Home-hunting woes and whoas

So, the promised update on the house-hunting. You may remember we made an offer on one, negotiating with steely-eyed resolve and a complete absence of emotion. Except for D begging for the pool table, that is. And for me being blinded by the brilliance of the California Closet setup. (See photo. Now you aren’t quite so judgmental, are you? Mmm, hmm.)

I met Mr. Fireguy, the inspector, at the house Monday. Now I have to admit, I lean a bit toward the skeptical side when people try to sell me stuff, particularly stuff that costs me lots and lots of money. Some might call me cynical, perhaps, but they’re just bitter old hags.

So Mr. Fireguy’s an actual firefighter for his day job, and inspects houses on the side. His company’s even named Firehouse Inspections. Cute, huh? I mean, c’mon, firefighters just reek of trust. Besides, I figured it can’t hurt to get an opinion from an expert on things like whether the wiring is up to code, whether the chimney’s ready to spontaneously burst into flames, that kind of thing.

The good news is, the house is generally in really good shape. The pool has no problems, the A/C units are new, the yard looks great.

He found little stuff, of course, like what he called “mystery switches.” These occur when Lowe’s convinces completely unprepared homeowners that they can install their own ceiling fans with lights and remote controls. Often, these homeowners can, indeed, make the lights come on and the fan blades turn. More often, however, there are two light switches on opposite walls that can work that fan, and said homeowner has no idea how to connect a three-way switch. The result is that they usually forget to hook up the “traveler,” the third wire that allows both switches to control the fan.

Voila! One switch works, the other does nothing. We have a couple of these in our Nashville house. That latter switch is, of course, the one I flip most often. Indeed, I have been flipping it virtually every day for the four years we’ve lived in our house. Often I will flip it several times in a row, stubbornly refusing to believe that it won’t work. I expect it to suddenly come to life, touched, perhaps, by some higher power, like a licensed electrician.

So, the Possible New Home has more than a few of these mystery switches. He suggests having them fixed, not so much because it’s a fire hazard, but because five minutes with me told him I’m the kind of person to flip the switch as I zip past the top of the stairwell at 87 mph, balancing a diet Coke, my left tennis shoe, one end of a broken dowel rod, half a Pop-Tart and a week’s worth of mail. I will expect the light to come on, and I will not realize until I’m one-third of the way down that it hasn’t.

Soon there will be a loud crash, several loud epithets, and tears. As the cursing and sniffling begins to taper off, I will reach blindly for a highly technical tool, like a tire iron, and begin to “work” on the switch. This will mainly consist of me beating the stuffing out of it, the wall and the floor below it.

So, we’ll want to get those fixed.

The other stuff is like that. A little paint work here and there, particularly the master bedroom, which for some reason is a godawful dark pink color. (Those $4 “oops” paint cans at Home Depot have been returned for a reason, people.) Some tile that needs to be replaced. That kind of thing.


The main thing that’s freaked me out is the roof. From the outside, I can see a big wavy look to part of it. So of course I follow Mr. Fireguy up into the attic to take a look. He really liked it when I looked over his shoulder to offer my opinion. And especially when he turned around suddenly. He didn’t mind falling over a small square woman who’s nodding sagely, saying things like, “Yep, I knew that joist thingamajingy looked a little off-plumb. It’s probably a hincapie snigglefrink offset.” He appreciates the help. Some homebuyers probably don’t even bother to meet him at the house, preferring to stay home and read his report. Lightweights.

So in the seller’s disclosure, they acknowledge having had a leak, but they say it was fixed. Those of you who aren’t from Texas, let me add this: there’s something really weird going on here with roofs. We’ve looked at house after house, and many of them have had new roofs, even though they’re just 8 or 10 years old. Apparently it’s the hail. There seems to be a lot of it here. Storms come rolling across the desert, get to Dallas and decide to create big balls of ice to hurl down upon unsuspecting homeowners. So a leak or two isn’t uncommon, unless you’re in one of these zillion-square-foot mansions with the huge tile roofs.

We’re not looking in that neighborhood. 

So Fireguy and I head to the attic, where we find a weird kind of framing, just under where the roof’s waving like Old Glory. They’ve mixed 2×6 framing beams with 2x8s. And in a couple of places, the roof decking isn’t sitting flush to the beams. So they carefully and lovingly crafted a well-designed solution, which consisted of banging an old piece of 2×4 between the decking and the beam to act as a shim. Now I know who fixed the roof leak for them: Half-Ass Harry, down on Maple Street.

(Actually, I suspect it was the homeowner who tried to repair his own leak. You know, the same one who installed the ceiling fans. The one that Home Depot loves to see coming in each Saturday, work clothes on and credit card in pocket.)

We have a 10-day option on the house, when we can pull out for any reason. But I still really like the house. (Did I mention the closet in the master yet?) Fireguy says he’s not a roofing specialist, so today we called in a roofing guy.

And in classic Laurie Overkill Mode, I also took photos and emailed them to my friend Ann in Nashville, who works for a roofing company, and made her hunt down the owner of her company and show them to him. Roofers love to diagnose things via emailed pictures.)

So the roofing guy says the framing needs to be repaired. Of course, he’s just the roofing guy, so he says we need to call in a framing specialist. So that happens tomorrow. It probably will mean that Friday, we need to bring in a shingle specialist, then a flashing specialist, then a cat-on-a-hot-tin roof specialist. (Sounds kind of like my cancer treatment, all over again. And I bet it’ll cost just as much.)

So, we’ll see how this pans out. I really do like this closet. Oops, I mean, this house.

It’s another beautiful, 90-degree day of sunshine. Heading out soon to enjoy it. Maybe I’ll even look at a townhouse, one on the bottom floor…


About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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4 Responses to Home-hunting woes and whoas

  1. Marilyn says:

    You made me laugh out loud a few times. I’m SURE that Mr. FireGuy LOVED having Ms. LetMeGiveYouMyUnsolicitedOpinion looking over his shoulder. Good luck to the framing, shingle and cat-on-a-hot-tin roof specialists! Sounds like quite the adventure there in Carrollton, Tejas (that is Cinco de May0 for Texas).

  2. Marjorie Ramos says:

    Laurie, you are a great writer. I was riveted! Can I tune in tomorrow to see what happens next? (I am totally with D – pool table? Yeah, baby!) On a serious note, I had to replace the roof on my house a couple of years ago. It really wasn’t that costly considering it’s a roof! Can you get an estimate on what a new roof might cost and take that off the purchase price? You really shouldn’t let go of that closet!

  3. Gerilynn says:

    I miss you guys already! Come back.

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