Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the Fence

Exciting news first - we are scheduled to close on our house TOMORROW!  Our original closing date was February 18, which we pushed back to February 28, which we then pushed forward to February 25.  Buying a house is really super fun.  And cheap!  So cheap.  I don't even know what to do with the tens of dollars we have left to our names right now.

Now we have a slightly terrifying list of repairs and updates to do, and a fairly tight budget with which to do them.  Being the anal lawyer I am, I already have several spreadsheets of estimates and budgets (color coded, duh) so we're just going to take it one cell at a time and keep reminding ourselves it doesn't have to be PERFECT! right away. 

First up, our house is currently suffering from some curb appeal...issues.  In other words it's ass ugly. 

Where to start.  We got issues.  The front fence is currently a lovely mix of termite-infested mismatched plywood, painted two different colors.  The ornate metal gate is kind of cool, but doesn't fit with the design of the rest of the house.  The driveway is a mix of cracked concrete and bricks, which actually fits right in with the rest of the landscape design at the moment.  In sum - it's a hot mess.  One of our priorities right now is to replace the front fence.  The current fence will most likely come down this weekend as soon as we get our hands on a sledgehammer.

Problem is, I'm not a fence design expert.  We know that we want to keep a similar fence height to what's already there.  It looks a bit imposing and takes away from the cute appeal of our house, but we're on a fairly busy street and we'd like to maintain privacy and the extra level of security of a fence that's not easy to hop over. 

To help with inspiration, as soon as we put an offer on the house we began researching fence designs.  This entailed a very scientific study conducted by walking around Venice, which is a neighborhood we thought would have some cool fence designs to check out (and food trucks...nom nom nom) and snapping pictures of our favorites:

After our very careful market research, we decided that we liked the look of a darker wood fence, with stain instead of paint, in a fairly simple craftsman-style design.  I also decided that eating a bacon wrapped hot dog and buffalo tater tots was maybe not good for my overall health.

The next step was to put my shockingly advanced photoshop skills to use and figure out what a new fence will look like:

Looks cute, no?  Oh, we're also planning on replacing the garage door if you couldn't tell from the photo.  More on that later.

The next step is to narrow down a contractor to build the fence of our dreams, hopefully for under $1,000 or so.  We'd also like to replace the gate to the guest house (peeking out from the right side of the photo).  Is this possible?  I have no idea.  We'll soon find out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Let's get started

The idea has been swirling around in my head for a while, so I've taken the opportunity of a day off to finally set up this blog and get started.  I'm trying to ignore the panic that is starting to set in because it's almost 6pm on the third day of a long weekend and I haven't accomplished everything I wanted to do this weekend...

I'm assuming that if you're reading this blog you know that Sean and I have recently purchased our first home.  If you didn't know...surprise!  We have a house!  I'm actually not sure if it's technically purchased yet, but we've signed all the loan papers so I guess that's close enough?  Our closing date is set for the 28th, but we're hoping to finalize sometime this week so we can get in and get to work this weekend. 

I wanted to create this blog to share with everyone our adventures in home ownership.  Chances are, if you talk to me on a regular basis you've been putting up with my constant phone calls/e-mails/gchats about all things house buying, so I figured I'd start a new outlet for my obsessing that you can peruse at your leisure and see what we're up to in the new place.

I'll share more photos soon, but to summarize: we bought an ugly house.  It has some redeeming qualities (like new plumbing, roof, sewer, electric, and heating) but overall it's a little...well...on the ugly side.  We think this it why it's been sitting on the market for 400+ days.  We have some big ideas on how to transform our homely little abode, which I wanted to chronicle in a blog to keep everyone updated and also track our progress. 

So - update #1!  Since we just got final loan approval and gave notice on our apartment, we decided to take this weekend to go appliance shopping.  I've been obsessing over the past month or so about appliances...seriously, it's sad how much I've been scouring the web for deals when we weren't actually ready to buy.  I figured now that we're 99.9% sure we're moving into the new house we should take the plunge and actually buy.  It seemed like the President's Day deals were decent, so yesterday we set out to spend some cash and buy some pretty new things for the house.  On the list were a new fridge and a washer/dryer set, since our lovely short sale house comes stripped of everything but a stove and dishwasher.

Appliance shopping was exhausting.  I think it was less stressful picking out a house than it was picking out a fridge.  We had an idea of what we wanted from browsing online, but we still drove around to 3 different stores to see the exact model/color we wanted in person and  make sure the refrigerator of our dreams wasn't hiding somewhere in the aisles of a store we hadn't checked out yet.

We ended up finally walking out of Best Buy with this sexy little thing:

Ok, we didn't exactly walk out of Best Buy and throw this thing in the back of the Civic, but we did pay and set a delivery date for March 5.  We were really torn between this fridge and the next size up, which was about $300 more expensive but still within our budget of $1300.  The bigger fridge had some cool features like an interior water dispenser and a special spot for frozen pizzas (that was all Sean), but ultimately we thought it might be a little too big for the kitchen.  We plan on doing a full remodel at some point down the road, but since we don't know when "some point down the road" will actually happen, we don't want to be dealing with a too-big fridge in the meantime.

While this fridge is a little on the small side at 19.8 cubic feet, there's only two non-kibble eating individuals in this household so we really weren't sure that much we needed tons of space.  Plus, smaller fridge means cheaper on the electric bill, and the Energy Star tag on this model claims that it only costs $47 a year to run which seems awesome. 

Overall we're happy with our pick, and best of all we came in way under-budget.  We had budgeted to spend $1300 on a fridge, and this one was on sale for $974.99, which was $1059.08 after tax.  However, we came prepared with saved up Best Buy gift cards and RewardZone coupons, so we only ended up charging a grand total of $784.08 to the credit card -- over $500 under budget!  Not bad, right?  I'm still wondering if we should have gone a size up for about $1100, but I'm just indecisive.

In any event, it'll be much better that what we're currently working with in our apartment (yes, those are faux wood handles):

We've picked out a washer/dryer set from Sears, but we want to go over to the new house and measure the laundry room before we order.  We tried to stop by earlier but the beautiful termite tent was still up.  It's supposed to be down today so we might swing by later to take some measurements.

That's it for now - I need to go grocery shopping and move some furniture around in the bedroom so we can start sleeping in there again.  We've been painting the apartment back to white to avoid charges to our security deposit, so we've been sleeping on the couch for a week as the bedroom (slowly) gets painted.  Fun times - and sure to get even more fun as the moving process continues!