...because home doesn't happen overnight.
03.04.11 / Too Much

Most of the homes we’re looking at as possible downsizing options are foreclosures, short sales and/or estate sales and many of them are empty.  Meaning no one is living in them at the moment. In fact, we’ve walked through at least a dozen by now and I think only 2 of them had the utilities on. We’ve been relying heavily on flashlights and batteries.  I figured it’d be okay to take pics along the way and share our house hunting adventure with you since it’s not like we’re impeding on anyone’s privacy.  Here’s one of the first bank-owned foreclosures we went to see just a few weeks ago. From the online photos, Handy Hubby and I knew we’d be smitten with this nearly 100-year-old home.  We also knew there were probably quite a few costly repairs that would be required just to live in it.  Still, if even just for fun, we wanted to walk through it. Forgive the photo quality…electricity was shut off and it was evening time, so lighting was poor.  Plus, I had my old point-and-shoot camera with me that doesn’t take quite as good pictures but, hopefully, you’ll get the idea.

As I said, this home was old, built in 1912.  Here’s the front door from the inside…

…and the adjoining entryway that leads to the rest of the first floor and a set of stairs to the second floor…

Notice the original wood floors still in great condition.  The ceilings were really high too.  Probably 9′-10′ tall.  To the left of the entry and beyond a set of lovely french doors was the massive fireplace in the living room…

Opposite the fireplace was a large wall of windows with a window seat below…

At the end of the living room were 2 sets of french doors leading to a tiled sunroom with newer windows.  Possibly an addition?

Back to the entry…to the right of the entry was the formal dining room which boasted original windows and a window seat as well.  It also had 2 built-in corner cabinets.

Beyond the dining room was the kitchen.  To us, it looked original – especially the farm sink – and I even liked the linoleum floors.  It had tons of cabinet space and storage along with a little eat-in breakfast nook.

Upstairs there were 4 ginormous bedrooms all with the same hardwood flooring.  I could have stared at those floors all day long.

The 2 full bathrooms {one on the first floor and one on the second floor} were both large but missing fixtures.  We couldn’t tell for sure if the tile and flooring were original or not but they sure matched the style of the home beautifully.

I don’t have any exterior shots of the house but it was stucco with a detached 2-car garage and almost no yard.  You can imagine all the decor ideas that were racing through my head during and after our tour. The place was amazing.  So much potential.  Such a great neighborhood.  Awesome public schools.  A short 25-minute drive to Handy Hubby’s work.  Original details and loads of character.  The drawbacks?  For one, it was listed at the top of our price range even though it was a foreclosure.  We probably could have gotten it for less than the listing price but there were several major and costly factors to consider.  It needed a new roof, gutters and soffit for starters. There were also quite a few cracks in the walls and ceilings, so we were scared of structural problems.  The full unfinished basement smelled musty and most likely leaked.  Even with all of that to ponder, that’s not what broke the deal for us.  We would have been happy to fix all those things and live in that gorgeous house.  BUT.  The big but. BUT…the heating system still included the gas boiler/radiator system along with a very old furnace.  I loved the look of the old radiators and would’ve kept them just for decor’s sake.  BUT…radiators aren’t exactly known for heating efficiently {even though they can be great for allergy sufferers} which is probably why a furnace was eventually added to the heating system of the house.  We were very scared just thinking about what it would cost to heat and cool that old home. Did I mention it was 3200 square feet?  Not exactly small.  And definitely not downsizing material. {We would have actually been gaining square footage.}  Sure, we could have afforded to buy the home and make some repairs but I don’t think we could have afforded to live in it.  At least not comfortably.  So, we had to say no to that big ol’ house even though we really wanted to say yes. Handy Hubby and I could totally see ourselves working on that house until the day we died.  We even talked about putting a metal roof on it and installing an energy efficient geothermal heating/cooling system.  If we’d had the funds.  In the end, we decided this home would have been TOO MUCH.  Too much money, too much work, too much space, too much utilities, too much stress.

Who knows?  Maybe we’ll hunt down that house again some day after we’ve saved up a bunch of cash from downsizing and paying off our mortgage!  Lord knows, I’m keeping all these photos on file just to look at and dream about every once in a while.  Whoever does get that house is one lucky homeowner.  I’m sorry it won’t be me.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

33 Comments

04.March.2011

Walking into a beautiful, hundred year old fixer-upper is kind of like walking into a pet shop full of puppies and kittens. You snuggle and fall in love and forget about the cost of the shots and supplies and cleaning up the poop. All you’re thinking is “It’s sooooo cute… can we keep it??”

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replied on March 4th, 2011

Candice – So true!!!! I love your analogy. It was very hard to say no to that old house.

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04.March.2011

I am drooling over that house. The home I grew up in in S. California had floors like that, set in a sort of log cabin quilt design. We had 2 radiators heated by natural gas to heat 1900 sq feet, but then again, it was S. Cal. Not like it gets super cold there. And ours had a fireplace in the center of the house which also helped with the heat. The built in china cupboards remind me of the ones in the movie Dickie Roberts (with David Spade). I actually took screen shots of the house in case I ever wanted to copy the look. Even if the house was at the top of your range, you can always offer less. My husband’s aunt offered half of what they were asking for a house and got it. Seriously, we paid more for our car than she did for her house. Just a thought.

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04.March.2011

Is the entire house really that avacado green color or is that just your camera/my computer screen playing tricks on me? Wow.
I stumbled across your blog a couple weeks ago and I love what you’ve done w/ your house! I can’t wait to see what treasure of a house you end up finding to fix up next :)

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replied on March 4th, 2011

Angela – Yes, that green is the true hue. No camera tricks.

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04.March.2011

Gosh, I wish we had houses like that around here! I’m sorry we won’t get to watch you transform it! It sure does have some great features! I am drooling over the built-in cabinets and window seats, the wood floors, the farmhouse sink, even the bathroom!

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04.March.2011

That home is beautiful, so many possibilities.. I would be in heaven in this home.. About where is this house.. I wish it was here in Texas.

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replied on March 4th, 2011

Suzanne – It’s around Dayton, OH. I could send you the link to the listing if you want. As of today, it was still available!

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04.March.2011

actually, hot water or steam (radiator) is one of the most efficient ways to heat.

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04.March.2011

ooh, the floors in that place are so lovely!

our first home was like this, a 1920’s gambrel in VT…it had the original oil-fired boiler, radiators, lots of asbestos and lead paint remediation to do…with small kids, it was a lot to handle, even with several months to work on it before we moved…

during our search a few years ago, we saw a similar house in the older (and more expensive) part of Upper Arlington, and my husband saw that gleam in my eye, dreaming of our first home…but from experience, we knew it wasn’t the right house at the right time…Candice hit the nail on the head with her analogy, though, that’s for sure!!

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04.March.2011

I can completely see why you fell in love with that house. I did just looking at the photos. It’s absolutely beautiful.

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04.March.2011

What a beautiful home! However… the house I sold and moved out of last summer had that same type of heating system, and I was so happy to bid those old radiators farewell! I know my opinion doesn’t really matter, but I think you made the right choice.

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Yes, please! It’s nearly three times the size of our house. That’s nuts.

I’m really curious about the radiator inefficiency comment – even having grown up in Maine where everyone has baseboard or steam radiator heat I’ve never heard that they were inefficient. I passionately hate hot-air heat, but it’s all the houses in our area have now, unfortunately. Anyway, if you have a minute to email me, I’d love to read up more on the efficiency stats. (I know, such a dork!)

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05.March.2011

I just wanted to add to what the other kelly said–radiators are actually fairly efficient. They just take a little while to warm up, so the house is not instantly warm when you turn them on. You can get thermostats for individual radiators and program them to turn off and on when you need the heat. For example, they can be shut off in the bedrooms during the day and turned on again shortly before bedtime to warm the room, then turned down at night (we turn ours off at night except when it’s supersuper cold, but then we don’t mind it being 50 degrees when we are sleeping). That said, for maximum efficiency you’d need a new furnace and perhaps new radiators (cast iron is not as efficient as newer convection radiators and hot water is more energy efficient than steam). But no need to run ducting thither and hin through a house not designed for ducting.

Still, a gorgeous, gorgeous house. I miss hardwood floors and fancy molding and built-in cupboards. Instant atmosphere and soooo many possibilities. Sigh.

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05.March.2011

awesome house….BUT i totally disagree with your comment about radiator heat being inefficient! having grown up with forced air heat and then moving to new england with radiant heat i will never, ever, ever, EVER choose forced air heat over radiant! it is so cozy and effective. that’s why people are doing things like radiant heat floors in new homes…because it works so well!

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05.March.2011

Here in Portland a house like that in a good neighborhood would cost a fortune! You are fortunate to live where you do…more options in a reasonable price range…I’m jealous!

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Thanx for letting us be part of your search for the perfect home for you! I enjoy your posts!

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05.March.2011

Gorgeous home! Doesn’t sound like it’s the “right” one for you guys, though. Keep us updated on your hunt! Good luck : )

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06.March.2011

Hi! I just stumbled onto your blog because I was looking for others who are downsizing — because they want to— just like my husband and I. I love that you are sharing your story–so I’ve put you on my favorites list! Good luck to you!

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06.March.2011

I found your blog recently and am totally addicted to it! You are very creative and have great taste! Can’t wait to see what you are going to do on your new house!
Good luck house hunting!

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LOVE LOVE LOVE this house! But probably a smart decision to say “no” if you know that it’ll be costly to live in. Trust me, heating and cooling an old home costs WAY more than I’d like to admit… my hubby and I live in a 1928 home and just the power bill runs us several hundred dollars a month. For just the two of us. Sheesh. Good luck house hunting!

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07.March.2011

Oooh, it’s so pretty… We have lots of houses like that in Saint Louis, but they are all within the city limits and have small lots. Both of which are turn-offs for the Mr.
For shame. *sniffle*

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That house looks sooo amazing. The possibilities just seem endless. Old homes hold such wonderful charm. Happy house hunting!!:)

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07.March.2011

We live in 1920s home with the original radiators and a relatively new boiler that was put in a few years before we bought the house. There’s no denying that old homes are a lot of work, but we’ve found the radiators are probably the most reliable part of our old house. They haven’t let us down yet! Even with no insulation, they heat consistently and are cozy because they just “radiate” the heat. We put reflective backing behind our radiators and it really helps to “push” the heat out into the rooms. I’m sure they’re not as efficient as a newer heating system, but they don’t cost as much more in a monthly heating bill as we had expected and you can’t beat the charm of an old house! Good luck with your search!

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07.March.2011

that house is amazing. We dont have houses like that where I live (vegas) ohh but I wish I did. Thanks for sharing.

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Those window seats are to die for. I have always wanted window seats. And those gorgeous hardwood floors!!! Drooling over here, but you are right, it sounded like way to much work and of course money. But it would have been nice to see what you and Handy Hubby would have done to that place. There is a “Home” out there for your family and you will find the right one and we will love watching you two fix it up. Thanks for sharing! :D

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08.March.2011

Jo, Elise & Felicity – Thank you so much for speaking up on the whole boiler/radiator heating system! After Handy Hubby and I toured this home, I read up a little on radiator systems and while properly cared for and maintained systems can heat homes well, the home we were looking to buy had the original gas boiler that would likely need to be replaced and we had no idea how well the system had been maintained. We could see that a furnace with ductwork had been added to the home at some point leading us to believe that the radiators, along with the home’s insulation {or lack thereof} and size {3200 sq ft}, weren’t heating in a cost-efficient manner. Of course, all of this was just assumption on our part. We would have needed a thorough home inspection to determine the ‘official’ condition of the entire heating system. And, in the end {or the beginning, I guess}, we are looking to buy something that can get us out of debt. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love and still LOVE that house. Think about it every day. Handy Hubby and I decided it just wasn’t what we are looking for right now…even though we really wanted it to be. I definitely didn’t mean to offend anyone who lives in a home with a boiler/radiator system and am not opposed to living in a home with one.

I really appreciate your opinions! And I am certainly no expert on houses and everything that goes with them. I’m solely sharing my experiences with them.

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08.March.2011

Wow – I love the floors in this house. The pattern reminds me of the floors in my little house: http://tnsunshinehome.blogspot.com/2010/10/day-162-coat-3-of-poly.html

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replied on March 8th, 2011

Angie – Those are some seriously gorgeous floors! They almost look like pools of liquid.

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09.March.2011

Just to encourage you, my husband and I recently bought our first house (after being married for 10 years!), its 100 years old (I have a thing for old homes, will only live in them if I can help it!) and its everything I wanted and more. BUT, we didn’t realize until moving in how horrible the windows are, we can literally FEEL the breeze across our face while in bed at night. To heat/cool all 2661 sq ft is a fortune every month and we bought this house largely b/c of the low price tag and how much space we got/how beautiful it was. So, although I love it, and truthfully would do it all over again, I was definitely naive to the cost of actually LIVING in the house versus the reasonable mortgage. You are super smart to consider both. But yes, a lovely home indeed!

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09.March.2011

We were might-ily tempted by an old Victorian in a quaint little town a few weeks ago. It would be a fabulous place to live … once it was fixed up. However, the sheer amount of work was beyond what we can tackle, especially since we found out we’re expecting baby #2 in October and that means my hands are largely out for major remodeling projects. Hang in there — you’ll find the right house for your family and your situation. Enjoy the search!

Emma
City Roots, Country Life

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09.March.2011

I just bought an old house 100 years to be exact, it was a short sale, it is absolutely charming and my husband and I can’t wait to fix and design it. It needs all the same tweaks that the one you saw did, Don’t be afraid , we even have a leaky basement and a big old burner. Buy that house, Oh and by the way, we got the house for almost 80k less, than asking price since it was a short sale. I will send pics if you like.

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replied on March 10th, 2011

Desiree – Congrats on your new, old home! It sounds lovely. The older home I featured just dropped its listing price by $20,000. I know they’re wanting to get rid of it. Just not sure if we’re the ones that should take it off the market?? It’s really more space than we need and I already detest cleaning the ‘big’ house we have…which is odd because I actually like to clean.

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