We Own A House!
Well, it’s finally happened. I didn’t want to say anything before now because more than once the plan simply didn’t come together. After all the near misses and all the disappointments I wasn’t about to jinx it again by telling the world that my family and I were trying to get yet another house. Persistence paid off and we are the proud owner of a turn of the century four family just north of downtown Saint Louis. Abandoned for years, maybe decades, the previous owner, an older white couple who lived out in the far suburbs of Saint Charles, said they had bought the place to flip it. But the man’s health took a turn for the worse and they decided to liquidate and try to take life a little easier.
All the traditional real estate websites proved useless. Way more often than it should have happened, by the time a house came onto the market it was already sold. We were always a day late in trying to get first dibs on a house. And the houses that were available had so many obvious structural problems that they weren’t even worth free. We knew we wanted an old house. But a lot of the old houses we looked at weren’t even fit to serve as a barn for farm animals.
We were getting desperate. We looked at one house that was so badly butchered, the owner had actually cut into a beautiful ornate stair case to install a half assed half bath on the first floor. The staircase was rerouted around the bathroom and the detour was so poorly done it looked like it was put together by blind beavers with nothing more than their bucked teeth as saws. But like I said, we were desperate. We actually thought that this was as good as our chances to buy a house were going to get. It was only after we had the house inspected prior to sale did we really realize how bad the condition of the house was. It was literally falling in on itself. Without immediate and expensive intervention it was only a matter of time before the house collapsed into a pile of rubble. We were desperate, but again, the house wasn’t worth free.
So when we found this latest example it was too good to be true. We walked in and the floors were straight instead of leaning heavily to one side of the room. The walls went straight up and down. The staircases were intact and free of half assed modifications. There was a heavy pocket door in one of the apartments that actually worked as if it was oiled just yesterday. The house was, is gorgeous and it needs a lot of work.
Most of the plaster had been removed exposing the studs. Most of the wood was straight and in good condition. The exception was the floors in a couple of the kitchens where it looked like the wood was weakened from excessive water damage. That’s going to take a little work to fix. But it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. We wanted the house and we didn’t want to take a chance on having someone else buy it right from under us. We asked how flexible they were on the price. They said very. We made an offer. They countered. We had a deal. It took two weeks to close. It took nearly all of our cash, but we bought the house without a mortgage.
Now, that was a little while ago. Since then, we’ve discovered that the plumbing needed to be updated to city code and the electrical needed to be updated to city code and the house needed a little roof repair straight off the bat. We’ve had to spend a lot more money than we thought we would just to get the house livable. With all the money we’ve spent, we can’t afford to move, at least not anytime soon.
But that’s okay because although the house has been gutted, there are a few furniture and heavy appliances that need to carried out. There’s an old stove and several old furnaces and some furniture that needs to be carried out. We went to move one piece and saw a bunch of spiders rushing out once it started to move. Not cool. A quick trip to the store to buy a bunch of insecticide foggers would fix that problem. When we set the foggers off in all the rooms of all the units we went outside pulling the door to behind us. Before we could drive away, it started raining roaches and water bugs. The bugs were scrambling out the windows and any cracks in the walls and some were too gassed to cling to the brick wall. Not cool at all!
We’ll fog it up at least a couple more times before we move in. We still have to sort out our plumbing and electrical. And we still have yet to talk to anyone about our heating and air conditioning needs. We’re going to move into one unit as soon as possible, work on the other units, and when they’re up to snuff, we’ll move into one of them and then work on the last unit. It’ll take a while, we know that. But that’s okay because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have a beautiful house just waiting for us to make it our home and maybe the home for a couple other families as well.