House hunting (or, why does everyone think we're a couple?) - Tactical Ninja
Jun. 8th, 2011
10:06 am - House hunting (or, why does everyone think we're a couple?)
So yesterday I arranged to go and look at the house we missed seeing on Saturday. On the way there, I managed to collect The Kid and pombagira so it was a full family outing. The house itself was a bit meh - nice if it were bigger, had a different aspect, didn't smell damp... the main bedroom was nice but the others were tiny and it had that multi-level thing going on that can create damp in the lower levels on the Wellington hills.
I had to smile at the real estate agent's "Oh look - Hers and Hers wardrobes!" The wardrobes were indeed very nice (walk in) but, um.. seems a lot of people assume that Polly and I are lesbian life partners*. I'm not sure how they think we produced The Kid, but anyway - we chose not to correct her.
Then we looked at a couple of other houses in the area. The first was definitely damp and dark and had a weird vibe and the most seriously retro-ironic-ugly decor ever. Like, the benchtops in the kitchen were pink and orange fussy formica paisley. I kid you not. Now I'm not totally against pink and orange together, but in my kitchen? Hmm..
You know the 'worst house, best street' scenario? Well I found it. It's a do-upper just up the road from my house, and oh boy is it a do-upper.
Now Happy, tieke and rivet, before you start, I have not done anything except get a copy of the builder's report to see what needs doing. Because I'm nothing if not fiscally responsible.
Having said that, I did like the basic house - and that's really all it is, a basic house. The report says the foundations are in good condition.
So what's wrong with this house? Pretty much everything else.
It has a weird skylight thing that screams 'leaky building' at me. In line with this, there's water damage throughout the ceilings. The building report doesn't mention the skylight but says the roof is in need of repair and I'm looking at this plus the skylight and going "Repair? How about we just rip that eyesore off and reroof the whole place?"
There's also water damage in the wet areas and leaky pipes. Again I'm going "Choice, a total replumb job."
The bathroom and toilet and kitchen all need redoing. The bathroom's a total job, the kitchen could get away with new benchtops and joinery (stove is good), floor coverings and a repaint.
The ceilings need replacing which would be an opportunity to insulate, and the walls could do with regibbing at least in some places. Once more, insulation. It needs internal painting and carpeting, the deck needs replacing (not on piles, just a ground level one), and the outside could also do with a lick of paint, not least because it's a hideous colour.
So yeah, if I bought this house I'd be buying a set of foundations with floors and a frame and replacing everything else, pretty much. So much for the downside - although I will come back to that.
What do I like about it? It's situated for all day sun, has off street parking and despite the obvious water getting in problems, it's not damp. Underneath is dry. It has three large bedrooms all with built in wardrobes. The bedroom thing's an issue because when Dr Wheel gets back we plan to live together and my current situation is such that I couldn't fit his stuff in. Not forgetting my 'lesbian life partner' and her need for a decent space. Now you could say "Hey flatmate only" but sharing space is how I can afford to be looking for a house at all, and she's important to me. So yeah - three large bedrooms solves a lot of the dynamics-of-folks-living-together issues I'd been having on how to arrange my people.
It's got some interesting internal architecture that I like. From what I can see, the skylight's the only part of this that's potentially a structure problem, the rest is just interesting. It has a snug, and sufficient different areas in the shared spaces that everyone could have space to do their thing. The main outside wall is westerly-facing and would lend itself to a trombe wall. The section is big enough to be useful without being scary maintenance-wise.
So - six of one and half a dozen of the other.
The asking price is low enough so that there'd be room for renovation costs - essentially it's $200000 below the average for the area and about $150000 below what I think the house I'm living in will have as an asking price. From what I can tell it's well within the scope of my borrowing ability.
"But what about renovation Tats? That costs heaps!" Yes, yes it does. So I sat down and worked out the potential costs of renovation. Because I'm Like That, I used outside estimates (for example totally reroofing instead of repairing, total replumbing instead of just the broken bits). I calculated that in total with everything I've listed up there the renovations would cost about $80000 at the outside - and yes, that is including a bit extra for 'didn't think of that' things.
Which would still make the house cheaper than the one I'm living in, and still be within range of what I can afford. So, because I'm eminently sensible, I've written a list of things that I would want to do for Moar Homework if I want to pursue this:
1. LIM report - the roof and plumbing stuff along with the piddly window latches and stuff suggests that this house was done on the cheap - I would need to make sure that cheap doesn't mean corners were cut.
2. Get the wiring checked and also inspect the framing which is apparently steel but isn't part of a standard building inspection because it involves ripping walls off. I don't think the owners would worry about that since the walls need doing anyway. These are the two things that couldn't be completely covered in the building report
3. Find out if the skylight is removable and if insulation can be installed as part of a reroof.
And if I paid the asking price then spent $80000 renovating, that would take the cost to me to $30000 over the current capital value - but it'd be Done Like A Done Thing, as in it'd be pretty much new. I don't know if that constitutes a good investment but as it sits the house itself is one I think I'd like to live in, should the required work be done. Something in my mind is the number of DIY skills I have learned as part of the AHOA project, which means my estimate for things like interior decorating are really outside because I've gone on the cost of paying professionals whereas I'm quite the dab hand at that sort of thing these days.
Anyway, here's where you step in and tell me to pull my head in and don't be silly. But before you do, bear in mind that even with all that cost I could pay for this without sacrificing my lifestyle and I like the house and that's tempting. And if the homework questions reveal other issues I am ok with letting it go - however I've been looking pretty hard around Wellington and the availability of houses in my price range and size that aren't do-uppers is extremely limited. Nice houses I can afford are all in Johnsonville, Tawa or Newlands.
Of course I could just do nothing. Which I have no doubt you're all about to advise me to do.
* We totally creeped The Kid out last night by calling each other 'darling' and 'honey'. Good to know I can still embarrass him.