We're back! After a week of house-hunting, maybe I am more picky than I realized! We saw probably 20+ homes over a period of a couple of days, most of which were fairly quickly crossed off our list of potentials. Since I'm sure you are dying to know, here are some of the critical flaws that caused different houses to get the big red X:
1--DIY gone wrong. Inside was a complete hodge-podge of rooms/finishes. Owner was laying slate on the porch when we came and mentioned that his previous tenants' son had "taken an ax to some things" that he was now trying to fix. Um, okay. Sure enough, nearly every room needed some serious remodeling.
2--Strange placement on the lot/block. We walked outside onto the back porch and 10 feet away was the side of the neighbor's house. No fence or dividing line. Wait--who's grass is that? It's either the smallest backyard ever or maybe a shared side yard/back yard? Weird. That wasn't the only deciding factor against that particular house, but it was one of the big ones.
There were also a few that were sandwiched between the road in front and a hill in back. Barely room for the house, and zero room for any kind of playing in the yard.
3--The longest ever flight of stairs up to the 2nd floor bedrooms: half a flight, then a full flight, then turn and another half a flight. This pregnant lady was thinking NO WAY! How many times a day would I have to trudge up these stairs?
4--Stucco sprayed directly onto the plywood on the outside of the house. My husband caught this one (I would have been completely oblivious--at least one of us knows what to look for!) Stucco is not water-proof and is supposed to have some kind of barrier behind it. The plywood was all rotting out at the bottom of the house.
5--House that claimed to have 2 acres! When we got there, there were 2 narrow terraces the length of the house, and the rest was a steep hill. Like, too steep for the kids to even climb or explore. They should have mentioned vertical acreage. Plus, the driveway was very steep and angled, with a big drop-off on one side. I can only imagine getting down it in the snow.
6--Deceptive online photos. From what we saw online, I had high hopes for this one. The house looked good and the backyard looked quite spacious. As it turned out, the backyard was shared with the neighbor and much narrower than it had looked in the photos. Plus, the neighbor said they were most likely going to put a fence across their half. Perhaps they took the picture from the neighbor's corner of the yard then photoshopped it? I don't know. It was quite disappointing.
7--Busy street in front and 4 dogs inside. From the odor, apparently not particularly well-trained dogs. The current tenants (no mention that it was a rental) were home when we came, and so were the dogs. We got the feeling they were perhaps trying to discourage potential buyers. It worked.
8--The Grandma house. It had that old carpet smell; everything was very dated. Lots of wood paneling. I mean, it could have been a fun house to buy just to fix up and remodel, if we didn't have to also live in it at the time. A pity, because it had a nice back yard.
9--An absolutely gorgeous home. 100 years old, completely remodeled by the owner. Attention to detail and amazing workmanship. Except...it was in an older part of town and the nicest home on the block by at least $100K. Yeah. Good luck ever re-selling that one.
10--The smoker house. We do not smoke. You just can't hide that smell. We know from experience that you have to essentially replace or refinish every surface--drywall, ceiling, trim, flooring, etc., to get rid of the smell. (In our first home we did just that. We were younger and more energetic back then. Also, it was a tiny house--less than 800 square feet!)
I won't bore you by listing out every single one. Suffice it to say, we had some long, tiring days.
I'm happy to report that we did find a couple that were genuine possibilities.
The one we're leaning toward is an older home (well, same age as our home here--built in the mid-1980's) that could use some work but nothing urgent. Smaller than some we looked at, but enough room for us. Clean, well taken care of. My husband is already talking about plans for how he would remodel it to add space/efficiency, and where he wants to put the shed/workshop he plans to build.
The best part for me: it's on half an acre! Also, it's flat, so it would all be useable space. There's a small, 8-tree orchard already planted, plus a large garden spot, grass by the house for playing on, "pasture" in back (I'm thinking FLOWERS!) and a fire pit. Pretty views of the mountains in back. We're going to make a final decision this weekend and hopefully put in an offer on Monday.