Monday, April 11, 2016

Letting go

Two weeks ago, Kathe and I accepted the counterbid to buy one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen.  Following the initial offer, there was a counter offer, a counter to the counter offer, and a counter to the counter to the counter offer.  (The last one, oddly enough, was an offer from the sellers to extend the amount of time needed to get a lead test of the paint.)

We agreed.  We put down the earnest money.  We ordered the inspection.

And the current owners went off to look for a new house to buy, in the new city they wanted to move to.

The house is beautiful.  The sweeping staircases, the antique chandeliers, the beautiful plaster work, even the basement was a work of art.

And we loved it.

The inspector has a reputation for being a stickler.  He notices EVERYTHING, and reports it out.  Crack in the plaster?  He talks about what it might mean - what issue it might be hiding.

Pete's report did exactly that.  We now know that there is a significant need for tearing out all of the wiring in the house.  We know that there is extensive plumbing requirements.  We know that there is a furnace vent that is too close to a conduit (I am led to believe that that is a bad thing from the priests who know about such things), and that the black coloration on the mill finish of that conduit means it is getting burned by the furnace vent.  We know that the 25-year-old water heater probably isn't going to last another 25 years.

The report detailed everything.  From the vines on the side of the house (five minutes with pruning shears) to re-pointing the chimney (drop 10k on that one).  Combine that initial capital outlay with the routine maintenance we already were fearing, and suddenly, the house is no longer a beautiful thing, but a monster with beautiful skin.

Can you mourn the loss of something you never had?

We put together the pro/con lists.  We went back to what we had originally decided we wanted in a house.  We discussed, argued, stomped our feet, whined, grumped, revisited our lists... We put together spreadsheets of what we would need.  We talked about what we could live without.  We tried to parse out the work required.  We offered and counter-offered (she does NOT want me cleaning the gutters 40 feet in the air for some reason... and absolutely refused my offer of doing the chainsaw work for tree trimming).

And we kept coming back to the same thing.

You have to have lots of money to have a home like that.   Even in Vicksburg.

When we put in the bid, we were worried about furnishing it.  By yesterday afternoon, we were worried about what we would need to do to have running water.  And those kitchen appliances we had decided to put in?  And the bathroom upgrade that was absolutely critical?  The cabinets that were really good, solid 1960s style, that needed an upgrade?  The fence we had intended to put up so the dogs could run free?

None of those are now an option. We have to make sure that we have enough to complete the renovation.

When we were looking for a home, we specifically did not choose a house that needed extensive renovation.  There are plenty of houses in Vicksburg that are in need of update, that have beautiful features and just need several hundred thousand dollars worth of love.  And we did love them.  But we did not choose them, because we did not want a massive renovation.

We did massive, frame-off restoration to a much smaller house in New Orleans, and although the word 'divorce' was never uttered, there were several times that 'annulment' was discussed as a general topic.  This would, of course, be different, because it would be possible to live in a huge house while renovations were ongoing.  But it is not what we were looking to do.

The couple who own the house are lovely.  They have had the house on the market for quite a while, and are excited to have a fish on the line, um, I mean a sucker, erm, well, I mean, someone who will love the house the way they do.  And they have done an amazing job of keeping the house looking great.  They are ready to move.  They are excited to sell the house.  And it will inevitably put them in a bind if we don't buy the house.

But as much as we love the house, and as much as we want to give them what they want, we have to be realistic.

It is hard to let go.  I have envisioned myself in the house.  Cutting and pasting into a different house is going to be difficult.  There are lots of options.  But for right now, I am just sad about this one.

I miss the house I almost owned on Chambers Street.

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