This Old #%&@*$ House

Yeah the trick with basements is just keeping them dry. Make sure you have a really good pump setup, build out the floor correctly, and consider a dehumidifier. You'll also want easy access to any water stuff, and may want to consider something like a drop ceiling for access to pipes. If you're going whole-hog, cellar doors can be really really handy for getting things into and out of a basement, but that means knocking a hole in the foundation, so...

complexmath wrote:

Yeah the trick with basements is just keeping them dry. Make sure you have a really good pump setup, build out the floor correctly, and consider a dehumidifier. You'll also want easy access to any water stuff, and may want to consider something like a drop ceiling for access to pipes. If you're going whole-hog, cellar doors can be really really handy for getting things into and out of a basement, but that means knocking a hole in the foundation, so...

It's a walk-out basement, and we would only be finishing about 1/3-1/2 of it, including the back door area. The furnace/water heater and laundry areas would remain unfinished, which is where we also have a lot of installed shelving.

The only thing that will be any real challenge is the bathroom. There are plumbing rough-ins for a toilet and sink, but they are in a weird spot. We can do it, and having a half-bath down there would be really nice, but it would basically mean we'd have to walk through the bathroom to get to the laundry.

I've got a basic plan for the permit and have been talking to the building office about details, but I still secretly feel like I'm getting swindled somehow.

Okay. I am about to close on a new place (brand new) and the home inspection found a ton of stuff I would never have known to look for. Most of it is minor and stuff that the builder will take care of without my even asking, but the one thing that bothers me is that there is small, but noticeable bow in the framing of the outside wall. The home inspector said that it is most likely cosmetic and not structural, but stated that it would require an engineer's approval. I was informed that the builder would likely hire an engineer to write it up (townhouse so the "outside" technically belongs to them anyway in NC), but that I might end up having to foot the bill for part of that.

Seems unreasonable. Is it?

Paleocon wrote:

Okay. I am about to close on a new place (brand new) and the home inspection found a ton of stuff I would never have known to look for. Most of it is minor and stuff that the builder will take care of without my even asking, but the one thing that bothers me is that there is small, but noticeable bow in the framing of the outside wall. The home inspector said that it is most likely cosmetic and not structural, but stated that it would require an engineer's approval. I was informed that the builder would likely hire an engineer to write it up (townhouse so the "outside" technically belongs to them anyway in NC), but that I might end up having to foot the bill for part of that.

Seems unreasonable. Is it?

Depends on how much of it you have to take on. Any more than half, and I'd tell them no sale and walk away. Something like that could very well be the structure of the house.

As an example, when I bought my house, it required a radon system or it couldn't be sold. I agreed to cover half the cost, which meant the seller covered a bunch of other things that I was going at them over.

Yeah. It's really not unreasonable for either side of a transaction to say that something is a dealbreaker. The seller has an incentive to sell the house to the deal actually available to them. You have an incentive to not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house that could cause you serious grief. Neither side is really reasonable or unreasonable. It's all business. I would personally insist they help pay for that and that the engineer was 3rd party or chosen by you. I always get uncomfortable when it's the seller proving that something is as they say it is.

Yeah I would offer to pay half and would insist on picking the engineer.

Boudreaux - make sure to seal the floor well.

Island is in. Only one cabinet to go! (It'll go next to the dishwasher you see in the bottom left corner.)

IMAGE(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-I6092basBDA/VK1ErqWxndI/AAAAAAAAAwY/18-tlec7HVI/w1341-h755-no/IMG_20150106_202840318.jpg)

So somehow, I've ended up with some locations that are not quite 100% level. Still inside the 1st line on my 4-foot level, but not as perfect as my OCD personality would like them to be. Which is odd, because I checked them six ways from Sunday. Here's hoping that they're still inside any tolerances that the granite guys need to feel like it won't crack on them.

What are you planning for flooring?

Unfortunately for now, just thick (12mm) laminate. Eventually we would like to take it to 3/4x4" white oak site-finished like the section of the house we redid last year. However, that will require redoing the underlayment (currently particle board but really needs to be 3/4" Advantech), the ramifications of which I'm not currently desirous to think through considering the literal ton of cabinets and granite that will be sitting on top of it.

So somehow, I've ended up with some locations that are not quite 100% level. Still inside the 1st line on my 4-foot level, but not as perfect as my OCD personality would like them to be. Which is odd, because I checked them six ways from Sunday. Here's hoping that they're still inside any tolerances that the granite guys need to feel like it won't crack on them.

More shims is your answer here.

When we put in our own granite, the installers brought little plastic shims to put on top of the cabinets to keep them level enough that the countertops would not crack over time. If you're within reasonable amounts of level I'd expect the same from your contractors.

Looks good, Min! I'm impressed.

Spent a couple of hours last night wiring in an occupancy switch to our basement laundry room lights. Not completely done, but when it is, the lights in that area will turn on/off automatically. Particularly handy when carrying full baskets of laundry downstairs, and REALLY handy for not having to go down into the basement to turn off the $*#& lights every night before I go to bed.

I know they're commonplace, but I still get a kick out of having motion-sensing lights in my house at the cost of $40 in parts from Lowes.

Hooray for having someone come in today to fix the crack in my foundation which I discovered after truly torrential rains last month! (ugh)

Also fun; cutting out part of a wall so that said crack-fixers can access the entirety of the crack. At least it happened in the unfinished part of the basement, and the water that came in made a nice little deviation around my computer tower.

Hurray! I've finally finished framing walls in my basement.

It's taken me two months, fifty concrete bolts, sixteen pounds of nails, and almost five hundred dollars in lumber and I think I'm a third done with the basement remodel.

I still have a soffit to frame in but I should be able to finish that off in a day or two.

I'm starting to think that I am going to pay someone to do the drywall. Not so much because I don't want to do it but because I don't want to carry it all downstairs.

Only three months left until I have to turn my office into a nursery and move downstairs.

Congrats, Norfair!

So, the builder agreed to fix all the stuff on the inspection report including the engineering letter. Yay.

The wife is not terribly happy with the builder's choice of appliances (low end Frigidaire stuff), but I figure I can live with it. Mostly, now, I am just nervous about the whole mortgage qualification.

Paleocon wrote:

So, the builder agreed to fix all the stuff on the inspection report including the engineering letter. Yay.

The wife is not terribly happy with the builder's choice of appliances (low end Frigidaire stuff), but I figure I can live with it. Mostly, now, I am just nervous about the whole mortgage qualification.

Yay for the repairs being covered!
Good luck!

Yellek wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

So, the builder agreed to fix all the stuff on the inspection report including the engineering letter. Yay.

The wife is not terribly happy with the builder's choice of appliances (low end Frigidaire stuff), but I figure I can live with it. Mostly, now, I am just nervous about the whole mortgage qualification.

Yay for the repairs being covered!
Good luck! :)

The whole verifying your employment and residency back 20 years thing is freaking me out.

Yesterday, we got our pre-approval letter from the bank we're using. The mortgage officer is very nice and totally supportive of us staying on the lower side of what we could potentially get approved for. Then she did her magic and told us that we could actually get approved for a house that's $200k more than we're looking for. Ouch. Obviously, we won't be doing that.

We looked at three more yesterday, and finally found one that's staying on the list. It's nice, and has a really good garage, but it's a cape and would probably feel a little tight after a while. We could deal with it, and could do some renovation to make it better, but it'd be a good chunk of work. The yard also is mostly a pool in the back, plus a bunch of woods, so fencing it for the dogs would be tricky. We'll be watching it, but can't justify it for the price they're asking now.

I really want more houses to come on the market. What we're seeing now is obviously just last season's leftovers that are all either weird, kinda run down, or both.

Paleocon wrote:

The wife is not terribly happy with the builder's choice of appliances (low end Frigidaire stuff), but I figure I can live with it. Mostly, now, I am just nervous about the whole mortgage qualification.

It's weird when they cheap out on stuff that is an obvious bump in sale price above and beyond cost, but appliances are things you can upgrade later.

Not really, most people just see stainless steel appliances and think it is new and good.

I just finishing patching plaster in the kitchen and am in the middle of painting the whole room from an old stained brownish gray to a nice light gray with a hint of blue. What a pain. It is a weird shape with six walls plus a lot of historic wood trim, a sponge ceiling and three groups of cabinets and two windows. So much taping and little strips of wall to paint around trim.

Oh and two fuses blown in the last week since I've moved all of the countertop appliances around and discovered half the kitchen is on the same circuit as the dining room and living room. Nice old style screw in fuses since there is still knob-and-tube here. Yah!

LeapingGnome wrote:

Not really, most people just see stainless steel appliances and think it is new and good.

Truth. After my wife and I moved back into our house from our downtown, 14th story expensive apartment we were shocked to discover that our boring white appliances (that we picked out) were amazing.

See, when we bought the house in 2008 we did a lot of work to it, including replacing the terrible appliances the seller left behind (and that we'd priced into the cost of the house, honestly) with great appliances. Then 3 years later we moved out, rented it out and forgot about it outside of maintenance. We got used to the apartment appliances, even bumping up all of our times and temperatures on recipes for the stove because we never could get it to work correctly. This was all really fancy stuff. Stainless steel, instructions on move-in about how to properly care for the surfaces of these appliances. I mean, really fancy stuff, supposedly.

We moved back into our house in December and it's been kind of shocking. Clothing washes and drys in half the time. Dishes finish in half the time. The stove heats almost instantly. The oven keeps the correct temperature and cooks really well. It's quite a joy to just live in the house. On more than one occasion we've caught ourselves saying, "Hey, we were pretty smart back in 2008". We picked good appliances that have lasted through 2 sets of renters and are better than what we had in our premium apartment.

Chaz wrote:

Yesterday, we got our pre-approval letter from the bank we're using. The mortgage officer is very nice and totally supportive of us staying on the lower side of what we could potentially get approved for. Then she did her magic and told us that we could actually get approved for a house that's $200k more than we're looking for. Ouch. Obviously, we won't be doing that.

We looked at three more yesterday, and finally found one that's staying on the list. It's nice, and has a really good garage, but it's a cape and would probably feel a little tight after a while. We could deal with it, and could do some renovation to make it better, but it'd be a good chunk of work. The yard also is mostly a pool in the back, plus a bunch of woods, so fencing it for the dogs would be tricky. We'll be watching it, but can't justify it for the price they're asking now.

I really want more houses to come on the market. What we're seeing now is obviously just last season's leftovers that are all either weird, kinda run down, or both.

Wife and I were in a similar situation. We didn't want to extend ourselves and ended up buying a home over 120k less than we were approved for. We've never regretted it and it's given us some flexibility. My wife also stays home with our daughter, no way we could do that if we bought a more expensive house.

We bought a cape and find it just fine. They usually have a very functional layout. They are also easy to modify in the future.

Good luck. Buying a home is exciting.

wordsmythe wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

The wife is not terribly happy with the builder's choice of appliances (low end Frigidaire stuff), but I figure I can live with it. Mostly, now, I am just nervous about the whole mortgage qualification.

It's weird when they cheap out on stuff that is an obvious bump in sale price above and beyond cost, but appliances are things you can upgrade later.

Kind of how I was feeling.

I have a gas hookup and am frustrated that the range wasn't hooked up for gas. Going gas in the kitchen would have cost an amount I can't afford presently, but I do want it later.

I really can't get why folks go electric in the kitchen when gas is available.

Because if you use an induction range, you end up more efficient than gas with basically the same time for heating.

I also don't get why people want stainless steel. We are building a house and designed the kitchen around black appliances. Stainless steel would have been an additional $2k or so and I just didn't see the need to spend it. I understand some people like it and may feel the quality is more but I'm fine with black. I have never owned SS appliances and that's ok. I just want stuff to work!

It's a fashion thing. It's trendy and cool to have granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. My wife watches a lot of HGTV, and whenever you see someone looking at a house without both of those things, they always say "Oh, it's so dated, this whole thing is going to need to be updated."

I work with appliances everyday, and stainless steel is by far the most popular color for units. It matches well with most kitchen designs and gives a clean modern look. We also have people looking for off colors such as "plumb" and "avocado". It is all a matter of design and fun.

It'll be fun in about 10-15 years when stainless falls out of favor, and the people who have to have them now will be clamoring for cleaner colors like white or black.

We need faceplates for appliances. It's the only sensible way.