Remember when there were TV mini-series? Didn't you find it really annoying if you missed the first or second part, and only got in somewhere later? Well, fortunately for you, if you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of The House story, they're just a click away. Check it out. Catch up. Then read on.
You know those times where something can seem like a huge deal, but then you just get used to it? Well that's what happened with us and our house. It turns out that if you're going to buy a 99-year old house, you ought to really consider the condition of the foundation. It matters. A lot.
The soil was primarily clay. Clay that expands and contracts with the changes in weather. In addition, our 99-year old foundation was the original rock & mortar foundation. It had never been shored up, worked on, nothing. Zip. Nada. This all made for a very bad combination. Well, there was one more contributing factor - the enormous hill in our back yard. To give you some perspective, it was a 2-story house with a very steeply gabled roof. The top of our property out back was as high the peak of the roof. This provided for a nice angle at which the water could come tumbling down the back yard, the stairs, and hunker down right up against the house. There was no drainage system set up to divert the water around to the front of the house to the yard. Once it arrived at the back of the house, it just sat there, while awaiting the opportunity to seep into the foundation.
Water seeping into your old, deteriorating foundation is not a good thing. In fact, it's a very bad thing. Expanding and contracting clay soil causes shifting in a building. We began to experience cracks in the walls and doors that may or may not latch. The door thing wasn't too big an issue until the front door would no longer latch securely. This was really not acceptable in my book. Hubs had to drill the hole in the striker plate larger and larger to accommodate the ever-moving frame and door. As for the cracks? We patched them and painted over them. Many times.
And so we lived for a number of years. Until early 2002. The year that (we thought) we were going to be free from The House. We found another house. A better house. The perfect (for us) house. The gentleman who lived there had passed away. He had built the house. It was solid, sturdy, roomy, and just what we wanted. We talked with his children (and by children, I mean older than my parents), and agreed upon a price, what they would do to the house, and what they could leave for us to do.
We wrote up an offer which was contingent upon the sale of our house. Thus began a three-month, 24/7, getting-the-house-ready project. The boys were in public school at the time, so no, this was not worked in around homeschool. It's amazing how many things you don't notice until you plan to sell your house. Suddenly, everything needs to be fixed, replaced, or something. Not only that, but we had WAY too much stuff in that little house.
After a very busy three months spent spackling and sanding cracks, painting, stripping wallpaper, moving a portion of our belongings to storage, and general cleaning and decorating, we finally put our house on the market at the end of April. Perfect timing, right? Spring is when the real estate market picks up and gets rolling.
In the meantime, the people with the other house had actually put it on the market. Granted, we kind of had first dibs - IF our house sold.
I'll spare you the insanity of the "house for sale" saga and give you the condensed version. The house was on and off the market from the end of April until December. It was actually available five months of that time. During the five months of available-to-buy status, we had 114 showings! Sometimes as many as four in one day. We no longer were homeowners - we'd become caretakers to a show house. In fact, we spent more time at my parents' house three blocks away. Including the dog. He had water and food bowls there, a cable for outside, and was quite comfortable at his second home.
During that time, we had four contracts on our house. Every one of them fell through. We lost the perfect house, as someone else bought it before ours could sell. We went under contract (contingent again on the sale of our house) on two more homes. Since our house never sold, those went under as well.
By the end of 2002/beginning of 2003, we decided we didn't want to play the "house for sale" game any more. It was no longer a fun game. And if we were going to stay there, at least the place looked a lot better - painted, pretty, and nice. We figured God wanted us to stick around for awhile. So we did.
To keep this from becoming a painfully long post (even though the story is), I'll finish this up with Part 4. Sooner than Part 3 arrived. Really.