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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Soooo ... Home Inspection

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Soooo ... Home Inspection

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alex eek
I'm treating myself to an LJ entry. I really don't have time; I have tons to do for SWG before Wednesday, when the story archive will officially be publicly available. But I might one day want to remember the hellish experience that is home-buying (maybe to remind myself why it will be good to stay put for a few years, no matter the temptation of moving up and onward?), so I'm sparing a half-hour to write about Thursday's inspection.

To my flist, also, I really appreciate the comments that everyone has been leaving me and apologize for being unable to reply so far. All of my spare time has been spent either sleeping, writing, or working on SWG, and not in that order. Once I'm sitting in my study, in our new house, and the archive is available and functional, then I will take myself off this self-imposed LJ exile and start reading journals and reply to comments in quicker time than two weeks. In the meantime, I am thankful for the laughs and good cheer I get from reading the comments people have left on my posts so far. :)


Here goes ...

Thursday, we had the home inspection on the house we hope to buy in Manchester. It did not go as well as we'd hoped.

There are several major problems with the house that will need to be addressed before Bobby and I are willing to carry on with the contract. Our home inspector was excellent and pointed out a number of small things that Bobby and I are willing to do ourselves, as well as places to improve in years to come. But there were three major things and we are not willing to buy the house unless they are fixed or the owners give us money to have them fixed ourselves.

First and foremost: the sump pump. A sump pump, of course, is supposed to sit in a hole (a sump) and has a ball attached that, when water rises in the hole, the ball rises and switches on the pump, which proceeds to remove the water until the ball sinks down again (meaning the water is gone) and the pump shuts off. The sump pump in our Hopeful House is outside on the landing of the outdoor steps down to the basement. This is problem number one; there are a good three months during Maryland winters where temperatures drop below freezing, especially at night, and a pump is no good if it is frozen. But the oddest thing of all is that the sump pump has no sump. It is a sumpless sump pump. No one--even our home inspector--had seen anything like this before. The ball that is supposed to switch the pump on and off is tied up so that the pump will always run. But to start the pump, one has to flip a switch inside the house, which makes the sump pump useless unless someone is home to turn it on. Which, for about eight hours each day, no one is. The other thing is that there's no drain in that stairwell, so the only way the inspector figured the pump would even work was if we attached a hose to it before using it and tossed it over the railing. Again, this requires someone to be home to operate, which isn't a problem for the current residents, since the guy works entirely from home.

But this is a big problem for us. It won't take much rain to bring the water level in that basement stairwell above the threshold to the door, at which point we come home to a flooded basement.

Luckily, my dad has been wonderful through all of this, and he's definitely very handy with DYI issues. Before Thursday, I wouldn't have known a sump pump if one fell out of the sky and hit me in the head. We never had one in the house where I grew up, which sat at the highest point in Baltimore County, so it literally was all downhill from there. He drafted a list of repairs that he thinks are needed before we buy the house, having gone with us to the inspection and having spent two hours reviewing the report.

He wants a drain installed in the basement stairwell that will take water to an indoor sump with an automatic switch. He asked the contractor who's doing their addition for an estimate of how much that would cost, and the contractor figured between $2000-$3000. So this was number one on our list. We simply cannot take that sort of chance, of coming home to an indoor swimming facility in our basement.

The second big issue was three foundation cracks that the inspector found, so we're asking for these to be investigated and repaired. The inspector found dampness and mold in the basement, and he figures that both are caused by the cracks.

Third, the copper pipes in some places are terribly corroded, so we're asking for this to be evaluated and replaced. Again, we cannot take the chance of coming home to burst pipes.

So this was disheartening. Bobby and I were up past midnight on Thursday, discussing what we wanted to ask the current owners for and what we were willing to settle for. We decided that these three issues are the biggies. We've almost entirely drained our savings to finance this house, not to mention having borrowed more than I care to even consider from my dad, and we simply cannot afford to spend several thousand dollars more on repairs that should have been made years ago. Nor can we afford to have an emergency of the scope that any one of these problems could cause.

So yesterday, we met with Joe and Pat, our real estate people, and put an addendum on the contract. We asked for these three things and threw in a few other moderately pressing issues as well. Our line of thinking is that we'll ask for the most that we'd expect, and if they come back saying that it's too much, we'll cut the list down to those three major things we want repaired. If they're not willing to do this, then we're canceling the contract and moving on.

It is our hope, however, that they're going to make the repairs. For one, they've already moved into their new house. In the two weeks between the showing and the inspection, they removed all but a few items from the house. So they're making two house payments now, and it's a buyer's market; it took four months to get a contract with us (and we were the only contract on the house). Who knows how long it will take to get another buyer in. (And their real estate agent is so unmotivated that he won't even return our agents' calls; Joe and Pat refuse to even work with him anymore and are going straight to his manager with everything.)

Also, the inspection report is now a matter of public record so any future buyers will immediately be able to see the problems that the inspector found. For what they're asking for the house, no reasonable person is going to accept those faults with the sort of market we're in. In all likelihood, they're going to have to fix them anyway.

And they didn't do much to update the house either; the appliances are all old and much of the decor is outdated. So it's not like they can point to $5000 spent remodeling. So far as I can see, they didn't put much into the house aside from new countertops in the kitchen and some landscaping outside.

So it's our hope that they're going to agree to our offer, but Bobby started looking again today in case they do not, and he found several enticing possibilities in Manchester, Owings Mills (northern Baltimore County), and Pasadena/Severna Park (Anne Arundel County). This encouraged and reminded both of us that, as much as we love this particular house, it's not the only one out there, and we'd do well to stick by our guns on this.

In better news, for our anniversary, Bobby bought us an antique suit of armor to put in the study. It's hella cool ... and Alex just knocked the lid of his toy box into it and scared the crap out of himself!
  • Home inspections, home repairs. . . yuckola! I wouldn't know from a sump pump, either, except that it's a humorous term. Most of what I know from home repair, I know from reading Dave Barry. This is why I rent a nice apartment a mile from campus. But, seeing as how they've already moved out, and it's a buyer's market, I'd be willing to bet that they'll give you the biggies at least.

    So can you give a little hint of what the public SWG is going to be like? Will it be a self-posting archive like SoA, or a members-only thing, or a "Dawn posts her favorite Silmfic" thing, or what? This sounds intriguing.

    I've been alternating between doing actual homework and futzing around. I recently counted up all the snarky Romeo and Juliet I've made so far, and I'm almost at the point where I might do an icon-offering post. But not until finals are done.
    • I'm hoping that your (and our!) instincts about their willingness to do the repairs is correct. But if not, there are other fish in the sea. :)

      The SWG archive will be a self-posting archive like SoA, yes, except that there's no review or approval process involved. Authors will have to get an account on the site, of course, but after that, are free to upload as much as they would like. I'd like to take complete credit for it, but I actually used fiction archive software that's free online; my PHP programming skillz are not nearly that good. But so far, the impression from beta testers seems to be that it's easy to use and it has all of the features (reviews, favorites, et cetera) of most any Tolkien archive.

      Also, I think it's funny that you, also, use the word futz. That's pretty much what I'm doing too, right now: futzing around in lieu of getting anything productive done. Meh.
      • The SWG archive will be a self-posting archive like SoA, yes, except that there's no review or approval process involved.

        Cool. Maybe I'll post some of my stuff when SWG is up and running. Anything you'd particularly like to see there?
        • Ai ... I love all of your Silmfic. I could be selfish and say the things I haven't had time to read yet ... but really anything.
  • Urk, Dawn, I'm sorry about the house. I hope the current owners will work with you, and at least pay for the changes even if they'd prefer not to handle them themselves. I was so sure this house would work out for you.

    But I *am* chuckling at Alex. I remember when my brother had some of those slippers with the stuffed head on the toe. He had some husky slippers, and our pup (Maggie) thought they were other dogs--especially when my bro would inch his foot forward and make a growling noise. Poor pup, but we did have fun. Dogs have a way of doing funny stuff like that.

    And I must say, that armor sounds COOL.

    On LJ: we will be here when you get back. Take care of RL stuff, and if you need a sympathetic ear you know where to find me. But really, don't feel obliged to say or do anything you don't have time for. Take care of yourself.
    • Your icon is awesome! :^D

      And thank you so much for the encouragement and support. It really means so much. :) {{{{{you}}}}}

      Well, on the house, good news: They're making most of the repairs. :) I'll be posting about it in boring detail later, but for now, that's the important thing.

      Dogs are hilarious! Alex is a big wuss and is scared of just about anything. He's a Golden Retriever who's scared of water. Well, not water per se, but waves, even little waves. Or I had Animal Planet on the TV one day, and there was a program about big cats, and they showed a leopard running towards the camera and Alex began to back away from the TV slowly like it was going to jump out at him. He's a funny guy.

      (He just belched in my husband's face, for example! :^P Bobby probably didn't find it funny, but I did.)

      And the armor is awesome ... I have a massive pic spam planned, so I'll include a picture of it, amid the mess from packing to move.
  • Yay for Dad's who know so much. I never heard of a sump pump before... the pipes are important, what did they say about the wiring? I know that was a huge issue when my brother bought the house.

    Dawn, the archive will be kick ass, you know how much I love it, despite the small things now. It's gonna be ok and great to use!!!

    • *huggles back*

      There were some minor electrical repairs needed, but the big stuff was all okay.

      And I hadn't heard of a sump pump until a few years ago when we got massive flooding in Maryland and people's sump pumps were burning up from trying to remove the water. We never had one, living atop what I like to call Cold Mountain (because it's the highest point in Baltimore County and, I swear, the coldest! :^P)
  • ARGH. Things have been eating my time... I probably won't manage to finish the beta report for SWG I have in the works before the archive goes online, especially since several points mentioned initially will have to be double-checked due to possibly having been resolved already, but I will (tomorrow my time) email you with something (especially in light of the recent LJplosion and consequences) that had me rather worried. If I don't email you, that issue, too, has been resolved and there's no reason to worry.

    I just wanted to apologize.
    (No time to read the post, so best of luck with whatever house problems you are dealing with. *hugs*)
    • Please don't apologize! I know how RL obligations and stress go, so if you have time to email me, I'd love to hear from you. If not, I've gotten lots of input and have just about everything solved. :)

      Is your concern in light of the LJplosion the "***Incest" warning? I had a chuckle about the sudden extra weight that this suddenly carries. I put it up for Maedhros/Fingon-type stories. Some people don't like even cousin slash, so I thought it worthy of the OMG!***Three-Star! warning. :)

      I'm still tinkering with the TOS too. I'll probably put up something about having underage characters involved in sex with adult characters just because SWG has never been the place for that sort of thing, and though I believe strongly in freedom of speech, I also don't want to bring to the wolves to my door. :)

      Now if that wasn't the concern, then I'll feel all silly for going on about it at such length. :^P
    • Oh, and if you get a chance to play with the archive a bit, all of the problems we've found and solved are listed on the testindex page that I sent in the first email. So that should keep you from having to repeat yourself or wade through my multiple, rambly beta-test emails. :)
  • The sump pump situation is just bizarre. A sumpless sump pump?! Yes, you definitely need a proper well, which won't be a trivial installation. I suspect compared to that, the foundation cracks and corroding pipes will be easy repairs.
    • Well, we got some further info on the sumpless sump pump: Apparently, it is sumpless because it's never been used in nine years. The owners claim that they have a French drain system that removes all of the water. We've gotten that in writing, of course.
  • Ay caramba!

    it's not the only one out there, and we'd do well to stick by our guns on this.

    Yep. Stick to your guns and then some. Good to hear that Bobby continues to stalk the wily First House.

    I'm going to stroke my menopausal beard and wax incoherently with matronly wisdom. After four house-buying experiences with a husband who is an architect* and about as anal-retentive as they come with regard to building quality, my unsolicited advice is to be highly circumspect regarding this house. Maybe they'll come back with an acceptable counteroffer, but we ran screaming from houses with foundation cracks and mold when we were buying our Very First House. Well, any subsequent house. We saw a number of damp basements in the Boston area that were immediately scratched off the list. Remediation of such problems is often quite costly.

    Home buying is, ummmm, an "experience," as in "torturous experience," and it's nigh impossible to find your dream house, if you don't build it yourself, and even then...But with patience you will find something which you like, a house that is acceptable or even "adequate." ;^)

    Clearly, you and Bobby are taking a pragmatic approach. Hat's off and raucous pant-hoots to you. To quote Sergeant Phil Esterhaus of the long defunct Hill Street Blues:

    "Let's be careful out there."

    Re: SWG. I have been mentally adding on to my nascent biology essay (what do you people call it? A WIP?), and will submit that within three-ish weeks. And my eyes? Check out "My Horrorshow Glazzes" at the Chimp Refuge. :^D

    • Here's a young Bill Gates with a version of horrorshow glazzes in your honor. ;)

      Well, the owners have agreed to fix the problems. Details at 11. So we've decided to go forward with it, having looked around elsewhere (speaking of horrorshows) and other considerations that I'll ramble about in an entry soon to come.

      Also, I'm excited to read your WiP when it's finished. And I hate to tell you, but I think you're one of us now. ;)
  • Houses are bottomless pits of need. Sorry... but it's true, alas. We have a list that barely gets dented as time passes. Sigh...

    I am happy for you though! Paying mortgage is more like putting money in the bank. It's a good thing.

    • We're happy/excited too! I'm really looking forward to not spending almost the equivalent of our mortgage in rent and then owing a couple grand in taxes come April. That hurts.

      At least this is an investment. Having come from a notoriously tightwad Polish family, I can appreciate that! :^P
  • (no subject) - stephantasy
    • I miss you too, but my self-imposed exile is nearly over. I'm catching up on comments now, then I'll be back to reading the ol' flist. ;)

      I would be happy renting forever ... except that the American tax system punishes renters. Big time. Because we can write the interest paid on our mortgage off on our taxes, we'll get back a few thousand rather than owing a few thousand each year come April. That makes it worthwhile to put up with this headache.

      Also, I think that if I have to listen to that f***ing dog next door for one more day, I'm going to put my foot through ... something. And it won't be pleasant. ;)
  • I'm curious about the inspection process: who's in charge of it? some municipal agency or your equivalent to it? Here buying a house is a hit or miss (is that the expression?) question, that's why it's always convenient to have an architect friend willing to have a look and wave the red flags.
    Corroded pipes *can* be repaired (I have to credit the formerly corroded pipes in my kitchen with discovering silmfics) but it's costly and messy. Houses in Buenos Aires seldom have basements but instead of leaky basements we have something called "humedad de los cimientos" (damp foundations?) which has driven people actually crazy because it can never ever be eliminated. I remember seeing a lovely English style house that actually had a garden (grass and bushes and trees included) in downtown Buenos Aires but whose price was suspiciously low. The dampness was so bad it couldn't be hidden or decorated by even the most slkillful real estate guy in the city! So be very careful. As you said, it's a buyers' market.
    • American home inspections aren't controlled by the government but ordered by the buyer and performed by a private company. An inspection isn't required but most buyers have one done, for obvious reasons. In our case, our contract was worded "pending inspection," so if the inspection turned out poorly and the owners weren't willing to remedy the problems, we could get out of the contract without penalty. Once the inspection was done, we added an addendum to the contract that was basically a list of repairs that we wanted the owners to make before we'd buy the house. They came back with a revised list of what they were willing to do, and we were allowed to decide there whether we wanted the house or not.

      So I actually really like the system, as it is: If it was government-controlled, it would probably take forever to get done and not be held to the same standard of quality that inspections are now. For example, our inspector will give us free telephone consultation about repairs for as long as we own the house. That's nice in itself!

      Buyers have the option not to have it done. It costs about $500 to have a home inspection, but it could save thousands, so it's definitely worth it.

      Part of the US certainly have problems with humedad de los cimientos as well. ;) My husband grew up in a house built over a stream, and whenever it would rain, water would come into the basement. There are other basements that are just damp; we have companies that deal exclusively in waterproofing basements, so it's a big issue some places here too.
  • Personally, I thought the idea of an underground, indoor pool was appealing. Just add a chlorinator and maybe replace the stairs with a diving board, and it would be better than a Holiday Inn! ;)

    Of course, I don't have a basement, so maybe my opinion isn't from the best perspective. ;) (People give me such disbelieving reactions when I tell them this. You'd think I'd just told them that I was pregnant or something.)

    Anyways, good luck with the house, whether it be with going forward with this one, or looking for the next!
    • Thank you! Everything worked out on this house, actually, amazingly!

      Bobby and I had the idea to open a scuba center in our basement. We could do tank fills right on premise and people could get open-water certified right in the comfort of our basement. :^P

      Unfortunately, the owners decided to do the repairs, so that cash cow now won't happen.

      I don't think it's so odd not to have a basement. One of the houses we visited didn't have a basement, and my parents' "basement" is only a couple feet underground, really, so it's not really a basement at all.

      Speaking of pregnant people, how's Maedhros? :^P
      • Or you could fill the basement with exotic fish and charge $1 admission to earn a little side cash! ;)

        Good to hear that I'm not an anomaly of the human race. Well, I might still be that, but at least it's for reasons other than not having a basement. ;)

        And Maedhros is...as well as can be expected from a crazy, equivalent-of-however-many-months-it-would-be pregnant, male Feanorian...xD
        Wow, it's now June and we still mention that on occasion. O.o We're sick, sick people. It's grand! :D
  • There were bound to be some problems with the house, but I do share your hopes that the owners will be reasonable and get the issues resolved, if they are really pressed to sell the house. I agree with what Nienna said, houses are bound to demand a lot of money and attention. Especially since you say that the one you are so interested in needs to be remodles and updated. It's a good thing that Bobby has found other interesting options, but I do hope that things work out with this one and you can move as soon as possible. *keeps fingers crossed*

    Re SWG archive, I have to congratulate you and cheer all the work that you have done. The site looks great and I have joined just now. Unfortunately, I haven't got much time to dig up my fanfic and polish it for uploading these days, but I will do that soon. Thanks so much for creating this archive and for sticking to it, even though there are so many other things in your life that demand your attention. I'm off to have a closer look at the site and see what's been uploaded already.

    Also, I should let you know that I am in the middle of an AMC re-reading spree. I have about half the novel printed and I shall print the other half as well, though it is much fun to read it from your LJ and sneak a peak at the comments for every chapter. I might even bother you with a round of comments, because I keep finding new and interesting things to squee about in AMC.
    • Well, the owners agreed to the repairs ... but I won't bore you with details; I'm writing an LJ post as soon as I'm done with my comments here. ;)

      Thanks for the kind words about the site. I'm so pleased that it's finished. It was one of those tasks that seemed insurmountable, but eventually, I realized that what I really want to focus on in the group (getting the Reference library turned into a really valuable resource) would never get done until I finished the archive. Now I can really focus again on writing and working on that reference.

      And I visit a couple of times a day just to squee that it exists! :^P

      I think it's crazy cool that you're rereading AMC! Silly me, I've decided to do a third draft to put up on SWG, though most of the changes will be mechanical things that I've learned since originally writing it, since the first revision even.
      • Whew! I'm relieve to hear that the owners ofthe house you are looking to buy agreed with getting all those things fixed. I take it those are no longer issues which get in the way of your moving and the initial plans still stand? *keeps fingers crossed* *is waiting for more info in new post*

        You have every reason to squee that the SWG archive exists. It is obvious that you put a lot of work and a lot of heart into it. The graphics are friendly and welcoming, I find navigating the site very easy and there is plenty of information at every click. I'm kind of anxious about uploading anything of mine before I have the time to revise some/most of my stories. I've been going through some of my stuff lately and, except for the smut part, everything else makes me cringe.

        I think it's crazy cool that you're rereading AMC!

        Not only am I reading AMC again, but I am spreading the madness. Dunno if you've had the time to read one of my latest posts in which I've written about meeting a fellow fangirl in person, here, in Sibiu. She's Maitimo fangirl through and through, but she hadn't managed to pick up reading AMC until I told her that she absolutely must and that she is going to love every bit of it. Last time I talked to her, she was devouring AMC chapters. *grins proudly*
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