Sunday, May 29, 2011

House Buying Chronicles Part 3: The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Leach Field

(This is not the actual house, but a very close likeness)

To bring you up to speed, we’d put in an offer on three houses at this point, but none of them were successful. Two were basically ignored, the third turned into a painful lesson about getting attached to a home before you should. So, onto house number 4! We ventured out of our preferred price range a bit with this one, thinking that if we could stretch our budget just a bit more we could avoid bank owned houses with challenges.

So again we head out with our agent and look at three houses. We rule out the first as being too small in living space and a bit farther away than we want to be, the second is out because it’s a 2 bedroom dressed up like a 3, and we consider the third house. It’s a raised ranch with a fully finished downstairs, which means 6 bedrooms, 2 full baths and plenty of space for a family of 5. When I say consider I mean I nag Tim relentlessly about it. I try to be subtle, but I have never been good at it. At the end of the week we decide to make an offer on the house. We signed a contract with the sellers on Wednesday and scheduled our home inspection for Thursday.

This was the second home inspection we’d had done on a property but the first one I’d been to. If you ever get the chance to go on a home inspection, I highly recommend it. I mean it! Ok, maybe it’s just because my dad was a carpenter and I grew up around him working, building, visiting job sites, but I still think home inspections are pretty neat. You get to see the real bones of the house in some ways, and discover what really makes up a good home. Also, imagine the stuff you get to see on that job?! I mean some of it you don’t want to see I’m sure, I don’t think our inspector liked opening the attic in the last place and being greeted with piles of bat poop. But you also get to see really beautiful homes, clean new construction with top of the line features, and stunning old New England homes that are like living history.

We arrive and everyone is already there and ready to go. The septic guy has already been out back to make his assessment and he greets us first. Red flag number two! This is the same guy we used on the last house and he recognizes Tim after a minute and then he recalls the other house. Then he apologizes and gets a bit of a grim look on his face. The leach field is shot. He shows us the lush grass in the back yard, the overflowing tank and the clear evidence that this system has not been maintained in the 20 years since the house was built. He fails the system and gives us a rough quote between $7,000-$10,000 to replace the leach field. Not a fun way to start the home inspection.

We move on to look at the rest of the home. Things look ok. Certainly better than the last house, and hey, there are people living in this one, that’s certainly an improvement. The rest of the house comes back without too many concerns. Structurally the house is in good shape. The upstairs bathroom could use a serious makeover, the house just needs some cosmetics (and a new leach field) and she’ll be good to go. We’re still encouraged, we wish everything were perfect of course, but we also know this is our reality and we feel that we can still make this work. So we go back to the sellers and ask them to fix the leach field and then we’ll proceed with buying the house.

We agreed to an extension while the sellers had someone quote them a price for a new leach field. When they got the quote back, they decided that they would rather fix the septic and relist the house at the previous asking price. To them, the house was worth the full asking price because it had a new septic installed. Funny about that – they relisted the house within hours of rejecting our contract and it’s still listed, with no mention of a new septic in the description.

I feel slightly bitter as I write this out and relive it. There was a lot to this house that we really loved and that would have been a great match for our family. Every time I get bitter though, I try to catch myself and think of the downsides. As frustrating as it is to be nine months into this search and still without a house, I have to remember that there is a reason(or two) that this house didn’t work out But we can’t know the whys just yet, so in the meantime I’ve decided to believe that when we find the house that’s meant for us, the reasons will become clear.




1 comment:

Ginger Lucas said...

Inspections are very important when you're eying for your dream home. Remember that purchasing a house is a long term or maybe even a lifetime investment. Make sure to examine every part of the house and see if everything is in good condition especially if you're checking a secondhand property.

Ginger Lucas @ DFW Accurate Inspections