Last night we went to see a house that, at first glance, we loved. The price was right, it boasted a terrific school district, lots of yard, lots of charm. T and I arrived early and fell in love with the wind blowing through the giant tree, the large yard, the two porches, and the view we could see through the kitchen. Oh, to find one that worked perfectly so soon! Then we went inside. It's an old converted farmhouse from the 1800s. Ooh! Historical! Now I understand the jokes on the old Simpsons episode where Marge sold real estate:
Marge: That house is awfully small.
Lionel Hutz: I'd say it's awfully cozy.
Marge: That's dilapidated.
Lionel Hutz: Rustic!
Marge: That house is on fire!
Lionel Hutz: Motivated seller!
The house wasn't awful or anything; it did have a lot of charm and light, but the one upstairs bedroom had one of those office styrofoam rectangle ceilings (I don't know the proper name, so feel free to inform me) and a pull-down attic with a ladder that we didn't trust anyone to look on. Also, farmhouses don't have a whole lot of hallways, so there wasn't a whole lot of space/privacy. As we walked back down the stairs we realized an entire family of birds lived in the wall--had I pulled up the one ceiling tile, I could have fed them the worms myself without even stretching. This also indicated a lack of insulation--not a good idea in a house on top of a hill in heavy snow country. The one "bedroom" would have fit a twin bed and not much else. Going into the basement, we discovered that although it hadn't rained in a week, this hilltop house had a basement so wet you couldn't store anything in it. The basement also featured a 40 year-old boiler which could require replacement either in the next ten years or 2008, give or take.
It wasn't a terrible house at all; we just weighed the pros and cons and realized we didn't have that extra ten thou to update it as we needed. Thus the search continues; we're not in a hurry and we'll find what's right for us. I certainly learned a lot about what to look for and avoid.