Monday, August 8, 2011

Curb Appeal

One good thing about this house is that it's a pretty blank slate. There haven't been any real updates in a few decades but everything is in good shape and fairly neutral. This should make it really easy for us to fix things up.

The front and back yard are no exception. There used to be a huge tree in the front yard that still shows up when you look at the house on Google maps. It must have been cut down earlier this year and now there's just a big stump. The backyard has one little tree. The grass is in pretty good shape. That's it. No bushes, no flowers. Nothing.

And to that I say: AWESOME.

Even though it would be nice to have some mature plants in place, this also means we get to pick what we want. Some of you may not know but I absolutely HATE roses. Rose bushes are like, the most popular plant for people to have in their yard and I am so grateful I don't have to deal with them. I hate the thorns, I hate the way they look, and I would have hated knowing I had to pull out a bunch of them.

Anyway. Here is what the house looks like now:

Pretty sad looking, huh? This is my artistic rending of what it could look like in the future:

Photoshop is not one of my best skill. What I was trying to illustrate was the following changes:

  • Repainting the lower brick that is currently white. We were thinking a grey would look nice.
  • Repainting all of the trim that is currently forest green, probably in the same color as the brick.
  • Painting the front door and mailbox bright red. I've always wanted a bright red door!
  • Building brick flower boxes along the front of the house. We talked about doing flowers or shrubs but aren't sure. I personally like the idea of shrubs because they won't die in the Fall and Winter. We could always do both!
Here is what the backyard currently looks like:

Not too bad. The backyard is actually L-shaped because the garage cuts into it. This is the bigger portion. Here's what it could look like after some work:

Photoshop skills! What is supposed to be illustrated here is:
  • Berry bushes along the garage. We'll have to see where the sun hits it to see if we can plant anything there. 
  • Garden boxes towards the back fence. 
  • Flowers and bushes along the perimeter. I'm partial to hydrangeas!
Here's the only existing tree on the property:

If we move into this house I'll probably walk around the neighborhood and take pictures of other people's front yard to get more inspiration and make our yard look similar to what's going on around it. Unless there are roses bushes, of course.

The Inspection

The inspection and sewer scope for the house we put an offer on was last Tuesday. There ended up being a few bigger things that need to be addressed before we're comfortable purchasing the property. We have until this Friday to make a decision without losing any money (besides the cost of inspection).

Crawl Space:

The crawl space under the house is not covered with a plastic vapor barrier. This has caused humidity to rise up into the house, specifically the attic where there are no windows or any way for the moisture to escape. This means one thing: mold! Gross. Luckily, it's not the evil black mold and can be treated pretty easily.


So, I'm looking at the actual inspection report and can't find this in there for some reason, so excuse my lack of proper terms here. There was something going on with the furnace where it was spitting back air into the crawl space and, subsequently, into the house. Our agent had someone look at it and it's apparently a really cheap fix, so this dropped down in OMGWTFBBQ!!! status. The entire HVAC system does need to be cleaned especially with Tracey's allergies.


The sewer line on the property had some roots coming through. Sewer dude said it could be from the tree that was chopped down in the front yard so they might be dead but he can't say for sure. They're not too big and he said we could just have the lines cleared yearly and they should be good for 5+ years. There was a hole in one pipe but it was past the property line. City's problem!


While the inspector was on the roof, he noticed that the front of it was replaced recently but the back half was still old. I wish I knew how to pull pictures out of a PDF document because it's pretty crazy looking. Our realtor has a roofer going out today to inspect it and do a bid on it and the seller had roofers come out last week. The roofers that have been out there made some recommendations and projected that, with those repairs, the roof would be good for another 10 years. This included replacing some shingles, sealing the chimney/edges of roof (more on that in a bit), cleaning the gutters, and installing 8 vents into the attic to help with air circulation and mold. Their bid was around $800 which is a lot cheaper than replacing an entire roof!

Those were the biggest things we were concerned about. The rest of the list was pretty manageable-- some ungrounded outlets, a window that wouldn't open, a foundation crack that was from the house settling. Luckily we have some pretty handy relatives who can help us with most of the list and that will help us save a lot of money.

So, we are trying to get the seller to help. I don't think I ever updated about what happened when we went under contract but we made a final offer that was $11,000 less than what the seller wanted with all of our closing costs paid. He accepted but wanted to sell it as-is. Even though he said as is, we're trying to move around some money so that the closing costs are lower and he can use the money left over to pay for the roof, mold issues, and a few other things. If we can get him to agree, we won't have to pay for them upfront, he won't lose any money, and our mortgage payment will barely change. We should be getting everything together this week so we'll know by Friday whether we're moving or not!