A lot rougher than we thought
Last I had a chance to update we were in the process of fixing our own broken down parts in order to be physically sound for the travels. That has all gone well and on schedule, it didn’t make us feel 30 again but we can both walk and carry things, so, winning,
The last 2 months have been all about getting the house ready for market. We interviewed half a dozen realtors, had the house painted and painted ourselves, had 2 rounds of extreme gardeners, changed plumbing fixtures, pressure washed the outside, steam cleaned the floors, replaced the carpet, cleaned 20 years of detritus from the attics and closets, took down the patio covers and filled 2 dumpsters.
At the beginning of this we made the awkward and difficult decision to not use people we knew personally as our realtor. Dan was insistent on that, and in retrospect, it is probably best. We talked to people who thought we should set the price of the house at a fixer upper level and just walk away from it. We could tell that they thought the house on a busy street was too difficult a listing and they didn’t really like it. We talked to people who told us that they were solo operators and so they could devote all their time to us, but they had no specifics on how they were going to market the home and couldn’t produce interesting stats. We interviewed one realtor who was obviously just blowing smoke up our you know where and said he would set the price so high we were shocked. He wasn’t talking about putting any work into it either. When we spoke with Raul Duarte from Berkshire Hathaway he was direct with us. He showed up early to look around the property and make notes by himself. He gave us an honest assessment of the pros and cons of the property. He came prepared with information about other homes on the market in the area and why or why not they compared to ours. We were able to realistically discuss how much work we were willing to do, he advised against any remodel and he had a calm, confident demeanor backed up with good answers for all our questions so we decided he was our guy. Step one complete.
Then came the whirlwind of repairs! We got so used to people coming in and out of our house with tools and equipment, not being able to use even one of our 2.5 bathrooms in private at times, changing clothes in the garage for privacy, and general chaos. What we were not used to was paying a lot of money and having some pretty extreme issues with some of the work.
The painter and powerwasher was a laidback fellow with the gift of gab. It is Southern California and we pretty much expect that, no problem, He gave us a quote to freshen up the walls throughout the house inside and out and repair a couple spots. It was quite a substantial amount of money, but we figured it would turn out great and really help us in the end. The trouble began almost as soon as the work did. He sprayed our hall and foyer, which is fine, but didn’t tape off light switches, hinges or door stoppers. There was a lot of mess on the stone floor and some spots which clearly didn’t get covered properly. We pointed all this out and his attitude became very defensive and slippery after that. It was 4 or 5 days of having someone do a sub par job for a lot of money and I didn’t even want to be in the same house with him. We were told he was the best we’d get for the price but I am still sorry we didn’t find our own. We had someone fabulous help us 15 years ago for a very reasonable price and we found out from several of our acquaintances that they all use him and he’s still in business. The end result was that we got as much as we could from him and then ended up cleaning it up. We also decided we would paint 3 additional rooms ourselves, after moving the furniture it really showed it needed it. We did a much better job, even though it wore us out.
We looked at carpet at the usual spots and found one we wanted at Lowes. The guy who helped us was so much better than the guys we tried to get us to help us elsewhere. He wrote up the order and we were on our way, writing a glowing review on their website as we left. It was after that we had a problem. The first time Dan tried to call and ask why we hadn’t heard from the scheduling department he couldn’t get anyone to answer in flooring and waited over 30 minutes trying. Multiple similar calls later, and trying to talk to managers, or anyone and we decided to look elsewhere. Of all things, Empire Carpet came out to show us their stuff, we chose one, scheduled it and were all set. Happy!
I tried my hand at replacing bathroom fixtures for the first time. To be honest, I had hoped to complete the job to give Dan a break since he still had his whole office to clear. Predictably, I did need some help. But I had figured out what we needed, found them at a good price online and ordered all the right stuff, so that was something. I could do quite a bit of the sink faucet replacements, and then I needed Dan to help out. He was actually pretty impressed at how far I got and that I didn’t screw anything up. With a few struggles caused by awkward positions,
missing tools (he sold a lot already!) and moving parts we did get the 2 sink faucets replaced. I feel very proud. Dan moved on to tackle the shower and bathtub, but once he got to the pipes back in the wall he found they were copper and sweated together, which he didn’t feel comfortable messing with. On to finding a plumber. We had a crazy quote for doing all four fixtures and were afraid of what we were going to find when we tried to get a little help with the last two. I posted a request for recommendations on NextDoor app and received a lot of feedback. We called the one with the most effusive praise and found he wasn’t available but he referred us to another fellow who could come out that day. We felt like that was a pretty safe bet. They came out and gave us a quote that seemed fair and we asked them to proceed. Of course during this time a day or two has passed and we have no hot water in the house, so we are pretty ready to hire someone. They came in and got right to work, finished up quickly and we gave them a check with a huge thank you and relief. Then we relaxed for a couple hours because we were utterly exhausted from the other stuff we were getting done. This was a Sunday night and Dan went in to put the wall back together behind the tub when SQUISH. Half the carpet in the guest room was soaked and it was creeping up into the baseboard and on its way to the walls. He frantically searched for the source of the water, but the pipes were sound. Apparently they had just drained the line into the room instead of into a bucket and didn’t want to tell us they soaked the room. Then we went to take a shower and the lines behind the shower were loose and leaking into that wall. Dan was able to fix that part before any damage was done. The flooding really wouldn’t have been a big deal except we were having the new carpet installed the next day and had to call and cancel that because the room was too wet. Empire was great about rescheduling but it did put us behind by a week in listing the house. The plumber refused to take responsibility, said it was flooded when he got there. Yeah, and he didn’t mention it to us…sure. Payment stopped.
During this time we also found a storage unit that would allow us to send items to ourselves from our travels and they would just tuck them in our unit for us. The place is brand new and reminds me of how they depict FBI evidence storage on TV.
We made multiple trips the 60 plus mile round trip to stick our treasures in storage, We made 4 times as many trips to the Goodwill to donate things. We made 1 trip to a consignment store with some of the last of the things that we wanted to sell but were having no luck with online. We had a large dumpster delivered and filled it. Twice.
Stuff, stuff, stuff…we swore multiple times that we would never accumulate again, and we are going to really have to refrain from doing so as we travel. It should be easier because we would have to package it and send it to storage so the costs go up a lot and it isn’t just easy. That’s good!
Update: It has been another month since I started writing this. The house has been on the market 3 weeks. All the furniture is staged, meaning it isn’t ours and it is put in here to make the house look marketable, not to be practical. We can’t really use it, we can’t dirty the place up because someone could want to see it at any time, we have to get out every weekend for Open Houses, we have to board Enzo because we couldn’t possibly keep the place clean enough with him here…this is EXTRA not fun! We leave no matter what in about two and a half weeks and I hope it’s sold, but mostly I just don’t want to live like this any more! But Raul made a really pretty brochure. Whose house is that anyway?