Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It’s never simple, is it?

Allison and I are still house hunting.  Well, sort of.  We’ve found a house we like, but. . . wait, let’s go back a few days

Wavy Flashback Effect

Ready to start really seriously work at becoming home owners, we made appointments Saturday to meet with our bank’s mortgage rep and with our realtor.  After getting things settled at the bank, we spent the rest of the day riding around with the realtor looking at houses, and getting lost, and having fun.  We saw one house that might have had someone living in the attic.  (Or perhaps not living, who knows?)  Another house had some great features, but the ceramic tile covering every inch of wall and ceiling in the kitchen, hallway, and bathroom, made that a project we weren’t willing to take on.  I did love the transoms above all of the doors on the 2nd story, and the bar area in the basement was pretty cool. 

After looking at a couple of other houses that were nice, but not quite what we wanted, we went to see a house that Allison had found online a few days earlier.  Seeing this house was actually the main goal of meeting with the realtor that day, but I threw in a few others we were interested in just so we’d have a good comparison.  It’s funny, then, that we didn’t arrive at this house until after dark, and the power was not on. 

Now, Allison and I had been to the house once before, and seen the outside in the last light of day.  I had even gone back the following morning to get a better look.  So at this point, we knew what the outside was like.  As for the inside?  It was dark.  Very dark.  We took the realtor’s little pocket size flashlight and toured the house.  After a while, we realized the house really does look a lot like the pictures online, and seemed to be in pretty good condition.  The one major weird thing about the house that was hidden in the pictures (All houses for sale seem to have one) was something that we could live with.  In fact, we liked the house so much, we arranged for Dad to come up Sunday morning and look at it with us.

Sunday came, and Dad, Allison, the Realtor, and I, gave the house a more thorough look.  We found a few issues, some small cracks in the walls and ceilings, a big crack in the garage floor, and some dampness in the garage.  After giving it some thought and talking it over with Dad, we decided this was all stuff we could live with and fix at some point.  The one thing we really couldn’t tell anything about was the septic system.  Fortunately a simple septic inspection could ease our concerns there, right?

Today I called the county health department to ask about an inspection.  It turns out a septic system can’t really be inspected unless it’s being used.  Since this house has been empty for a year or so, all we need to do is turn the water on in the house and let it run for a couple of hours a day for 5-6 days, and dig up the septic tank in the back yard, and the county will be glad to come out and check it.  There’s just one small problem… the water is turned off.  The whole house was winterized by HUD.  If we turn the water back on, we can only have it on for a max of 2 days, and we have to pay to have it re-winterized.  So, that’s out.  The good news is that the county has records on when the system was installed and when it was last inspected.  Oh, wait, did I say good news?  It turns out the system is 27 years old, and the lady at the county says the average lifespan is about 25 years. 

Long story short (Too Late!), we have gathered enough information to decide we’re ok with the risk.  The city will be connecting this area to sewer in a year or two, and worst case we can make any minor repairs needed to limp the system along until then.  So, we’re going to put in an offer.  Now, what will that offer be?  See the next post.

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