KC of Pixie Place II joined me for lunch at a restaurant that we both know and like. She arrived with one of the kayaks strapped to the top of the truck for the trip back to Pensacola. She and Duffy are having a grand time hiking and enjoying the gulf coast. Did I mention that she is moving there? *sigh*
We were planning on meeting for breakfast because KC had a long drive ahead of her, but I told SwampMan that we were meeting for lunch instead because she had to wait for help to load the kayak.
SwampMan gave me a bunch of questions he wanted me to ask KC about the kayak, and fishing, and creeks, etc. SwampMan, once his knees are all robotical, wishes to do things like kayaking and hiking again. Dang. I remember one of his questions now that I did not ask. He wanted to know the difference between kayaking and canoeing. He used to be a scoutmaster and took boy scouts out canoeing. They dumped the canoe pretty frequently. I would never go canoeing with him.
I told him that he should come along and ask his own questions about kayaks on account of I was never going to remember them. (I did remember the fishing question, right, KC?) He told me that he wouldn’t be able to hear us in the babble of a restaurant filled with the after church crowd on Sunday. That remark would give you the impression that when KC and I meet, we sit quietly whispering across the table while we demurely eat our entrees.
“Hearing us would NOT be a problem!” I assured him. We are not at all reserved about sharing our opinions. The cooks could probably hear our opinions over the sound of deep fryers, timers, and bells. We must not be too offensive, though, because people stop by our table and tell us how much they enjoy watching us because we seem to be having such a good time. “Come on, you’ll hear us just fine.”
“I would have to put clothes on, and I just don’t want to!” came the real reason. Well, he had a point. The restaurant has a pretty relaxed dress code but they might ask him to leave if he just showed up in drawers on Sunday. Monday might be okay, though.
Well, KC and I had a fun, but short (for us) meeting. She got on the road @ 1:00 p.m. following my directions (God help her) for a shortcut to I-10. My directions consisted of “Go straight at the light for about 20 miles. When you reach Baldwin, turn right. Go a little way, not too far, and turn left. There should be a sign for I-10 where you turn.” After she was gone for awhile, I started worrying. I hadn’t actually gone to I-10 from that way for awhile. WAS there a sign for I-10? Well, there SHOULD be, but I dunno. I used to just follow the trucks under the assumption that truck drivers know where they’re going. Yes, I know that I’m the only person in the US of A that does NOT have a smart phone with a GPS.
She found I-10 just fine, though.
And now that she’s gone and is out house hunting, I think of all the things that I wanted to say that we tell everybody that asks our opinion about buying a house because we used to be in the construction business. Most people don’t ask us, of course (grin). They really don’t want to hear our honest opinions about the two-story house with the roof built for shedding snow in a New England winter that’s built in a low spot on a barrier island. The granite countertops are really nice, though.
Since she’s buying a house on the gulf coast, try to buy a masonry house, not a wood frame, because hurricanes hit there with far greater frequency than here. Don’t buy a house with a steeply-pitched roof because those have more of a tendency to lose shingles/roof during a hurricane. Those steep roofs are more expensive to re-shingle, too. Don’t rely on real estate agents to tell you whether you’re buying in a flood zone; check the maps on file in the county offices. Particularly check the flood zones* depending on the hurricane category. What can be a safe area in a Category 1 hurricane and a Category 3 hurricane, for example, is very different.
A house constructed in the late 90s onward by a national builder was probably built largely with illegal labor. The outside might be pretty. It passed inspection. The walls probably aren’t plumb. I’d check. I’d also be worried about what I COULDN’T see. Check for number and location of electrical outlets. Unscrew electrical outlet plates and look at wiring. Go up into the attic and check out the insulation and the rafters. Bring a screwdriver (for electrical outlets) and for poking exposed wood looking for rot/termite damage. Go on the roof and look for cracked shingles and uneven sheeting. Turn the water on in the shower, a couple sinks and flush the toilet at the same time. Check the water heater. Ask to see prior utility bills, if available. Ask about annual taxes and insurance. Insurance, particularly flood insurance, is going to be hiked WAAAAAY up this year, and it could bite you in the butt to the point that your insurance payment could be greater than or equal to your mortgage. Taxes could be lower than what you would pay because of senior citizen, homestead exemption, or long-term homeowner status.
One of my pet peeves is house flippers that come in, make cosmetic changes, jack the price way up, but don’t address structural issues. Most people are impressed by fancy tiling in the shower, trendy countertops, and new appliances. We want to make sure that the house is structurally sound.
Jacking up and fixing foundation problems is EXPENSIVE. Repairing/rewiring electrical is EXPENSIVE. Repairing plumbing is EXPENSIVE. Replacing the roof including the sheeting and maybe the trusses is EXPENSIVE. Repairing mold damage is EXPENSIVE. Repairing termite damage is EXPENSIVE. Putting in new appliances one at a time? Not so much.
In equally structurally sound houses, of course, I’d take the one with the new appliances cuz I ain’t no fool.
But KC is no fool, either, so she already knows all this stuff.
*We are such fanatics about things like flood zones that we checked them when we bought our house in the Sonoran desert in Arizona. We passed on a wood-framed house in a 100-year flood plain and bought a masonry house on higher ground. We weighed the danger of earthquake damage versus wind damage, and decided to go with the masonry house. The wooden-framed house in the 100-year flood plain was washed away when the Gila river, which resembled a creek to us, flooded waaaaay beyond flood stage the next year.