Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TheMostImportantGuy and I closed escrow on our cute little house on last week.

I'm not sure if I failed to mention it because it's just flat-out freak-me-out overwhelming (the term "fixer-upper" does not begin to describe the place), or if I failed to mention it because I was too busy dealing with James being in the ICU, or if I failed because the chihuahua needing an emergency trip to the vet for a butt rupture, or the fact that my car was hit in the parking lot while I was leaving the vet's office, or maybe it was MyFavoriteKid's gala/concert thing, or perhaps blogging about the new house thing just didn't happen because I've been sick and hanging out with the bag-o-death.

Who knows. Whatever! I'm tellin' ya' now!!!

So. I've been very busy with house related stuffs the past couple of days with this house! This was a bank owned property that was thrrrrrrrashed by the evicted owners as they made their way out. It's a good sized property. It's a 2 story, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house on about a half-acre, and there are sub-structures. There is a LOT to be done, and TheMostImportantGuy and I are dividing up the workload. He's got the greater share of things of right now, and the most complicated. He's dealing with the city and contractors and drainage issues (which are all at a crawl), and I'm....well, I'm trying to do what I can to help, and quickly learn how to do what I can't.

I've met with the tree trimming guy about hacking back that huge sycamore on the left in the photo, and pulling out a few dead trees while the soil is still moist. I've met with the guy who can keep the yard mowed and looking cleaned up while we are in fix-it-up mode, and he will also be generally keeping an eye on things by going by every other day to check up on the place. I'm trying to work with a guy who can repair that gate out front on the left (plus it's twin on the back end of the property). I've interviewed two, and now finally chosen one, pool repair guy, because....

...yup. There's a pool. And, Yup. It's green in that photo. It's blue again now. It's still a little cloudy, but with a couple more repairs that should be all straightened out fairly soon.

We've done a few things to make the place look a bit more lived in (like adding some temporary, but effective, window coverings). I got some timers so lights will go on and off, etc....and I'm going to try to create more of that "lived-in" look tomorrow while I am stationed at the house to meet with three more contractors and technicians that TheMostImportantGuy has scheduled to come out during the day: the alarm company, the power company, and the well guy (there's a well on the property in addition to city water, and we're hoping that the well can function for things like landscaping, the pool, and whatnot).

There was one other thing I did today. And it was actually the highlight of my day. Now, look at that picture up above again. To the left of the pool what you have there is a structure separate from the house. It's a detached garage, and there is an in-law unit in upstairs. We want to fix it up and rent it out. Now, I could discuss the details here until I put you to sleep, but the general gist is that the city has been telling us that they have no record of it being a legal second unit, and that if we want it to be above board (and we do), the filing fees are going to be about $30,000.


TheMIG has been doing all sorts of research and work with structural engineers, and it has been determined that the rear structure was indeed built at the same time as the main house: 1932. But just because it was built then, does not mean that it was built to be a separate address. It could have been built to be storage, for all we know. Well, TheMIG has been trying to prove that it's a second unit by way of power records, being that there are two meters on the property and all.

But today I went down to the local Museum/Historic Society and went trolling through these:

And I found out a TON of cool stuff, and I cannot WAIT to go back and find out some more.

The good news, is that we can now prove that the rear unit was definitely treated as a separate address all the way back to 1935. I can also tell you who lived there, who they were married to, and what they did for work. It was the most entertaining sleuthing I have ever done, and I cannot wait to do more. I am truly hoping to find some old photos of the place, because up in one of the attics of our new-old house, I found a ribbon from the county fair for best of show for the garden tour. There has got to be a photo somewhere.

The really exciting part of this little research excursion of mine, was meeting the docent at the front desk of the museum. She knew our house. She'd been in it. She knew the dentist that lived in it for years during the 50's going forward a few decades. She knew that he'd put in that pool for therapy for his disabled daughter (that made me kinda cry a little bit......'cuz this here disabled person is going to be swimming in that pool very soon herself). She could describe the inlay detailing in the wood floor in the dining room and livingroom, which is still in tact. She could describe the stairway. And she knew about the rear unit as well, and she actually thought it may have been used for the daughter's nurse/caretaker at some point. She'd been there socially, and she could describe the garden, and is going to help me look for photos, and I kind of gathered that the doctor was very active in the community and that he was a sponsor of the museum. Heck, if they have saved us $30k, we might have to become sponsors, too.

Everyone that has been in and around this house and property the last few weeks....contractors, inspectors, etc....they have all said that the house is totally cool and has a really good feel to it. Even the people I have spoken to about the house in passing, when I tell them the where the house is, they've all seen it or driven by it at some point, and they've noticed it, and they like it.

And it's a mess. But it's a really cool mess. We have our work cut out for us. But I am finally really really excited.


Maggie said...


You've posted about this house before, but in today's post I can suddenly feel the house, sitting eagerly waiting for transforming hands to love it again.

Wishing you (and MIG and MFK and the animals and the House) plenty of love, light and laughter as you bring it back to life.


I am so happy for you, B., and I feel your pain, too, having just gone through buying a foreclosure. Your new house is awesome!

~Donna~ said...

That is an AWESOME house.

Congrats to everyone and hope you all enjoy making it a home. :)

Sure, there's a lot of work to be done, but that place sounds like it's worth it.

The Bon said...

You can try an Historic American Building Survey (HABS) search. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/ But it looks like all the Vallejo photos are of the naval shipyard. Other than that, you can take your list of names and start scanning old newspaper articles, etc for them, in case there are events. Most private homes won't actually have documented historical photography unless someone has donated private photos to a collection, but I'll keep trying to dig in my brain and think of other repositories that might help. It's been a couple of years since I last did this kind of research, and my brain isn't coming up with much more help.

Knitika said...

That sleuthing looks like great fun and very rewarding. Good job figuring that out!

Mouse said...

hooray! I'm so excited that you got the house!! it looks like its going to be really interesting to unearth all of the details!

M-H said...

You made me tear up there. (I'm a bit teary at the moment, with the earthquake and all.) I couldn't be happier for you, and how exciting to be doing all that research and have it come out so well for you.

Elisa said...

Congrats on the new digs! I love all the history behind it. Now you will add your own story.

Linda said...

that totally looks like a house i would feel at home in. best wishes.

bibliogrrl said...

This is SO. EXCITING. What a beautiful house and pool! And garden! I can't wait to see more about it. :D

Anonymous said...

It is a pretty little house and good luck with the fixing-up! Suenapse

Lorena said...

I haven't read everyone's comments so you might have answered this already, but... when do reservations begin for all of us to cycle through and visit?!

Seriously, congratulations to you both - this is really fabulous!

carleigh said...

it's gorgeous! Congrats! I can't wait to see you in it! :)