Monday, February 18, 2008

Buyer's Remorse?

The first time we viewed the house was at the open house, on the weekend before the bidding was to take place. On that visit we spent about 10 minutes going through the house, as we didn't really have much intention of buying it. My wife and I had our hearts set on a real fixer-upper so that we could finish the house exactly the way we wanted. Despite the house only having electric heating, we knew there wasn't going to be "a needs TLC" discount, as the interior of the house was in pretty much move-in shape. In fact we knew the house was priced for multiple offers, and that the asking price was artificially low to entice even more bidders. However, when we got home that night and reflected on the other "fixer-uppers" that we had previously lost out on, this house struck us as a good deal, so we decided to make an offer...And then a higher one...And then a higher one still...And then it was ours.

Over the next four months we did numerous drive-bys, walk-bys and re-examined the listing's small interior thumbnail pics. We had a million things going through our minds. Did we make a horrible mistake? After all, we did only see the house for 10 minutes, most people spend longer than that deciding what to order from Starbucks. For each and every "happy reno vision", we would have a dreaded "we over-paid vision". So to quell these conflicting feelings, once and for all, we finally decided to use one of our 2 visits. Our visit was able to confirm one thing - that whenever we schedule a house viewing, we always get the sellers that don't leave the house. So while we didn't feel at all comfortable measuring rooms, or discussing our reno plans, with the sellers hovering over us, we are happy to say the house is pretty much as we remembered it. And we do feel a lot more comfortable with our purchase, and reno plans.

And those plans will include:
- Removing the enormous hornets nest that is attached to the soffit
- Having a natural gas line installed
- Getting an energy audit, and putting in a high efficiency natural gas, forced air HVAC system
- Installing a tankless water heater
- Converting the walk-in closet into a master ensuite
- Replacing the offensive aluminum slider windows with thermal pane, wood mullioned windows
- Renovating the kitchen and replacing the appliances
- Renovating the other 2.5 bathrooms
- Replacing the front door and transom
- Replacing the back sliding door, with a set of french doors
- Landscaping the front and back yards
- Converting the third floor into an office/guest bedroom
- Converting the basement apartment into a TV Room, Nanny Suite, Wine Cellar and laundry room
- Putting built-in storage in all of the bedrooms.
- Adding a front vestibule
- Putting fireplaces on each floor
- Moving the laundry from the kitchen to the basement
- Restoring all the brickwork and gingerbread details

We've budgeted about $135,000, and i plan on doing much of the work myself. SO...Do we think we'll be able to get all of our money back out one day? We're not sure, but we plan on starting a family and staying put for a while. My wife and I have had a chance to check out some of the local shops and restaurants, including a Valentines day date at GATE 403, and more and more, we are falling in love with our new neighbourhood. So at the end of the day, it's not just about an investment in real estate, it's about an investment in lifestyle and from that perspective we feel we've done alright. One more month until closing day.