Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our House Saga

When we were in undergrad at OU, Ryan bought a house for us in Norman.  It was precious - the perfect starter home in the perfect starter neighborhood near campus.  We lived there for 7 years, and tried to make it as cute as possible.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I tried to make it as close to the Pottery Barn catalog as funds would allow.

We got professional landscaping a few years before we sold it.  Best $$ spent for sure.

Loved my wreath.  Ryan - not so fond of it.

And I ADORED the light exterior light fixtures that Jan found for me at Garbe's in Tulsa.  (That store is the coolest!)

Here was the entrance to our home - it was a living/dining room that was really just one big room.

The kitchen.  I got the brilliant idea to stain the ENTIRE kitchen by myself approximately 2 weeks before we put the house on the market.  Before they were a light light wood - like this:

Then I slaved away at staining them this color:

Side note: MAN, do I ever miss that oven.  We left our gorgeous matching GE Profile appliances (microwave, oven, dishwasher, and fridge).   Out of all of them, I miss this oven the most.  It had two separate compartments with two separate heat controls, so baking things at different temps was no big deal.  Now I have to use the oven in the guest house if I need things on at two different temperatures.  (Wow, that really sounded snotty and it wasn't meant to.  "Oh my god, I have to use the uuuuhhhhhhven in the gueeeesssst house.  Can you imaaaaagine the horror?"  *Said with a british accent* )  The point is: I loved those appliances.

I like the darker stain, but it just doesn't look like "my" kitchen to me.  I guess it's because I stained them right before we wound up selling and leaving!  (Dumbest idea ever, btw).

Dining room.  Note: you cannot hang chair rail with Loctite.  I tried.

The back living room  (the den??)

Master bedroom.  This bedspread is NOT our real one - it is a crappy cheap and incredibly slick faux-silk bed-in-a-bag set I got to try to "bring the colors together" like they told me to on HGTV.  I hated it.  It stayed with the house.

A spare bedroom - we turned it into a poker room and sports memorabilia room.  Ryan collects all things sports related and it makes me sad that they are all chilling in boxes still in our new house.  : /

Other guest bedroom with an actual bed.

Backyard.  We also lost this in the move - our new house is half dirt and half crummy grass, so hopefully we will one day have this type of spread going on.

Laundry room.  I didn't bother staining these cabinets, so you can see what the kitchen started off as.  We left these machines too, and upgraded to amazing stainless LG units.  Remembering that makes me less sad about the oven - haha!

So this was the old house in Norman that we left.

We wanted to find a house in OKC that had a guest house, so that Michael would have a place to stay when he was in town.  We really only considered two houses.  Oooh!  Let's play House Hunters.  I am going to show you both houses and then you decide which one I picked and then I'll do the *DING DONG* noise thingy and show you which one we picked!!  Wooo!!

House 1:

This is the view when you walk in the front door.  You walk into a giant open room with a kitchen at the far back.  This is if you look left from the front door.

And this is if you look right from the front door.  The stairs go up the far right wall, and the black box in the back corner is the downstairs bathroom.

Here's me lounging on their "show couch".

The stairs.

And the family room upstairs.

Guest bedroom # 1

Guest bedroom #2

For some reason, I didn't get a pic of the master bedroom or either of the bathrooms...shrug.


And here's House # 2:

That's right - it comes with a greenhouse on the front!  Ooh-la-la!

The left of the front of the house...(sorry, I only had my zoom lens on this day, so these are as pulled back as I could get it)

Remodeled kitchen (but almost nothing else)

This is from down in the basement - there was a full fireplace.

Partially redone bathroom on the first floor - I wasn't wild about the color scheme, but it could be okay.

But the wallpaper and old light fixtures would have to go!

Now, I know you're probably thinking these are heinous, but they are REALLY cool.  Imagine them buffed and polyeurethaned (sp?) and all shiny and they would have been awesome.  They were original to the house (built in 1905).  I loved them.

This is the view looking down the (OPEN!) staircase to the first floor.  I just know Kuro would fall right down, so we propped some stuff up on it.  Now, in case it is not obvious, no one lived in this house.  It was a gaping 4,500 sf monster just sitting all alone with its old owners in Houston.

This is the bizarre window we found boarded up inside the closet on the second floor.  See my feet in the mirrored closet door?

The master bedroom.  It had gorgeous floors and appeared to be in the best condition of the whole house  (I am kicking myself for the zoom lens now - I wish you could see the rooms better)

This is a sink I found hidden inside a closet on the second floor (a different closet).  That was why I loved this house - it was so quirky and weird and random things popped up in random places (like the staircase entrance to the third floor opened about 4 feet off the ground on the 2nd floor.  Why????)

Here is that staircase I was just talking about.  It was a walk-up third floor apartment with no other access from the main house except for that 2nd floor weirdo 4-ft high door (with no stairs).  While it appeared to be used as an apartment (and it was BIG - like maybe 1000 sf), we had planned to add access from the main house and turn the entire third floor (well, fourth actually if you could the basement) into a childrens suite - a playroom and a few bedrooms.

But this was our main problem  (crap, you are probably figuring out our decision now.  Or are you???)  This would be a sunroom/greenhouse contraption that leaked water.  And I mean leaked water BAD.  You see that orange cone in the bottom right of the picture.  That's to warn people that walking there would be unacceptable.  (We never tried)

The leaks led to this:

Rotten wood (this is to the left of the front door, which is directly below the sun room.  The water had rotted the floor, which they had replaced with plywood, which had then rotted through.  Ew.)

They had to tape the window.

The seam tape was falling off due to water damage.  And note the lovely discolorations from the mold!!!


Standing water on the roof.

More mold.

The top of the sunroom - where the leak magic happened.

Caused insulation to flop out.

So that was the sunroom.  Now about the added on porch...here's the front entry to the house:  Everything that is white on the ground floor is NOT original and would have to come off.  (Side note: since both houses are in the same neighborhood, we had to deal with the historical preservation dept with either one.  The deal is that the interior of the house could be done with no approval needed, but any work to the exterior needed major approval and had tons of red tape to go through.  So, while we could fix up the interior of this house right away, the exterior could not be touched without lots of paperwork, and since it was leaking water and growing mold, there was no point in starting on the interior until the exterior was fixed.  Make sense?)

Anywho, back to the story.  All things white on the ground floor were add-ons and would have to go.  This is the right side of the original entryway/porch (the tan half-column on the right)

And the left side of the original porch.  Essentially the white stuff would need to be torn off to expose the real facade of the house, which was STILL THERE, believe it or not!!!  This house once had a gracious porch and NO sunroom.  But we couldn't rip off this white siding until the sunroom was off, otherwise it would have crashed down on the first floor.  So essentially, all the renovations needed to be done right away, but the house wouldn't have been livable during these renovations, and we needed somewhere to live!  I think I tallied up the renovations and we estimated a good $200,000 would have to be pumped into the house right away for renos.

But look at this little guy!  He is on the outside of the house, to the right of the bay window in the front guest bedroom.  I LOVE him.

This guy, I did NOT love.  Hello annoying.  Seriously, there is almost nothing more annoying than a beagle.  Sorry but it's true.

Here's the formal living room.  

Stupid stupid zoom lens!!!  So, which one did we pick?






HOUSE # 2!!!  This one:

I know, right???  What were we thinking??  Actually, we were thinking it was $25/sf in a neighborhood where homes can fetch 5 times that value.  Literally, this was to be our retirement plan - buy it, completely renovate it, live there with our kids, in a GORGEOUSLY redone massive-sized home, and then one day sell it for oodles of money OR have glorious familial gatherings there a la the Walker residence from Brothers & Sisters.  Hooray!  We win!   

We applied for and were accepted to star in a reality TV show about the renovation of our home (no kidding) and were to be compensated $25,000.  The catch: we had to finish our complete renovations within 6 months.  And since we work 6 days a week, until 7 PM each night, there was almost no way we'd have enough time to get it done that fast.  But since they have to pay camera people and their living expenses, the timeline was non-negotiable.  So we were stressed about that to say the least.  But we pressed on, and made an offer and got a counter, and countered that, and settled on a final price.  We did inspections galore, on the foundation, plumbing, electrical, structure, roof, etc.  We hired an architect and began the paperwork for the historical society to get that damn sunroom off the front of the house.  We got our mortgage in place and were rocking right along since it was SO SO cheap!  Everything was in place.

And then our architect said this: "Hmmm...well you know that when we rip off the sunroom, we'll have to have a haz-mat team tent the place and do the removal, right?"  Me: "Why?"  Him: "Well, this is asbestos siding and it's toxic."  Me: "Huh.  Well, okay.  Whatever."  

Me recounting that same story to my MIL later that night:  Me: "And he said we'd even get a cool haz-mat team to tent the house for removal of the siding because it has asbestos siding.  And then I think we should call the landscaper because the flowerbeds are absolutely atrocious.  And what about cleaning up the plants around the driveway?"  Her:  "SCREEEECCHHHH!!! I'm sorry, did you say ASBESTOS?!?!"  Me" "Yeah, why?"  Her: "Call your realtor NOW!!!!!"

Turns out she was right, as that innocent sounding asbestos removal was going to cost us $125,000!!!!!  Did I mention it was a big house?  Are you kidding me?!?!  It was at this point that I did call my realtor, and since there was a material omission in the listing, we got our earnest $ back and moved on down the road.  Sigh.  

I still think about it and wish it would have been our dream house and perfectly easy to renovate and lovely and wonderful and birds chirping and sunshine and roses.  It's really easy for me to romanticize things from my past and make them better than they really were.  This is what's happening here.  In reality, my husband and I would probably be in the middle of a divorce if we had stayed with that house.  It would have taken every single drop of $ that we could get our hands on, the cameras would have stressed us to the max, the pressure of the timeline beating upon us, we would have done things wrong and have ceilings crashing down on us or fires from crappy electrical work that we had rushed to get done, or been held up by historic society approval.  Essentially the house would have always been a work in progress, and would never really be finished.  And that would have strained our relationship so much.  And who wants that drama?  

So we went down the road (4 blocks north of the other house) and bought House #1 - the finished loft-style house. 

 It really was so much easier to just move in and worry about what color to paint the room rather than worry about how to hang drywall.  It is sometimes sad though - we lost about 1500 square feet in the house change.  Don't get me wrong, 3000 sf is still plenty, but before I had all sorts of wacky nooks and weirdo useless rooms that I could have really spread out in.  But I'm still holding onto the hopes of winning the lottery and then I will evict whoever lives in that house and turn it into the plans I have stored on file in my brain.  :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh what memories we had in your Norman house! Not to say I'm not glad you aren't dead of mesothelioma.