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Part 4: Huz’s round

We revisited Preston, Delong, Mastell, and Elgin, and then tried one new house let’s call it Woodhaven.

Preston: Huz liked it, but thought the layout was weird and though the master was great, the 2-4th bedrooms were on the small size. Though it has a no-maintenance deck, it needed maintenance. He was worried about what might be built across the street, houses are fine, strip mall would definitely decrease our property values.

Delong: Saw the potential, didn’t like the barking dogs or the amount of work it would need.

Mastell: Huz was very tempted, partially because of the price and possibilities for negotiation. The second time there I liked it less than the first. It’s also in a not as good neighborhood (above ground pools, etc).

Elgin: We kept it on the list because it was a more modest house, in a good neighborhood, with good finishes, including the best basement of all the houses. But it backs on to a lot of other yards and the master bath only has a shower.

Woodhaven: In Gahanna, which is a desirable location. It’s in a pretty subdivision, but is an older house. The owners updated it with granite, repainted the cupboards and downstairs doors, it had a good laundry room and office, and a great built in around the fireplace. It also had a fantastic wooded back yard and screened in porch. There were some weird things about it though, for example the owners didn’t paint the upstairs doors, so after a really attractive (at first glance) main floor, the upstairs was a disappointment. It was very well staged, but overpriced.

By the end of the day we both liked Preston the best, but Huz was disappointed because it wasn’t perfect, and he really wants the perfect house.  Our realtor is *great* though, and was good about not rushing us, giving us practical information, etc. and was willing to look for some more options (I mean, he wants to make a sale to satisfied customers).

Part 5

Yesterday we met with a builder representative from M/I Homes. Our realtor said that they are the most reputable builder in the area, and that they were able to offer better financing than the banks (4.25$ instead of 5+) so we would be able to increase our buying power, while keeping our payments in line. Another positive is that the builder includes a 30 year structural warranty. A negative is that we will have to pay closing costs.

Meeting with the rep was a little confusing, we discussed four different styles of houses in four different communities, some were finished, some were still being built. If we close on a house by April 30 we get a better interest rate, though there is a decent, slightly higher rate, if we closed on a house that is finished in May/June.  The rep was great though, she organized the information well and showed what our payments would be for different priced houses in different communities.

We visited a Bromley (5 level split, 4 bedrooms) that was in the middle of being painted. It’s the same layout as Rocky Springs, but is the most expensive option. It also has a smaller master, and this particular version had the fireplace pushing in to the room, which ate a lot of space.

Next we went to a Brady (4 bedrooms, not as open as the Bromley), I think we liked it better than the Bromley though, it didn’t have wasted space, and that particular lot backed on to trees. It was already sold though, so visiting was more for our information than serious consideration.

Then we went to a Guildford (4 bedrooms, side entry). It’s a smaller house than the other two, but it has a big kitchen, logical eat-in area, 9 foot ceilings, and really enormous bedrooms. There’s an upstairs laundry, an enormous bonus closet, and the bedroom closets are huge. It has some nice updates: beautiful cabinets, fireplace, wrought iron spindles on the stairs, upgraded laminate countertops, whirlpool tub in the bathroom. (more on Guildford’s later)

The fourth plan we visited was the Parkside. It’s a more modern layout, but also more of a straight line through the house. We didn’t really like it, certainly not as much as the Guildford, though it had a pretty awesome island.

Back to the Guildford.  There are two to choose from, in two different developments. And it looks like we are choosing between the two of them! So here are pros and cons.

Guildford 1: Pros: Closer to Huz’s work, in a community with a pretty park and play area, has a walk-out basement with a bathroom rough-in, which means we could finish the basement and add a bathroom and add a lot of value. We could also add a deck off the kitchen and patio from the basement, which is more expensive, but also adds value. Upgrading to ceramic tile on the floors and granite counter tops, adding an island, extending hardwood in the halls in to the dining room and/or kitchen could also be good.

Cons: A LOT of building left to do in the community, so there will be noise and dirt for a while. Pretty close to other houses, looks over several backyards. Plenty of updates available, but that’s rather expensive. This one is more expensive than Guildford 2. Beneath the flight path to Port Columbus Airport.

Guildford 2: Pros: Better counter tops than Guildford 1, way more yard space than Guildford 1, in a community with a workout center and pool (HOA actually pays for something useful!), community surrounds an elementary school and is across from a big park. Can finish basement, upgrade floors/counters, put in a patio/deck and landscape to add value. Less expensive than Guildford 1.

Cons: double the distance to Huz’s work, basement doesn’t have bathroom rough-in or a walk-out basement, probably can’t add quite as much value with updates. Near a power-line… which means extra green space, but there’s a power tower on the opposite side of the cul-de-sac.

This afternoon we’re going to look around in the daylight at the neighborhoods and think it over. Another advantage of both these houses is that they are at the low-end of our price range, our mortgage there will be about $200 less a month than our current rent! For space reasons I prefer Guildford 2, for upgrades, Guildford 1.

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Here are the listings we visited today.

Winery Way: Pros: er. Nice back yard? Decent curb appeal, close to Huz’s work and shopping, near a winery.

Cons: dark burgundy carpet through living area, master bedroom, up the stairs. Three bedroom, but higher price than many of the four bedroom houses. Small master bath, near a sludge pond and a pretty cruddy neighborhood. It’s a definite no.

Mccarrick: Pros: good front porch, ok square footage, three car garage.

Cons: Teeny master bath, weird layout for master bedroom, horrible, horrible finishes and paint. Low ceilings compared to other houses we visited.

Royal Farm: Pros: pretty back patio, very well finished basement.

Cons: Horrible, horrible finishes. Laminate in kitchen chipped, cheap flimsy doors, tiny family room.

Rocky Springs: Pros: Very spacious, light. Front porch. Transom windows let in light while keeping privacy (you can close blinds below and still have light), whirlpool tub in master, good room to convert in to a man cave. Unfinished, spacious basement for storage, large 2nd, 3rd, 4th bedrooms, big loft area, like the counters/cabinets in kitchen. This one is in our top 3 and combines some features we like in each. (oh noes!! while writing this the realtor called and said that it just went under contract 😦 ).

Cons: backyard nothing special, needs a patio, perhaps fencing and plants, overlooks a LOT of other yards. Master bedroom and bath quite small compared to the rest of the house. Dining room and one bedroom pretty horrible colours.

Old River: Pros: Exactly the same floor plan as Rocky Springs, but they chose lower grade finishes and window treatments. Very light and airy, backs on to the woods.

Cons: Lower finishes, Kitchen doesn’t open directly to dining room, more wear in the carpets. Updated den’s wet bar is in Ohio State colours, which isn’t a big problem at all (Shannan! don’t be mad!) but does limit other decorating options. Inferior to Rocky Springs, but at a higher price and on the market a longer time.

Elgin Trail: Pros: Very well finished, nice cabinets, basement is functional and attractive, pleasing colours, good layout. Kiddie castle in the back yard (could be a con too I guess).

Cons: Smaller, backyard isn’t fenced/defined. Elgin and Rocky Springs have bordering backyards (not really a con, just to note).

Amaranth: Pros: Lovely curb appeal, three car garage. Big office could be a man cave. Mature trees in back yard.

Cons: Same layout as Delong (visited yesterday), but older, smaller great room. Very dated and old. Delong needs less updates to feel like home. Finished basement is badly lit and out of date. Delong’s basement was not finished, which means we could update it and it would be a plus, Amaranth’s is a biggole negative right now, we’d HAVE to update it in order to resell later.

Killen: Pros: Very solid feel to the home, hardwood floors, unique layout with back staircase, loft behind master overlooking the greatroom. Appropriately sized office (not enormous, not too small). Solid built ins, skylights, good size bedrooms.

Cons: Needs so, so many updates (the master bathtub is surrounded with wood!) Unlikely to make your money back if were to later resell.  Owners put in new light fixtures, probably to improve resale, but they definitely don’t match the decor. Instead of hardwood floors throughout the dining room there is a weird patch of inset carpet.

Mastell: Pros: it’s a new build with upgraded finishes (granite, hardwood in entrance and kitchen). Very light and spacious, big master bedroom bath and closet, big other bedrooms. Stone fireplace. Trees already planted in back yard and a fence to define property limit. AND a cute little rabbit was hanging out by the basement window (pic forthcoming). Currently there is an empty lot opposite. Not directly opposite another house in back either, but looks over many backyards. Pretty white doors inside. Much more manageable for us to paint ourselves (no two story entryways). Realtor thinks that we may be able to negotiate better financing, appliances, lower price, later closing date with seller as it is still owned by the builder. (Also in our top three-now top 2 damn you Rocky Springs buyers!!!).

Cons: Grey exterior is pretty, but not very eye-catching. Basement not yet finished. Eat-in area is awkwardly placed. Needs stove and fridge, along with window treatments. Don’t really like the carpet colour, seems too brown, though it probably doesn’t show wear as much as a lighter carpet. No deck or patio (though that and the basement are the only two upgrades available to improve resale value). In a township that’s having trouble with resale values, but shouldn’t be as bad off as others as it is so new and has good upgrades.

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Here’s the shakedown: (see here for listings)

Preston Trails: Pros: Definitely the number one so far. It feels open, airy, almost beachy. The fence is great around the back yard, and it backs on to a field (followed by a road, followed by another field). I love having a defined yard and not looking right in to the neighbor’s house. Inside it is so light, upstairs on one side there is a small bedroom and the master suite with cathedral ceilings and two enormous closets. Then there is a walkway with railings on each side (so you can see down to the entry way and eat-in area of the kitchen) and two bedrooms and a hall bath. The finished part of the basement is bright.

Cons: The bedrooms (other than the master) are a bit small, the finished part of the basement is on the small side and the ceiling isn’t finished all the way across.

Stonebridge: Pros: Also pretty light and airy with a big kitchen, master suite is fine and the bedrooms are decent size. A pretty good deck.

Cons: the built-in for the TV is kinda fugly, the finished part of the basement is small it’s close to the neighbors on all sides, smaller yard, and a higher price than Preston.

764 Delong: Pros: Attractive exterior, pond across the street in front, stream and trees in the back. Alright paint colours in living area and the kitchen was ok.

Cons: Low ceilings, seems crowded because of dark paint, upstairs has a narrow hall, master bedroom pretty small and VERY red. Master bath also cramped. Highest price of all the ones we saw today, and it’s  been on the market over a year which means the sellers probably aren’t willing to strike a deal. Why spend more on a lesser house?

Ellis: Pros: nearly the same layout as 764 Delong, but more open (hallway not all blocked off, lighter colours). Also backs on to trees, but with houses immediately behind)

Cons: Master bath wall doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling (toilet has it’s own little room, but still). Moisture in the unfinished basement.

788 Delong: Currently my number 2 choice. Pros: Very airy, light, high ceilings in entryway, cathedral ceiling in office, master bedroom and high ceiling in great room as well. Bedrooms are a good size, decent deck, backs on to stream and trees.

Cons: cheap vinyl flooring is discoloured and should be replaced with tile, needs new hood (microwave?) above oven, could use new countertops, maybe cabinets. Don’t love the exterior, can see all the yards of our neighbors, several have barky dogs.

930 Carron: Pros: In a pretty neighborhood, with good curb appeal. The basement is finished well, but the ceilings are low. The master bedroom was good, and the master closet was almost the size of a bedroom.

Cons: Master Bath is carpeted and the tub has pink tile around it. Wood doors and trim seem very dated and pretty unattractive.

937 Carron: Pros: Unique layout, high-vaulted ceiling in great room second story loft, one of the bedrooms has a great vaulted ceiling with beams. Half basement is finished and looks pretty, very posh bathroom, wet bar.

Cons: Doors, trim, cupboards are way outdated, really strange and nasty smell in laundry room, cheesy pillars. Basement bath has poorly made glass block wall on shower (it leans, grout is messy). Bar space is cramped with no shelving or appliances. Master bath has pink tile with black paisley print on some of them. Really feels like an old-person house.

Dunmore: It’s a definite no. Pros: It’s on a cul-de-sac with trees in back, high ceiling in great room.

Cons: Waaaaaaay out of date appliances, cupboards, woodwork, fixtures. Master bedroom rug has an iron print burned in to it. Busy road crosses the stream, you can see and hear it from the house.

Bentwood: Pros: granite counters and updated kitchen. Six-panel doors, drywalled garage, backs on to the grounds of an elementary school.

Cons: Very dark paint in all rooms make them all feel small.

Of these: Taking Huz to see Preston and 788 Delong. Stonebridge and Ellis are options if we got really, really desperate.  Ten more houses tomorrow, including many more of our top choices based on pictures and drivebys.

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I left for boarding school in 1996. Since then I have moved, or expected to move, every year. This year is no different, clearly I expect to move this spring (I have a blog about it and everything!) But this move is different, this time I am expecting to move and stay in one place for a while. Yes, we may move again in five or more years, but in the meantime we plan to have a house, settle in, start traditions. I am so excited!

I have a mental “when I have a house” list. When I have a house I will have a sewing machine, and I will make curtains and pillowcases, or crafts. When I have a house I will unbox the kitchen aid (it’s been sitting in a corner for two years, unused, because we don’t have the counter space). When I have a house I will decorate for holidays. When I have a house I will have a new couch, that doesn’t face the television. When I have a house I will cook real meals, and have friends over for dinner.

When I have a house I will buy an ebelskiver pan and make posh breakfasts for our guests. Yum!!

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