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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Becoming Home Owners: Falling in Love

A whole day after finding the listing for the perfect house, we were finally inside to check it out for ourselves!  H must have been super excited because he got a speeding ticket on our way to the house by going possibly 5 miles over the speed limit.  Boo!  No worries.  We made it safely to the house.

Would the house live up to our expectations?  Take a look!

Front View

 Side View

Back View

The house is located on a quiet street in the neighborhood, and the neighboring houses were well kept.  The street is deeper within the neighborhood, surrounded by houses in every direction.  The two car garage also meant a double wide driveway, which is a nice perk.  The driveway itself was in very good condition.  Looking at houses nearby,  many had repaved their driveways, but I like the classic look of the concrete slabs.

The front and backyard was more than enough space for us.  The backyard was actually bigger in person than we expected, which will be perfect for a nice garden and a play area for the future kiddos.  Yay!  No fence was to be found, but that can be added later.  While the trees on the property have been removed, there was plenty of shade from the neighboring trees.  Like all those bushes?  Hehe.  Well there is another one on the right side of the driveway by the sidewalk too.

Like the older neighborhoods in the city, the electrical and phone poles are located in the backyard.  Sounds weird, right?  It is indeed a quirky feature.

Kitchen - stove, microwave, cabinets, sink, window, and counter top

Kitchen: additional view with fridge, pantry, and additional cabinetry

We went straight to the kitchen upon entering the house.  Why?  We didn't know if we would like it in person from the picture listed on MLS.  It is by no means a super updated modern kitchen, like most homes we looked at, but that also meant freedom to be creative on our part.  The cabinets were in great condition -- nice and solid, good color finish, lots of cabinetry space, and unique hardware (which can easily be replaced).  The appliances matched so well, is in good working order, and were not ancient old -- big plus!  I especially love the double sink and window above the sink, which was something that H favored in a kitchen.  The major downfall -- limited and outdated counter top.  No worries.  I had seen even smaller counter top space in another home & was perfectly fine with it.  The outdated counter top can be easily replaced and for a cheaper price since we wouldn't need that much material.

Laundry Area: dryer, dish washer, and washer

Hmm... this is an interesting setup.  In the kitchen, you can find the washer, dryer, and even the dish washer.  While it does seem like an odd space for your laundry, H saw the huge benefits of having laundry on the first floor.  We saw a lot of homes with basement laundry, which can be a bit inconvenient.  I love how the appliances fit perfectly in the space!  Hehe.  The area can also be closed off as a separate room within the kitchen.  It just might make for a tighter space in addition to the kitchen table.

Dining Room

Here is the first glimpse at the beautiful hardwood floors throughout the house.  It is so gorgeous in real life, and I fell hard for these floors, even in picture form on MLS.  Older homes typically have hardwood floors, but it's usually hidden under outdated carpet.  We told ourselves that we could always rip out the carpet and refinish the hardwood floors.  Well who needs to say that when the work is already done for you?  

 Living Room

While most living rooms are formal, H and I had visions of the space being our family room.  The room is rather long, giving us plenty of space for our growing ideas.  The bay window is beautiful and lets in a lot of natural light.  I can just imagine creating a seating area in the nook of the bay window for quite afternoons with a book in hand.  Unfortunately, the windows in the house are original and not very energy efficient.  New windows cost a lot of money, and it is something we needed to consider.  Luckily they are storm windows, which help a lot in the winter.

 Family Room

This is the only carpeted room in the house, and it is listed as recently replaced.  Yay!  Who wants to move into a house with old carpets anyways?  The fire place looks super cozy, and it can be especially useful on a cold winter night.  The sliding door leads out to the spacious backyard.  Since we had visions of transforming the living room to a family room space, this would be an extra room for us to play around with in our heads.

1st Floor Bathroom

The bathroom is located within the family room, and it is fairly small.  It has just enough space for a sink and a toilet.  I immediately had ideas of a quick remodel on the bathroom, which would be fairly cheap.  A simple sink, toilet, tile, and a can of paint can do wonders for this small space.  It's not entirely offensive though.  So of course the laziness of me would put off a project like that.  Hehe.

Inside of the two car garage

 Right side of garage with a door leading to the side of the house

 Door leading to the family room.  Attached garage with house access!  Woot!

Evidence of a leak in the garage -- uh oh!

Within our budget, it was rare to find a house with a two car garage.  Having a garage was not a requirement of mine, but it was a requirement for H.  He likes to be able to park inside and do work on his car.  Another requirement of his was that the garage had to have access to the house from the inside -- no carports.  The garage only has one garage opener, which is perfect for the one car we own.  Adding an additional opener would not be too difficult.  We did notice some evidence of a possible leak from the roof.  Later H and I checked out the disclosure for the house, which stated that there was in fact a leak, but it has been fixed with no further evidence of leaking.  Phew.

We're not dumb though.  We could tell that the roof was in need of being replaced.  With two layers, it was time for a new roof.  Since the asking price was listed to sell, that meant there would be no budge room for a new roof.  The seller was even smart enough to note it in his disclosure that a new roof would not be provided.  Smart seller.  Knowing that the roof needed some attention, we calculated that into our budget.

 Basement door located by the kitchen

Basement: roomy & empty

 Basement: a view of the inner workings of the house

 Basement: close up

 Basement: old fuse box

 Basement: french drain

The basement door is located by the kitchen.  Do you see those new 6 panel doors?  It's a small detail that makes a pretty big difference because they have been replaced recently.  Descending to the underground, we saw a nice empty basement.  That is a huge plus because it allows the buyer to see the space in its entirety.  We had seen so many basement, which were either too tiny or full of many years of stored goods.  This basement was empty and super spacious.

I am by no means a pro to the inner workings of a house -- water heater, hvac, and the like.  I do know that it is a bummer to be stuck with an old one that needs to be replaced very soon, as we had seen in so many homes.  Luckily the inner workings of this house were all new (5 years old or less).  Yay!  That means a few less things to worry about.

Then we saw the electrical box, which is very old school and uses fuses.  My parent's ancient 70+ year old house doesn't even have the fuse version.  We made a note of it and added that to our additional costs.

Do I see a french drain?  Yes, I do.  Bonus!  The walls are also waterproofed!  No dampness of walls and mildew!  Woot!  It's the small improvements that make me happy.

Upstairs Bedroom: possible guest room?

The hardwood floors continue through to the second floor, and it is such a nice sight.  There are a total of 4 bedrooms, and each room is reasonably sized.  The room pictured above was the biggest of the three spare bedrooms, and it would make for the perfect guest room.  The master bedroom is a great size for us, and we have every intention of making it a space for us to sleep and only sleep.  In our previous one bedroom apartment (aka H's parent's house), we used the space as a bedroom to sleep, a family room to entertain, and had two separate office spaces.  Yeah it was a tight fit.  We looked forward to our own master bedroom for sleeping only.

Upstairs Hallway Bathroom

I was really drawn to the upstairs bathroom.  With a house of this age, I often found really old, icky showers.  I was glad to see that the shower was nice and clean.  Everything about the room was very neutral and didn't rub me the wrong way.  The room does require some updates -- new toilet, sink, vanity, and a fresh coat of paint.  That's not too shabby.

Master Bedroom Bath

 Master Bedroom Bath: shower stall

Next we have the master bedroom bath.  Like the two car garage, having a master bath was very rare for our price range.  If we were lucky, we would sometimes encounter a half bath in the master.  Well we were super lucky because there is a shower stall and a toilet in this bathroom.  The pink stall did not scream to my feminine side.  A shower is a shower, and I was just glad it was there.  Like the other bathrooms, the toilet, sink, and vanity would need to be replaced.

Front Door & Foyer

Our hour tour ends here at the foyer.  After spending a good amount of time exploring the house and taking plenty of pictures, we were easily convinced that this would be the perfect house for us.  Looking at so many houses for the past 3-4 months, we knew exactly what we wanted, and we found it in this house.  We have no regrets with backing out of the last house, which was just down the street in the neighborhood.  This house is a tad bigger and offered much more with many updated features and very neutral colors.  The asking price was definitely priced to sell, and we were more than comfortable spending that much for our 1st home.  The key to the price was that it was a good deal and within our budget.

Finding the perfect home is the hard part, but there would be more ahead for us as we put in our offer and hopefully enter negotiations.  *crosses fingers*

Tip:
While looking at a home, make sure to take pictures!!  Even if the home isn't the one of your dreams, it is nice to have a photographic journal of your home hunting adventure.  You can visually see what features you loved in the homes you saw.  On the flip side, you can photograph the stuff that didn't appeal to you so much.  You may not have all the time in the world to inspect every inch of the house.  A photograph will give you further details that you can check out in the comforts of your home on the computer.  Zoom in on areas.  Take photos of the hvac.  Take photos of any noticeable leaks.  It'll also be a reminder of the things you might want to bring up with your realtor.

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