Hi readers. We’re sad-sacks over here this week. Here’s what went down last week:
When you last left our heroes, we had an accepted offer on a house, and we were patiently waiting for approval of financing, and then we could move on to our home inspection – the only two conditions we included with our offer. We paid a deposit with the offer of $2,000.00, and we were seriously interested in the home on Beech Ave in Hespeler.
The weekend was torturous. I got my updated Letter of Employment from HR and submitted it to our broker on Friday afternoon, so there was no way the lenders would even be considering our application until Monday. We went puttering about town over the weekend, going to Rona to look at bathroom fixtures and bathtubs, and to pick up paint chips, and to IKEA to price out various pieces and items we would want to buy eventually. Some of it was specific to the Beech house, but a lot of it was just exploring our decorating tastes. It was all helpful information to start thinking about, but, and here it comes, it was done a little prematurely.
On Tuesday we were getting antsy to hear back about our mortgage. If you recall, we only had until Thursday night to fulfill our conditions for our offer to be considered real. When we heard nothing all day Monday, it became all I thought about on Tuesday morning as I headed out to an all-day training session for work. I checked my phone for word from our broker at every break, and finally heard back when I was eating my lunch in my car in a parking lot. APPROVED! We really didn’t doubt we would be approved, it was just annoying to be delayed almost a week to find out for sure. The results of our approved mortgage:
2.89% with a 5 year fixed mortgage, bringing bi-weekly payments to $460-ish, and making the mortgage less than our current rent of $950. BAM!
We were most pleased about the 2.89% since our broker told us the rates went up at midnight on the night we completed our offer.
They lender still needed to see Dan’s business license, but other than that, we had a firm approval to move to the next level of buying this house. Next up: Home Inspection.
We originally didn’t want to book the inspection until we had the financing all squared away, but when it took longer than we expected and we only had until Thursday, we tentatively booked the inspection for Wednesday afternoon so we could confirm it the minute we heard about the financing.
Our home inspector was recommended by our realtor, Dawn. We were cautioned about using the agent’s suggested inspector, and more than one person told us to find our own. I don’t know about you, but I trust the opinion of someone who works with other professionals on a regular basis, and has our best interest in mind. Dawn has bought and sold more houses than we ever will, and even well-meaning friends and family have only done this process a handful of times. Dawn has been a great match for us, and I really don’t think she would steer us into something we don’t want. If we went out and interviewed 6 different home inspectors (all in the 2 days between officially being approved for a mortgage and having to confirm our offer, mind you), would we really have any idea who was a better home inspector than the other ones? I don’t know jack about houses, and it must be nice if you do. I need to rely on the professionals we’ve chosen to work with, and what good is it if we’re questioning Dawn’s advice every step of the way? We were quite happy to use her recommended inspector, and we were happy with everything he did.
We used ABC Home Inspections, and Drago did our inspection. He was professional, accommodating, thorough, and he explained everything to us in simple language every step of the way. I was working until 4pm on the day of the inspection, so I came a bit late to the party. Everyone was already there and in full inspection mode when I arrived – Dawn, my mom, my dad, Uncle Simon, Dan, and Drago. Drago ran around the exterior of the house checking things and making notes. He went up on the roof, and easily spent an hour outside just reviewing everything. Then he took Dan and I around the exterior with him to point out everything he was commenting on in his report. He explained the issues, gave us possible solutions, and approximate costs for having the repairs done. He was also great about telling us what was a priority to fix, and what could wait. After the outside portion, he moved inside and did the same kind of thing – reviewing everything on his own, and then taking us around with him. He ran the furnace, checked the fuse box and mechanicals in the basement, and explored every nook and cranny of the place. When Drago took us around with him inside, he said that we was expecting to see more problems inside than he did, based on what we saw outside. He spoke too soon.
After most of the inspection was complete, he mentioned that the floor in the addition was sloping in towards the original wall, the one that used to be an exterior wall. Now, I don’t know anything about sloping floors, so I figure this could be super-bad or a complete non-issue and just a fun quirk of the house. Drago went back down into the basement to see if he could spot anything, and then it all fell apart. Not the house, our dreams.
The first issue was the addition, where they had smacked out bricks in the original exterior wall to run duct work and pipes and wires through to the new space, all while neglecting to reinforce the bricks above the holes. You could see loose bricks above where the holes were, and some were just plain not attached to the rest of the house. To fix it, you would need to open the wall upstairs and reinforce the brick higher up to stop any further damage. Not sure of the cost on this one, but brick work doesn’t sound cheap.
The second issue, which was discovered right at the end of our inspection was the deal breaker. On that same wall where the bricks were unsecured, the foundation wall had completely come off the footing in the basement. Once upon a time, this was the exterior wall of the house, and for 50 years or so, water came pounding against the side of the porous foundation (courtesy of the backyard that slopes toward the house), and slowly washed it away. You could fit your fingers completely underneath the foundation wall, where it should have been attached to ground, to, you know, support the weight of the house above it. Drago told us this was a minimum $10,000 job to properly fix it. Once we identified that issue, we saw evidence of a patch-job to the same area on the side wall, which made us think there was a lot more trouble lurking beneath the nicely dry-walled 1910 basement. FYI, century homes shouldn’t have finished basements. They weren’t meant to be living spaces, and without a whole lot of money, they can’t be.
The main issue with this house was the lot. The backyard sloped into the house, allowing all rain water to stream towards the exterior back and side walls of the house, wearing away at the foundation walls. There was evidence of significant water damage to the core structure of the house, and we were not interested in taking that on for our first home.
We thought it over that night, and before we went to bed, we had our answer. It was a “no” on Beech Ave, and it made us sad. We had to sign a mutual release agreement to get our deposit back, and the seller didn’t sound pleased. We received our full report from Drago the next morning (total cost of $317, much less than we were expecting), and it just confirmed what we already decided. The seller seemed oblivious to the issue, and kept telling us, via her agent and Dawn, that she put $50,000 worth of work into the home over 20 years, and surely her contractors would have told her of any major structural issues. I disagree. I think when you pay someone to tear down the horsehair plaster walls on the main level of your house, they don’t give two shakes about what’s happening in the basement. We ended up having Dawn send her the home inspection report, to back up our decision to withdraw our offer. I wasn’t really happy about shelling out $300 for that information when the seller was now getting it for nothing, but I did feel kind of bad that we kept her house on the market for almost a full week when we didn’t end up buying it. Sorry.
I’m kind of indifferent about not getting this house, but it’s disheartening to have to start the whole process over again. I could see us happily living in almost any house, while Dan was more attached to the house itself. We’re sad about starting over, so we’re both bummed.
And there we are, kiddies. We’re back at the beginning again. It’s the Tuesday after the Victoria Day long weekend, and we’re expecting to have a lot more homes pop up soon. We just want it to be done.