Adventures in Almost House-Buying: Part 1

Pregnancy must make you a little bit crazy.

That’s really the only explanation I have for the events of the past couple of weeks. It all started when Stephen got a new job at a sustainability engineering company downtown. We’ve been itching to move to the historic downtown area of Fayetteville since we both came to college here 10 years ago. Our home now is close, but it’s still a 10-15 minute drive from the action and we wanted a 10 minute WALK.

In the couple weeks between his old job and the new one, Stephen and I spent a lot of time driving around downtown and scoping out his new neighborhood. On one of those drives last Saturday, we came across a cute little bungalow for sale that we had briefly stalked in the snow a few weeks earlier. The sun was shining and it was finally warm, so we made an appointment to see it that evening.

House Front

The minute we walked through the front door, it was love at first sight. Original hardwood floors and trim, arched doorways, the cutest brass doorknobs I’ve ever seen, a kitchen with potential, a mudroom/laundry room, and 3 beds/2 baths so we wouldn’t be losing living area. The outside needed love, but we could see the diamond in the rough.


Doorway to Dining

Left LR Wall

Master Bedroom



Mudroom Bath


Best of all, at the recently reduced price we could easily purchase this home and retain our current mortgage while we got our house ready to sell. It seemed like a no-brainer, but we wanted to wait to make an offer until Monday when we could talk to our lender. I barely slept Saturday and Sunday, I was so excited!

Monday morning rolled around and I started making phone calls. We were approved for the second mortgage, so we wrote an offer and heard back Tuesday with a verbal counter offer. Within a couple of hours we’d written up a new offer that both sides could agree on, and by Wednesday we were under contract!

Mer on Porch

Being 9 days from my due date at the time, I immediately started calling home inspectors. I wanted to be present at the inspection if possible, and luckily having worked with many inspectors in the area as a realtor paid off. We found a great one willing to come out to the house on a Sunday afternoon, and he even gave us a discount!

On Sunday, we showed up with high hopes that our little diamond would shine. Now, I’ve heard lots of realtors blame inspectors for scaring off buyers, but that was absolutely not the case for us. Our inspector was realistic and practical about the issues that needed to be addressed immediately and those that could wait.

As the three hour appointment wore on, however, the list got longer and longer. We’d need to call out an electrician to inspect the old and new fuse boxes plus and loose wires in the attic, install grounded outlets, and straighten the severely leaning masthead on the roof where the power lines entered the house. The insulation in the attic was pitiful and installed incorrectly and would need to be remedied. The ceiling was not braced properly. There was moisture in the crawlspace which could cause settling and cracks down the road if the lot wasn’t regraded for drainage. We had no idea how old the roof was, but it was old. Many of the windows were letting in moisture and causing trim paint to bubble and peel.

Any one or even all of these things would have been manageable and even expected on a historic home like this one. I grew up in an older home and knew to expect some issues, but the real kicker in this house was the asbestos in the attic and mudroom, and the lead-based paint on every surface inside and lurking under the vinyl siding outside.

With a baby coming any day, we became more and more wary of how carefully we would have to proceed with renovations in order to keep her safe. Those beautiful hardwood floors would have to be refinished professionally so we didn’t accidentally nick the painted baseboards with the sander and send lead dust into the air. Our baby couldn’t play in the flowerbeds in front of the house without a nervous mama hovering to make sure she didn’t eat any paint chips that had flaked off the old siding. Any time we put an anchor in the wall to hang a picture, we’d have to obsessively vacuum (not with the good vacuum!) any dust we created. Almost all of the projects we wanted to tackle inside would have to be handed over to the professionals simply because we could be harming ourselves and our baby if we did them wrong.

That’s a lot of pressure.

So we backed out. We became the gun-shy buyers I dreaded as a realtor. The ones who fell in love and then got scared off when the cost of making a home their dream home got too high. It was disappointing and embarrassing, but it was the right decision for us.

Of course I had spent the previous week using all my nesting energy and making plans. I got on Pinterest and Polyvore and made room layouts and moodboards for how I wanted our new place to look and feel.

Pinterest Plans

Unfortunately I’ll never get to make my plans a reality in that house, but I thought I would share them here over the next few weeks, sprinkled in among tons of baby photos and other Heardmont adventures.

On the upside, coming home to our house Sunday afternoon gave us a new appreciation for how far we’ve come here. I am so grateful for a fairly clean, finished, organized, and most of all SAFE place to live and raise our first child. The new furniture and wall colors we’d been dreaming about for our second home just might find their way into our current place over time, and now that spring is just around the corner, we’re excited about tackling some new projects and adjusting to life as a family of 3 (when this little girl decides to show up!). Stay tuned!

Next time: Part 2: Our Almost-Living Room

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