“Listen, Will and I have been going through Bill Stephen’s building inspection reports, and the results of the water company inspections and…and….well …I think we may be over our heads …unless we can somehow get the price down on our offer.”
I paced myself, continued on, disclosing that we anticipated the expenses we would be facing just to bring both houses up to code could be astronomical, far beyond what we had expected. The cottage, condemned after the barn behind it burned down ten to fifteen years ago, and the red house, barely scotch taped together with jumble of repairs made over the past four, yes four, centuries.
Tim listened. He grasped the scope of the challenges we were facing, and was extremely sympathetic to our love affair with the property. I gave him a dollar figure that I wanted him to present to the seller, a substantial reduction to the agreed upon sale price in our contract. Tim, ever calm and graceful, conferenced in our attorney and began the negotiations.
I woke to snow falling, again, and the trees bending in the wind. I resisted waking up my i phone to check the outside temperature- I knew it wouldn’t be a number I would like. This cold grey winter has stayed too long.
After Will left for work I carried my coffee over to my desk to greet my virtual world. I noticed my friend Sarah, who works at Buzzfeed, had posted something on Facebook about must see places in New England. So naturally, being a New England native I clicked on it to see if I knew them all. What a surprise to see I actually live in one of them- Berkshire County #10!
Buzz feed link- check out #10- Berkshire County!!You absolutely need to visit me in the Berkshires
I hear Spring is around the corner- hard to believe. This is what awaits me, once the snow melts and the sun returns.
Offer accepted, contracts signed, checks signed and handed over…now onto scheduling all the inspections- building, chimney, radon, water and sewer.
It turned out the licensed inspectors in the area were so booked up that we had to request an extension from the seller. We held our breath, she agreed.
The delay didn’t matter. It just gave us more time to fall in love with the charm, the view, the brook, and to dream about the possibilities. Good thing we were already committed to our dreams. What the inspections revealed was sobering.
When you walk around a house you can tell maybe the roof or the windows need to be replaced, or a gutter here or there but it’s the basement that reveals all the secrets. I hate basements as a general rule, but descending into the underpinnings of a house built in the 18th century was something that gave me the creeps. So I passed on the chance to join Will, Tim and Bill Stephens, our building inspector, in the basement. However, this did not keep me from hearing their comments as they brushed the through the spider webs, their flashlights illuminating teeny tiny crawl spaces, revealing dated and undersized floor joists, suspect sills….Rotten, rotten, rotten.
I held my breath and made a mental note. Will whispered, “ We may be looking at a new foundation here.” I knew this was not a good sign.
We followed Bill upstairs and down and all around the exterior of red house and white cottage for the better part of six hours. He would disappear for minutes into crawlspaces or up on a ladder, and then return and explain his findings.
After the rotten rotten rotten it was nice to hear a few positives sprinkled into his findings- like a new furnace, a new oil tank, a relatively new roof. The white house, well that was a different story …badly damaged in a fire years ago, now condemned. I wondered would this be a deal breaker?
And so, still hopelessly enamored, we carried on in guarded perseverance. After reading the inspection reports which were inches thick with Bill’s findings and recommended repair priorities we created a long list of all the critical things we had discovered during the inspections and attached a price to fix each one. The amount was staggering.