Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy One Year Anniversary to Our Sunshine Home

We moved into our current home almost exactly a year ago.  We had no idea what we were in for when we decided to purchase this foreclosed home.  While we felt like we paid a great price for the home, we knew there would be additional 'surprise' expenses on top of the normal moving costs.  Like most foreclosed home purchases, there ended up being lots of those surprises and a long home 'to-do' list when we first moved in.

Here are the items that needed addressing:

1. Washer and Dryer: 
Usually, the washer and dryer are included with the sale of a home in our area, however our laundry room was missing these very necessary appliances.  After researching washer and dryers on Consumer Reports, we picked up a pair at a local appliance store, Warner's Stellian, after engaging in a very exciting price match war between Sears and Warner's Stellian.  We got a price we were really pleased with and paid about $600 each for the pair of LG Front Loaders.

2. Dirty, dirty carpeting:
It wasn't stained, just dirty.  In fact, the first time we saw the house, I took my shoes off at the door, looked at the floor, and then put my shoes back on.  Dirty was probably an understatement.  One call to Stanley Steamer was all it took to clean up the dirt.  The carpet in our front room actually changed colors from a grey to a creme.  Thankfully, it is high quality carpet that will not need to be replaced any time soon.

3.  Closet shelving: 
All of the closets in our home (with the exception of the nursery) had holes in the walls where closet shelving supports were once placed.  The shelving was completely missing.  After we moved in, I noticed that the shelving in the nursery had a 'California Closet' label on it.  I called California Closets and found out that at one point, all 8 closets in our home had beautiful, expensive California Closets installed.  After explaining our situation to the California Closet salesperson, she happily agreed to send me over images of the closet layouts, along with an estimate for what it would cost to replace the closet shelving the way it had been.  The layouts were helpful.  The estimate, not so does closet shelving in a house cost over $10,000?  Now, as much as I would have loved to know what the original custom made California Closet shelves were doing in a new location, what I did know, is that they would not be replaced by the same product. 

We researched many options including Easy Closets, Home Depot and Lowe's options, but we ended up using a local lumber yard called Scherer Bros. that has a closet division.  We were referred to them by the builder of our home who frequently uses their services.  We figured that we paid about $200/closet for the install on 7 closets (compared to costs at Easy Closets with the same shelving layout), which is expensive, but after two months without closets, we were desperate to get them in as soon as possible.  (Also, moving with 2 young children is exhausting, and the idea of spending several weekends installing them ourselves was overwhelming to say the least.)  We worked diligently to get the layouts that would best serve our needs, and in one day, our closets were installed. 

Here's one example of our closets after paint/patch, before Harmony closet install:
It's our master closet.  We used plastic shelves we had in the basement of our old house for clothing storage.  The shelves are now in our garage.  In the future (ie: once our closet is picked up enough to take pictures of it), I'll show after pictures of this space.

Here's another example of our closet situation.  Lucky's closet looked like this shortly after we moved in:
And here it is now:

I'll be posting more about the rest of our closets in the future.

4.  No Bathroom Mirrors: 
Yup, they were gone in all three bathrooms.  Maybe they were custom cut, or maybe they were framed Kirkland's mirrors.  We'll probably never know.  When we moved in, I started a very serious mirror hunt.  I was able to track down this mirror at Home Goods (on clearance for $50) for our main floor bathroom:

I found a matching pair of these guys at Home Goods (for $59 each, I believe) for our kid's bathroom:

The hunt for the perfect master bathroom mirrors lasted six months.  It was obvious in late fall, that finding a mirror that would fit the space below the bathroom light fixtures and above the backsplash was nearly impossible with the budget we gave ourselves (ie: we needed a custom mirror to fit the space, which we did receive quotes for in the $1000 range for a single piece of beveled glass, no frame). 

Here's a not so pretty 'before' shot:

In December, we ended up having our electrician, who was working on our basement already, raise the light fixtures in our master bathroom so that we had room to put up the Walmart mirrors ($40 each) I had decided upon for the space:

The good news was that our electrician and drywall guys didn't charge us anything extra to complete the side project since our basement project was so large!  We also used the opportunity to switch out light fixtures to a more simple type that we spray painted to match our plumbing fixtures which are supposed to be oil rubbed bronze, but actually look more like shiny pewter.  The cost for all mirrors was about $250 or about 1/4 the cost of a custom cut mirror for our master bathroom alone.

5.  Missing Beverage Cooler:
We were shocked to learn how much a 24 inch KitchenAid Beverage Cooler (matching many of our other appliances) would cost: $1200-$1500.  Yeah, we ended up with a Home Depot model that was normally $399, on sale for $349 and then there was a $50 rebate, bringing the cost down to $300.  The handle doesn't match our other appliances, but I don't even notice that anymore.

We still could use a strip of cherry wood across the top of the unit, but I'm good with it as is.  After all, for six months, this is what we had in our kitchen:

6.  Inoperable WIRSBO System:

We found out upon inspection of the home that we had a second water heater.  Our first reaction was...yeah, we'll never run out of hot water.  The inspector informed us that the second water heater was used to run hot water through piping in the concrete floor of the basement in the winter time to provide heat.  Our thoughts:  Bonus!  Our basement will be toasty in the winter.  The inspector followed up by saying, 'I think there are some parts missing.  It's definitely not in working order.'  Our thoughts: Big Bummer.  We did get it up and working shortly after moving in.  It was low 4 figure expensive.  Watching our kids play in our warm and cozy basement this winter made it all worth it!

7. Thermostats from another decade:
I'm not sure what kind of fancy thermostats were taken out of this house, but they were replaced with something like this only older:

Our house was built in 2007.  The thermostat that was here was not from this decade.  We replaced the downstairs and upstairs thermostats with these:

8. Garage Door Broken:

We have a three car garage.  One of the garage doors didn't work.  We called a repair man to fix it.  He did.  It works.  Another expense.

9. Damaged Light Fixtures:
I've spoken about the light fixtures in this house in this post.  Aside from the lights not being our style, many of the 'boob' lights were broken as well.  I'm not sure how 7 light fixtures ended up badly cracked, but we replaced almost all of the light fixtures in the entire house at this point...broken or not.

This was a cracked fixture.  See the rim on the right side of the picture.  Almost all of our 'boob' lights were like this.  Very strange.

None of these fixtures were damaged, but they give you an idea of what we were working with:

10. Sprinkler System Leak:
The day we moved into our home early last summer, a neighbor boy politely informed us that our sprinkler system had not been winterized by the previous owners that winter.  Wonderful (sarcasm strong).  We were very fearful that we would have a major issue with the system when we started it up, but we were very, very lucky.  Since our lot slopes gently down, we only had one leak where the water had pooled in the back of the lot.  The fix was about $100.  Whew!  Replacing an entire system would have been expensive.  In Lucky's words, 'Our lot is a biggie':

11.  Strange electrical outlet placement and minimal cable jacks.
Shortly after we moved in, we added several electric and cable outlets.  Our loft office only had outlets below the desktop with no holes cut through the desktop to access the outlets.  It didn't make sense to us at all, so we had our electrician add 2 outlets above the countertop.  Also, our master bathroom vanity had no outlets across the span of the double sink.  There were 2 outlets under the hand towel holders on the sides, but they were very impractical, so we added an outlet in the middle of the vanity.  We also added an outlet in our basement utility area for our extra freezer (which we have yet to turn on since moving here). 

As for cable outlets, our house originally had 2 cable in the master bedroom and one in the family room.  We like our tv...or at least the option to watch tv.  (Generally, we don't have it on very often, except after the kids go to bed.  And now American Idol is over for the season and Glee and House.  I don't know what I'm going to do with my free time now:))  Anyway, we added an outlet to our sun porch, our office, our main floor 'game room/reading room' and as a major 'we survived the craziness of selling our house with two very young kids in one of the worst real estate markets ever' splurge, we added a cable outlet to our master bathroom (Our previous house came with a tv hook up in the master bathroom, and Bill really enjoyed news watching first thing in the morning.). 

The above list were items that were broken/missing when we moved into the house.  The following list is for items that broke shortly after moving in...some of them were probably related to poor house maintenance prior to us moving in, some might have been inevitable, but they made us feel that our house maintenance 'to do list' was growing faster than we could keep up with.

1. Freezer Leak

We woke up one morning to a puddle of water in front of our refrigerator/freezer.  We called an appliance guy who came and replaced a tube that had been wrapped around a heating element and actually melted.  (The tube fed our ice maker, so whenever our ice maker was 'on', our floor got wet.)  Of course, the repair man left, and we still had Bill shimmied behind the freezer and tightened the new connection, and we've had no problems since.

2. Garbage Disposal Cracked
We had to replace it.  It was a couple hundred dollars.  Not a fun purchase at all.

3. Water Filter

Our old house had a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser.  Our new fridge is huge, but doesn't have a water or ice dispenser.  We tried the Brita filter thing for awhile, but then got nervous about the plastic for our kids, so we attached a 3M water filter under our kitchen sink (see the garbage disposal picture in #2).  It's awesome. 

4. Handle fell off the kids bathtub:

It just fell off one day after we moved in.  Bill reattached it and we've had no problems since.

5. Window broke in sun porch
About a month after moving in, we woke up one morning to find a window shattered in our sun porch.  We thought maybe a ball had hit it, but it was the interior glass that was cracked.  We called Anderson windows and they said it was under warranty, as apparently the window was a manufacturer defect.  Yeah for warranties!  We still had to stain the new window and install it, but the stain was a $3 sample container, and my handy hubby took care of the install.  The picture below shows the new window in the upper right corner.

After a year living here, we finally feel like we've caught up on all the 'foreclosed home' to do's and are currently in 'home maintenance/fun project mode' and it feels really good.  I'm not saying we would ever buy a foreclosed home's such a risk.  You don't know what you're up against until you move in. 

I do think we got really, really lucky BUT we still spent a crazy amount of time and money getting this house back to good working order.  Looking back, I have no idea how we managed to tackle everything we did in the last year!  I'm just glad we're in a beautiful home, with a beautiful yard (the reason we moved in the first place).  We've learned so much...selling our home, buying a foreclosed home, general contracting a basement finish.  I feel like the real fun is just starting now, as we put the sunshine back into our once neglected home!

1 comment:

  1. Wow--that is quite a list! It all paid off and your home is beautiful!!!