There were a lot of things we forgot to check out before we put an offer on our house in Maine in 2005.
As a matter of fact, here are the things we did not see, or had not seen, by the time our realtor presented the offer to the owners (which was about three hours after we saw it for the first time):
- Boothbay Harbor (seriously, we had never been, and drove ‘around it’ to get to the island, so we never saw the seaside summer tourist destination that is the reason so many people know about or come to the area.
- Any other part of Southport Island (didn’t even drive around it, we were so stunned at how we felt about seeing the house). No idea what the island was like. Yes. We were kind of morons.
- About a quarter of the house.
No I’m not kidding.
How did we figure this out?
Well, it comes back to the folks we bought the house from. We call them, ‘The Texas Flippers’.
The Texas Flippers bought the house from the estate of Mr. Walbridge, who had owned it for more than 60 years. Then they fixed it up to flip it. Also, Mr. Texas Flipper wore a great cowboy hat, but I digress.
Unfortunately though, they fixed up the house from a ‘hey we put granite in the kitchen’ perspective, but also cut two hundred year old support beams in the basement to bring in a new oil tank. So in some places the house was, how do you say it… oh yes…
They did, however, compensate by decorating the house in a lot of florals – like big fat foot-square magnolia and rose and peony blossoms splashed across many wallpapered rooms. So of course we forgave them.
Okay, no we didn’t.
But on that first day, aside from wobbly floors and questionable beam bisection, we did not notice that there was a closet door downstairs that we didn’t look in. We were told it was a closet. Fine.
So two weeks after we had our offer accepted, we went back up because it was very important that we measure the rooms for our furniture… which was a total lie because we had no furniture for this house. But we wanted to see it again and take pictures.
It was very exciting.
We walked through the kitchen and took pictures.
Up the stairway and took pictures.
Into each bedroom, and way up into the attic where the servants’ quarters were – three small bedrooms, each with its own sink. And a bathroom, with a tin shower and the teeniest commode we’d ever seen (perhaps sized for a rock wallaby or maybe a very small bigfoot).
And then we went back downstairs and hit the living room, three season porch (which was sinking into the earth), and then to the el, which is the addition that was built onto the main house (probably in, like, 1880), is two stories high, and sticks straight out of the back.
We knew there were back bedrooms upstairs. Because we had, like, gone into them. So it only makes sense that there was something below those, right? But I’m telling you, it was a rabbit warren upstairs with one room leading to another and that room leading to a hall or a stairway or Narnia… so we were all kinds of confused.
So when we walked into the little room downstairs in the el, we found the bathroom behind one door, and then opened the closet we hadn’t looked in the first time we toured the house. And…
There was the original pantry for the house and, through a side doorway, a strangely shaped bathroom, the floor covered in sharp and broken linoleum, and then that led to a giant workshop with asbestos insulation hanging out of the ceiling. Also, the workshop was sinking into the earth just like the three season porch.
Which probably meant they were co-dependent.
So, for all intents and purposes, this extra 25% of the house was not at all useable (or stable) and was majorly renovated along with a lot of the rest of the house so it would stop trying to fall down.
So it’s been, you know, done.
We began to look into changing some space in the house when Granny and Grampa approached us and said they wanted to move to Maine with us.
We talked about the importance of them having their own space, apart from us, when they didn’t want to look at us.
Or share our TV.
Because I am not a JAG or NCIS or NASCAR fan, and Granny and Grampa weren’t all that keen on the The Real Housewives or The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.
After Grampa left us in May, we didn’t think about it much. But in the fall, after spending the summer in Maine together, Granny sat with us and said that it would be nice to have some space to retreat to, but she really didn’t need her own kitchen, or even a shower downstairs. We did talk a bit about needing a space for a bed downstairs if she ever needed it (Granny is pretty spry), and decided that it was better to accomplish any disruptive renovation before we move up there.
So we took another look at our plans with Derek-The-Builder recently, and he will start the process of moving a couple of walls this week, which also means electrical and heating and woodworking stuff but we’ll get to that later on.
So, late last week I moved my grandmother’s dishes from the corner cupboard in the el. And as I placed them carefully on the dining room table, I looked out the windows at the water and thought, ‘It’s taken us ten years to get the house to this point, and this is the last real project before we come up for good. Oh my Gawd… it’s happening…”
This is starting to get real.
Thanks for readin’
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