Monday, August 30, 2004

Dump Sweet Home

We’re officially homeowners! Yay! Settlement went pretty smoothly, all things considered. The sellers left a bunch of junk (which they did remove later), including the refrigerator, but since the contract left some ambiguity about the refrigerator, we were stuck dealing with it ourselves. Little did we know what a treat it would be!



eeewwww.



ick ick ick.

Among some of the treasures we discovered there were:

In the vicinity of the refrigerator:
A diaper (degree of contamination undetermined)
A blue plastic ball
A tin
A fork
Various matchbox cars
A puddle of caramelized goo

Elsewhere:
A balloon
Some maple syrup
Enough change to buy some gum (pennies mostly)
Dirty tissues
Two socks (unmatching)
Several rusty razor blades
A blanket of dubious cleanliness

Also, we unearthed SIX layers of linoleum in the foyer, and two in the bathrooms.

For an afternoon of work, we made great progress:
We ripped out the remaining cabinets
Removed the switchplate covers
Removed all the bi-fold doors, where Marina sustained a major injury:



Pulled out the old funky carpet tacks
Disposed of other random debris

Then we settled down to a romantic dinner under our romantic chandelier



Okay maybe not. We went to our local village center for some brick oven pizza.

We cannot close without mentioning the troublesome white rocks.
Turns out we are not in compliance with Marineville’s rules. We have been instructed that our white rocks have wandered into public property and need to be contained. Because, of course, white rocks are strictly prohibited in Marineville.



Here are the offending rocks! Unruly devils, aren’t they?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Point of No Return!

Actually that is tomorrow!

We are gathering up papers and getting ready for settlement! Tomorrow at 1 pm!!

I can hardly believe it! I am so scared they are going to realize that they made a big mistake and really we are not grown-up enough to buy a house!

Well, assuming that everything is perfectly normal, we are unloading a vanful of cleaning products and repairing gear to get down to business right away! First task is removing the old painted-over switchplates, changing the locks, shopvaccing noogies, and general preliminary cleaning. Then, before we say nitey-nite we set off bug bombs and wait for the carcasses to appear. eeww. that is gross. especially the part about sweeping up cadavers the following day!!

wish us luck!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

We Bought a Kitchen!

And what a kitchen it is!

Today we took advantage of the appliance sale at Sears! After much deliberating the night before, we ordered a kenmore stackable washer/dryer, a Bosch diswasher, and a Kenmore range. We did well. We did marvelous teamwork on the appliance decisions. Troy came to see the advantages of the many functions that the Kenmore range has (for example, the triple-task baking drawer!) over the slide in model. And Marina, in turn, agreed that the silence and sturdiness of the Bosch is more valuble than the hi-heat setting and bells and whistles of the Kenmore dishwashers.

Before the great Sears trip, we saw a fridge at Lowe's that we liked, and when we returned from Sears, it was gone! The shifty appliance salesman "checked" the other stores and said there were no more anywhere. He was just bitter that we didn't buy thousands of dollars worth of appliances from HIM!

So, we went to the other Lowe's with the intention to order our counterops & cabinets. It was a 2 1/2 hour production. The actual ordering was painful. The guy who wrote up the order was not there and the rest of the staff was generally unhelpful. Finally, we did get this other guy to write it up for us, and he happened to be the slowest writer in the world. We were there long enough that I got up to go to the potty and when I came back, he was STILL writing our address.

That is the boring part of the story. The funny part happened before the cabinets, actually.

Appliance Guy: Can I help you ma'am?
Marina: Yes. We would like to buy this refrigerator.
Appliance Guy walks us up and starts taking our order.
Marina: You know, we just came the Frederick store and they said that no one had any more of these refrigerators.
Appliance Guy: We don't have a store in Frederick.
Marina & Troy: Yes, you do.
Appliance Guy: Nope. Oh, you mean Glen Burnie?
Marina: Troy: No, Frederick.
Appliance Guy: You must be thinking of Timonium.
Troy: No, Frederick. We just came from there.
Appliance Guy: Huh. Well it must have a different name or something.

**confused! **

Friday, August 20, 2004

T minus Ten Days

Not much new to report actually, since we haven't been in the house for a while.

Just a small amount of drama involving ordering cabinet's from Lowe's, but that's all straightened out for now.

Here's a story about big banks:

When our mortgage app came through, we got a big envelope full of random documents to read & sign. They were confusing and included a rate half a point higher than what we had locked in. So I call our loan guy and get his assistant:

Me: Hey I just receveived this packet and the interest rate is higher than what you quoted before.
Assistant: Is it from Charlotte?
Me: Why yes it is.
Assistant: Throw it out. Toss it in the garbage. It's no good.
Me: Really?
Assistant: Yeah that's something that is automatically generated and it's never right.
Me: Oh. Okay. Thanks.

So yesterday we got another package of important documents that said we needed to sign this paper to verify our loan and get it back to them by tomorrow. Well that might not sound too bad but they also wanted all the things we already sent, as well as W-2s for the past two years (non-existant for marina), cancelled checks for the past 12 months (non-existant for troy -- and is now no longer something banks are required to return) some sort of flood disclosure from chicago (???) and some document verifying prior student status. What the heck??

Thankfully, we were instructed to throw this out as well.

Today we also picked up the rather sizeable collection of papers that instruct us what we may and may not do because we have the privelege of living in a complex planned community!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Where the heck is our money going?

Today, and in fact, this weekend has been incredibly productive.

We did lots of shopping & have established that our friends at Lowe's have a pretty solid offer for the kitchen projects.

Also we are definately getting at least one Poang chair from Ikea. It is a most suitable chair for Troy to do his piloting.

It was mostly about finances this weekend. Which is quite mortifying at times. Probably the most impressive thing this weekend was the massive array of mortgage-related papers that consumed Marina's kitchen table and island. It was scary.

I do feel better because Mom & I got some yummy Yankee Candle things to plug into the walls, that will quickly de-stinkify the house, and I also stocked up on anti-bacterial soap, which is certainly a necessity. i am proud to be a girl because i will have a house where it is safe to breathe & touch things!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Good Morning, Strangers!

This morning, the seller's agent, who turns out to be a very zany lady, let us into our house. She enthusiastically shared her shared horror of the state of the house, and also told us about our new neighbors, a young couple +3 year old from Arkansas.

Then there was the mold inspector, who sadly shared that he just realized it was his birthday and no one told him happy birthday. Well we did, even if his wife didn't! ... He said there was no mold so I guess everyone left pretty happy.

The tour continued with a potential general contractor, an older gentleman who seemed quite pleasant, knowledgeable, and most importantly, available to do work for us. He secretly complimented Marina's mom, telling Troy ... "Is that going to be your mother-in-law? ... She's quite a woman!"

Another highlight of our conversation with this gentleman was when he was explaining the confusion of being in a bathroom with two many mirrors. .. . "A mirror front and back .... that's twice as many boobs!"

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A Three Hour Tour

Troy & Marina were in Lowe's for *three hours* today.
It's our second home.
Or maybe it *is* home ... since everything we own will come from Lowe's.

Anyway, we met with a gentleman named Will, who was very patient in helping us design our kitchen. He had a swankity computer program that provided us with a visual tour of the kitchen! Radical!

Troy & Marina either have very rich tastes or very poor estimation skills because we are significantly over budget for cabinets and countertops. Fortunately, we think we will be spending less on appliances than originally anticipated ...

So, after talking to Will, we priced appliances, where I determined that the only difference between the $650 Whirlpool fridge and the $850 Whirlpool Fridge is the *SUPER ICE* function, which apparantly provides the service of making ice at TURBO SPEED. Seriously, how much ice could we possibly use to necessitate this $200 addition?? How great can rapid-fire ice be?? Whirlpool sure has nerve! Depriving people everywhere of the sense of worth that comes with the weighty task of fetching more party ice.

Also, we gawked at paint swatches making use of the handy magical light box that is used to see what the colors look like under different light situations. Neat-o.

We'll see. Those cabinets are quite lovely though. And I want my free sink from LG Hi-Macs!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

There is No Forgetting

I lied. There is no forgetting about the house.

In spite of the fact that I was out touring with relatives and cha-cha-CHA-ing with my darling Troy, I still:

Left voicemails with two lenders
Left a voicemail with my favorite Realtor, received one fax, two voicemails, and spoke to him once (of course)
Got in touch with a contractor who may actually be interested in working with us (on schedule even!)

All in all it made for a pretty light day, but my legs sure are tired!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bust up Our House!

Well today I have mostly been on the phone trying to convince a contractor to bust out a wall and do the following list of things:

Convert Outlets to GFI in Kitchen & 2 Bathrooms
Install Outside Outlet
Replace seven interior doors
Replace loft closet with mirror doors
Replace three other door sets
upper bedroom closet doors, laundry area, utility area
Set two vanities
Install lights:
upstairs hallway
two bathrooms
recessed lighting in Dining room
foyer
kitchen
Install new exhaust fans
Install pre-fab mantle
Re-cement exterior light
Install two ceiling fans

Easy right? This dude will be making MONEY! So far, it appears that contractors would gladly take our money if we waited two months, but this will not do! ... looks like we get to make more calls and/or wait around some.

Tomorrow Troy is being a good little WASP and working all day, and Marina is adventuring about with family from out of town. Then Troy & Marina will not fret about their little house and instead rhumba/samba/cha-cha the evening away!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Inspector Gadget

Today we did a very informative walk around with the home inspector. He was very helpful and gave us a lot of tips on repairing things, and his sense of humor was a real treat.

Inspector Gadget: If my wife knew the places where I sit to work, she wouldn't let me sit in our house!


The light fixture in the walk-in closet is dangling from the ceiling and apparently non-functional. Innovative tennants, that they were, they remedied the situation by installing an aquarium light via an extension cord!


This is my favorite drawer: The drawer itself is dropping out and the panel was apparently glued on to the frame. Cute liner paper though!


Eeeeewww ... if vents are blowing OUT dirt - there is definately a problem. This one is in the kitchen. However, the one on the ceiling in the living room contains a collection of used tissues, pennies, a metal tin, and some buttons. The air filter, by the way, was so encrusted with dirt that it was falling apart. gross.


Here is a nice shot of the loft in the Master bedroom. Lots of light.


And here is Troy, proudly displaying an artifact found on top of the refrigerator.

it reads:

Sometimes you get discouraged/ Because I am so small/ And always leave my fingerprints on/ Furniture, car windows and walls/ But everyday I'm growing big/ And soon I'll be very tall/ Then all my little handprints will be hard to recall/ So here's a special set of handprints/ Just so that you can say/ This is how my fingers looked/ When I placed them here today.

All I can say is the Mom/Dad must have taken this poem to heart since handprints and all sorts of evidence of a small child is all over the house. I think they must have been so inspired that they decided to leave their mark everywhere!

Troy is such a great archaeologist! He also found a half-eaten lollipop!

Anyway, the next step is to get the mold & pest tests, and move along with our financial stuff. Marina has become the princess of Excel this week and she has lists that cover everything under the sun. Heck she'll put you on a list if you want! Especially if you have any sort of talent with power tools or cleaning products!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

We're in the Money!

Word on the streets is that a two bedroom is coming on the market in our neighborhood for 5,000 more than what we payed for the our three bedroom! That is a relief because now i *know* we got a deal, in spite of the fact that the poor place is encrusted in grime!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

It's (pretty much) official

Troy & I went in today to sign the updated contract. Looks like smooth sailing actually ... we just have to figure out how to pay for this mess now! I'm so happy they are willing to take out all the repulsive carpet & appliances. That is one less thing to worry about. It was so cute, I think our Realtor was genuinely thrilled for us. Settlement is August 30th - God willing!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Un-Officially Ready to Go!

Whenever my phone rings, it is one of the two men in my life. It is either Troy or our Realtor.

I talked to our Realtor I think six times today -- and that is with the contract being smooth as ice!

The contract has been adjusted so that the seller is responsible for removing not only the carpet and that health-hazard of a stove and range hood, but also the washer/dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator. All new appliances for the Tempests.

So we are jumping in to sign more papers tomorrow -- then we will immediately start looking into contractors and kitchen goodies. We are taking a tour with a home inspector on Monday, which is gauranteed to produce more photography and good times for all!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Signing our Lives Away

We tried our best to buy a dump today!

We met with our good friend the Realtor today and wrote up an offer for the dirtiest house I have ever set foot in. We gave him the asking price and made it contigent on home inspection and mold inspection. Also, we begged him to take out the carpet and the oven/range/range hood.

It was comforting to hear our Realtor say that we are getting a good deal. Not a great deal mind you, but a good one. However, this is probably the only opportunity we have to get exactly the floor plan we want in exactly the neighboorhood we want.

We will know by the end of the week if the offer will go through, which will be a great relief. (Unless we find out that the house contains 652 new strains of toxic mold, and an upscale resort for cockroaches and all manner of insects).

I'm so excited! We will make it beautiful!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Our Homework

Here is a wish-list of renovations, in no particular order:

Dispose of all the carpeting
Dispose of mini-blinds
Remove heater from Studio
Attempt to fix the glass by the front door
Identify where the dryer vents
Eliminate squeak in the stairs
Replace all outlet covers
Shield outdoor wiring
Repair damaged areas of drywall
Replace door frames
Replace all vents
Prime and paint all walls/ceiling
Replace Slider Screen
Replace shelves everywhere
Replace light fixtures
Replace doors
Install new appliances
Install tile at entryway
Install new carpeting
Replaces windows in loft & LR
Install new kitchen flooring
Install new countertops
Install new cabinets
Knock out kitchen wall
Correct wiring in walk-in closet
Correct wiring for exterior light
Check studio light switch
Wiring for and installation of ceiling fans
Repair spigot outside
Water hook-up for refrigerator
Refinish bathrooms
Replace kitchen sliding door
Identify what to do with the beams by the foyer
Refinish front panel of fireplace hearth
Install security system
Landscaping
Repair patio fence and add slats
Replace fireplace hearth
Put Slate in Patio
Estimated Cost of Renovations: $30,000

Obviously, we will not be able to do all these projects immediately but we WILL be throwing out everything that isn't nailed down (and some things that are!), repairing the drywall, painting, and replacing all the floors and rennovating the kitchen and at least one bathroom before we even entertain the thought of moving in.

First-Look Pictures

When we went to see the house, we were expecting the worst. We knew that it had been a rental for quite some time, and that it probably looked terrible. Our visit confirmed our suspicions.

These are photographs taken by Troy Tempest during our first visit to the house. Be warned that the images get increasingly more apalling towards the bottom of the page!

Here is the exterior of our house! It looks quite charming in that 70s-contemporary sort of way!


And here is our patio, which has a rather nice deck. nice ____ is not a phrase often used in regards to this property.


Raised hearth fireplace. This is exactly the style we wanted!


Yikes! What happened here? This is the wall of the living room. Much marker scrawl, most likely by a small child, but I wouldn't put it past the grown-up tennant to have done this. Also, note the interesting wiring job that runs from the outside, through a phone jack, under the carpet, then through the other phone jack to the room that will be the studio.


This is Troy's favorite part of the house, a nice welcome sign on the inside of the front door.


And this is the piece du resistance here: The stove!


Pictures of the upstairs and bathrooms didn't turn out, but perhaps that is for the best. We will put more up later.

We are appalled at how anyone can stand to live in this sort of filth, even if he/she is a renter. In spite of how dismal the place looks now, (and trust me, it is dismal) we have seen the potential in these units. The location and floor plan is absolutely perfect for us, and as ugly as it is now, it is structurally sound, and we're terribly excited about shining it up and making it our own.

Once upon a time ...

Once upon a time, there was a handsome sea-adventurer named Troy Tempest. He fell in love with a sea princess named Marina. Aqua Marina was her name and she was in love with Troy, too. They decided to get married and so they needed to find a house. They searched and searched and one day they found a magical castle.

****

Actually, what we found was a spunky little neighborhood of townhouses built in the 70s, hiding in an otherwise endless sea of colonial-style townhome communities. We found a floor plan we adored: loft-style second floor with bedroom, full-bath, and office; a open main floor with full-bath; a master bedroom on the main floor which will serve as a studio for Marina; a fenced-in patio for the summer; a fireplace for the winter.

Our Realtor worked very hard and he came up with a deal. A landlord was selling one of these townhomes, and offered it to us "as-is" with no competition before it went on the market. This is quite an opportunity since we don't have the financial strength to out-bid others in this competitive market. As you will see, the townhouse requires a little attention to earn its status as the Tempest's dreamhome.

****
Avalanche! is a journal documenting Troy and Marina's adventures buying a suburban townhouse in a state of great disrepair and transforming it into their magical castle.