Friday, July 09, 2010

HOUSEHUNTING HOT AND HEAVY

Our first day of house-hunting went well.  We were able to check out in person places that we'd only seen online - big difference!  Even if all the individual rooms look nice it still makes a big difference how they're arranged.  Every time I looked at houses online I wished for the floor plans!  We were of course familiar with all the different areas and neighborhoods, and had decided we wanted to be in Louisville's east end.  Without having jobs to go to everyday, we didn't really need to be close to any particular location, but even narrowing our choice down to the east end left lots of room for choice. 

Condo_KIT_2153We looked at 9 patio homes and one single family home that was interesting and unique.  Four of the patio homes were in the same subdivision, so we were hoping for a chance to see some variety.  Most of the units we saw were very similar.  Some had new carpet, others had replaced the carpet with laminate flooring.  Each kitchen was very different, yet similar.  The differences were in the wall opposite the main workspace.  One unit had the washer, dryer and water heater in an enclosed area on one wall of the kitchen.  Another unit had nothing at all on this wall.  Yet another unit had a large pantry unit on this wall and the last unit had the entire wall lined with cabinets and counter space. (that's it in the photo above)  The units without the washer/dryer in the kitchen had them conveniently located just outside the kitchen door in the attached garage, just like we'd had in our previous condo.  None of the kitchens had been updated, but all had potential.  They were small, but I thought I could manage.  This community, much like the place we'd lived in before we moved to Italy is about 18-20 years old, and many of the original owners are still here.  I think within the next five years or so there will be a big turnover and lots of updating. 

Once we'd seen all ten homes we talked about the pros and cons of each location and each unit.  If we fell in love with a particular location/subdivision, we knew we could wait for the perfect unit to come on the market.  Based on our internet searches we each had a favorite, and it was interesting to see how the reality compared to the photos. 

Eventually we decided that we liked one of the units we'd seen in the subdivision where we'd seen four units.  We liked the location of the unit itself as well as the laminate floors throughout.  There was very little to do to the unit other than paint, which was a relief.  We decided to make an offer. 

Unfortunately there was already an offer in on the unit we wanted, so we had to re-think our plans.  We decided that we'd bid on another unit, also in a great (private) location, but that needed a lot of updating.  The good news was that this unit was priced $10,000 below the first, allowing us to pay for the renovations and make it our own. 

After returning to the condo for a second visit, a neighbor told us that new roofs were in the future and that each condo would be charged a special assessment to cover the costs.  The amount for a condo the size of the one(s) we were looking at was around $5000.  Ouch!  That fact certainly made us stop and reconsider!

Eventually we did make an offer on the condo after the owners agreed to put $5000 in escrow for the roof.  If the assessment is over $5000 we'll have to pay the difference, but at least the majority of the costs will be taken care of.  Reaching this agreement before the end of April also meant that we would qualify for the $8000 tax credit!  We knew we'd need to paint, and this unit would also need a gas line run for the stove.  We decided that we liked the look of the laminate floors and that we would just re-do the entire first floor.  Yes, hardwood would have been nicer, but the budget demanded some compromises - besides, we have oriental carpets that we want to use.

A home inspection revealed no major problems, but we did find out that two of the windows needed to be replaced.  Because the windows were original (meaning 18-20 years old) with aluminum frames, and because we could ALSO take advantage of the energy rebate program, we decided to replace all the windows as well.  Our real estate agent had a person to recommend, and having someone you can trust with a project this large is a must. 

The condo we bought (call it a patio home if you want) is 1 ½ stories with an attached 2 car garage.  Although there is no basement there is a pull-down stairway in the garage as well as attic storage accessible from the upstairs bedroom.  The ground floor consists of a small, ceramic-tiled entry, a living room with a vaulted ceiling and gas fireplace and an adjoining dining room.  The kitchen was smaller than what we had in Italy but I'm confident it'll work just fine.  The hall bath has a walk-in shower rather than a tub, which I'm sure Art will love.  The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and a full bath with a tub.  The smaller bedroom downstairs will function as an office/den, and also has a large closet.  Upstairs is one large bedroom, complete with it's own walk-in closet and full bath, perfect for guests! 

The outside of the condo has a nice sized patio in front, and backs up to an open space and a tree line that separates us from the subdivision on the next street.  Our new neighbor and I already have plans to transform the area by the tree line into a shade garden with hostas and flowers.  It's a very private location, not 'overlooked' as the Brits would say, and everyone we've met so far has been very welcoming.  They all seem to love this area and this community and we feel confident that we'll love it here too.  As soon as all those renovations are finished......

7 Comments :

At 7/09/2010 03:52:00 AM , Anonymous Martha said...

So happy to see that you are posting again. You know I enjoy the L'ville stuff too. Where abouts is this place? Did you know about Doll's Market. I found out abot it in The Kentuckian's love story to Italy book that I got from you. Finally have just finished all those books and will be giving them to my college soon. Tell us how KY workmen are different than Italian.

 
At 7/09/2010 08:53:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Martha, I know of Doll's market, but not sure what specifically you're referring to.

The condo is on Westport Rd, out near Springhurst - does that mean anything to you since you've been gone so long?!

As for the workers, we ended up with the most FANTASTIC workers, just like we did in Italy! We had an electrician, plumber, painter, drywall man and flooring man who were all not only great at their jobs, but also wonderful people. I'm expecting the same from our window guy when he installs the windows in August.

 
At 7/10/2010 05:42:00 AM , Anonymous Judith in UMbria said...

Barbara, I cannot get over how quickly you went all the way back culturally. I refer to that line, "Having someone4 you trust for a job that big is essential" when of course we all dealt with crooks and dissemblers as well as great craftsmen when we did our Italian houses. So it's really nice to have them, but we have survived without them!filkhoch

 
At 7/10/2010 09:59:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Judith I guess we were luckier than most when we did our renovations in Italy - our geometra was great, on-time and professional, as were all his workers. Luckily for us we never experienced some of the horrors others did!

 
At 7/10/2010 10:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barb,

Interesting that you are posting again. But ( sigh ) reports of house hunting in Louisville lack that certain
something offered by your stories of house hunting in Italy.

 
At 7/10/2010 11:08:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Yes, but that's the reality! After nearly 7 years in Italy we can't complain and look at it as a chance for new adventures!

 
At 7/12/2010 08:03:00 AM , Blogger Bob and Rosemary said...

Congratulations on finding such a lovely-sounding place to call home! We will look forward to hearing about your new adventures as well. I had to laugh at your "anonymous" comment - we had friends say the same thing to us about our relocating to Delaware after living in Italy for two years! And while it isn't "Italy (sigh)" we are still finding many wonderful places to explore right here at home.

All our best!

 

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