Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Put on your galoshes and grab your water wings: the floodgates are opening.

And so it begins. The process of gathering estimates, collecting bids for work, and figuring out exactly how much this beast is going to cost is already starting to get overwhelming, and it’s only the first day! I wish I hadn’t left my super-organized binder at home. But I’ve gotten a LOT done today. Here’s a re-cap:

I got a phone call from my cousin Ryan, our realtor, at 7:30. I was brushing my teeth. We agreed to meet up at the house around 8:15 or 8:30 to meet the home inspector. Bill was already there poking his fingers in water spiggots and shining lights under the cupboards. I could tell right away that Bill knew what he was doing, so I followed him around and listened to his observations and recommendations. It was like he was a doctor checking all the vital signs of a very large animal. I learned a lot!

Steve, the contractor we’d also asked to come over arrived soon after and he followed me around the inside and outside of the house and took notes on what kinds of work we’d like him to do for us.

We didn’t get an electrician to come along like we’d hoped, but Bill and Steve made some general recommendations of what to ask for when the electrician does get to go through the property.

When I finally made it in to work, I found it really hard to shift gears from house-type work to actual work work. I wanted to jump right to the next step, scheduling more estimates and organizing my notes. I did get to spend a little time on that from work.

One of the big expenses we’ve expected from the start was the fireplace and chimney. As far as we know, it’s supposed to be a working fireplace. However, the part of the chimney that’s exposed outside is literally falling down. There are bricks sitting on top of the roof and gaping holes where they once fit into the chimney. Since I’ve never lived in a house that had a fireplace, I really don’t know what it’s going to take to just make basic repairs and then bring it up to code so it can be a working fireplace. So I called a family-owned chimney service called Chimney Crickets. (Great name!) I talked to a guy there for quite a while and he discussed three possibilities with me:

  1. Restore it to being a traditional working fireplace
  2. Retrofit it with a metal insert stove and run a stove pipe up the chimney
  3. Seal off the chimney and give up on it being a working fireplace

For option one, the chimney needs to be sound (and if it’s not it may need to be rebuilt), it needs a clay lining, which it probably doesn’t have since it was built before 1927, and it needs a weather cap on the top.

For option two, we’d still have to fix the mortar at the top of the chimney and possibly rebuild the whole chimney if it’s too badly damaged.

For option three, well, we brick it up. I guess. I don’t want option three.

Regardless of which option we end up choosing, the thing needs a thorough inspection, so I’ve scheduled that for 8am Tuesday morning. Cost: $65. Then he’ll know for sure how much it’ll cost.

Since I’m already going to come in late to work that day, I also scheduled another electrician to meet me at the house that morning and give me an estimate. Bottom line, the whole house needs re-wired. Completely. We figured out that as it’s currently wired, we’re getting about 40 amps of service to the house. Considering that most houses these days use about 100 amps just for basic appliances, and 60 amps is considered pretty out of date and hokey, that’s pretty bad.

We’ve always expected that our biggest expenses will be the electricity, the chimney, and the kitchen. Those are the three big things I’m going to try to cover in the loan we’re getting with the mortgage. Everything else can either wait, or we can do ourselves. But I’m going to have to be figuring out how much all that other stuff is going to cost as well, so I’ve got some serious planning and window shopping to do.

Besides all that stuff today, I faxed the inspection report to my insurance agent and said a little prayer that he’ll deem the property insurable.

I have an evening ahead of me full of planning, making lists, and talking things over with Brandon. I anticipate it will feel very satisfying to see it all down on paper in my big notebook. And I know I will fall asleep absolutely exhausted today, from the sheer energy of thought I have exerted today.

[tags]chimney, contractors, electricity, fireplace[/tags]

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