Sunday, June 14, 2015

House Shopping

Been gone a long time I know.  I just haven't felt like writing.  Of course being wicked sick for most of the spring season didn't help matters much and I've been juggling doctors' appointments.  But to be brutally honest I just haven't felt the urge to write.

On to today's topic: house hunting.  Hubs and I finally purchased our own house in 2000.  We knew very little about house ownership.  Although both of us grew up in single family homes, neither of us were involved much in maintenance.  In hub's case he was too young and his Mom moved into a condo after his dad passed.  In my case, my father didn't maintain the house at all.  I had to learn carpentry, painting, electrical and plumbing from books in order to fix faucets, light switches, etc.  I knew nothing of construction, heating systems, etc.

The house we bought was originally built as a small ranch with slab heat.  A hundred year old map of the area showed swampland and there is indeed still swampland in walking distance of the house.  Hence the high water table and the slab style house (wood structure on a single poured slab of concrete).  The structure was then added on to twice.  The first addition was by the original owner who put on a second floor.  The second by the second owner who added a massive livingroom, kitchen and loft to the back of the house.  The fact that there is no basement has lead to some funky plumbing which for various reasons have frozen and burst at different points during the life of the house.  Then one of our renovations drove a cement fastener through the return line of the heating system effectively killing the slab heating system.

During our various renovation projects we found evidence of mold inside the walls from the aforementioned leaks.  We would remove the damaged materials and then put up fresh insulation and drywall.   The leaks had been repaired at some point but the water damage inside the wall hadn't been addressed so mold grew.  After the slab heat quit working, I started noticing musty smells in various corners of the original building.  Then I learned that concrete isn't supposed to be in contact with the timber framing of the house.  I know for a fact that not only do the walls sit directly on the concrete slab but that the slab is not sealed and the carpet is just laid on top of the concrete with only the rug pad as a barrier.  So NOT cool.  The quilts that were stored under the bed smelled musty when we brought them out.  I can no longer store paper goods under the stairs since they smell musty when brought out.  I guess the slab heat used to burn off all the mold and mildew but now the cement is just wicking the damp from the ground inside the living areas right up through the rugs.  Sigh....

Last fall I started to follow a mold group on Facebook which scared me silly.  While I have had fibro since my mid 20s, the worst flare ups have been during construction projects on this house.  I haven't gone through and verified medical tests with construction dates but if I were a betting person I'm guessing that there is some correlation.  I do know that being shut in the house over the winter makes me worse.  Again not sure if it is vitD deficiency or mold exposure or both.  After scaring myself, I decided that I want a new house.

Hubs doesn't want to fix anything anymore either.  Once I got sick we  also didn't have the money for huge projects and he prefers to use the money we do have on cars and racing.  So we have a house that still needs a new kitchen and quite a bit of work to remediate the mold problem.  Easier to move.
Now we are house hunting or should I say I'm house hunting.  I hand hubs a list of houses that he rejects for various reasons and I go back on Trulia again.  He has finally started to look at houses but only the ones he likes that have huge garages attached.  We just missed a house that would have been perfect for me but only had a two car detached garage.  He waited too long to arrange a viewing and it is under agreement.  Poop.

Today I went to look at one and it is such a mixed bag.  It is perfect for him but pretty horrible for me.  The layout is super funky because it has had two large additions put on.  The driveway and garage are at basement level.  The front door is between floors as it is a split entry.  The main floor has a small kitchen, living/dining room, decent size bedroom and the only full bath.  Then there are nine steps up to the rooms above the garage which are a HUGE master bed with walkin closet and another large bedroom and a small useless sitting area.  The master has a small deck with a spiral staircase to the backyard.  The kitchen has a balcony but no stairs into the rear huge family room addition.  The actual access to the family room is down the front stairs and through the basement.  Access to the backyard is the same, down the front stairs and through either the basement and family room or through the workshop: i.e. grocery hauling and BBQing will reach a whole new level of pain in the ass.  I also won't be able to make it outside if I'm doing badly.

The upshot is hubs LOVES the garage and workshop and it is laid out perfectly for him.  For me all sorts of renovations have to happen to make it usable for me: at least one chair lift, a brand new bathroom (there is a tiny corner model shower stall that won't fit a shower seat in it), either a wheelchair ramp to the front door or a step removed to make a wheelchair friendly path from the garage to the front stairs and possibly another lift/staircase from the kitchen to the back family room.  The basement room also needs work as it is laid out terribly and I would love to have a clothing care room that would include the laundry, sewing area and ironing area.  Plus the downstairs bath only consist of a toilet and sink crammed in next to the HVAC unit.  Ideally a powder room should be installed next to the master bedroom since there is no bathroom on that level despite the colossal master bedroom.

I like the location.  I like the land.  You can still hear some road noise despite all the trees but there are tons of birds.  Apparently the traffic is pretty bad in the area so things will be worse not better in that regard.  Easy access to NH from there though.  The border is 10mins from the house.  I would need new health care providers since trekking down from there would be just too much for me and also all the people I see would be outside the paratransit coverage area.  Good thing there are two large medical hubs near there but they won't be as good as where I am now.  I'm really not looking forward to doctor shopping again.

It is such a mixed bag.  Some of the renovations are great but the layout is dumb and the kitchen is small.  If I make the kitchen bigger it is going to overwhelm the space it is in but I need more in order to cook properly.  Lots and lots needs fixing and I don't know if hubs is going to take care of that.  I guess I don't trust him in that regard since the renovation of this house didn't go the way I wanted and it was never finished.  My current kitchen is literally falling apart since they installed really cheap nasty cabinets when it was thrown together in the 80s.

I didn't smell any mold in the new place but the shower stall is horrible and I'm worried that when that gets pulled away from the wall they'll find problems back there.  There is also water damage in the workshop where the back deck is which means there will also be water damage in the family room that can't be seen due to the flooring.  I think the ground is probably pitched towards the house so the runoff from the roofs ends up seeping into the building.  In that case the entire deck has to come out in order for it to be repaired.  Probably a french drain needs to be run around the outside to get the water away from the house and then the deck needs to be rebuilt.

Nice place but lots of repairs and upgrades need to happen to make it even usable and bring it up to code.  Geesh....

And then there is all the furniture we would have to buy since we have to get rid of most of our old stuff due to mold.  The whole thing makes me sad and angry.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun Mr. Golden Sun....

This just hit the press

It is a 20 year study showing that women that avoid the sun have a higher all mortality rate than those that sunbathe.  Science is starting to back up Stephanie Seneff's ideas.