Tag Archives: remodel

We got an offer on the house!

It’s official: We got an offer on the house last night — May 28.

This sale was not without drama. Stepping out and looking at the situation objectively, we went into the situation wearing rose-colored glasses. Both financially and to meet our travel plans, we needed an immediate sale. Since the Seattle housing market is so hot, I believed we would get that immediate sale, and so I didn’t really make a Plan B.

Last week, after missing our May 20 departure date and as we approached one month on the market, our realtor pushed to drop the price. This annoyed me for several reasons, not the least of which was that we had gotten ZERO push-back on the price of the house. The push-back was about distance from town, not price, something we couldn’t fix.

Jay and I talked, and we talked about what would happen if the house didn’t sell. What finally sunk in was that by doing this huge remodel, we had thrown ourselves from having a mortgage and no other debt to being BURIED in debt. If we didn’t sell SOON we would have to move back in. Could we afford it? Yes, but it would take all of our monthly income just to cover the debt and expenses — with nothing left for unexpected things, and that’s not a comfortable way to live.

The problem was lowering the price would eat the profit we were counting on — so much so that even going to Mexico was at risk. Basically, we were looking at drowning in debt or being broke. Not a great choice.

We lowered the price.

I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t what I had planned. I wasn’t trying to bankrupt my family. I didn’t want to give up our home and get nothing for it.

“Let’s pull it off the market,” I told Jay. “I want to go home. We’ll try again in a few years when we have more equity and have paid down some of the debt.”

He agreed. But it was Sunday evening, and we didn’t want to both our realtor at home. “Call him in the morning.”

We didn’t get a chance. That was yesterday, and last night he called us with an offer. Jay crunched the numbers. We could make it to Mexico. We would be close to broke, but debt-free, and we would be in a country where we could probably bank a lot of savings.

We accepted the offer. If all goes well, the house closes on June 28, and we leave for Mexico on July 28.

It’s… bittersweet. After deciding to go home, I was sorry to get the offer. (I know that sounds weird.) The excitement has gone out of the plan, at least for now. But Mexico will enable us to rebuild our safety net, and “debt-free” is very enticing.

There’s much to do, but I’m pretty sure we just overcame the biggest hurdle standing between us and our life of travel.

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The house is on the market!

The house is officially on the market! Hooray! It has been a hectic couple of weeks as our contractor finished up, we had two “open house” parties for our friends, and we got all the last-minute details taken care of.

Here is the link to listing — which will work only as long as the house is on the market:

https://www.windermere.com/listing/56718622/gallery

And here is a selection of the pro photos that were taken. There are more on the listing, but since the listing won’t be up forever, I wanted to grab a few photos to remember the place by. (Click for larger versions.)

Satellite photo, showing how close the house and barn are.

The house itself. That’s the front porch to the left, and the sunroom to the right.

The kitchen in the main cabin.

The great room on the main floor. Love that ceiling!

The master bedroom on the top floor of the house.

My office — counted as one of the three bedrooms.

The sun room. Tons of light, and it looks out on the pastures.

My gorgeous, gorgeous basement. There’s a 3/4 bath, a walk-in closet, and a room that is plumbed and could be finished as a kitchenette.

Our cute barn and the attached graveled dry lot.

Out gorgeous pasture, as seen from the back deck.

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Before we move: Remodeling the house

We own just shy of 10 acres, about 40% cleared and fenced for horses, 60% heavily wooded. The house is ~2400 square feet, and there’s a barn and graveled dry lot.

That was our house when we moved in, back in 2004. I’d post a pic now, but I’m not ready. We have to do a LOT of work to get it ready to sell. I’ll post pics when it’s done though!

Remodeling the house to sell is a necessity, if we want top dollar. In order to do it, though, we have to get a loan against the equity in the house. A big loan — bigger than we want to afford long-term, which means once we pulled the trigger, the sale was a done deal. We couldn’t change our minds and keep the house.

We pulled the trigger in December, built an exhaustive list (with the help of our realtor), and hired our long-term contractor, Todd, to do the work. He started the work this month, with a goal of getting it on the market April 1. There’s a lot to do!

One of the biggest impacts of pulling this trigger was that Jay and I (and the dogs) had to move to a rental house. Could we have stayed? Sure, but it would have been hard on everyone, especially the dogs, and it would have slowed Todd down considerably. We want fast, so we moved out.

We lucked into a 6-month lease on an adorable house in Fall City, about 30 minutes away. The owner of the rental house is in college, and it just looking for someone to rent while she’s out of the state. We are hoping to be heading to Mexico by the end of May, so this was perfect. The rental house is small, but it has an awesome yard for the dogs, so we’ll make it work.

Jay and I have loved living in Duvall, and we love this house. Over the years we’ve made improvements that made it comfortable and OURS. We always knew, though, that we couldn’t grow old here. There’s too much upkeep, and the plethora of stairs make it a house for young people. I thought I would be more sad about letting it go, but the push into the rental house was so quick and busy that I didn’t have to miss the old house.

If there’s any regret, it’s that we didn’t get a chance to finish the remodel in a way that WE would have wanted. This last push will make big changes, specifically with the purpose of selling it, not to make us happy.

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Wrapping up 2012

Wow — it has been a long time since I updated my blog! There has been a good reason for that: I’ve been heads down on a huge project at work. Lots and lots of overtime. But the largest part of it wraps up this weekend (handoff on Monday), and it’s time to do an update. Lots of changes around here.

Critters
All three dogs are doing well. Pax is getting older, which breaks my heart. I can’t stand the thought of losing him — ever. Most of my critter update isn’t dogs, though — it’s horses. Back in August, Mr. Blue came home again. I was inordinately glad to see him! I’d missed him terribly. Our barn is in no shape for horses, so I’m boarding him at Eden Farms where I’m taking riding lessons. Here’s a picture of him at a clinic acting as a demo horse with Monica.

09302012a

 

A couple of months later, Monica posted the picture of a horse in the Enumclaw kill pen. (Translation: a horse who had been purchased by a guy who sells them by the pound to slaughter houses.) We made a deal: I’d buy him and cover his stall, she’d train him, and then we’d sell him in the spring.

Yeah, that selling part? So not happening. This is Charlie, right after he came in:

IMG_0946

Can’t get a good look at him there — sorry. He’s a quarter horse, extremely similar to Blue in size and build. He is an absolute love! He’s doing well in his training, and hopefully will get his first ride soon. Right now I’m intending to keep him. If he ends up being unsuitable for me under saddle, I’ll go ahead with the plan to sell him.

Miss Guin is still down in Olympia, happily retired at my friend Leslie’s place. I get down there once or twice a year, and Leslie gives me updates. I bought her a new purple blanket for Christmas. Hopefully Leslie will send me a photo!

My long-term plans for the horses are up in the air. We were planning to rehab the barn this spring so we could bring everyone home, but my job situation (and our funds) got iffy, so I’m not sure what will happen. More on the job situation further down.

The remodel
We still have no walls in the basement. However we have propane, and the electrical and plumbing have been done, and we’ve got a brand new whole-house generator installed! That was a huge part of the project, and we’re thrilled to have it done. It means that winter can throw its worst at us, and we’ll be fine.

It also means we can have horses at the house again. See, our well is wired into the house. No power = no water. That’s not a huge problem for humans and dogs, but it’s a MAJOR issue with horses. That generator solved the last big horse-owning problem we had.

The next major step in the remodel is to redo the stairs to the basement and finish Jay’s office. Both parts of that are huge, expensive undertakings. Right now those steps are on hold, because of my job.

Work
The major project was a major success. It was, without reservation, my favorite project ever. I’m extremely blessed to have gotten to spend the past six months focused exclusively on it. I’ll be sad to see it end. Technically, though, it isn’t ending. I am.

As kudos to a job well done, my job said, “We love you! Come take a massive pay cut and work for us full time! And if you don’t want to do that, get out!” Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what they said, but it felt like that. I’m a contractor, you see. My division at work has roughly 15 long-time contractors, and our senior manager put together a report showing how she could save the company money by converting all of the contractors to regular employees.

It’s not as bad a deal as I made it sound. They offered straight conversions for most of us, meaning we didn’t have to interview. (I’ve never heard of them doing that before.) And if you factor in the value of their benefits package, the total worth of what they were offering was essentially the same as what I make now for 40 hours a week.

That doesn’t work for me, though. My husband works for the state, so I don’t need their benefits. I need cash. The job would have required me to work in the office three days a week — 50 miles a day on my 13-year-old car, plus two hours a day lost to the commute. I just couldn’t agree to that, so I declined the “offer.”

The theory is that I will stay until they backfill my position. As I understand it, they won’t be interviewing for it until early January, so I’m hoping I can ride this out until the end of January. The *ideal* would be the second week in February, because I’m going out of town then anyway.

All of this caused me a lot of stress. I had been doing really well with my eating and exercising, and all that came to a crashing halt with the news of the re-org. I haven’t gotten back on track yet. I have processed the changes though, and I’m really not upset about them anymore. I wish the situation were different, but it is what it is.

What’s next?
Good question. I have to get another job in my field without question. My mortgage and those hungry horses insist upon it! But I think this is also a call to pursue some things for myself that I’ve put on the back burner.

I’m signed up for a Reiki Level 1 class in January. I’m going to focus on the animal communication again. And probably most importantly, I’m pulling Doubting River out of the drawer. The Universe asked me to write that, but I got too comfortable in my life and put it aside. Now I’m on the edge of being not-so-comfortable. I’m going to get to work before I become decidedly UNcomfortable! There are a few other things I’d like to work on too. (Honestly, if I didn’t have to get a job again, I wouldn’t be bored. Promise!)

December 22 will bring not the end of the world but the beginning of a new cycle. I think it’s a good time for a new cycle for me as well, eh? Reinventing-Melissa, indeed.

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Starting a new project

Because, you know, I have nothing but time for new projects.

Several months ago I begged and pleaded for a certain major project at work. I knew then that it would have super short deadlines and huge deliverables, but I was equally certain I was up to the challenge. We did a lot of preliminary work, but the project itself was slow to kick off. I watched with a sick stomach the days slip by on the calendar. Each passing day meant I would have less and less time to get my part of the project complete.

Finally the project kicked off, and yesterday I began what will be the toughest 3+ months of my life. Like it or not, the project is here, and I have to get it done in the time I have. I have a (terrifying) schedule that breaks the development down into two-day increments, and so now I just have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. The good news is that the overtime on this project is lucrative, which is good for both our remodel and my horse fund.

Yes, horse fund. I’m going to get back into horses. I’m going to do it right this time, however. I’m taking riding lessons and still trying to lose weight. I’ve figured out what went wrong last time, and I have a plan for doing each of those things differently this time. I’m not rushing into it. Lessons, weight loss, and money saving all take TIME.

I’m going to use these months to really focus my efforts, though. Lots of overtime plus a moratorium on books and dinners out will fill the coffers. The imposed structure — i.e., spend all my waking hours hunched over my laptop — is actually the perfect opportunity to regiment my diet and exercise to hopefully break this irritating weight plateau. (Cutting out cheese will probably help there too. Seriously, cheese is a gateway drug.)

Right now I’m very positive about the project. I’m focusing on the time off I’m going to take at the end of the project and the (hopefully) major progress I’ll make toward getting back into horses. My dear husband is less thrilled. He has accepted, but isn’t happy about, the financial investment associated with my return to horses, and he’s wary of the amount of overtime I’ll be working. As he noted, I work from home. When I snap, he’ll be the one in the line of fire.

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