Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sometimes, it isn't all about the bump out

I know that many of you have been wondering "What has Cookie been up to?"

WELL...the husband and have been in quite a tizzy wondering what is to become of us and this house we bought when we moved to Baltimore.  Simply put, it doesn't work for us.  Oh, it oozes charm, no doubt.  But for how we live, it doesn't work for us.

So last year, in an attempt to make the house work for us, we removed the nasty old sliding glass doors on our side porch and replaced them with French Doors.  We also removed the sliding "drive through window" that a previous owner installed, with French casements. We decided that this would be our new back door once we built the deck off the back of the house.

This past February were in the backyard while the dogs romped in the snow around our feet and I said, "Maybe instead of building the deck first, we should talk to an architect about getting the kitchen fixed."  Because the kitchen really needed a total make over.  Seriously.  It's tiny and it is cramped and it didn't work for us.

So we started interviewing architects:

- The first arrived with a silk scarf around his neck and reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright, in a bad way - the way in which the architect creates his vision and owners are left to adapt to his design, and not the other way.  Strike one.  Then he knew nothing about houses designed by the Small Homes Bureau of the American Institute of Architecture.  Strike two.  Then he kicked at our dog Kevin.  Strike three, and he was out.

- The second man seemed like a better fit, assured us that we could get what we wanted, but then proceeded to tell us what we wanted.

- The third architect came in and had us picture this, that and everything else.  We liked him.  When we got his bid, we couldn't afford him.

- The fourth firm we liked very much and we decided to hire them, but postponed the contract signing from after our California trip.

Just before we left for California, I found another house that was perfect for us.  Bigger - much bigger.  In Baltimore County.  But the husband didn't like that it was in a "Village" community, and I had to agree that the village was a tight fit compared to Wide Open Spaces where we live in Baltimore city.  I mean we are literally down the road from a County and Hunt Club, and I happen to like wide yards and leafy vistas.

Our plan for this house involved tearing down the kitchen and rebuilding it, and adding a bedroom above it.  Then we would have added in a bath and a half.  The laundry room would get moved from the basement to the second floor.  The hot water radiator system would get pulled and would be replaced with a all-season forced air system.  Price tag?  $150,000 to $200,000.

We could create the house of our dreams.  It is within reach.  Really.  Nothing hard about it.

Still, we weren't motivated to sign the papers with the architects.  Every day we talked about it, but moving forward with it just wasn't something that we felt was a priority.

A week ago last Saturday we were at the neighborhood progressive dinner and the neighborhood grandparents, Doug and Audrey came up to us and told us they were moving into assisted living.  Now in the eighties, Audrey is a little unstable on her feet and the stairs at their house around the block from our house are too much for her to navigate.

"You should buy our home," said Audrey.  And Audrey has been saying this for two years to us.

I explained we would love to, but that it was too expensive for our budget.   Audrey invited us to the open house the next day, said she would make us a good deal, winked and went on her way.

One the way home from grocery store, I said to the husband "So, you just want to run through their house and see what a house at the top of our budget looks like?

So we did.   It was much bigger than our house, with more land, more features, and FOUR bathrooms.  Now we have ONE bathroom in the house that does work for us.  They have FOUR freaking bathrooms.   More than two people can in their kitchen - by like 20.   And in the basement?  Not one pipe dangling from the ceiling.  Central air?  Sure.   And a DISHWASHER.

We thanked the realtor, left, got home, looked around and I looked at the husband and he looked at me and we both said "Let's call Bob," who is our neighborhood realtor, "and ask him what he thinks.
And Bob came over.

And we talked with Bob.

And Bob said "Look, you can do all the things you want to do to your house and because of the street you are on, I can't guarantee you can get your money out of it.   If you were on Doug and Audrey's street, you could."

And Bob was right.  Because their street isn't a main drag.

(And Bob has a sweet body.  Did I mention that?  Is it evil to objectify your real estate agent?  Discuss.)

And then we put in a low ball offer on Doug and Audrey's house.

And Doug and Audrey saw it was from us and agreed to the deal.

And it was that simple.

And that is the story of how we decided that it is better to move than bump out, and cheaper, too.


  1. Sounds like your neighbors wanted their house to go to a good home!

  2. It's a mitzvah all around, and seems the kind of thing that was meant to be. And now you have adoptive grandparents...

  3. i'll await my invite to the housewarming party.

  4. What lovely neighbours - both sets of you! Congratulations!

  5. Congratulations!! I sold my last house to a family even though an investor offered more; I'm sure your neighbors feel such an attachment to their home that they wanted good people to treasure it and take care of it.

  6. I can't wait to read about the new set of adventures when you take possession. Not least the "Tales of Four Bathrooms"... Jx

    1. In a given day, I will need to only use each bathroom once. The challenge will be to choose wisely.

  7. All house buying scenarios should be that easy. Though I'd say our first house was pretty much a breeze. Not so much w this house. 10 years later and I still hate the previous owners.

    1. Yeah, theropod we bought this house were good people. But I was in Ohio getting our old house ready so I wasn't here for the house inspection. Had I been here, would not have bought this house. Instead of spending money on creature comforts, we ended up having to tens of thousands into the systems of this house. I just hope the next owners do right by this house.

  8. Congrats! Very exciting. Can't wait to see pictures...

    1. Come to Baltimore, bring Scott and I will make crab.