Jan 28, 2012

The Saga of the House Hunt, Part II

I posted the first part of our house-hunt story several months ago. I wanted to collect enough pictures, and have a real block of time to do this post right when I got down to it.

I ended that last post describing how discouraged I was feeling. That I realized we can't get the house of our dreams because we couldn't afford to heat and maintain it.

Well, the very next day, a house that I'd been eyeing but not really eyeing was reduced drastically in price (by about thirty thousand dollars) so that it finally fell within our practical price range. It had five bedrooms. It had five acres. It was built in 2006. So I jumped at the chance to look at it. IN fact, I called the realtor that day and he happened to have an opening that afternoon, so it's likely we were one of the first couples to come and see it after the price reduction.

Skywalker and I walked through the house. We kept eyeing each other, like, "do you think this is as cool as I think it is?"

Suffice it to say, by the end of the tour, we were both ready to make an offer. Which is kind of a miracle in itself, because Skywalker isn't someone to jump the gun. Or really, do anything fast at all. He's the yin to my yang. I'll be like, "let's not miss this opportunity, now's the time to strike," and he'll want a few weeks or months or perhaps even years to make an important decision. It's good, because we tend to balance each other out. But in this case, he was right with me.

There was another couple bidding on it. We didn't know their bid. We put in ours.

The bank came back saying the bids were so close, that they wanted both of us to put in our best possible offer for consideration. After a bit of fretting and some prayer, we put in an offer we felt was reasonable (we were capable of handling the mortgage, and it wouldn't strain our budget so it was uncomfortable to live).

We got the house.
And moved in one month later.

It felt kind of insane to me. WE've never bought a house, neither one of us. To go from renting teeny little spaces to owning a place that is not a starter home... it's our home, our permanent place... has been a dream come true and hugely overwhelming at the same time. We are incredibly blessed.

A few years ago I made a list of things I wanted in my dream home. I found it a little while after we purchased this home and I was struck by how much Heavenly Father listened to me, even though it was just a little list... little things that I didn't really expect to have.

On the list:

A bedroom with a large east window so that the sun could come in and wake us up.
Our bedroom's east window.

A large laundry room with lots of storage space and chutes going from the upstairs so that I don't have to carry dirty laundry all the time.

The kids' upstairs bathroom--that cupboard under the sink is the chute opening.

That's one of the chute openings--directly into the laundry room. There are two. The other comes from the master bath. ANd the laundry room is the right size for raising (eventually) nine kids... with a giant set of shelves lining the wall big enough to tuck laundry baskets into.

(from the list) A bigger kitchen, with windows that look out into the backyard so I can watch the kids playing while I do housewifely work.

You see in the above picture that the floors are concrete. One of the things on my (and Skywalker's) wish-list was radiant floor heating. We *never* thought we'd be buying a house with it already installed, we always assumed, since it is kind of a rare and quirky thing for people to do, that we'd have to build a house ourselves before we'd have it. This house has radiant floor heating. This is what heats the radiant floor heating:
This is a boiler (the radiant floor contains tubes, and hot water is what heats the floor). It runs on either electricity or (as you can see) a wood stove. Skywalker's big project this fall and winter has been to get the boiler going and the stove working. Because it lay dormant over a winter and hadn't been maintained properly for a few years, He's had to get in and scrub out the tank

And replace and adjust some hardware.

Luckily, he's had plenty of help.

This project has been a combination of headache and love story for Skywalker. He's always been interested in alternative heating/technology. Our plan has always been to try eventually to live completely off-grid. One of the facets of our plan is to build a greenhouse/atrium that completely encases the southern and eastern sides of our house. This would heat the home (passive heating) during the winter, and also provide us an opportunity to grow fresh vegetables (and possibly fruits) year-round. The first thing we noticed when we looked at our home, was the bones of our greenhouse.

In case you can't tell, that long side is the south side, and the porch goes on around to the east. Again, this is something we never thought we'd be able to purchase already completed (or ready to be completed), we thought we'd have to build our own home in order to do this. In fact, there are some coils from the boiler that emerge inside this porch, we think the previous owners (and builders) of this home had planned on it becoming a greenhouse, and the coils are meant to create some heated beds inside.

Some other things not pictured:
I've always wanted a seperate room for toys, where I can just shut the door and not care about the mess. And there is a room on the first floor that we immediately designated the "toy room."

I've always wanted a school room.

The upstairs living room is large enough, and sort of in two parts. One side is perfect for our Schoolroom

The other has become our den/living room.

Skywalker has always wanted a secluded office/storage space where he can occasionally work from home, and with storage for all his electronics. Just off the master bedroom is:
It's a long nook, filled mostly with giant shelves--enough even to satisfy my husband with his love affair with electronics of all kinds, including salvaged cables, collections of power strips... all things that I admit have come in handy but we've had a hard time finding a good place for (where they won't drive me crazy because to me, they look like clutter). ANd there's a nice nook for his desk. There's even a window (admittedly, it looks into our neighbor's backyard, but oh well.) Best thing of all-- it has a keyed lock on the door. So he feels like his stuff is safe from the kids.

Other unexpected blessings:

The dining room. We got the table and chairs for a really, really great price off of KSL, and almost blew out our transmission dragging it home.

You'll see in that image a French Door... that is another wishlist item for me. I love French doors. ANd with the two there on the east side of living room/kitchen, and all the big windows, I feel like I'm out in nature. I can watch it snow. I always know where my kids are. It feels very peaceful, looking out on the grassy fields. All our neighbors have horses; it's wonderful to watch them grazing or sometimes cantering across the fields that surround our property. Speaking of which:

That's the view from the balcony off the master bedroom. The property line ends that kind of brownish furrow you see (there's a pond right there), and it continues for some ways south of us, bordering the lot of the seminary building (no driving kids to semiary, yay! And... the high school is also *right* across the street.) When we lived in Provo, we hoped, hoped, hoped for 1 acre. We moved to Idaho, and our hopes expanded... we very likely could end up with two acres. Maybe three, if the house was a fixer-upper. We never in a million years thought we'd end up with five, and a house that we didn't have to retrofit quite a bit to make liveable.

Stuff I never expected but am very grateful for: the bedrooms are very large, and all have walk-in closets with tons of bars and shelves for the kids to put all their clothes/stuff/toys. The master bedroom is huge with a giant walk-in closet with two sides, which is helpful to Skywalker's and my relationship... in the past, I have hogged 2/3 of the closet space, and he has room to spread out, now.

And last but not least... my favorite room of the house...

WHen we first looked at it I kind of snickered (like, who puts marble floors in a bathroom, and who needs a jetted tub) but oh man. I've gotten uuuuuused to it. And I loooove it. And I hope that's not a sin.

I need to go on a little. Because we bought our house, not sure we'd like where we chose to live. Our town is a tiny little town, 3500 people. It's an old town, which was promising to me; I love places with history. And there is of course the beautiful river.

I love my town. Love it. People are so friendly. And they all know each other. And they say hi on the streets. I've had fun conversations with so many of the business owners in town already--they love my kids, and I enjoy living in a place where people actually act like a community. Some of my favorite things:
That's the movie theater. IT plays one movie at a time. The cost is five bucks :) and they have a few couches at the back, and a raised dias with cool leather chairs and footstools, supposedly for big contributors to claim but generally speaking, you can sit there if you want. It's truly wonderful. Sometimes it's packed; sometimes you have the whole theater to yourself.

I'm not going to take pictures of the whole town for confidentiality reasons, but there's also the drug store (opposite from the Roxy). It truly is like an old-time drug store... they sell everything there, from prescriptions (and the guy is soooo nice... I sometimes go back there just to say hi) to craft supplies to electronics...and they have one of those long counters with a raised line of soda-fountain era stools. They sell ice cream kiddie cones for fifty cents. THey serve breakfast and dinner and cookies and brownies and all kinds of good stuff. And the ladies there are chatty and they remember you (well of course they do, there are only 3500 people in town).

This town has a wild-west, rough-and-rowdy history. It was the place the non-mormon people went. It was a hideout for outlaws, because of the proximity to the river and also the train, which stopped here, not in Rexburg. So the main street is old. 1800's brick facades that remind me of a (much smaller) version of my hometown. They're not well-preserved... they're charmingly crumbly with some boarded up windows here and there. Scattered throughout town are retrofitted victorian and turn-of-the-century era buildings and houses.

ONe of those was a brothel, back in the day. See if you can guess which one :) It happens to be just two houses down from the courthouse (also pictured above.)

ONe day while I was driving through town, I saw this sign.

Can you read it? It says "To Sandbar" with an arrow pointing off to the right.
What is this sandbar, I wondered. I turned right, and found this:

This isn't the best time of year to take pictures of it. It's a park, on the river's edge. In the summertime, they buoy off a section right there next to the shore--it's a calm, shallowish little eddy of the river. You can see the tube slide going down to it--there are nozzles at the top that spray water down into it so the (life-jacketed) kids can slide. And they truck in tons of sand and pour it all over there, for kids to play in and enjoy. We got to it on the last day of summer. We'll be taking full advantage of it next year.

And then, there's the river itself:

I think it is the most beautiful in the winter. It goes right through the middle of town. There's a paved nature trail that follows it several miles downstream. You can hike, run, bike... and in the winter, cross-country-ski along it. It's a famous river for fly-fishing. Each year our town hosts a fisherman's breakfast on the first day of the season. I want to learn... I've been aspiring to start by learning to tie flies. Skywalker got me a gift certificate so I can purchase a fishing license this year, which I will do *after* I get book and baby out of the way.

So... all in all... we feel incredibly blessed. Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. We didn't buy a house for six years, even though we could have... instead we adopted two girls. And in the end, that decision has blessed us with a great deal more than we ever expected, because we ended up in the right place, at the right time.