Monday, January 26, 2009

and do it with one hand tied behind your back

For some "flippin'" reason, blogger doesn't like my recent attempt at humor and house fixing.
Sorry, the title was my choice.

On the subject of my old house....It still doesn't have a roof....or a bid on the roof. Unfortunately, it is also in the path of the winter ice storm currently raining ice on my present home.
It did have a nice haircut on the big old oak trees. They are only about 100 years old....and we didn't have to remove them. Yaay! When I last saw them, they were waving proudly over the south lawn...and not over the top of my house. The weather has been crumby for climbing on roofs here in the south. I can only imagine what it is like farther north.
By the way, our oldest son just made an offer on a house today. I hope he gets it. He has already lost out on one house he wanted. I know it is very hard for first time buyers to lose out on a house they fall in love with.
Let me tell you about the first house I fell in love with....It was a doll house, maybe 900 sq ft....but in the best part of town. A winding street with older houses, and a long lot with flowers.
Did I say it was totally impractical? We had two small boys, there were two tiny bedrooms upstairs....a windy stairs with windows stuck in randomly. This house even had windows inside the closet. I can't remember the bathroom....I think it had one. There were arts and crafts type colored tiles on the fireplace, and a big hole in the kitchen floor. You could see down to the dirt basement. The back yard was anchored by a huge fishpond of concrete. Great place for little boys to play! There were no storm windows or screens, because the windows actually folded up when they were pushed open....great for little boys to play in. My dear father looked at the kitchen-hole and put his foot down. I loved that house....we got a sturdy bungalow with a fenced in back yard instead. So much for falling in love with houses.
When we bought our second city house, we looked at houses for a year. I can't remember how many we looked inside....but we ran our realtor ragged. We had three children by that time, and required schools. We made two offers on houses we thought we wanted....but backed out when they made counters. I can't remember if they countered on the home we finally bought....but it was a bad scene.....The husband had transfered. The wife and her mother didn't want to sell....we couldn't go back to look at the house before closing. Closing was postponed several times....The house was a good fit for us tho, we lived there for 25 years.
We actually didn't think we would ever need to buy another house....but as the children grew, and the city grew, I felt a pull towards the country. My husband and my banker were both very good to me, and let me move.
Have you noticed that the house you live in has a totally different "feel" because it is your home?
If you are going to flip a need to keep those personal feelings out of your "flip-house". You are not improving that house for are improving it for the next buyer.
Have you lived in a house that doesn't "fit" you? Maybe that's your present house....maybe one from your past. No matter what color you use on the walls....or what furniture grouping you make in the living just isn't "you". That's OK, houses can be changed.....lives change.
After living in the same city house for 25 years....this is the first time I have hired a tree trimmer. How neat. First, I could pay to have a real tree trimmer....and second, I don't have to worry about the trees falling....
Well, maybe. There is this ice storm, It is now sleeting on my metal ozark roof. I will lay awake and wonder if it is sleeting on my arkansas roof. Hope won't take much to take down the porches. W0nder how long it will take to get the roofer out and up on the roof there? hope everything is OK there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm back!

I am sorry about that, but getting trades people to come and give an estimate is an important part of flipping.
By the way, I spent a little time measuring my victorian yesterday. The more time I have to walk around the place....the more it grows on me. My new tree-trimmer said something about being glad someone was going to fix the house up....because it was a "piece of history". I brought him through the house to admire the falling plaster...and lovely high ceilings. I think he was more impressed with our 150 year old "pin oak" in the front yard.
I decided that the old pedestle sink in the only bathroom is actually nice. If I can only figure out how to close up the holes in the floor used to plumb the fixtures. Seems there is no under the house access to the bathroom....oh well....I like trap doors.
I know, I was trying to impart good information for you on buying as house to fix up.....And, believe me....there are plenty out there at cheap prices right now. If I had time...I would be snooping around Florida right now. Missouri, according to my years of watching the market down valued at about half price of that four years ago.....Some other areas may not be hit quite that hard....maybe 1/3 down. It sure makes it hard to resist looking at another house right now. But, my loyalties are to this lovely old neglected victorian.
My particular house has not had anyone living in it for a long time. The family that moved in before 1930 thinned down to an older man...who clipped coupons, and likely lived alone for10 or 20 years. I heard he saved foil food packages on the stairway. Maybe he wasn't a good cook. I wonder what he had to cook on? No evidence of a stove or refrigerator. Just an old cast iron sink with a wood shelf next to it. No cabinets either. Well, that leaves a lot to my imagination. I am really BAD at kitchen remodels. Ask my former city realtor. I lived in the city house for 25 years....and never remodeled. We had the old cast iron sink there too. But, it was a bigger had a built-in drainboard, and that drainboard was right over a radiator. Instant dish drying and towel drying.....I LIKED my old sink. Even tho it was a second with a circular saw mark across the bottom of the bowl. I haven't cleaned the victorian's kitchen sink out to see how it looks. It has two cast iron legs.....when I walk in the kitchen, I think maybe everything will fit for a modern kitchen....when I come home, I look at the measurements and mentally tear out the wall. Wonder what I will do?
Are you good at kitchen triangles? I can't even remember how many feet are supposed to be left inbetween the sink, stove, and frig. Unfortunately....I don't even like stainless steel. Argh!
Wish there was a kitchen already there....and I could just "save" it.
Peps, going back to my drawing board.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is it possible to flip a victorian?

So far, my answer is no.
I didn't intend to adopt a victorian. Ask me.....never LIKE the house you are planning to flip. Always look at a possible flipper through your next buyer's eyes. Never, never want to live in your flipper! We looked at a dozen possible houses the day I walked into the victorian-in-trouble. Flippers come in all sorts of packages. Some look perfectly normal from the front....until you walk into the room that has the trampoline floor. You know, the ones that bounce down...but not back up. Some flippers had "handy-men" owners.....the ones who start a project but never finish it. One cute bungalow had some sort of two story structure between the house and the garage. Since it never had a was hard to understand what it was supposed to become. Without the was fast on it's way to becoming a back-yard pool.
I like one story houses. They are easier to paint. I like to paint. My husband likes the demo part. I like the finishing part. We don't do the electrical part. Don't ask me how an electrician puts wires into an old plaster wall....I expect to find out. Our new victorian has no electric.....I took one look at the box on the outside of the back wall, and had the wires disconnected. Many old old houses had "post and wire" electrical. This is kind of the edison look. White ceramic posts connected by frayed wires. It's OK, our victorian doesn't have water either. Those things come after fixing the roof.
Never buy a flipper house that needs roofing, wiring, plumbing and heating systems. These things are money-pits. And, new owners can't appreciate the money you poured into these things. What you really want to buy is an ugly house. You know....brown paneled walls, blue drapes, wrinkled red carpet with big burned spots. Maybe a nice moldy bath-tub, thrown in for fun. I had one of those. At least after you turn that kind of house into a have a sense of satisfaction. I am not sure how much satisfaction I will gain from having someone else fix my roof....but it is necessary.
So my premise is that a victorian is not a good flipper. They are usually two stories. Their plumbing, electrical, and heating parts are old. They may be too big to finance the repairs. People are looking for "smaller" new houses these days. But.....victorians CAN grab you. Your breath catches as you look up at the high ceiling, and wavy window glass. Visions of ruffled dresses sweeping the floors, and white aproned maids bringing iced tea on glass trays. Wicker rockers creak on the veranda. Victorians seem to be peopled with memories of former owners.
I admit it. I walked into this victorian and was hooked. It didn't matter that many of the high ceilings had plaster on the floor. I didn't really see the broken windows....I saw them washed with flowing drapes. Who cared if there were spots in the floor where folks had fallen in? I walked carefully around the edge.
To be to meet the tree trimmer.