Saturday, November 28, 2009

House 226 - The Gingerbread Edition

Random musing: I'm always enthralled when anyone talks about how busy they are, as if busyness were a virtue. "I'm so busy" and "I'm a very busy person," they will say, and rattle off an endless list of crap they would, could, should be doing, if they weren't so busy telling me how busy they are.

Being busy doesn't make you special. It makes you like everyone else on the planet. And talking about how busy you are doesn't make you special. It just makes you kind of a douchebag.

You know who you are.


Did I mention how busy I am? I didn't? Good, because if I ever do, feel free to kick me in the shins. I'm on day two of a four day weekend and we've been almost constantly occupied, but happy and relaxed. We had family and friends and friends of friends to dinner yesterday. Chuck did the turkey on the grill, and it was some of the best turkey I've ever had. Did her recipe for mashed potatoes, there were salads and cheeses and wine and hours of geek talk. After dinner, endless rounds of Rock Band (I get booed off the stage after 30 seconds, so I just kicked back and read.) When everyone left, I watched the last four episodes of Dexter and creeped myself out.

Today began Gingerbread '09 -- The House 226 Edition. The National Steinbeck Center is holding a gingerbread house building contest (take a minute to consider the irony) and we decided to enter. And then someone (I'm not saying who, but he just happens to be in bed next t0 me snoring) decided we should do a gingerbread version of the house we're trying to buy.

Did you know that building a cupola out of gingerbread is a pain in the ass? We have most of the first floor done (Chuck made the dough, I rolled, cut and baked) and tomorrow we're off to San Francisco with the boys and one of their friends to hit The Candy Store for decorations. We'll probably take the boys to a movie at the Metreon and have dinner at the Ferry Building, the happiest place on earth.

Chuck met with the FHA appraiser today (on the real house, not the gingerbread one) and barring any unforeseen circumstances, we should be in escrow next week, and close before Christmas. And that's when the fun really starts ...

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Been Awhile ...

Sorry. Sorry. It's been awhile. But with the exception of my exuberant "bank has the offer" post of last week, I don't blog from work and all I've been doing is working. Special sections to get out the door before Thanksgiving, and the beast known as ROP ("Run of paper," or as snarky journalists like to call it "Rest of paper") must still be fed.

Feed the beast.

So to catch everyone up:

1. Bank received offer.
2. Bank accepted offer.
3. We are working for full loan approval and should know about that in two weeks. No loan approval, no house, so I'm still trying not to get too excited about it all.
4. Termite report done. We need the FHA appraisal.
5. Chuck met with a contractor who specializes in FHA rehabs. He's based in Napa, but apparently he does these projects all over the coast. He comes in, brings a crew and they work on nothing but that project until it's done.
6. The budget, contractor said, is going to be tight. But it's not undoable.

And did I mention the previous owner wants a rate that can only be described as usurious for us to get the rights to the plans? Fifteen large -- that's $15,000 -- for the rights to the plans. The bank offered him $1,000 and put a clock on even that. I'm not holding my breath.

All of our friends who are cheering us on right now are asked the same question: how do you feel about painting? One friend, a climber, said he's willing to strap on a harness if need be. Others have offered to wear bikinis and set up a churro stand on the sidewalk to raise money--and that's just the men.

Please know that when the time comes, and there's painting to be done, I fully expect most of you to disappear from my life, never to be seen nor heard from again.

Also, am I totally insane to want this as the bathtub in the master bath? In no way, shape or form can we afford it, so does anyone know a good source for black market Japanese bathtubs?

Perfect Friend Terry, who gave up being Irish American when she married a Japanese American and morphed into the perfect Japanese daughter-in-law, said when Japan's Crown Prince and Princess traveled the Central Coast a few years back, at least one farm family she knows of installed a high-tech Japanese toilet, just in case the Prince or Princess needed to relieve themselves while visiting. This is a people that take their fixtures seriously, folks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bank Has the Offer ...

We made the official offer today. 

And now we wait and see whether it's accepted or rejected.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

You Want Answers? I WANT THE TRUTH ...

The truth is that at least for now, we have no answers. But we should by Monday afternoonish. That's when we'll find out from the lender whether or not they want 5 percent down or 10 percent down. If it's 5 percent, we're ok. If it's 10 percent--we have the world's largest bake sale, charge $100 a cookie and invite everyone we know. That means you.

Here's what's going on:

Chuck met with the head of the city planning department on Wednesday. What we learned is that the code differences between what the previous owner had in mind and what we have in mind may require some additional electrical outlets (no big deal); more heating, because the standards between what he wanted and what we want are different (semi-big deal); and the possibility of putting in a firewall between the garage and the lot next door (not a big deal) because the garage is right on the property line.

Apparently the city has been out to look at the roof and the foundation, and they say that both look good, but the permits will have to be researched to make sure all that's left is the final. We have to do some seismic stuff--the washers that bolt the house to the foundation are the wrong size.

Chuck also met with the savant contractor--the one who is brilliant with plaster and wood and such, but kind of a nightmare of a business person. He gave us a number, it jibed with the number Chuck had arrived at after hours and hours of measuring and pricing. Rafael may be a nightmare, but he's our nightmare, and one we know how to deal with. Also? His work is flawless. He's just going to require a lot of babysitting. Which we're going to be able to do, because once the main house has walls, a complete kitchen and at least one functioning bathroom, he's going to move into the rear apartment. In keeping with the idea of naming all of the room after Steinbeck themes or novels, we're calling that apartment the "Tortilla Flat."

Chuck also met with the bank, which agreed to our offer price if they're completely out of the deal in terms of financing. They don't want anything to do with this house for a second longer than necessary. So what's left then is the construction loan and mortgage.

You're seeing a lot of Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, and may be wondering where I am in all of this. For right now, I'm not really anywhere. If and when we have the deal in place and move forward, I'll be pricing and buying fixtures, pricing and choosing appliances, figuring out the kitchen and looking for tile. Once the walls are up, I'm also going to be doing a lot--if not all--of the interior painting. (Those of you who know me and are laughing right now? Shut up. I know it took me three years to paint the living room of the old house, but I've changed! I swear I've changed!)

Does anybody really change, though?

Onward we go. None of this would be possible or happening without the largesse of our friends, who are lending us their house until their bank gets its act together and accepts the short sale offer that's been pending for months. I wake up every morning in what used to be my friend's office, and it's surreal. It takes me a minute to remember where I am, and I am humbled all over again.