house lists

Dec. 8th, 2011 01:05 pm
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to be fixed soon

dishwasher -- broken since...april? march?

sliding glass door to be reglazed

leak in the toilet upstairs

the someday/whenever list

curtains for the sliding glass door, curtains for p's room

zoned heating for all three floors

fireplace: install fan, insulate walls, fix ugly tiles, install a real mantle

replace hideous tiled kitchen counters

fan/lighting fixture for living room

install dimmer on the dining space light fixture

install peep hole in the front door

interior closet lights downstairs

install pull-out drawers in cupboards for better access

dream list

central air conditioning

rip out carpet, install wood floors in living room to match kitchen

re-do all kitchen cabinets to fix height & increase storage


what's on your list? i am a little exhausted just writing this all out. as is my savings account. though it's an improvement from earlier this year, when all i could think was "yuck" and "get me out" in relation to our condo.

i'm also exhausted thinking about these repairs...getting our homeowners' insurance to cover our sliding glass door took about two dozen phone calls (with me being *very* insistent) to move forward over a month's time, and meanwhile the dishwasher guy and the glass repair people NEVER call us back. is it because it's december? or because everyone is going out of business? ridiculous.
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another friday, another ill-advised hour wasted on zillow, creeping on houses i'm not buying, just dreaming about.

dear universe, i really like this one:

$200,000 in the southeast 50s.
2 bedrooms. a tiny 636 square feet.

but look, look:

tiny but well-ordered, open kitchen (exactly! yes! this!) and and and!!!

just look at that massive corner lot. all that space for street-adjacent plantings, never mind the yard itself for plantings, playing, etc.

i have to remind myself that it's not pointless to look at stuff-i-can't-have-right-now because it helps me figure out exactly what i do want, when the time comes.
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this weekend we hung bamboo roman shades in the living room to keep out the beastly afternoon sun, managing to keep the house at least under 80°. but we still had to escape on saturday to watch a movie and then get dinner at a bar. here are the shades and our new hutch (online catalog only from target):

at the movies (star trek), we saw previews for the new transformers, harry potter, year one (michael cera ♥), g.i. joe, and tim burton's 9, all of which i want to see. i really enjoy the summer movie season, now that vaguely good directors are doing all the smashup/hero/80s-revisit films. at least our hours of blissful air conditioning are entertaining.


i keep trying to find a good swimming place around here, and there doesn't seem to be any good lakes. whyyyyy. apparently this is why everyone drives an hour east to the sandy river (which is FREEZING COLD because it is direct snowpack melt from mt hood). i don't want to have to drive eight billion miles to get in the water, because then we might as well drive to the coast and go to the ocean. i miss all the lovely lakes of connecticut. or triangle pond, where my grandmother's cabin is. we live near the willamette river (it's seven superfund sites in one!) and various other sluggish/unswimmable rivers. like clackamette, where two people drowned recently. or the trashy tualatin river. gross.

lake lake i want a nice clean lake. i'll take a large pond in a pinch.

i was complaining about this to my mom yesterday and she said we are kind of screwed, living so close to the cascades. it's all rivers, down to the sea, or deserts. i say boo hiss hey oregon where is my swimmin lake motherfucker.
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a few more on flickr. the yard is blooming just as we are starting to pack up the house for the move. this morning i said to kirk, "don't other people move into their houses once they buy them?" it's been a long time coming, but the final paperwork will be on monday, we think. this weekend we have to buy a ton of boxes, get rid of a growing pile of donations. i have a list of things to pack, and a whole plan for what items will go where in the new house (to make it easier for the movers). we just need to get started, and that requires boxes. we got rid of so many when we moved, and all we seem to have left are item-specific boxes, or the giant c+b boxes that are for fragile kitchen stuff.
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as you can see, the nay votes have it.

farewell blue house, we hardly knew thee.
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so kirk and i went to see the victorian house again, with regret in our hearts. this house is not meant to be ours; like all good decisions, the more i think about it the better i feel.

the main issue with this house was money. there are lots of smaller projects to be done, but there is a large group of projects that are so expensive and far-ranging that they make my head ache. they cannot really be done one without the other:

new foundation (inadequate supports, timbers resting on wet ground)
new electrical system (1940s or much earlier)
new plumbing (also from 1940)
gut remodel would be good at this point, to put the wiring in right (currently baseboard plugs)

until the new electrical system is put in, for example, we would be living with a massive risk of fire from the ancient knob and tube wiring. while we could certainly live without the foundation remodel, as we could live without the roof remodel (encompassing new sheathing and new roof, new attic insulation, 2 crumbling brick chimneys to fix), they will actively cost us money over many years, in the form of heat loss, water damage, and other issues. this isn't a house that needs a series of do-it-yourself projects to make it look pretty, this is a house that needs deep pockets in order to maintain basic house safety and integrity.

a gut remodel would likely cost $200-$250k, and it would not be inhabitable during the work. we've calculated our mortgage amount based on what we can afford monthly, and we would have to double that payment in order to finance this remodel.

but in deciding not to pursue this house any further, there's a larger philosophical issue i've come up against. do i believe in living in a massive house with just two people, one cat, and maybe a couple kids after a few years? that is a huge draw of electricity and resources, when in fact we would fit better and more efficiently in a bungalow. i do have a dream of one day restoring a historic house, but i have to temper that with my desire to live in a space adequate to our family's needs, not excessive just for the sake of excess. philosophically this is what i believe, but this is also what my bank account believes, after heating just one tiny bungalow on oil heat for the winter.

anyway. it was a fun dream, but it's not meant to be, and i'm not sad about it. just certain, and more aware of our limitations as house buyers.
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kirk and i are going together to see the victorian house on friday. kirk will be looking at/for: electrical panel, sockets, water damage, assorted ghosties. this time i want to capture the weird pink bedroom downstairs, look for traces of the chimney's mantle, investigate the closet that leads to the kitchen, check out some bathroom details. also, opening all cupboards. all of them. last time i saw some old ass mercury tinctures in one cupboard and was too shy/respectful of mrs goss's ghost to look much further.

meanwhile, i barely slept last night for thinking about the house. when i first went to bed it was like i had a raging headache. a houseache. my brain literally felt on fire with the house. not like mania, more like a vision. chrysalis. later i would sleep and startle awake again with the image of the house in front of my eyes and lie there, contentedly thinking about it. the lawns and gardens restored, the rooms emptied and shining. ahh. i'm sketching floor plans and possible renovations, paint schemes.

if you were us, what would you look for on friday? we will have the camera and the video camera.
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last two videos of the victorian house, with my annoying commentary.

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marika took me to see three houses in three hours, and though it's totally overwhelming it was also fun and inspiring. houses are such strange creatures. like a shell built to house something not quite me, and i have to figure out how i'll make it work.

#1 white craftsman

the first house is a craftsman with some additions. it's not my favorite part of town -- across from the back side of a boat yard, plus one block away from a big busy road. addition in the back is carpeted and not very pretty, but okay. the kitchen was stranded in the middle of the house and i didn't like that -- like a place where one person can stand comfortably. small bedroom on the main near a huge bathroom, perfect for a child's room. office/library room off the main living room. upstairs, an amazing attic covered in built-in cupboards, closets, large dressers, even a desk that folds down from the wall. huge basement space with a bathroom and a non-code shower, space enough for a huge work room or letterpress room.

#2 green princess house

second house is an odd one, again with the weird additions. hard to see from the front because it has only a tiny strip of a front yard, and everything is fenced in, for the apparently massive dog whose muddy paw prints we saw at chest height on the front door. but otherwise surrounded by a huge yard, including a hot tub (they might not leave it, it's not in the listing), grape vines, berries, raised garden beds. weird small "master" on the main floor, tiled addition in the back, huge back porch. upstairs two good kids' bedrooms, cute desk lookouts on the yard, plus a jack and jill bathroom. lots of weird angles and corners to this house. we would need a giant lawn mower. cramped unfinished basement with just enough space for the water heater and furnace. very cool space for a gardener and a dog, but i don't think it's for us.

#3 oatfield victorian

this is the victorian that i fell in love with yesterday, the one that's a little outside of our price range but is just gorgeous. complete period details inside, since the same family lived in it for over 45 years. it needs a lot of work, including some intensive love to the yard to make it not such a leafpit, a good paint job, new windows, possibly a new electrical system (!!!), other fixes too numerous to list. you can see some of the hideous paint from the pictures. currently it's filled with the dead mrs goss's things, including beds full of teddy bears and assorted room full of catholic icons and things like that, so i didn't photograph all the bedrooms.

but with all its detractions, this is also sort of the house of my dreams. i've always wanted to restore an old house, and this one is livable. the large rambling victorian with history, with quirks and tall ceilings. the house to fill with books. restoring the gardens. large studies upstairs for kirk and i. a room for the letterpress. a house for writing in. roaming cats, a house with mystery. a big dinner party. that kind of house.

just for laughs, here is the partial list of things i wrote down that the victorian needs:
list of things to fix )

so possibly we would be great fools to buy this house. but maybe we'd also be great fools to pass it up. a historic house that will only increase in value as we work on it. it will be a money pit, a labor of love. but it's a house with a story in its bones. i feel incredibly young when i think about it, though we are probably about the same age as the goss family when they bought it. but also, the house is old and wants love and i don't know if i'm up to the task.


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