A Midlife Crisis in 37 Pages

inspectionIt occurs to me that my wish for a new (old) house is my version of a midlife crisis. I turned 45 today, and if family genetics bear out, that is indeed about midway of this my mortal life. Hell – behind the house I want there’s even a forest savage, rough and stern, of sorts.

Moving on from Dante to a far more alarming text…the 37-page inspection, complete with pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph (or more) under each.

Yesterday, I had the general inspection of the house I want to buy, and this morning, I got the report. It would be terrifying to read, except that I was already aware of the crazy amount of work the place would entail.

My plans and budget can accommodate several large-ticket items including a new roof (and parts that connect to it), exterior painting and a modicum of foundation repairs, as well as a few less-pricey things (glass for the dozen or so cracked windows, paint for every room) and a handful of inexpensive items (IcyHot patches, ibuprofen).

But it seems there may be enough water issues to necessitate re-plumbing the entire house; I wasn’t expecting that. (I won’t know for sure unless/until I get a plumber to have a look). And unless/until I get a structural engineer to look at the foundation, I don’t know what needs to be repaired, how it would be repaired or what it would cost.

Plumbing and foundation work alone could put an irrevocable dent in the budget.

Nonetheless I still love the house, and am willing to live with no kitchen cabinets and no dishwasher, and with a wholly unattractive bathroom for a long time if that’s what it takes. (I’d have to replace the washing machine right away though; it looked as if several dozen generations of furry creatures had lived and died in there.)

Of course, none of this matters if mine doesn’t sell, and quickly.

Maybe I should set my sights on a midlife crisis Audi TT as a backup. Or a VW Microbus; I could live in that.

Where’s Virgil when you need him?

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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30 Responses to A Midlife Crisis in 37 Pages

  1. BarbS says:

    Literary references aside, the one glaring missing item here is your desire for a Shop. Seems to me that should be a priority. Is there existing Shop space? If it isn’t up to snuff, all the rest of this could weight the decision heavily to a negative!

  2. Martin Shaw says:

    I vote for the Audi

  3. Hans says:

    plumbing is easy, just use pex

  4. BarbS says:

    A door on grade to the backyard? Full sized windows? Lots of space? Wow. There’s your answer, right there!

  5. Jim Kelley says:

    Something tells me your A&C house will be there for you even if it takes a while for you to find the perfect buyer for your current home. If you still intend to pursue the A&C, you should consider moving ahead w/a visit from a reputable plumber and a foundation company with the thought of renegotiating a house-price reduction to cover those hidden costs. It’s one thing to accept the future cost of a roof but quite another to deal w/replumbing and potential structural costs.

    • Mark says:

      Jim is spot on about using the inspectors findings to renegotiate the price. Wear and tear items usually won’t fly but foundation and structural issues certainly will. And if they don’t budge on the price, you probably don’t really need the headache. As for plumbing, assuming your area allows it, anyone who can build the pieces you’ve done can certainly learn to sweat a piece of copper in about fifteen minutes and do a passable job. Most municipalities allow PVC waste connections and that’s about as difficult as tinker toys once you learn a few rules. Most importantly though, happy birthday. I hope you take a little time to celebrate and appreciate the years passed and look forward to the years ahead.

  6. mysticcarver says:

    Sometimes we just have to go for it! Even when doubt creeps in and makes us re-think our decisions. Sounds like for every piece of doubt you have about this move, you have 20 swaying you back to the original plan! I say go for it and damned be he that first cries Hold! Enough!

  7. Patrick says:

    I have kind of an obvious question? How are you going to pay to stock your new shop when all of your money is going into major repairs? And, assuming you found an answer to that question, I have a follow up question: How much time to you plan to spend in this new shop when all of your time is spent on major home repairs, your day job, and sleep?

    I’m with Jim and Mark above, if it is in that bad shape, structural problems found in due diligence can be used to renegotiate (if you are bound and determined to buy) or to walk from the deal.

    • fitz says:

      I have most of the tools I need already; just need a place to put them!

      A lot of the work I would personally be doing involves woodworking – lots of missing mouldings, window stops and returns (along with a lot of plaster repair and painting, among other things). And of course, I’d need some new furniture…

      I like doing this kind of stuff – really!


  8. Black Stripe says:

    Happy Birthday! Lots of good advice up there! 45 is old enough to recognize it too.

  9. Bob Jones says:

    Assume the worst in possible repairs and lower the offer by enough to cover them. All they can say is no. There are lots of houses for sale now. Good luck!

  10. johnhippe says:

    Happy Birthday. I am with you on this. I love the idea of pursuing ones dreams…even when there are a thousand reasons saying not to. Sometimes these things cannot be quantified. I think others here are wise to consider the risk of a money pit but still…

  11. mike mays says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! whens the offer coming on your house? keep the fingers crossed

  12. Joe Olivas says:

    A home inspector once told me there can be a case made to not buy any house.

    The house has been standing for 90+ years; it probably won’t fall over any time soon. It’s made from wood, so anything can be fixed. If plumbing isn’t actively leaking, it can wait and be fixed as needed.

    I own a house built in 1886. Fix problems that are immediate, and plan for the rest; you know how it goes.

    It’ll be fine.

  13. John Wolf says:

    Happy Birthday! I live in a poorly built 19th century farmhouse that has always been owned by people with very little money or know how. It’s on a ragged little hardscrabble farm I run with cast off equipment and tools. More often than not I’m running back and forth between repair projects. Usually the thought in my head is “I love this place”. If you feel that way about the place, and the money isn’t insurmountable, simple patience and persistence will provide what you need, although probably not as quickly as you would like. As a bonus, your life will be full.

  14. Ron Dennis says:

    It sounds like a money pit. The structural issues should be enough to scare you off. Added to that, the re-plumbing could be simple IF the governance codes allow PEX.

  15. Ed Clarke says:

    I’m a little concerned with the roof replacement. If it’s leaking inside the walls, it doesn’t take a long time to create significant but invisible problems. Also, if this is a craftsman house then how well insulated is it?

    I’m in the process of replacing the roof on my shed right now (18’x20′) and I’m up to $2k in materials before I even start. Sixteen sheets of plywood and a lot of 2x10x20 beams. Stupid hurricane last year dropped a tulip poplar right across the shed and broke a bunch of beams.

    Maybe you should keep looking.

  16. ceplawn says:

    Forty five—time to free the mind and spirit to create—

  17. Wow, I made my MLC so much easier by just ordering a custom Wayne Anderson plane…

    Was a lot cheaper, too. 😉 Want his number?

    • ceplawn says:

      What is the advantage of this plane??? Sounds nuts, but I am at a loss.

      • fitz says:

        large and dry basement at grade for a shop…and I like projects (and A&C bungalows).

        • I’m entirely unfamiliar with USA’s realty market so I’m most probably asking quite a stupid question.

          But since you like A&C bungalows why not start from scratch? Begin by the shop at the basement properly designed, placed, dimensioned and oriented, and let, say, a G&G Ultimate Bungalow grow as time and finances allow?

          • fitz says:

            That’s an interesting idea…but beyond my ability to deal with (both psychologically and financially). By the time I bought a plot of land in an area that I like, and paid an architect to draw plans for submission to city for approval, I’d likely be at half my budget already. A relative of mine “built” a bespoke house, and it was massively expensive – well over his already substantial budget.

  18. Sounds like a “This Old House” project

  19. joemcglynn says:

    After having had several MLCs I can totally support everyone else’s.

    The BMW M-Roadster was a hoot. Red, loud and fast. The chopper parts business taught me several interesting life lessons and yielded several vehicles that were loud and fast in midnight black and tangerine metal flake. My son continues to provide new growth opportunities for me. I don’t regret any of them, and find life much richer for the experiences.

    Listen to everyone’s advice, then follow your heart.

  20. Bill Murr says:

    I zoomed in on the report, and would caution you about the structural and termite issues. I’ve done major rehabs before, and unless you want to jack the house yourself without permits and inspections, expect major issues with you local building authorities. They have a tendency to insist on following current building codes, and this structure would be difficult to modify.
    It’s quite possible that to properly correct the cracking brick walls; (likely set on no or bad footers) it will be cheaper to lift up the house and demo the entire basement and walls, adding a new footer and poured walls.

  21. Brent says:

    I have always enjoyed yor writing, your woodworking and your sense of humor. The addition of an “Alice’s restaurant” reference was icing on the cake! You have been elevated to a high place and are held in great esteem.

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