Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We're Moving (+ why it feels like a big deal)

This Little Miggy || Moving

FINALLY. This has been in the works for over 6 months and I am happy to finally be able to talk about it here! (cue fanfare)

We're moving! 

Into a total dump.

(trumpets are silenced and confetti abruptly brushed away) Yes it's a dump and we have still got a long ways to go before we actually move. Just to clarify we are staying in Ohio, but moving to a new neighborhood, a new school district and for us this will also be a new church congregation (otherwise known as a "ward" in the Mormon world.) So let me tell you a little about why we started looking for a new house, how we found our new house, why it's been such a long process and why it feels like a big deal to us. We've found our homes in some creative ways over the years--including knocking on the door asking if they'd rent their house to us for 3 years (they did!) and buying a house from another state sight unseen (our current place!) It makes sense that we'd go the unconventional route again... it's in our blood! This is definitely going to be a lengthy post. Get a cuppa and settle in.

Why Move?
A lot of people have been surprised by our decision to move as we love our house, especially our big, beautiful yard. We have almost a full acre at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac with a plethora of large, mature trees. Additionally the yard is nice and flat (read: completely accessible) and even though we're not fenced in we have never worried about our kids wandering freely outside since again, we live in a quiet, tucked away cul-de-sac. Our current house is a flat, ranch style home (again accessible!) with a large unfinished basement that has been amazing for storage, a workout space, and a play area for the girls. Even as I type this I have a little pang in my heart--I love this house a lot. I always felt so lucky that we were able to find such a great home that was both accessible and fit our family's other needs in nearly every way. While it wasn't ever exactly our dream home, I often envisioned making it our dream home. Our bathroom remodel was a great start and I had more ideas and plans in the works. I know! Our (not cheap) bathroom! We've barely had it a year and yet here we are.

When we first decided to move back to Ohio, we had our sights on a particular neighborhood. In fact, the first house we tried to buy was actually in that neighborhood. But we didn't get that house and of course ended up in a lovely house, but in a different neighborhood. Over time we thought about staying put, but for a lot of reasons we have never quite felt settled here. The fact that we were constantly looking at real estate listings became a pretty big indicator to us that this wasn't where we wanted to be long term. As we continued to look around at other areas, the neighborhood we first tried to move into kept calling to us. Great schools, a tight knit community, lots of young families, walkability... it was really everything we were looking for. BUT I loved our house so much that I always told my husband that it was going to take the perfect house to get me out of here. (Or a total wreck. Either one.)

We weren't in a big hurry until sometime last spring I suddenly realized that my oldest was getting close to aging out of elementary school and if we wanted to plant our roots in one place before middle school, it was time to get serious. We called our real estate agent.


How did we find our house?
Our agent reached out to a co-worker who did a lot of work in our desired neighborhood--apparently a lot of homes in that area are sold through word of mouth. She told us about a fixer upper that wasn't on the market and in fact was under contract with a local contractor who planned to tear down the existing home because it was in such bad shape, and replace it with a new build. However, he was open to working with someone to remodel the existing house if there were people crazy enough to take on this sort of project. Hahaha! Who would be crazy enough to do that though??? (psssst... literary foreshadowing: we are the crazy people in this story.)

We set up a meeting to go look at the house, but before we went to the house there was a little back story. See, the guy who last lived in the house was not mentally well. He didn't take care of the house while he lived there, and then he died in the house and it was in complete shambles. We were walking into an "as is" situation. The contractor warned us more than once before entering the house.

And he wasn't wrong. It was gross. CRAP everywhere. Spiderwebs, dirt, old cans, blankets, dirt, pulled back carpet, a musty dirty smell that smelled like dirt. I didn't walk into the smaller bedrooms, bathrooms, or even around the kitchen island. I didn't even want my clothes to brush up against anything.

BUT all the gross stuff faded into the background as I saw a wall of windows overlooking a wooded lot, a pitched ceiling with exposed beams, interior brick and a large deck off the kitchen on top of the garage, once again, overlooking a large and beautiful wooded lot. In other words, this place had great bones.

We were unexpectedly smitten. This wasn't the first house we visited with the intent to "cross it off our list" but cross off our list we did not! Which was surprising considering that in a lot of respects this house was all wrong for us. First, it's two stories (not accessible). Not an "unfinished basement" two stories, but two floors that all our girls--wheelchaired and otherwise--will need to access on a regular basis. The doorways and bathrooms are not wide enough to be accessible. The yard is wooded and most definitely not flat (again, not accessible). The house was a little smaller than what we were looking for. There is a small stream that goes in front of the house and I absolutely loath the idea of a body of water close to my home for kid safety purposes.

Luckily, there were plenty of solutions. We could add an elevator! We could widen the doors and the bathrooms! We could also grade some of the yard so that it would be flat! We could do an addition! And the stream was usually only ankle deep, except for the few times a year when hard rain hit steadily, so that shouldn't be too big of a worry. The great thing about buying a dump is that everything had to be ripped out anyway, so we could actually make this a really, great accessible home. Additionally, it was in the neighborhood we wanted to be in and it was on a great street with lots of other families who had young kids. (Did I mention that in our current house we are the only one with young children on the entire street?)

The Decision
It wasn't a slam dunk though. It wasn't just that this house needed "a lot of work" it was that this house was a total gut job. This wasn't going to be a face lift, this was an extreme makeover.

And if that wasn't reason enough, here was the really crazy thing about committing to this house: going in we would have no idea how much it was going to cost. Why? Since we were needing to make so many adjustments and we were talking about an addition, we had to work with an architect first to have some plans drawn up--a 2-3 month process on it's own--then after the plans were completed our contractor would price it out and then tell us the final cost. While we discussed with our builder, the architect, etc we all had an ideal price point we were shooting for, but we knew this pendulum could swing substantially higher against our favor.

In short, we were deciding if we were going to buy a house without knowing how much this house was going to cost us. And it could potentially cost more than we were prepared to spend. Not only that, but we were going to spend a nice little chunk on an architect and plans out of pocket before we found out this number that potentially may be too high for us to even consider.

We were very conflicted. On the one hand this felt too risky and possibly stupid. On the other hand we had been looking for a home that would fit our wants and needs for years to no avail. I felt particularly conflicted, so I spent weeks throwing all my time and energy into making this decision. I took a tour of the schools and met with the director of student services. Sometimes I would just go and walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for what it was like and what the people were like and would sometimes ask random strangers about the neighborhood. Finally I was connected with another special needs mom in the district and after I hung up the phone I said, "Lets do this."

As conflicted as I felt before, once I did my homework (which naturally included fasting, prayer and the ritual sacrificing of a white dove...you know all the typical Mormon things) and once we made our final decision, there was no looking back.

The Process
We were supposed to close on this house in May. We just closed 2 weeks ago. YIKES. Does it feel like you've been reading this post since May? Yes, I should probably wrap it up.

The house was a "short sale" which means something about foreclosure, liens, multiple mortgages and all sorts of banking snafus that basically came down to waiting for some banks to decide if they should give us the house or not at a discounted price. Who knows why it takes so long to figure that out because when a house has been sitting vacant for 2+ years, you would think they'd be chomping at the bit to get something rather than nothing. But they were not chomping on anything, except our time and sanity.

And it wasn't like they said, "Hey this could take 4 months so just hold tight." No, every two weeks we kept being told, "OK just another 2 weeks extension, but we're really close!" Being strung along like that was really frustrating. We honestly considered bailing on the deal more than once during this process.

Then right before the actual closing we got the final cost amount. And that pendulum we feared that might swing not in our favor, had done just that. It was, ahem, more than we expected. Again, we almost walked away. This was just about a month ago and we had already spent a lot of time and money on our plans, not to mention a pretty steep emotional investment. It's like we had already been through so much together with this house! Our girls had already switched to the new schools and we'd already felt a close attachment to the neighborhood. This is an oversimplification of everything, but in the end we decided it was still worth it.

So we bought ourselves a dump. Ready to see some pictures of this place?
This Little Miggy || Moving
This Little Miggy || Moving
This Little Miggy || Moving
This Little Miggy || Moving

Why does this feel like a big deal?
The idea is that this is THE house. The dream house, the forever house... whatever you want to call it, this is where we plan to settle down for quite a while. We have never lived in a home more than 3 years and this level of commitment is pretty serious for us. I am also very excited to put the time and money into making every detail of this home exactly how I want it. And while I've always loved the homes we've lived in, I've never put the time, effort and money into all the little details because I knew it was just too short term to feel worth it. I am so excited to finally invest in all the little details. `

Also, I am very, very excited to showcase this home as a merging of design and accessibility. I've decided to call this project online Miggy's Accessible Dream House. Yes we're adding an elevator and widening doorways, but we're also thinking about accessibility--in very Lamp specific ways--in so many other areas of the house. I've had some really great light bulb moments in the planning phase and I am so excited to see the plans come together! And the great thing about accessibility is that it adds benefit to the people who need it, while taking nothing away or also adding benefit to the people who don't need it as well. Accessible design is such a win/win and I can't wait to do it in this home while also making it really beautiful as well.

Cue all the trumpets, cheers and confetti for our (hopefully) forever home and good, accessible design!

Stay tuned to read more about our plans for this place and what the next steps are going to be. Additionally I'll be sharing inspiration photos and progress photos/videos along the way. Thanks for following along!

8 comments:

  1. Wow, congratulations on your new forever home. I have no doubt that it will be awesome, edgy, beautiful and accessible. With both your and your husbands creativity and can-do attitude, I know you can do this and it will be gorgeous. Good luck, and I look forward to following you on your journey! God bless your entire family.

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  2. My husband and I once vacationed at Butterfly Gap retreat, a collection of "cabins" built by an architecturally minded group. (The kind of place where the reading material left around was Dwell magazine.) My husband and I stayed in a "cabin" that happened to be fully accessible, as well as some of the best modern design we've ever experienced. Unfortunately, they are now selling off the houses, so you can't stay there as guests any more, but they have some great photos online for eye candy: http://www.butterflygap.com/index2.php#!/5/featured/142_Gap_Falls_Ln./41

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  3. I"m excited for you guys, and to get lots of inspiration. We're currently in a tri-level split level, with a billion stairs and a 3.5 year old who can't walk (YET!). We hope to move into our maybe forever house in the next year or so, and I'll get lots of ideas from you in the meantime. I'm sure you'll also make me question any big renovations... but it'll be worth it in the end!

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  4. I am so excited for you guys!!! I have looked at many houses like this and dreamed that I would someday have enough money to make them my own.

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  5. Anonymous7:08 AM

    Looking forward to following this incredible project as time goes on! I admire you guys for seeing the possibilities and rolling up your sleeves to transform this into your dream home. I live in an area with well-built older homes, but everyone instead wants brand new and we're losing our color and character to cookie-cutter developments. Best wishes!

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  6. It was truly incredible to discover such an astonishing web journal on the web.homebuyerhoustonhowwebuy

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  7. We're so happy to have you and your beautiful family in the neighborhood. Welcome!

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