First, here is a video from several weeks before escrow actually closed. Notice the huge smile on Isaiah’s face. We were just so excited to have finally scored a house!

These days, the smile alternates between a frown, pursed lips, and a forced grin. We do feel very blessed to actually own a home now and don’t want to sound ungrateful, but this post is meant to shed some light on the REALITY of purchasing a fixer-upper.

After tearing down the paneling, we discovered an empty doorway! That needs drywall and stuff. We also found a boarded-up window, which will also need some drywall and stuff.

After removing the shag carpeting to reveal that beautiful red and white oak floor, we found many boards had suffered termite damage. A section was boarded up to cover up where an old floor heater used to be. Where walls had been torn down, wood was haphazardly placed to fill the space.

These were all little surprises we would never have known about during showings of the home… so beware of what’s lurking beneath carpeting and paneling!

Hot Tip: BEFORE escrow closes, check with your city’s building office and county assessor’s office to check on building permits connected to the home you are purchasing.

We discovered, keys-already-in-hand, much of our home was illegally built, despite the listing agent’s claims that the garage conversion was completed with permits. Ha. For a 1200 square-foot home, we have proof (copies of original permits) that only about 800 square feet are legal. Had we known this information prior to closing, it’s hard to say if we would have backed out of the sale or not.

This whole business of improving an old house IS OVERWHELMING!  Especially if you do the work yourself (as in a crew of ONE), with a limited budget, while keeping a full-time job, and sometimes using vacation days to work.  You will bitch about it, you will be tired, and it will suck. But it will all be worth it in the end. RIGHT???


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