversation I had with Al later that day:

MJ:  Al, you and I may be the only two people in the city batshit crazy enough to take on this house.
Al:   Agreed.
MJ:  Let's do it.
Al:   Obvious.


The husband-and-wife inspection duo wished us luck as they left.  The woman half of the pair told me despite its issues, the house was one of her favorites in twenty years in the business.  She said when she first walked into the front hall, she thought,  "Wow. This is like the War of the Roses house."  Then I said, "Don't they both die at the end when they fall off the chandelier during a messy divorce?" and she said, "Well not that part."

The good news is our chandelier isn't big enough to hold both me and Al, no matter how mad we are at each other, and if we fell we would at worst break a limb, not die.  And besides, this house doesn't remind me of War of the Roses -- it much more closely resembles The Money Pit.


Wish us luck.  Again.  We are still in negotiations with the sellers as we continue our inspections and discover more problems.  Overpaying for the house is not an option given the amount of work needed, which will keep us busy until we're eighty years old and possibly bankrupt us to the point of eating beans out of tin cans three meals a day.

But mark my words -- this house is going to be incredible.

Abracadabra,
MJ

56 comments:

  1. So is this the Goddamned House, or an alternative?

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    1. This is different, different, different. We haven't given up on buying the Goddamn House, though. It will make a fine rental property -- but we no longer care about living there. Once we saw that banister-less staircase, our heart belonged to another.

      Houses are funny like that.

      Sorry I haven't been replying to comments lately, posse. I'm reading them all, lovin' them all, just usually too stressed out to respond. I'm using up all my energy on my twitching.

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  2. that house is awesome...keep posting pictures! many good wishes and much good luck! :)

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! I will certainly have more photos. Buying a house is like having a newborn baby. You just can't stop taking pictures and showing them to people, no matter how annoying the world thinks you are.

      Take care, R.

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  3. That house is unbelievable. It's a really grand lady, isn't it? Or should I say she?

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    1. Oh, the house is definitely a she, she is unbelievable, and she's been waiting for a couple suckers just like us to wander by, get hooked, and fix her up. We'll do it, house!

      A friend of ours recently told us he would be disappointed if our living situation ever became reasonable. We're so glad we're not letting him down.

      Best to you, Lou!

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    2. We bought our money pit over five years ago and love, love, love it! Hope this house is all you dream it will be. Ours is a summer home and we are still not finished....but getting close. Have fun!

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  4. You've never taken the easy way out...why start now?!

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  5. Although fairly certain you chose that house purely for sustainable blog fodder, it's gorgeous and exciting and wheeeeeeeee! Can't wait to follow along with your Money Pit adventures. Hope you yelled dibs on some ridiculously cute light-filled room overlooking a big ol' leafy tree as your writing spot (a.k.a. Room Where The Magic Happens).

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    1. It's true, I only love the house for what it can do for me -- provide me with endless hours of ridiculous things to write about. Oh, how we'll chuckle when the old sewer pipe ruptures!

      I told Al I needed a "Room where the magic happens" and he thought I meant something else. He was especially concerned when I told him he wouldn't be allowed in.

      Bye, Bec, hugs.

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    2. At our house the only place where magic happens is a laptop-sized area of the kitchen table not covered in the kids' junk. Now I just need to find somewhere to write...

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  6. just lovely and with all my heart...GOOD LUCK- like my mom used to say "It will all work out." and you know what it always did....it will be fab just like you guys....let the stories -blog fodder-and memories begin-a huge hooray for you guys!!!

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    1. Thanks, G. I think it will all work out, too. It's not our first fixer -- though it's definitely the biggest -- and while sometimes it feels the pain and sheetrock dust will never end, they do end, about ten seconds before you leave to go live in France. Then you never get to live in your completed home. But still, it worked out.

      There will probably be more mention of the house in upcoming posts. A guess.

      Thanks for stopping by, G.

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  7. Congratulations! Your place looks excellent. We happen to be moving into our own charming money suck next week, assuming the bathroom's back online. Look forward to seeing your pics. Are you all over pinterest? It's got some glorious house-porn.

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    1. Samt! Thanks! Good luck with your Money Pit -- we can share stories and long distance drinks. Pinterest is addictive. I could spend hours on there looking at stuff but I always forget to pin it so never find the good stuff again. I'm a novice, but will figure it out eventually.

      Bye, Samt, and GOOD LUCK with your move next week.

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  8. I can totally "see" it. Bravo, you crazy bastards. I think you made a great choice, despite the nightmares of restoration ahead. This looks like a forever house.

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    1. You got the vision, Lisa? Excellent. We've got the vision, too. It feels like the right choice regardless of the insanity.

      A forever house for sure.
      Bye, bold one.

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  9. Before you do anything, bring in a contractor and have him estimate how much to fix all the things that are broken. Old houses cost money. You need to know how much before you settle on a price. Lead paint? Asbestos insulation? Cloth wiring? Be super sure you know what you're getting into.

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    1. Hi Anon. We've got one. A contractor extraordinaire. He's been with me through inspections and is helping us put a plan together with some $$ figures (more like $$$$). He's been invaluable.

      We did our first home by ourselves, without a contractor. Never again. At least we learned something from all that pain.

      The current owner did the gutting part, and did a lot of the rebuilding work very well, so we're not that screwed, just partially screwed.

      You have experience in old houses, or a contractor yourself, perhaps? If you're a house fixer, tell me all about it....
      Bye

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  10. All you really need are few potted plants, a statement area rug, and some tasteful etchings, and you're ready for entertainin'!

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    1. And a banister. Drunks friends falling off stairs could be ugly.

      Cracked up at "tasteful etchings." So thanks for that,
      Bye, Mrs. H!

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  11. Twitching IS energy-consuming!

    Sitting in the Ottawa condo as I type this:) Our boxes just arrived from The Hague (it took a week exactly!). Getting ready to paint now that we're done cleaning the pigsty that was left to us (welcome home, suckers!) - oh and thanks to my stellar property manager, we walked in to find a thermostat at 26 celcius in the dining room... and it had been left at 26 C since late November! I will need a second mortgage just to pay the hydro bill! Useless wanker!

    Oh well! But it's good to be home! I didn't feel even a twinge of reverse culture shock. The morning after we'd arrived, it felt as though we'd never left... It's hard to believe that we were gone for two years!

    I'm really glad you've finally found a house after your own heart:) Ahhhhhhhhh real-estate porn!:) I can now indulge in HGTV and Seattle Moxie to get my fix (it's a veritable addiction;))!

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    1. Hey, welcome back home! Feels pretty good, yeah? I'm glad you're not suffering any for the change of scenery. Kinda like putting on an old comfy pair of jeans, isn't it?

      Rough news on your renters. Renters are always a crapshoot. Yours sure were toasty warm, though!

      OK, back to twitching. Negotiations are tense over here. Seller not happy we dropped our offer price after our inspections. Not happy, not happy. I'd cross my fingers some more but I'm too tired.

      Hugs, D.

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  12. You used the right adjective several times in this blog. One
    should never use the word 'house' without the word 'moneypit'. My main beef of the older victorian houses is the acoustics. They usually have an echo chamber effect that make any music studio producer envious. If Alex sang 'Call It A Trap' during morning shower, it would send Elvis lovers into the rapture, as well as giving him an outlet to express his buyer's remorse. But you'll
    never see the incredible craftsmanship anywhere else. With the the house inspection results, it sounds like you've got enough
    ammunition to Presbyterian them down a few thousand.

    The stairway to heaven (I mean that in a macbre way) should be
    looked into. And the standard, cookie-cutter Home Depot stuff won't work in this place. But no matter what, if the economics are right, go for it.

    Be careful of those tinned beans in your octogenarian years.
    I've lost several elderly friends recently from tainted cat food.

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    1. All right, Bill, who the hell are you? You are a funny, funny dude.

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    2. I sent an email to your gmail address explaining the particulars of my life. A life of adventure and non-stop sex and danger and relating my proudest achievement, my role of being the behind the scenes person most responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall. Not bad for a pizza delivery guy.

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    3. Bill, pizza guy, I didn't get the email. This has led me to the discovery the email address I had on the blog is a dud. Not working. Not receiving. Hate you sometimes, Google. If anyone else ever emailed me at that address, I didn't get it. I wonder who did? A really confused person, perhaps.

      Sooooo.... try this. Copy that whole email you just sent me and email it to seattlemoxieblog1@gmail.com. (note the "1", I'm changing up the address, see if it delivers...)

      I'll hear your story yet, Bill.

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    4. OK, maybe 2nd time is the charm.
      I'm in olefactory pain right now as I have a anchovy and onion pizza to deliver. In spite of that I just resent the email to the new address. I did note the number "1".
      I'll bet there is a confused person out there somewhere.
      On my previous email, I got the normal 'Mail sent and saved" message.

      Delete
  13. It is incredibly gorgeous. It is exactly the house I would buy if I was into the whole renovation thing. Yes, "the whole renovation thing" = short for "crazy", but I am trying to be polite. Or hide my insane jealousy. I love older homes like these.

    Sigh. back to my cookie cutter suburbia house.

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    1. Adrianne! We'll be sure to have you over if we ever get the house. You can come to the "idiots did it again" party!

      No worries about being polite here. People who enjoy fixing up old houses have to be a little crazy because the work is long and tedious and one step forward, two steps back. Sometimes it works out well in the end, which is all you can hope for.

      Bye!

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  14. Oh it's gorgeous or will be, the possibilities are endless. Good luck! Keep the beer and wine flowing, I think you're going to need it.

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    1. Hey Al, Tara just told me to have a beer! I knew I loved that Tara...

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  15. How could you NOT have bought it?! I can feel the charm in the photos.

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    1. Amen, sister. Haven't bought it yet, but hopeful.

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  16. Oh...Dear...God...Woman, the War of the Roses comment had me shooting rosé out of my nose. That's right Girlfriend. Frenchie wine. LOVE the house, and love all the possibilities. Can't wait until you invite us over for a BBQ.

    Missing you here,
    StayingPositive

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    1. Staying Positives, you are always welcome in whatever home we buy for a bbq. It will be a very expensive bbq for you requiring a trans-Atlantic flight, but I promise there will be good beer. (Or French wine if that's still your thing.)

      Hugs to you all.

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  17. How could you NOT have bought it?! It looks gorgeous now. Once you tart it up, it will be spectacular.

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    1. Hey, Bev, there you are again!

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  18. WOO HOO!! See? I had you pegged as old-house people. :) That house sounds like a fine old lady that just needs a lot of love. I know you will be the crazywonderful people to love the heck out of it, and turn her into something truly fine. After all, you've got the moxie, right? Can't wait to see what kind of crazy blog posts this will lead to, hahahaha.

    Soooo, which pic was it from the previous post? I mean, the bannister-less stairs photo in the previous blog really does not seem to be the same staircase... But I do recognize the bannister-less staircase from the post before that one. I'm just curious if I picked the right picture is all (I chose that kitchen one because it looked like an old place). You know, it felt kind of like a contest or something, and I wanna win (lol).

    Hugs to Coco, Loosh & you and Al. BTW, I used your vacuum cleaner again today. I love the heck out of that thing, and I send you good juju ever time I use it (as I think, "This thing ROCKS!" and then send you good tidings). I had better vacuum a lot in the coming months. I think you are going to need the juju. :p

    xoxo
    Karin

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    1. Karin. You got it, woman, we are old house people. More like oooooooold house people. Older the better. But also the more complicated.

      As far as the "contest" goes -- on the Underwear Head post, it is indeed the second photo, the unfinished staircase. That staircase goes from the second floor landing to the third floor, which is a renovated attic space.

      For the Parade of Homes post, there were two photos -- the banister-less staircase, of course, and the kitchen shot with the cream-colored cabinetry, facing out into the dining room towards the front door. Got it?

      You go with that vacuum, girl. We will certainly need the juju. (One must wonder whatever became of the attachments to that thing?)

      Bye, Karin. We miss you.

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    2. P.S. The picture you chose is the house that had the dead-eyed pitbull in the basement. ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME, KARIN???

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  19. Love love it...the stairs...the landings..that fireplace...the chandiler......amazing

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  20. The house had me at the missing banister and grand entrance. I am in love with the house! It looks great! Congrats! Can't wait to read about the renovations.

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    1. Thanks, CRouse. I love it, too. Hope the seller gets wise and agrees to come down on the price a smidge. I'd hate to have to dole out the knuckle sandwiches this early in the A.M.

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  21. I. Heart. The. Windows. With. Those. Criss-Crossy Beam Thingys. AMAZING! Can't wait to see the finished product! Congrats! We just bought a house, but it's sadly not an old fixer - we love those but we do NOT have the stamina. Instead we caved and are joining suburbuia albeit in a really awesome house we love (and it's 20 years old, so at least it has some friggin' trees. March on, brave warriors!!

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    1. YES. The criss-crossy beamy things.

      Thanks, LBMeister, we will continue to fight the fight. This house is way old but someone cut down all the way old and big trees about six years ago. We're not sure why, sure wish they hadn't, house looks a little nekkid without them.

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  22. "Banister? We don't need no stinkin' banister. We're just going to fall off our stairs like normal people."
    HAHAHAH you kill me and just at the first paragraph!! LOL can't stop laughing, great post!

    The house is AMAZING, tons of character, but yup, it's gonna cost you!!

    Good luck dears!
    :)

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    1. Thanks Sylvia. House says, "show me the money."

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  23. Batshit crazy and we love you for it. When you, Al and the kids need a hit of protein give us a call. We're always good for a meal.

    Personally, I love the little second floor bridgy thingy across the entry.

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    1. Hi C, you batshit crazy right along with me, girl. Yes, we will have some meals at your place because we may be too poor to feed ourselves. House is gonna kick ass, though.

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    2. ...and don't think I don't see KM in that fireplace shot. Jealous. Jealous. Jealous. can't wait for a viewing. More importantly, will one of the rooms become your "blog office" so you'll start writing Every. Single. Day. Just like the wonder years in Paris? Pretty please?

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    3. You have eagle eyes! K came to give me a little moral support during the inspection. You will have your viewing mid-June, my friend, if I have my way. Will certainly keep you posted.

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